Following on from that question, is Islam compatible with feminism? This question is purely provocative on my behalf. I can’t stand it. I am ask[ed] this question [by] a French journalist who believes they are asking a really pertinent question. As for me, I refuse to answer out of principle. On the one hand, because it comes from a position of arrogance. The representative of civilization X is demanding that the representative of civilization Y prove something. Y is, therefore, put in dock and must provide proof of her/his “modern-ness”, justify her/him-self to please X. On the other hand, because the answer is not simple when one knows that the Islamic world is not monolithic. The debate could go on forever and that is exactly what happens when you make the mistake of trying to answer. Myself, I cut to the chase by asking X the following question: Is the French Republic compatible with feminism? I can guarantee you one thing: ideological victory is in the answer to this question. In France, 1 woman dies every 3 days as a result of domestic violence. The number rapes per year is estimated around 48 000. Women are underpaid. Women’s pensions are considerably less substantial than those of men. Political, economic and symbolic power remains mostly in the hands of men. True, since the 60’s and 70’s, men share more in household duties: statistically, 3 min more than 30 years ago!! So I ask my question again: are the French Republic and feminism compatible? We would be tempted to say no! Actually, the answer is neither yes nor no. French women liberated French women and it’s thanks to them that the Republic is less macho than it was. The same goes for Arabo-Muslim, African and Asian countries. No more, no less. With, however, one extra challenge: consolidating within women’s struggles the decolonial dimension, that is to say the critique of modernity and eurocentrism.
How to legitimize Islamic feminism? For me, it legitimizes itself. It doesn’t have to pass a feminist exam. The simple fact that Muslim women have taken it up to demand their rights and their dignity is enough for it to be fully recognized. I know, as result of my intimate knowledge of women from the Maghreb and in the diaspora, that “the-submissive-woman” does not exist. She was invented. I know women that are dominated. Submissive ones are rarer!
A couple of days after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, 24-year-old Nawara Belal was driving in Cairo when she was verbally abused by an army officer.
“I got out of my car, opened the door of his car and slapped him in the face,” she said. “I realized he wouldn’t do anything about it, and it gave me the power to do what I wanted to do to every harasser in my past.
“I would never have been able to do that before the revolution.”
What’s gotten my hijab in a bunch are people who reason that hijab protects one from sexual assault and raises them above the status of the non-hijabi. Some of this online rhetoric reasons that covering makes you treasured, honoured, chaste and pure — while uncovering makes you cheap, indecent, and unchaste. A hijabi is raised, praised, and valued for her Islamic faith and knowledge, even if she has none. A non-hijabi is hell-bound.
It’s dangerous to present modest dress and mannerisms as protection, when assault or oppression is not about clothing, and when clothing is used to restrict women. It’s unfair to believe that you cannot be modest, respectful or a scholar without hijab and to do so marginalizes people who are certainly sincere Muslims, brilliant, and hijabless. Hijab does not mean you’re chaste and sinless and everyone else is promiscuous. Society’s ills are not solved with a piece of cloth, but with education, attitude changes and support. Hijab should not be limited, nor limiting. We are not commodities. And it’s plain offensive to prefer a hijab wearer above anyone.
Thoughts? I love this. The most unattractive thing about a woman is when she believes the only aspect of hijab is of the hair. I wish the author went a bit more into the “hijab of the senses” compared to that of a piece of cloth, but I presume she didn’t want to alienate anyone based on interpretation.
2011 is going to be the year of women for the world’s largest and most powerful international Muslim body. The 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has prepared an action plan to advance the status and rights of women among its member states. And the OIC’s next chair-nation, Kazakhstan, is set to make that issue a priority.
The OIC is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and is the main institutional voice for the entire Ummah, or Muslim world, of 1.2 billion people.
Kazakhstan is going to take over the chairmanship of the OIC in June and its Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) is already promoting a multi-point program to advance women’s rights during its year in office.
First, Kazakhstan is organizing an OIC International Conference on Women Affairs in the Muslim World to be held in Astana.
Second, Kazakhstan plans to be active in launching the programs of a new International Islamic Center for Women’s Affairs, Kazakh government officials told Central Asia Newswire (CAN) in late 2010. The charter creating the new institute was approved by the necessary 15 OIC member nations last year. Kazakh officials see their work with the new center as a key factor in promoting women’s issues during their year in office, said officials.
Third, Kazakh officials say they hope to expand the OIC’s social agenda using the OIC’s new Family Affairs Department which was created to fulfill a resolution approved by OIC foreign ministers during their 2009 council meeting in Dushanbe.
Fourth, Kazakh MFA officials are lobbying other OIC states to get them to approve legislation increasing the involvement of Muslim women in their economic, cultural and political spheres. Kazakhstan is also promoting within OIC member states greater protection for women from violence and discrimination in line with Islamic values of justice as well as the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination.