Muslim Feminism

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 ?


61 thoughts on “Muslim Feminism

  1. When you don’t have principles and if you had it, you compromise on one because of pressure (Whatever kind it may be).

    The issue started to surface!

    It’s the period of fitnas, some areas are meant to be ignited by raising which is a right issues, but is intertwined with something else.

    Result, we started fighting for something else end up supporting else.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. MashAllah I loved your post. I identify as a feminist, and obviously a Muslim, but I feel like that confuses people. Some girls in my class are like the first women you mentioned, but Muslim women have a rich history of feminism that is unique. Other good Muslim Feminist is Fatima Mernissi and Fatima Sadiqi

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Star 🙂 I am also interested in Muslim Feminism which stood for righteous causes and create an awareness for it, I am looking for some books to read on this topic, which one would you recommend ?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Their is another book, very old it’s been translated into Urdu. If I am not wrong it was written in 800 hijri. It’s basically encyclopedia of all the Sahaba Radhi Allah Taalah Anhum. So you will find loads of information in it.

        But it’s a bit difficult book to read. Because it has got references of each thing like if you are reading like a Hadees, reference of this mentioning Him. So you need stamina to read it. Not a typical book, to read the background of Sahaba.

        I hope you get the point.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Recently I read Women in the Middle Ease and North Africa: Agents of Change by Fatima Sadiqi, which I found very interesting. Scheherazade Goes West by Fatima Mernissi i think discusses well the differences between the east and west but how they both treated women historically.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Im the Muslim feminist.
    You don’t need fatwas and permission from Qur’an and Sunnah to know what is the right way to treat a person.
    A religion that claims to bring peace won’t ever allow for mistreatment of any human being. Period.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well said Hiba 🙂 I am glad to know your views. I didnt hear from many people on this post and I know it is a forbidden word for some to be a feminist being a muslim woman and we have to change that mentality !

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I know. It’s enraging when you sit and listen to Muslim communities laugh off women’s rights when you address it. And if you try to explain to them, they go into lecture about the “feminist agenda”.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. A writer from the East

    Are you coming out of the closet? Haha.. on a serious note I am glad that you have penned this spot on post on your blog. We are sisters and how could it be that one was inflicted and other not Sana?
    Lovely post and yes words like Muslim and feminist aren’t received well in any audiences whether east nor west. As a Muslim feminist, I feel it my duty to dis empower such ideas by informing people that they cannot use or abuse Islam to shut me down because there is a lot of Muslim feminists work since the days of Islam came till today focusing women rights issues.
    I am glad to meet other feminists here like Hiba, Star of Persia and others 🙂
    And yes, you can find Ms. Fatima Mernissi books in Urdu like ‘Islam Aur Jamhoriyat’ and Hijaab Se Aagy online, they are certainly very good books.
    If you want south asian dose, try Chador and Chardiwari by Kishwar Naheed apa 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha, Yeah I just woke up to the issue !! Thank you my Dearest Sister for the encouragement, Definitely I will write more on the topic inshaAllah, there is lot more on my head to be written in just one post! I will try to get her books online , I wanted to read the book from Asma Barlas as well , Have you read it , just wanted a review from someone i know before buying it.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. starladavid

    Your article was really good. I think generally we have to be a bit cautious when we use the word feminist because the original definition means equal treatment in pretty much everything. And since we are actually really different in our natural biology and vastly superior in certain abilities,( I can run a household, get an education n educate others at the same time n what not) we don’t really just want everything men have. We want what will fulfill us as individuals which Allah has made Halal for us.

    We arnt jealous of what they have because we know Allah has given us equal worth in his eyes and he has just given us different routes by which to please him.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Pingback: Muslim Feminism — My Journey with Hijab – Feminist Of The Future

  7. La vie de la femme musulmane،comme pour l’homme musulman, est régie par les Enseignements du Noble Coran et de la Sunna du Prophète, Bénédiction et paix d’Allah sur lui.Chercher à vivre selon des idéologies étrangères à l’Islam risque de faire tomber son auteur dans les grands péchés ou dans la mécréance.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Your point about women leading the prayers is well taken! I, as a Muslim man, would love to walk into a mosque someday and follow a woman as she leads us in prayer. I’d like to point out that nowhere in the Quran does it say woman can’t lead the prayer, or that men and woman must be separated during the prayer. In my opinion, this pushes people away from Islam. Most are put off at the sight of women praying in the back of the mosque. If these are simple traditions (traditions started and implemented by men) than we should be able to discuss and debate. To me, the questions isn’t just can Muslim women be feminists, but can Muslim men be feminists as well?

    Liked by 2 people

  9. As time passes so the suppression of women is fought against by many brave people but is is part of a general loosening of the hold of fundamental religious thought throughout the world. Already we have women ministers and same sex marriage and the fight for human equality goes on relentlessly. Already many Christians confess they believe in the big bang including the Pope and the theory of evolution is accepted by many thoughtful believers. In Islam we have a violent kick-back shown at its worst in ISIS, but it is also amongst the Hindus who have killed Muslims who eat beef. Eventually democratic freedom will win out because people much prefer that type of lifestyle.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I am not a Muslim. However your post spoke to me. Specifically when you said, “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”. I am currently learning how to define what feminism means to me so I may teach it to younger generations. We must lead by example. At the core of all things is the capacity for love and compassion. Feminism is so broad in its definition but the capacity for love and compassion towards women is part of its root. The history of Women around the world is a shared one. One of men choosing what is best for women. ..Anyway I had to stop myself from going into a rant 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for writing it , it came at right moment when the negative voices in my mind were taking over, I have received a lot of hate comments for writing about feminism being a Muslim and how bad is Islam for women according to them. Your comment came as fresh breeze 🙂


  11. Great post! as you noted most Muslim feminists want to live according to their God given rights which somehow have been lost in translation within many cultures. However, one of the reasons why I am hesitant to identify myself as a Muslim or Islamic feminist is that most of the injustices exercised upon Muslim women tends to originate from cultural doctrines rather than Islamic teachings themselves. To me, Islam gives each gender their due and to label oneself as a feminist within the realm of Islam implies that there is something deficient within its teachings or unjust in its dealings with women when in fact, it is the way in which its laws are enacted by people which leads to the popular notion that Muslim women are oppressed and unfairly treated.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m a niqabi and feminist. A whole lot of chaos in a sentence I know😂 Because every single person comes to me and says “Alhena how do you call yourself a feminist if you cover your face.” WHERE IS IT WRITTEN THAT YOU NEED TO SHOW ALL SKIN TO BE A FEMINIST. Why do people not understand that feminism means a choice. My own choice. To cover myself or uncover. To be a slut or be a Virgin. To be a housewife or be a doctor. Its really annoying! Btw sorry for the rant. Good post ☺️

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Your post reminded me of my MPhil thesis but i discussed it within a different argument. I investigated the difference between religious reformers and feminists in the 19th and early 20th. I respect your view and actually agree with you. But my point and what my thesis indicated is that feminists were not the only representative of women’s rights and in most cases they focused on marginal issues that do not really benefit the majority of women. I proved that religious reformers though being marginalised in history, achieved more than feminists for women.

    It is really nice to know different views

    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Great post, good points. I’ve lived in Muslim-majority countries for the last few years, and acknowledge the scriptural basis for equality between the sexes. What makes this a difficult topic to grapple is Islam’s vast diversity of adherent cultures, and the domination of patriarchal norms in most places of the world, religion aside. I’d argue that some Muslim women are “liberated” in the Western feminist sense, while others are subjugated, but not because they’re Muslim – rather because of the social and cultural context in which they find themselves, though sometimes Islam is wrongly used as a justification by those who want to impose their point of view without careful consideration of scripture in historical context. There are some great TEDx talks about this, mostly from Muslim, feminist women. Amina Wadud’s “Qur’an and Women” is also a great resource. Worth following the Women’s Mosque of America (out of LA) as well, they have downloadable khutbas from women once per month. There are also great articles out there about the shortcomings and even destructive influence of white, western feminism as applied to the rest of the world. Anyway, insha’allah we will move forward as a global community in mutual respect and learning. Best wishes to you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. There it starts! The very typical accosting response from a ‘Muslim feminist’. Instead of challenging me or trying to clear your position, your great load of arrogance propelled you to make a personal attack on me. That’s anticipated.
        And where have I claimed to be “spokesperson of Muslim women”? What’s the point of telling that to me? I don’t think I have made any such comment unlike the genius here who wrote this “Muslim women more like to be associated with the term Muslim Feminists” as though the genius personally had a conversation with the Muslim women and that made her sure. LOL.


  15. What is right is for feminism to be moulded into muslim communities rather than let western feminism over run the religion and culture. Western feminists often find it their responsibility to either completely criticise or use cultural relativity to “respect” other cultures which negatively results in the invisibility of the real issues Muslim communities DO face.
    I find both muslim and western feminists can find it difficult to discuss issues of sexism in muslim communities. I recently wrote a blog post about how important it is we over come these concerns,

    Liked by 2 people

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