Aishah’s Legacy

As the term ‘Islamic feminism’ gained currency in the 1990s through scholars and activists, it would clarify the perspective of a large number of women somewhere between Islamists and secular feminists. While they would not give up their allegiance to Islam as an essential part of self-determination and identity they did critique patriarchal control over the basic Islamic world-view. Islamic feminism did not define these women, and many still reject the term. However, the term helped others to understand the distinction between them and the two dominant approaches for Muslim women’s rights.

Read Amina Wadud’s full article here. I welcome your thoughts, comments and opinions.

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11 thoughts on “Aishah’s Legacy

  1. Lat says:

    I understand where the article is leading.But what is Aishah’s legacy? I’ve read that she said the most number of hadiths and taught many people including males behind a screen.And yes that she took part in a battle.Did she not lose the battle and was sent home packing, and told to look after her grandkids? She could be behind some other clashes that occured later but did she herself come out as an army general again? We also know that the battle itself took place because of her feelings towards Ali,not for some upliftment for women’s status etc.

    The way I read and understand,she seemed to have contributed to sectarian violence rather than some goodwill embassader,to bring unity to differing views and splitting groups.In fact no other Mothers of Believers are mentioned taking any important steps towards this.Their participation towards emancipation of women is even more difficult to access and read,if there are any.Maybe women were bold and challenged authority then,but we do not get that much info about them or highlighted as heroines in our age.Somewhere along the early road itself they’ve disappeared…completely.Except only as voices behind the screen.

    “Islamic feminism did not define these women, and many still reject the term. However, the term helped others to understand the distinction between them and the two dominant approaches for Muslim women’s rights.”

    Maybe.I’m still confused when it comes to terms 🙂

    • Metis says:

      Those are some very interesting and valid points. I never thought about that. Yes, Aisha didn’t like Ali because he doubted her and advised the Prophet to divorce her. Had the divorce really happened, I wonder how bad things would have been between Aisha, Abu Bakr on one side and Ali and Prophet on the other. Could it be that she harboured that anger all those years? She was capable of doing that.

      Feminism has taken on a bad name but Islamic feminism is not the same as secular feminism and even in the latter not all feminists are ruthless man-eaters.

  2. susanne430 says:

    I like reading the way she points out the feminism of the Quran by mostly using the creation story and contrasting it to the Bible. I wonder how she explains the beating of wives that is allowed in “the most trustworthy and reliable source of Islam itself — the Qur’an.”

    I enjoyed the article although I don’t know that Aishah deserves all this credit. Granted I formed my opinion of her from Reza Aslan’s book, but I don’t find her all that impressive. Maybe being used as a pawn of powerful men and all the drama surrounding her life at such a young age did that to her.

    • Metis says:

      Susie, Shiites do not like Aisha at all. I have read two books by Shia authors and both were not only disrespectful towards her but also very angry. One openly accused her of adultery with Safwan. Thus, Aslan’s vision is somewhat the same and definitely not shared by Sunnis. Wadud is Sunni.

  3. unsettledsoul says:

    From what I have learned, most of Aisha’s hadith were tossed out by men and labeled invalid because she was “radical” in her interpretations. From what I have read we only actually have a very small portion of actual hadith from Aisha.

    How much have we lost because of this? I think a whole lot.

    I honestly think some Muslim women reject the term because of the bad rep the word “feminist” has. I swear it needs a new pr campaign. lol

    Speaking of women in Islamic history, I have to say Hajar is my favorite. I call her the first single mother of Islam.

    Anyway, when reading “Standing Alone in Mecca” by Asra Q. Nomani, she spoke at length about Hajar and how the author, as a single mother, gained immense strength from Hajar’s story.

    That was my first time reading at length about a woman in Islamic history that was not a wife of the prophet.

    Of course, Asra Q. Nomani is considered radical and completely outside the boundary of Islam, but it is rather convenient when all the women who approach Islam from a perspective differing from men’s traditional interpretations, are labeled frauds.

    • Metis says:

      Some great points there, US. One thing I want to do through my research is give MFs a good rep 🙂 It is unfortunate that Progressive Muslims and MFs have received such bad press.

      Nomani irritates me but I also find her soft-spoken and calm. I understand that she doesn’t have knowledge of her own religion but that doesn’t mean she isn’t or can’t be Muslim.

      I feel for Hagar too. Poor woman was literally deserted!

    • susanne430 says:

      That book about Hajar seems interesting! I agree that she seems a good feminist role model even though my views of her are only from the Bible so it’s probably a bit different from the Islamic perspective on her.

      What does the Quran say about Hajar? I read it this past spring, but nothing stands out in my mind now concerning her. The only Hagar stories I know are from the Bible. She is the woman who named God. 🙂 Honestly that’s a pretty impressive story about her in a Jewish book seeing how some Jews (I had one visit my blog recently …he was different.) don’t like those Ishmaelites. Plus for all the Bible’s cultural baggage (i.e. seeped in patriarchy), it has some pretty good stories about women from time to time. Hagar’s is a good example.

      I’m glad you mentioned her, Sarah! She’s a great example!

      • Metis says:

        Hagar is not mentioned in the Quran. The little we know about her are from four hadith that exist in Sahih Bukhari two of which are narrated by a Companion.

  4. unsettledsoul says:

    Yea I have no clue about Nomani’s knowledge of her own religion, but her book moved me. She spoke much about Hajar. How she was Abraham’s mistress, about her being kicked out due to Sarah’s jealousy, how she walked the desert alone with Ishmael searching for water. Anyway Nomani was skilled at weaving the story to show how there is room in Islam for single mothers because that is what Hajar was. She talks about the Hajj also, how the part of the hajj where you trek from one site to another to throw the stones at the devil is supposed to reenact Hajars own trek through the desert. She speaks at length about her own Hajj and how she kept remembering Hajar’s story and what Hajar must have gone through.

    Completely moved me. I thought it was excellent! I read her book when first finding my way in Islam and it totally validated the feelings I was having at the time and I credit her for making me feel like I do have a place in Islam.

    It was my first time reading about women in Islam, from a Muslim woman, so for me it was very important.

    She is much like Amina Wadud as far as her feelings toward her religion.

  5. Lat says:

    I wonder whether Hajar’s story was popular during the prophet’s time.Is that why her story is not mentioned in Quran? I find her absence there confusing esp when you have hajj,people relating stories about her yearly and yet she is completely absent in the Quran.

    It’ll be good to read the book about Hajar,not only of her relation to hajj but her lifestory.

    • Abdullah says:

      You think somebody chose the stories they wanted to put in the Qur’an? And the popular ones came up in the Qur’an because they were well known at that time?

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