“Islamic feminism is more than a movement: it is a retrieval of the ways Islam had been practiced before and should be practiced still. It is the reclamation of the rights of women, from twisted patriarchal interpretations and mistranslations, back into the hands of the women to whom they belong. It is a return to understanding the Qur’an in the classical language in which it was delivered and ahadith in the contexts and specific conditions in which they were proclaimed, instead of through the lenses of a bigoted culture that uses them as political weapons.”—Nahida at the Fatal Feminist (via muslimfeminists)
“Education should inspire you; it should expand your knowledge base and open you up to the possibility of new experiences and for me an Arts degree did exactly that. The world is brimming with successful Arts graduates. Take Kevin Rudd who graduated with a major in Asian Studies, knowledge evidently useful in his stint as PM and later as Minister for Foreign Affairs. Consider JK Rowling who studied the classics before writing the Harry Potter series that sold over 375 million copies worldwide and translated into 64 different languages. Or Steve Jobs who credits his study of calligraphy as inspiring the typography for the first ever Mac, before he hit Silicon Valley with a force few of us will forget, even Stephen Colbert studied philosophy before moving into comedy. An Arts degree doesn’t reduce you to nothingness before your peers (unless you let it); it provides you with a springboard from which to dive into a sea of rewarding possibility. The expectations of polite society, our parents and the lady at the bus stop might unconsciously steer us toward a stable job in a noble profession, but remember this; rarely does a degree guarantee you a job no matter how specialised it is. So I’ll tell you what I tell all my students and that is, for the love of any deity in which you believe, if any at all, follow your passion and the rest will come. And as for the title, well it doesn’t really matter how swanky it is here, it won’t appear on your tombstone.”—
“These women don’t make headlines for their religion. Is it because they don’t feel the need to wear headscarves? Or the fact that their countries have not discouraged their participation? The truth is that Wojdan Shaherkani fits much better into the western stereotype of Muslim women: uncompetitive hijabis labouring under patriarchal oppression. Runners who take gold and not scarves don’t get reported as “Muslim.”—Why I pretty much haven’t followed discussions on Muslim women’s participation in the Olympics. (via kawrage)
Looks like I’m in charge for tonight. Sometimes ignorance can really get to our heads especially when some folks on Tumblr assume Muslim women need the “most saving” because their religion is the “most sexist.” It’s amazing how - and this isn’t just a Tumblr phenomenon - many people on this micro-blogging forum have yet to read the entire Quran in its context and massive history. To take one verse out and misconstrue it endlessly, only proves ignorance on said person’s part. I’ve never known of Laci Green. I never cared, honestly speaking. I’ve had better sources of sex positive education than a racist, xenophobic YouTube pseudo-star who incorrectly claims that a supposedly half-Iranian person can’t be Islamophobic. Shocker: Many POC are Islamophobic, it’s not a matter of race as much as it is a matter of ideological conflict.
I’ve had terribly Islamophobic people accusing my faith of practices that aren’t theological but cultural, yet these people had the audacity to claim ‘authentic’ knowledge of Islam. Conflating culture with religion is a dangerous comprehension of communities and it leads to what we have witnessed in history the justification of wars, colonialism and imperialist-driven ‘saving’ of indigenous women. Many of you need to immediately reevaluate your understanding of the East and its culture(s). You need to read extensively about orientalism, colonialism, imperialism and their collective abuse of religion and politics that naturally affected both men and women.
So let’s start with a 101 brief introduction to books the uninitiated need to read if they do indeed want to be part of the Muslim women agency discourse. If you don’t study these or related work(s), you’re not well equipped with our history, our faith and our highly complex, richly diverse identity. Stay quiet then.
Here are some e-books by my favorite Muslim feminists or, as some of them insist to be called, gender-egalitarianists (considering their legitimate issues with the Western origin of feminism). Try finding work by Asma Barlas (Pakistani), Ziba Mir Hosseini (Iranian), Sadiyya Shaikh (Sudanese), Fadwa Al Labadi (Palestinian), Azizah al Hibri, Abdessamad Dialmy (Moroccan), Rozana Isa (Malaysian), Suha Taji-Faruqi.
Imperiled Muslim women, Dangerous Muslim men and Civilized Europeans: Legal and Social Responses to Forced Marriages by Sherene Razack.
The Seductions of Honor Crime by Lila Abu Lughod.
Hundreds of publications, lectures, videos, and so much more. What rock do racists and xenophobic folks live under?
Let’s just remember one basic fact: If you are not Muslim, let alone female Muslim, you cannot and should not speak for us or our goals and priorities in life. Many of us follow a definition of progress that is inherently contrary to yours. To force us into accepting your idea of success and empowerment is to do what colonialists and imperialists did and continue doing. Remember when I said this?
I’m a Muslim woman. And I’m not oppressed by my religion.
What oppresses me as a citizen and as a human being is the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teachings, cultural distortion of basic theological beliefs and man-made rules directed cruelly at women only. What ties me down and suffocates me is gender discrimination done as a result of following back-breaking mores. But, above all, what oppresses me is the common man’s basic mistake of believing what he hears from malicious conservatives. You can help me from being oppressed by simply using your head for a change. When you hear someone say, “Oh, the hijab’s only a symbol of misogyny”, you can stop for a second, do your research and realize that, no, it’s a practice that the majority respectfully believes in for all sorts of reasons. You can also realize that the author of this post isn’t wearing a hijab at all. For a rational Muslim, it’s all about the freedom to choose. You can sit back and delete that ill-informed hate speech you had ready. You can learn that objectivity plays a key role when you’re studying other people’s religion.
Your ignorance and usage of savior, racist rhetoric is oppressive. There is no denying that there is sexism in cultures - have a look at the hyper sexualized image of a woman in modern day America - but you will never hear a critic castigate Christianity, you won’t find critics lambasting Western ideas of women representation and such. Which highlights the hypocrisy found in the discourse concerning Muslim women and their empowerment. No one asked you to liberate us. One of the reasons why Muslim women remain reluctant, including myself, to participate in white mainstream feminism is because of the shameless denial of privilege on part of white feminists and also because our bodies and identities are turned into battlefields. Read this part from my essay: The Other-izing of Muslim Women in Western Feminism and Hegemonic Discourse(s). Our issues are prioritized according to white feminists’ preferences. If that’s ‘feminism’, none of us want to be part of it.
So let’s get one thing clear in today’s lesson: Matters aren’t as simple as you folks assume them to be. Religion, politics, personal identity, regions, cultures, timeline(s) of historical events affect gender politics in ways that are beyond your imagination. Think a few hundred times before you decide to talk about a religion and culture you don’t belong to.
“This is one of the main reasons, women of colour, third world feminists, black feminists etc. don’t recognize themselves with mainstream white feminism. The issue is that mainstream feminism views everything from a single lens perspective. They view themselves to be white saviours who can move ahead and fix the situation of women around the world, even if it means lack of understanding and respect of others’ culture, religion and identity.”—
The same trend has been witnessed by the rise of Islamophobia in West especially after the incident on September 11, 2001. We do recognize that patriarchy exists in our cultures and there are some serious issues around women and their access to basic rights, but we are not in favour of the fact that western white women, can come up and speak on our behalf. We are more than capable of speaking up for ourselves. This act of taking space and leadership by white women on issues of women of colour and Muslim women, de-legitimatizes and reduces the impact of our work. This places women of colour and esp. Muslim women in a difficult position where they are fighting patriarchy in their spaces but they also have to ask ‘white women’ to back off.
“I hate how the west has robbed the label of “progressive” from us” [said] Paco Bernal.