How dare you?!

Wikipedia informs a lay person that “Islamic feminists advocate women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded within an Islamic framework.” That is most basic. But most Muslim feminists that I have had the good fortune to know stand up for rights of every human being regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. That was my first surprise – acceptance of homosexuality and support of gays by many Muslim feminists.

Most if not all Muslim feminists actually do the same – they stand up in support for all just causes for all people. Now here is my problem and question – if someone wants to be Muslim and fight for the rights of women why do we deny them this right by putting them down saying “Islam and feminism are mutually exclusive”? I have had Muslims tell me they don’t need feminism! I have had Muslim women claim they know their place and feminism is not required. What is their place? And if it isn’t equal to that of a man’s then are they practicing a version of Islam that is just? Why or how could a woman not want justice and equality?

I feel that those who tell Muslim feminists that Islam and feminism are mutually exclusive are the ones who are denying Muslim women their rights. And I feel a certain hatred and fear in their stance. If you are telling a woman that she can’t be a feminist as long as she is Muslim you should be the first victim of her feminist wrath! I haven’t heard any Muslim feminist say that but if someone told me that I couldn’t be Muslim and a feminist I would question their integrity and motive in making that observation. And I would ask them how dare they think they can tell a feminist how to think.

I have always been a woman who never allowed anyone to think in her place and no thank you, you can’t tell me that Islam and feminism are mutually exclusive.


19 thoughts on “How dare you?!

  1. susanne430 says:

    I think some people have been brainwashed into thinking Islam gives them all their rights and if those are good enough for Allah, they should be good enough for all Muslim women. By contrast, you – in their minds – are not satisfied with Allah’s gifts to you so you are at fault for thinking you must fight for some rights that you already have in Islam.

    I don’t think those people are trying to be mean to you. They are just thinking you are fighting a cause that doesn’t need fighting for since you are protected and exalted in Islam already. Protected jewel, heaven lies at your feet (if you have kids) and so forth.

  2. LK says:

    Susanne has a point. I witnessed this with many of my Muslim girlfriends. They felt Islam gave them everything and things were the way they are for a reason. I remember myself and a new convert trying to get the girls to pray behind the men so we could see and have enough room. The Imam shot us down and said we didn’t belong on that side. Instead we stayed in the cramped little alcove that was the women’s section. The girls just agreed with him and went back into the little space. They felt it was not their place to question, even though what we asked for was within our rights.

  3. Lat says:

    Besides the points put forward above,the word feminisim may still be thought of as a western construct,as discussed somewhere in your other posts.It may have been this case before but times are changing and not all women think this way.The women who say they don’t need feminisim and such,are exactly the kind who stab other women in the back.They help to perpetuate oppression and injustice to women.They need to be told that.That they are also a part of the problem.They do not allow Muslim women to think for themselves.I showed my ‘wrath’ sort of and still they refuse to think! Traditions are soooo strong,you know. Well we can easily wake people who are really asleep but not those who are pretending to sleep.

  4. almostclever says:

    Love this! Do you mind if I repost it at my blog and credit it back to you? I would love to open some eyes up.

  5. Metis says:

    Susie, LK and Lat, thanks for your comments! I do understand why Muslims would say that; I mean I can understand their point of view and Muslims usually say they don’t need feminism but what about non-Muslims. Why would they tell a Muslim feminist that Islam is not compatible with feminism. I can only see Islamophobia as the reason.

    • almostclever says:

      I have had white, western, male professors ask me up front if it is possible for me to be a Muslim and a feminist… There is a sense of disbelief.

      Coming from white western feminists, especially radical feminists – they will openly berate a woman who claims religion or wears hijab, calling her a fraud to feminism or “male identified”

      One word: Ignorance.

    • susanne430 says:

      Sorry I hate the word Islamophobia so I just cringed. 😀 It’s the new anti-Semitic to me. Overused. Just because someone says anything negative about Islam at all, it’s thrown in our faces. IMO.

      I don’t see it as this, but as AC said “ignorance.” They see covered women, think of forced marriages (like the stat you posted about Germany, for example), hear stories of honor killings and wrongly assume Islam discriminates against women. Then they make the erroneous conclusion that “Islam is not compatible with feminism.” A guy on my Facebook said Muslim (especially Arab) women were treated like dirt the other day and I was able to think of you and others I’ve met online and tell him that definitely this was not true of all Muslim women. So I’m trying to inform them so they can learn just as I have had to learn from all of you.

      And I am sorry for not answering this question before as I thought you were talking of Muslim women saying no to feminism, not nonMuslims saying this.

      • almostclever says:

        Why do you hate the word Islamophobia? I mean, it basically stands for racism. Yes, Islam has become more of an ethnicity in the states (and in other western countries) than a religion, so basically Islamophobia means racism. To be called a racist is essentially to be deemed ignorant, no? So isn’t Islamophobia or racism parallel, if not the same as ignorance?

        I don’t think calls of racism are unjustified in our current environment and current global politics. If we are calling something ignorance, essentially it is racism.

        For example, if all we see on the news is black guys robbing convenience stores, and then we make broad based assumptions about all black people, and black culture – we would say that person is ignorant about black culture, but they would also be racist in their assumptions, why? Because those ignorant assumptions lead to racist actions like discrimination and personal prejudice.

        The same is true of people who hold racist assumptions about Muslims based on media representations. I mean, we have an entire group of Muslim people’s being placed on reservations due in part to Islamophobia, until that issue is resolved I will not be calling that term “old.”

        We may be sick of hearing it, as whites, because possibly it stirs up some guilt in us that we are tired of facing, but Islamophobia has not gone the way of “anti-semitism.” Until Muslims have been accepted into the fabric of societies across the globe, we need to stand up for Muslims when they are making claims of Islamophobia instead of dismissing them or being “tired” of hearing about it.

        Islamophobia and ignorance is parallel, if not one and the same. Either way, one fits with and follows the other regardless.

        • susanne430 says:

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Islamophobia. I feel the term (and maybe the charge) is overused and I just don’t like it. But I have other words I don’t like as well (crisp, relaxation) so don’t take it personally. It doesn’t mean I am fine with people disrespecting Muslims. I simply get tired of hearing that particular word. It loses its “oomph” when it’s thrown around all the time. It seems if someone doesn’t like Islam and admits it, they are an Islamophobe. We all have to like Islam in order to get rid of that label?

          And honestly I’m tired of people playing both sides. I hear certain Muslims say things against their religion and other Muslims yet they use Islamophobe if nonMuslims say something. So I guess the lesson for me is that criticism should come from within the faith and not from without. Is that how you believe as well? Is that how it should be?

          For the record, I don’t think of Islam/Muslim as an ethnicity since I’ve been told so many times that there are white converts (like you) and not all Muslims are Arab,Indonesian, Bangledeshi, etc. However, I had an acquaintance who once said Obama was 1/2 white,1/4 black and 1/4 Muslim so maybe you are right about how it’s perceived in the States! Hmmm.

          I appreciate your thoughts. I hope you will try to understand where I’m coming from. Just because I admitted to not liking a certain word, it doesn’t mean I hate Muslims or am fine with people talking bad about them.

      • Salma says:

        ya exactly, western feminists prove their studies by stating middle east represents the archetype of islam. im south african, in a multicultural society where our women are in top positions in terms of workplace, they still cover their head and thank Allah.just cos islam started in middle east doesnt mean they practicing it in the way it was ordained. Our prophet stated ‘the best of u, are those who are best to ur women’…does islamic feminism pose a threat to western feminists? it would undermine all their years of study?

    • Serenity says:

      Me, I often get told that we don’t “need” feminism either, but it’s not that they’re against feminism or don’t believe in gender equality (or equity, as they prefer to call it). They misunderstand Islamic feminism to be an extension of the radical form of western feminism and so they think Muslim feminists wanna burn their bras, become lesbians, abandon their families, hate on all men, and so on. Even though they ultimately want the same things we want, I think – at least one of them, anyway, which is justice for all. They also don’t realize that Islamic feminism is grounded in activism (or at least I think so), while opponents of Islamic feminism whom I’ve encountered don’t really have any practical means of achieving what they believe to be justice for all according to Islam.

      I say both groups essentially want the same thing, but one thinks God will take care of it (what?!) while the other thinks we have to make it happen if we really want it to happen — and most proponents of the latter idea also believe (like me) that we can achieve this goal of justice using Islamic ideals.

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  8. almostclever says:

    I would never think you hate Muslims, I think you are such a wonderful Ally Susanne!

    To answer your questions:

    “And honestly I’m tired of people playing both sides. I hear certain Muslims say things against their religion and other Muslims yet they use Islamophobe if nonMuslims say something. So I guess the lesson for me is that criticism should come from within the faith and not from without. Is that how you believe as well? Is that how it should be?”

    I do think that certain critiques or changes have to happen from within’. It’s kinda like “I can fight with my sister all I want, but anyone else better not disrespect her,” ya know? I think the best non Muslims can do is educate themselves (just as you do) and be aware of politics and imperialism and how those systems work. As non Muslims, a supportive stance is key.

    I do think that is how it should be, no one can force change on a community based on their own cultural standards. It would simply create insulation and defensiveness, just as we see in some communities. I also think no matter how close non Muslims feel they are with Muslims, it still doesn’t make them Muslim and doesn’t give them the freedom to “judge” as they please. There is this excellent comedy routine where this black man is talking about his white friend, and how one day his friend thought they knew each other well enough, and was comfortable enough with black culture to start calling him “nigga.” Well, that was a mistake. LOL. I think the same goes for non Muslims. We can only go so far in our critiques before we fall on the wrong side or even show our own ignorance against those we support, u know?

    And btw, my sister-in-law hates the word “moist.” LOL 🙂

    • susanne430 says:

      LOL @ moist! I may add that one to my list. 😀

      Thanks for your kind reply. You make excellent points, and I appreciate your willingness to help me understand better!

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