White, lesbian, or working class

Is Muslim feminism really inclusive of the concerns of a Muslim woman who may also be White, lesbian, or working class?

This question may be a little far removed from what is expected of Muslim feminism. As Muslim feminists, we are concerned about what empowers us as Muslim women. The obvious place where many of us find strength is in our faith, and many more turn to sacred scripture for self-affirmation. This is perhaps where the lines between Muslim feminism and Islamic feminism blur.


Alicia on MMW.


10 thoughts on “White, lesbian, or working class

  1. sarah says:

    What are the definitions of Islamic and Muslim feminism? What are the distinctions between the two?

  2. sarah says:

    I read the definitions cited in the article but to me it seems that ‘Islamic’ is being used in a slightly critical sense. Is the author saying that ‘Islamic’ feminists are more strict and rigid than Muslim feminists? It almost sounds like a slur.
    IMHO any Muslims or Islamic viewpoint will be based on the Quran. Even the Quran is open to interpretation and not all the verses are cast in stone, debate is there. To my mind ‘Islamic’ is the perhaps not the right word. Conservative vs Liberal perhaps as I feel the two terms (muslim and Islamic) are symbiotic and not separate. How can we define if one Muslim is more or less islamic than another – it isn’t possible. Practicing verses reformed or lapsed? Other terms seem to be more appropriate to the author’s point.

  3. Metis says:

    Sarah, I think Islamic feminists in the article are those women I call Islamic Feminist Theologians here (https://musfem.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/feminism-vs-theology/). There is no clear distinction between Muslim Feminists and Islamic Feminists although at least the Wikipedia claims that there is a difference. Every Muslim woman who is also a feminist comes up with her own definition, but Amina Wadud defines Islamic feminists as the *scholars* – those women and men who reinterpret Quran and Hadith with a feminist view. She defines all other feminists who are Muslim as Muslim feminists.

    I’ll read the article again because I didn’t think she was trying to ridicule the ‘Islamic feminists.’

    • Metis says:

      Was it because of “Islamic feminism is often regarded the preserve of the scholarly elite who analyze scripture in microscopic detail.”?

      Actually I have met Muslim women who have studied Islam and Islamic feminism who begin to believe that Quran can only be interpreted by a *scholar.* It is slightly annoying and also disappointing because then it means I can only *read* the Quran without thinking, questioning or even understanding all of which will be done for me by someone with *knowledge* and certain type of self-defined skills. I think Alicia meant this in that sentence.

  4. sarah says:

    Metis, isn’t this the way of so many religions. An elite group of people can ‘understand’ the scriptures, in many religions only a select group can even read them. Maybe Islam will also become like that but I would like to see a verse which justifies such an assertion. The Quran has a strong oral transmission which should mean that even illiterate people can hear it and understand. If such women take the view described then they are definately against my feminist tendencies because they are trying to exclude others. A true feminist would feel inclusive towards all women and not just an elite section. Yes there are devisive issues but if someone claims to be a Muslim I have no right to say that they are not.

  5. Lat says:

    If muslim feminism affects all ‘labeled’ as muslim women,then why are white,working class women,even lesbian,excluded? I don’t quite understand.Is it because they’re westerners?

    • Metis says:

      Alicia’s argument is that they shouldn’t be excluded. Also she uses the word ‘or’ between the three labels so she isn’t claiming that only white women are lesbian, for example 🙂 I feel sad that no Muslim feminist is willing to talk about those many Muslim women who are homosexual because their society limits their mobility and choices. Similarly, there are the working class women who have no choice but to work and have babies so the argument that Islam balances gender roles is fine but what about those women who must work or else starve? How many times do we talk about their lives?!

  6. Sara says:

    In my definition of Muslim feminism, it can embrace anyone. We are struggling not only against patriarchy and literalism themselves, but also against the idea that there is ONE way of being, ONE way of knowing and ONE way of practicing Islam. No. There are many. A lesbian Muslim is a Muslim just like a straight woman is a Muslim. A black woman is a Muslim just like an Arab woman is a Muslim.
    Muslim feminists need to be careful that in the process of freeing ourselves, we don’t enslave others.

  7. Metis says:

    “Muslim feminists need to be careful that in the process of freeing ourselves, we don’t enslave others.”


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