How does belly dance fit into Islam

On the current occasion: belly dance mistakes

To whom it may concern: My book "Dance on the Orient Express - A Feminist Islamic Criticism" has been on the market for over a week, and memories are awakening. During my career, the misinformation about belly dancing was widespread. This is no better now Hence, briefly, the biggest belly dance mistakes:

1. Belly dance is danced with the belly.

Mistake. Belly dance is danced mainly with the pelvis and with the whole body. There are few abdominal movements. Since European travelers in the 19th century had never seen dancers with a naked midsection, they named the strange dance after its salient feature. Belly dance is called Oriental or Arabic dance throughout the Orient. Etymologists suspect that the English term “bellydance” is derived from the Egyptian “baladi”, a term for popular belly dance

2. Belly dancing is part of Muslim culture.

Big mistake! Belly dancing has nothing to do with Islam. It had existed in the oriental region for millennia. Ethnologists and cultural scholars largely agree that it is the oldest dance known to mankind. It has its origins in archaic fertility rites, when there were still numerous female deities, the fertility of women and earth was considered divine and female sexuality was not yet a disgrace. It was danced in honor of the Babylonian Astarte / Ishtar / Ostara (whose name we owe both the Easter festival and the estrogen) or the Egyptian Isis. Numerous artifacts confirm the existence of the dance in these times, such as this statuette or ancient Egyptian grave frescoes.

With the transition to monotheistic religions, which made women, their sexuality and their bodies the property of men, belly dancing lost its importance and became mundane entertainment. With the triumphant advance of Islam, the dance spread widely in Asia, Africa and Europe, but it was always fought as un-Islamic and the dancers demonized and ostracized. To this day, Islam outlaws belly dance, even in German mosques and in Fatwen by German Muslim clergy, the dance is explicitly condemned as "un-Islamic".

3. Oriental women have belly dance in their blood.

No, they don't. And besides, this error correlates with a second one: ... and therefore European women cannot belly dance either. Oriental women don’t have belly dancing in their blood, just as Germans don’t have Schuhplattler. The ability to perform folk dances is not inherited genetically, but socio-culturally. If the girl is born into a music and dance loving family, she will likely start belly dancing as soon as she learns to walk. If that is not the case, she will not learn belly dance. Since belly dancing is being pushed back more and more in predominantly Islamic countries, there are now excellent belly dancers in America, Europe and countries of the former Soviet Union. Even the graceful Chinese women are now on the rise.

4. Belly dancing is mainly for the men.

Amazingly not. Anyone who has ever been to the Orient knows how much women love their dance and how often they dance among and for each other. The idea that the "harem dance" served to please the sultan is a Western cliché that was vigorously fueled by orientalists of all stripes.

Most often in the harem it served the purpose of fighting deadly boredom in the golden cage. He also owes the cliché that belly dancing is a kind of oriental table dance to writers like Gustave Flaubert, who visited the famous dancers for their dance skills, but mainly to sleep with them for money.

5. Everyone can belly dance.

Belly dance for household use, for fitness and for enjoying the oriental lifestyle can indeed be enjoyed by everyone: men, women, children. But not the stage-ready belly dance. As the saying goes: Many are called, but only a few are chosen. Good oriental dance requires years of practice and further education, daily training, perfect technique, a high level of musicality, a good sense of rhythm and, absolutely, charisma, a certain look and a personal touch. Bad belly dancing, on the other hand, is almost unbearable.

Antje Sievers: Dance on the Orient Express - A Feminist Critique of Islam, with an afterword by Zana Ramadani, hardcover / flap brochure, 21.0 x 14.5 cm, Verlag Achgut Edition, ISBN 978-3-9819755-0-5, € 17.00 .Go to the shop here.

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