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 ?

 

Does your wearing Hijab or Jilbab guarantees you will not be eve- teased ?

Does your  wearing Hijab or Jilbab guarantees you will not be eve- teased ?  Unfortunately, It doesn’t ! There are many times this argument has been given over modesty of women where her covering up is directly linked to the response and behavior of eve teasers and molesters . A covered woman implies I am not open for harassment then what does  a women in shorts implies ? Is she is quite open to it ?  I don’t think any woman would like that. There is no guarantee if you wear Burqa or Hijab that nobody will stare at you, or harass you or pass lewd comments or might even try to touch you inappropriately on  public transports  especially if you live in third world countries. We are often so engrossed in thinking how a woman’s behavior and dress should be that we forget how  behavior of men should be ! Who is going to moral coach these men to  behave with women and respect them, irrespective of what women wear and  look like. Why our scholars not talk about it more often, than they do for pious women . If by wearing Hijab  I have done my part for modesty, then where is your part Brother or my not doing Hijab gives you a right to not do your part ?

There are pictures on internet floating in support of Hijab where there is a comparison of Hijabi and a non Hijabi  by showing an  open candy surrounded by flies  and a  wrapped candy safe and sound like a Hijabi in her Hijab , I mean really ? What are you reducing us to ? mere candies ! This is what you think of woman as? and it’s a pity seeing women supporting it. Are you wearing your Hijab because you feel you are fulfilling a command of Allah or you think it makes you holier than the other women and you can assume them as lower and less worthy than you , if that is the case , it is time for a Reality Check sisters. This  holier than thou attitude is like a pest and eating all your efforts and goodness. We have to let it go, we are wearing Hijab because we want to, because Allah asked us to. Us doing something and other’s not doing it  doesn’t make us any better . Even when you read Quran , Allah always mentions things as This is better for you  and you might now know or harmful for you that you do not know. He nevers says ,I will love you less and you are now less holy than others. We might be doing something more worrisome than wearing or not wearing Hijab  and we might even not know about it . Time to self introspect and improve .

Time to stand up for all women respect and dignity irrespective of her choice of clothes. It is time for men to start behaving than pointing fingers on women . If you say a woman in less clothes provokes you , what argument you have to misbehave with a woman in Hijab or full covered clothes, you don’t like what she has put on her head or that loose garment around her body, you have to admit it is your pervert nature and it needs to be cured.

The pressures of modern working women!-Part 1

Recently I have had some conversations with few of friends and I have gone through this phase myself ,the topic doesn’t  leave me for sometime.  The pressures of an urban girl, our modern working women!

The social progress and  development has given a lot of rights to women : Education, Equality, Work etc and we have excelled in all of the fields .We have dreamed , aspired , struggled and achieved our dreams to be educated and financially independent . While we were flying high  happily  in our lives  suddenly we had our strings  pulled back  because we have  hit 26 ,some 28 or 30 years in age and are still single. This pressure to be married and settled down is so much that it overshadows all the achievements of girls , from being an achiever  they  are reduced to a status of poor girls who are not yet married. Their families are in constant pressure to get their daughters married in our South East Asian societies . With each passing birthday , they have another year of being a ‘yet unmarried girl’. Not talking about the details of going into an arranged marriage and those pains of rejections or being forced to settle for someone who is not even their worth or match just because the clock is ticking.

Since the time we have remembered being ourselves as girls, we had this constant pressure of proving ourselves  to what boys  can do or are allowed to do . Infact this pressure of doing things turns into outperforming them and also became  passion . The performance had boosted  our confidence and self respect and we had got habitual of living with dignity and pride when all of sudden people around us starting stealing it in form of concern and pity. Why do we even  allow ourselves to be reduced to an object of pity for others.We have put all of lives to become what we are today and then this constant  pressure of marriage is draining all our energies (and later on it  brings additional roles and responsibilities that I have kept for other parts of this topic) and for some even deviating from their life’s goal. They want to study further or get a better position in their work , or travel and later  think about Marriage , Why not respect their opinions ?

I think it is not only  working women’s problem  who should somehow found a way to solve their problem  but we need a collective change in mindset of our society to accept that there is  not  only  a single  age bracket to get married and once you pass that age you will not get married. We need to come out of that closed box thinking of being limited to our traditions and cultures , Be kind enough to understand  these women who just finished their studies , started working, some of them still paying their education loans  are now grilled with this pressure and are piling up the stress . So many of us have started having health issues which mostly are result of chronic stress.The message is not only for these urban working ladies to be strong enough to handle this pressure of marriage but also to our society to be gentle enough , to be more kind and more mature to accept the change and let go of their preconceived notion of marriageable age.

I am not against marriage , there is nothing better than a good marriage and also nothing worse than a bad marriage so we need to choose wisely . Why rush or be sad for things not happening right now. Things will happen  at their own time , till then we need to continue living our lives. The ultimate goal of life is not only marriage . Do things that you love, increase your knowledge , learn new things , travel , practice kindness  and patience and most importantly never ever give up your confidence   !

More to be followed soon in other parts  🙂

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TheAcidAttacks#Reshmaqureshi#makelovenotscars#endacidsale

The newspapers few weeks back were flooded with New York Ramp walk pictures and story of Reshma Qureshi ,an acid attack survivor from India .Her journey from an acid attack victim to being a survivor ,an activist and now being model to walk the ramp in New York is inspiring, incredible and heart breaking. Her pictures will make you cry and her smile will bring back your smile. There are thousands of Reshma in India who have undergone such pain and horror in their lives and she is a representation of them all.

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Through my blog I want to congratulate Reshma Qureshi for her determination and spirit and as well the the NGO ‘Make love not Scars’ who are helping these wonderful women to create an awareness to ban the unregulated sale of acid and their efforts to integrate the Acid Attack Survivors back in the society .

There are lot of NGOs in India and subcontinent working to help such victims by giving them counselling and medical aid. They are doing commendable jobs to connect these isolated  women  to social media  and normalize their lives. One of the issue they have raised is to regulate the sale of these acids in normal drug stores and grocery stores .The local  people use it as a cheap replacement for toilet cleaners. Although the ban has been announced by Supreme Court of India but still acid is sold publicly in some parts of countries where these incidents are more common.An ongoing activism and regulation is required to bring this law under full implementation. The major cause is average Indian’s ignorance  to root cause of this ban,  they need to be educated about the gravity of acid attacks and one of the reason behind them is its easy and cheap availability . These acts not only ruin somebody’s face but their complete life and lives of people connected with them. A trauma of lifetime can be completely avoided if people will stop buying it  and the illegal sale will eventually decline.

The end of acid sale will meanwhile help to reduce such incidents but real root cause needs to be handled at core level of homeschooling/parenting and moral educating the children. We need to invest more into educating our boys teaching them to respect women and telling them women are not mere objects to be enslaved but an equal to them in creation and they are in no way better than a female except based on their actions . I would count this offence more on terms of gender inequality as a residue of damaged  male ego  going down the level  to disfigure and destroy identity  of opposite sex permanently . The questions :How can you ignore me, How dare you reject me ; perceiving themselves as higher beings  are ending up in crime against women. No doubt such perverts are mentally ill but that the little idea which ended up being a big crime in their minds is given from society. The social values that a male child is favored upon female or male is better and a female should be submissive have added fuel to it, all these have to go and replaced by better values to  respect women and giving them equal status and  freedom to select or reject their partners as men would like to  keep for themselves,  so we no more  have acid attack victims in 21st century.

Looking for a better world and hoping for better future.

 

 

And the Debate about Burkini Ban continues #burkiniban

I am waking up everyday to see my newsfeed full of articles and news about the French Burkini Ban. No wonder any news get amplified ample times by our Social Media before it reaching us as a breaking news. The ban was initially in Nice and now it has spread to  15 french cities .France is a big country and for now it is only 15 cities who banned it but this ban is expected to follow in further cities too and which is alarming.

Is Burkini really that important to be banned? At the end it is just a costume that some women chose to wear while they go swimming.Neither the number of those women is high nor is their anything  in that attire that a part of population should feel threatened from it.Burkini looks similar to a wetsuit that a surfer wears but a wetsuit is not problem but Burkini is. May be because it is majorly worn by Muslim women who thinks covering up is part of their religious obligation which could be an issue for the French Government to digest on scales of their version of secularity .

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The above picture is depiction of recent stripping of Burkini Clad woman on a Nice beach versus the police in a Gulf country asking a woman to cover up. Aren’t they both the same in a way that you force a woman to cover or uncover ? Stripping a woman on a beach because her full covering is not acceptable to the people around , is ridiculous and shameful. You could just ask her to leave instead of asking her to take off  her clothes ?  Does it anyway sound like freedom or advocacy of women’s rights ? Is a woman not free to choose her clothes?  Should the government  tell their women what to wear?

The Burkini Ban is nothing but a policy to further divide people on basis of their choice  to wear clothes , another try to make a us vs them social divide. In a time where terrorism has struck high and governments of all countries should work to combat  terrorism  and Islamophobia , you are adding fuel to the fire with this Burkini Ban, you are justifying a part of population obsessed with Islamophobia that yes, you are right ! You need to be scared of women wearing a Burkini on a beach or swimming pool. In the name of secularism ,it is just oppression and curbing of basic human rights. I am sure there must be women out there who are not muslim and they do not like to show their skin too, covering up  is not only just muslim thing or cultural thing it is about individual rights and choices, how is anyone to decide if his/her choice is better than mine or vice versa.To each one his life, his choices. Let others live how they want to , not how you want them to,  based on your idea of living life .

Why it is alright to accept some old age clothing in name of fashion for example those gladiator shoes but if you see a woman wearing an abaya or head scarf, she looks to you from caves ? Because this is what Media has always portrayed , A woman letting go of her scarf as a sign of freedom ? I personally feel wearing a scarf was a sign of freedom for me, I chose to free myself from others  idea of how should I look, from those pressure of looking beautiful and acceptance in society and that competition of looking most beautiful in a party , I have broken free  from all such pressures and anxieties. Isn’t that freedom ? Yes , it is for me and it might not be for you, so please  everyone whenever the judgemental thoughts come to your mind , stop it right there and then , don’t let them play in your mind and disturb your inner peace.

Wish you all much Peace !

 

 

RIP Dear Humanity#QandeelBaloch

To be honest I  have never known Qandeel Baloch until recently I read news and articles on internet about her cold blooded murder by her own brother in name of  honour killing . I am not here to justify or glorify her actions but I am certainly here to condemn her killing in name of family honour.

Her death has indeed left me gaped and wondering in which society we are all living where a woman is not safe with in her own home and family. There is no price of a woman’s life , it comes so cheap and easy.What kind of patriarchy is it which justifies the killing of human being just because she is woman ! Why not kill your sons who bring bad name to the family ,why only daughters ? Who is it that makes a woman whore ?? It is man and later on they go on to character assassinate her. Instead why not go and kill those terrorists who are bringing bad name to Muslims ? What kind of norms of society are these which sets limit only for a woman and not man!

The deep rooted patriarchal mindset , misogyny , male dominance ,ignorance ,  false pride are all responsible for such mindless honour killing.What kind of honour is this which comes at price of your loved one’s’ life  ? The collective spirit of our society which sets limit only for female behavior has to change ! A woman is nothing but a mirror of men around her , You need to think twice before raising a finger over a woman, Have you as a man done enough to ensure her freedom and security ? Have you given her due rights ? Have you raised her with love and education that she deserves ? Is it only a woman’s fault to blame her for everything wrong ?

What could be worse than a human being  not fearing his Creator for his unjust acts and  wrongdoings  but is more fearful of  the society and its people of what they will think and say about them. Leave each one to his own Karma , let him live his life ! Why be so judgemental and prosecutorial.Everyone learn their own lessons on this life’s journey, let them fall, let them rise, help them to stand up again but what we are doing right now is pushing them further down by dividing , by distancing and judging people.

My request to all my readers let us try to be human first  before being a man or woman.

( Qandeel Baloch was a Pakistani Model and social Media Celebrity . You can read more about it at Human Lens of Saadia Haq , fellow blogger and human rights activist from Pakistan. You can ask her to add your name to petition signed for Qandeel )

 

Stereotyping Muslim Woman

The girls in small towns( Okay big towns as well, I am a small towner, I always think with that frame of mind 🙂 )  have grown up with the idea of a free woman as being portrayed on media.Now after becoming that free woman which includes   having a job , monthly paychecks  and our independence too and as we go up the ladder of our lives ,we are discovering our roots, our essentials and things that we need to do as muslim women, many girls are now choosing Hijab as their choice.

There is always a misconception about muslim women regarding their freedom, The women of world is one side, and the muslim women on other side. They are seen as backward,’oppressed’ and uneducated. People around you are surprised to see you working or studying whether you wear a Hijab or not?, they  sometimes ask questions as if you are coming from a cave just because you are muslim.

We are living in society where people are educated, working, they have their opinions about life and world. They even voice their support and express solidarity with beliefs they do not conform with but the perception about women in Hijab is still not changing .

I wish to live in a world where they actually believe in what they say, about women equality ,respect of choice and decision.

Well right now I think I live in a world where even women look down upon another women whether it is for her beauty,skin color or something on her head 😉

The Idea of a simple marriage!

For us ,the idea of a simple wedding is very boring , there is no fun in it,  no music, no big gathering ,not a good venue?? What ??

Although being muslims ,Islam encourages us to have simpler marriages, but if we look to our wedding extravaganza, it is no where even close to being simple!

A marriage has more meaning than only having fun ,music or good food ! it is how you start your life ,,with values, expectations and commitments.A great wedding cannot  ensure you a happy life or vice versa .

In times of  our Prophet,wedding were simple affairs, if someone has no money to throw even a small feast , people were bringing their own food to eat together, the idea was to share the happiness and give good wishes for new life.Even teaching some verses of Quran to bride was acceptable  as a mahr(wedding gift) from groom. Well now, we look down upon people whose wedding locations do not  seem good enough, we don’t even want to attend !! The idea of being simple is  now more associated with poverty , but even if someone is poor, Is it a shame ?? How our society looks  down at poor people even rips their self esteem as if they committed a crime !

Well to keep within the topic, I would come back to the advantages that I observed from a simple marriage , I have listed here, hope it helps people who support this idea too , :

  1. Does not put financial burden on your parents and yourself.You don’t have to delay your wedding  for years to save thousands of bucks and then spending all that hard-earned money just in one day,
  2. Avoids unnecessary stress before and after the wedding which doesn’t let you enjoy the best moments of your life.
  3. Gives you enough time to enjoy,  You can offer your obligatory prayers peacefully, personally meet your guests, Imagine it is your most important day and you are missing your prayers??  Why ? because you are too dressed up in that suffocating heavy dress, oodles of makeup, jewellery and high heels, you can hardly walk without support, and you need to be on stage for your guests at cost of missing your Salah! That’s how most of us start our new life ,
  4. Otherwise you are busy doing some traditions which makes you exhausted in all the events ranging from 1-4 days depending on place/traditions.
  5. Avoiding social pressure of how their idea of marriage should be like, it’s your wedding and it should be based on your suitability not theirs.
  6. Avoid Expectation of people about the event, their unwelcome judgements ranging from everything you wear, how you looked ,how your wedding has been organised, your budget ,what has your father given you in  presents (dowry between the brackets) , and what has your husband given you as gift, they want to know everything.

for point 5,6 the question is why are we doing this to ourselves ?

Giving liberty to others to give opinion about our life, and how  our wedding should be organised ? Judging girl’s father on basis of place he chose for the wedding or food he ordered for the guests but not what is actually giving away, a fully grown  piece of his heart which he has so well-preserved all his life? Who let them judge us or our family? of course it’s us .. we played  victims  of society, and let it happen , however great our wedding could be , people will anyway find some flaws , especially some in-laws to put down their new daughter in law and her family .

I truly support the idea of simple wedding, which revolves around feelings and not show off, how much money or gifts you give to your daughter, it will never make sure her happiness !! Her happiness lies in finding a  person who values her for who she is ,not how much money she is worth for. Your daughter is priceless , you as a girl are priceless, your feelings your emotions are more valuable than anything! Know your self-worth  ! Look for the right man not the rich man and things will become easy for you InshaAllah.

P.S: I am trying to live the sunnah and experience the beauty of it.Life is getting simpler and easier.,Alhamdolillah.

(some common vocabulary for people who don’t know: Salah is obligatory prayer for a muslim and Sunnah are sayings/teachings/practices of our prophet)

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