The comments on this post made me realise something. Where do we place feminists who were Muslim once? They are actively reinterpreting scripture in their own way so in some ways they behave like Muslim women whom I earlier called “Islamic feminist theologians” (the process Wadud calls Islamic Feminism), but these women are not Muslim feminists. Women like Wafa Sultan, Taslima Nasrin and Ayan Hirsi Ali are extremely important, influential and powerful women. They are braver than the men who leave Islam because they don’t hide behind pseudonyms and they have almost always been victimised by their society in the name of religion.
Furthermore, I don’t know how to argue that what happened to them “was not Islam!” because we also acknowledge that Islam is not monolithic. What happened to Hirsi Ali, for example, is Somalian Islam. To a Yemeni girl who is married off when she turns nine years old – that is Islam. That is not *our* Islam, but then we are not Yemeni either. The Islam Nasrin knows is Bangladeshi. A woman exploited through Mutah in Iran or Misyar in Saudi Arabia experiences the Islam in these two countries. Where do we draw the line? How do we say what is Islam and what these women saw and suffered from was not Islam?
Muslims mostly reject the pain and efforts of these women because they are now outside the Circle, but how should Muslim feminists handle the fragile situation of these women? I do feel that the more we reject these women, the angrier they will become with Islam and Muslims. It is plain psychology. Should we reject their views outright? Can we learn anything from these women?