Can you be a Muslim Woman and a feminist ? For some both of the terms together don’t go down the throats very well. If you say the F word , you can be dreaded for a woman who will run down the streets naked shouting weird slogans ! Thanks to ‘Free the Nipples’ Campaign supporters and FEMEN activist for giving such an image for Feminist Women worldwide. Feminism is much more than just freeing our bodies or not wearing makeup or making some odd stands ! The earliest dated Feminist movement started in 1848 in America with the first Women’s Conference which identified the issues such as guardianship of infants, property rights, divorce, access to higher education, equal pay , right to vote and protective legislation for women workers.
Do you see any problem voicing any of the above mentioned issues? I think every woman will stand for it and this is what Feminism has always revolved around , then why so much noise when you hear someone being a Feminist?
Thanks to all those Feminists who stood against the patriarchal and misogynist systems and fought which is why the constitutions of the most of the democratic and republican countries safeguards the rights of Women today.
Since then feminism has evolved in West and it has evolved in the East. There was a growing wave of feminism in Muslim major countries where branches like Islamic Feminism have originated so what is this Islamic Feminism and how is it different than main stream Feminism or secular Feminism? There have been books written over the entire two words, so I cant do justice to explain everything in few lines but to cut the long story short, Those who identify with Feminism based on teaching of Islam and support rereading and interpretation of Quranic texts from a women’s perspective are mostly called Islamic Feminists. Some of the well known women are : Amina Wadud, co-founder of Sisters in Islam ,Leila Ahmed , Asma Barlas . They advocate for Women equal rights in Mosque and Rights to lead the Prayers as an Imam, etc which have not been well received by Islamic scholars worldwide. Their work have been condemned by major scholars. Recently I have been researching a lot on these terms and the pioneers of such movements. More to be followed as I will advance on their work and books.
So to keep away the scorns and frowns of clerics, Muslim women more like to be associated with the term Muslim Feminists than Islamic Feminist because most of them don’t agree with re interpretation of verses keeping aside the source of Hadith and Sunnah and different MAdhabs or leaving the technicalities of interpretation as done by Islamic scholars. No, they donot want to enter that grey zone. They just want to advocate for the legal rights as per Islam and the law of land where they are living . Some men even argue that you cannot be a feminist if you are Muslim , according to them Islam doesn’t not give equal status to men and women and supporting feminism meaning going against the teachings of Islam. Well most of the scholars have agreed on the term Allah’s creation for referring to men and women where both stands equal. They might be different in physical appearances, strengths ,in thought processes and their capabilities ,there is certainly no way a man superior to a woman or women less favored by Allah in comparison to men except based on his/her deeds. We both have to adhere to same 5 pillars of Islam , pray the compulsory 5 times prayers , follow the same foundations principles and will be judged on the same ground of our deeds on earth.
Muslim feminists that I have talked to, till date or with whom I agree with , strive more for exercising their rights which have been given to them by their Creator but are hidden behind the blind cultural practices given the name of Religion. They call out for Women Education , self learning and knowledge building for women to increase their intellect, coming out of victim mentality and being strong and helping other women to be strong . If all this for what a Muslim Feminist stand today is wrong then I really wonder what is right ?