Doll Says “Islam Is The Light”: People Freak Out

Several months ago Mattel released a talking doll that apparently said, if you listened closely: “Islam is the light.” To be honest I’m not sure that’s what I would have heard if it was not suggested to me. But enough people seem to have heard it. Seems to me that Mattel must answer some basic questions.

Being a parent myself, I would not be concerned only about an objectionable message on my child’s toy, but about the overrall security of manufacturing process. How was someone able to record the message? Did no one check the master recording before it went to duplication? Was there no quality control on the finished dolls? After the scare about lead in children’s toys, these strike me as legitimate safety concerns for which Mattel should be held accountable.

However, a group of mothers called “Moms Ask Mattel for Accountability” has set up a website for protesting the doll.

From the MAMA website:

MAMA -is a public education effort by concerned families to protect children from being invited to join Islam, without their parents’ knowledge or permission. Mattel, the largest toy maker in the world, is still selling a toy that says “Islam is the Light” – the Little Mommy Real Loving Baby Cuddle & Coo Doll, in spite of protests by parents, media and store owners. We ask Mattel to recall the toy immediately during the 2008 Christmas season. If Mattel will not recall the toy, we ask retailers to remove it from store shelves. If retailers keep selling the toy, we ask them attach the MAMA labels to the toy packaging, so parents are not subject to what may be deceptive advertising by omission of materially important information about the toy’s risks.

As concerned parents, we have also started this campaign to educate retailers, state and federal government officials, our communities, fellow parents and Mattel itself about the very real threat to the civil liberties of girls under Islamic legal doctrine of Shariah. Shariah treats girls and women with systematic discrimination – with child marriages, polygamy, honor killings, legalized beatings, unequal treatment in courts and inheritance, executions. Shariah forces girls and women into a kind of gender apartheid. Parents have every reason to be concerned about a toy that summons young girls to join Islam by telling them “Islam is the light,” given Shariah law’s discriminatory treatment of girls and women – as well as Shariah’s discrimination toward non-Muslims, Muslim reformers, and Muslims who have left Islam.

MAMA seems to be more concerned about how the doll will implement a particularly repressive understanding of shari’ah, or, in this instance, Islamic legal application.

Because the application of shari’ah is dependent on understandings of the various legal schools of thought, the varieties of application are incredibly diverse. So although we can speak of a shari’ah, the bogeyman that is raised is that everything that is done according to Muslim law is shari’ah based. While technically accurate, it is incredibly misleading. It’s like saying since felines eat people we should fear domestic house cats. I am actually glad that they are documenting the violence done to women in the name of Islam, but rather than lump it under a category that they have little understanding of, I would rather they work in common with groups who actually understand the situation of Muslim women, like WISE. What they have done instead is to fall prey to a bogeyman, an imaginary fear, that blinds them to the real and immediate danger.

As a parent, my immediate concern is that Mattel’s manufacturing process was violated. How did it happen? What is being done to remedy the situation? Almost half the Muslim world lives in the five countries of Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Turkey. All of them have democratically elected a female head of state. MAMAs may find the message offensive—that is their right—but by demonizing a culture that has elected more heads of state than the country they live in they are demonstrating the misguided nature of their concerns regarding children’s safety.