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Sep 1, 2010

Male-domination is a matter of dispute in every sphere of life as much as it is in language. The transition from “man” to “human” is still an ongoing process in the usage of the English language. The issue ranges from lexicography to politics, from “who is the head of home” to competition in employment. But perhaps the most severe battles continue in the business world, where statistics still reveal a dramatic gap between male vs. female ratios, favoring the former, and there seems to be no exceptional cases in the world for this discrepancy. Gender roles assigned by culture still define what men and women are thought to have the capacity to undertake. How far can or should this extension and intermixing of roles go? Is motherhood one of such gender roles imposed by the dominant cultural values? Can working conditions be adjusted so that mothers do not have to lose their jobs? Is “equality” the right term to use, and the ultimate goal in our efforts to elevate the status of women, which is otherwise not on a par with men? In “Career and Kids: Can I Have Both?” Sumeyra Arslan shows how great a challenge working women face when they become mothers. Read her own account when a mother with a PhD learns she is pregnant with her second child, and how her boss and husband react, and what she believes the true path should be.

With a similar theme, Mirkena Ozer portrays how pivotal a mother is in a family. In a touching poem, Ozer outlines a typical mother with “eight arms,” mother as the pediatrician at home, and mother with paradise lying under her feet.

It has always been a forged image of Islam that it spread across the world with sword and bloodshed and nothing else. Paul Kearns’ piece “The Spread of Islam” in this issue provides a detailed analysis with a fair approach of the motivations in Muslims’ mobilization from the early seventh through the late seventeenth centuries. This mobilization was so powerful that “in less than one century after the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632, Muslim rule covered more of the earth than had the Roman Empire at its peak.” Could this only be done with a sharp blade? Kearns notes that “the spread of a religious or ideological ideal can only be truly successful if those whom it is trying to gain submission from are disillusioned or unhappy with their own contemporary world. … We find that a great number gladly adhered to the conquering Islamic rulers and Quranic law as they found protection and benefits that had not been attained under Byzantine rule.”

The lead article in this issue touches on the rise and fall of nations, perhaps expounding on Kearns’ analysis of Islam’s spread from a cosmic sense. In addition to “successive turns of prosperity and hard times,” leaders of nations play a significant role as they sway back and forth, sometimes with “religious devotion and piety, yet at other unfortunate times captured in the web of materialism with no righteousness, morality, or character.”