Islam and Feminism?
To understand the liberal secularist and feminist project in the Muslim world, one needs to revisit the British colonization of Egypt.
Everlyn Baring, better known as Lord Cromer, was the British Proconsul-General in occupied Egypt between 1877 and 1907. He wrote about his tenure in his book “Modern Egypt” (1916). Here are some conclusions from his book:
1. The West will not tolerate an Islamic government.
On page 565, he said that it would be “absurd” to assume that Europe would tolerate a “government based on purely Mohammedan principles and obsolete Oriental ideas.”
2. Muslims must be forced to adopt the principles of Western civilization.
On page 538, he said that Egypt had to be “forced into imbibing the true spirit of Western civilization.”
3. Westernization must be introduced under the guise of women’s rights.
Lord Cromer says that the “position of women” in Muslim countries was a “fatal obstacle” in the introduction of colonial values. (page 539)
4. The West must educate a class of young secular Muslims to be the rulers.
Cromer’s hope was that a Europeanized education system would cause an Egyptian to “lose his Islamism”, cause him to “no longer believe that he is always in the presence of his Creator”, and only hang onto “the least worthy portions of his nominal religion” for the sake of convenience. (page 230)
5. The West must reform Islam.
Cromer says that the goal should be to create “de-moslemized Moslems”, where people are Muslims-by-name, but in actuality, are “agnostic”. After all, Cromer says, “Islam cannot be reformed … reformed Islam is Islam no longer.” (pages 228-229)
6. The Muslim reformer would hate Muslim scholarship more than Europeans do.
The Westernized Muslim would consider the `alim to be a “social derelict”, use him in matters of convenience, but otherwise disrespect him. On the other hand, a European Christian intellectual would at least look at the `alim with sympathy and respect, as a “representative of an ancient faith”. (page 299-30)
7. Modernized Muslims will become Deists.
“It is conceivable that, as time goes on, the Moslems will develop a religion, possibly a pure Deism, which will not be altogether the Islamism of the past and of the present, and which will cast aside much of the teaching of Mohammed, but which will establish a moral code sufficient to hold society together by bonds other than those of unalloyed self-interest.” (page 234)
We can see therefore that Islamic reform started as a colonial project. A project that has been devilishly designed by European intellectuals to undermine the clerics, introduce secular humanist institutions, and gradually and inconspicuously lead Muslims away from the central tenets of their tradition. They knew that this reformed, liberal Muslim would not be a Muslim at all, but just a Europeanized invertebrate (i.e. a spineless being) who would maneuver the religion to his needs.
This seven-step process is *exactly* what is happening to Muslim youth in the West. They volunteer themselves to Western academia and pop culture, and are led away from a truly Islamic worldview and epistemology. And while they fool themselves into calling themselves “Muslim reformers”, or “Muslim feminists”, or “moderate Muslims”, or “liberal Muslims”, their puppet masters know that these are all contradictions in terms.
Times change, but right remains right, and wrong remains wrong.
If Islam is measured with liberal democratic criteria, it will not be fully consistent.
Western colonial powers reached a point of hegemony in the 19th and 20th centuries. Through hard power (direct intervention) and soft power (media influence), they imposed their standard of morality onto the rest of the world. This moral framework is not Christianity, it is Western Individualism.
Secularism, humanism, and feminism are all just logical conclusions of Individualism. They are branches from the same tree. But to what extent can we say that Individualism is the objective truth? Did the original philosophers of this ideology even intend for it to be the objective truth? Go through Hobbes or John Stuart Mill, they don’t claim that Individualism is an objective universal truth, but rather that they are experiments of freedom that are most practical. So measuring Islam by this would be like measuring an object with a stretchy ruler – you’ll never get a precise measurement.
Just a few years ago, gay marriage was illegal in America, and now there is all this noise about homophobia and transphobia. Just a few years ago, marijuana was taboo, but it is now gradually being legalized. Some bite-the-bullet secularists are even questioning whether incest should be illegal, because certain forms of incest are not “directly harmful”. Of course Islam will not be compatible with a measurement that is constantly fluid, changing, and in flux. Liberalism does not even attempt to falsify itself, rather it is focused on falsifying others. It salvages aspects of Greco-Roman civilization and Christianity that is consistent with individualism, and it discards everything else.
The liberal thesis prioritizes the human being above everything else. The Islamic thesis prioritizes Allah.
So what is the root of this tree of Individualism? Funny enough, it actually may be the Christian concept of Imago Dei – that man was created in the image of God. It is this idea that makes the individual the centre of the universe, whose will is sanctified above everything else. Hence, you have the concept of human rights, which itself is a contradiction, because rights are bestowed onto people by a higher power, not arrogated by the same people onto themselves. Humanism itself is a quasi worship of the human being, because everything including God Himself is cast aside in the name of human rights, liberty, democracy, and freedom.
This is why I always say that secular humanism actually grew out of the carcass of Western Christianity. It uses Christian concepts of the soul and the divinity of personhood to build an entirely new moral framework that discards its root. It is a paradox.
The identity of man in Islam is that he is a created servant. This is the same identity as all biotic and abiotic elements around us. We are a part of the ayah that is the great ayah of the creation. All is fleeting and all will perish but the face of Allah (28:88), which is simultaneously everywhere that we turn (2:115). He is recognized everywhere and behind everything, for He is the Apparent (al-Thahir) and the Hidden (al-Batin). The cosmological Creator, the everlasting Sustainer, and the ontological Perfection that we are all after. The individual is powerless on his own, and is only empowered by the Powerful.
أعوذ بالله من كلمة أنا
I seek refuge in Allah from the word “me”.
Towards an Islamic model of education.
There are dozens of definitions for Education, one of which is: “The process by which a civilization conveys its cultural values to the next generation.”
Secular humanism separates religion from education. The Christian justification for this is, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). But Islam is so much more than just going to the mosque on Friday and holding a few spiritual beliefs – it is a way of life that is reinforced in everyday actions.
The Muslim world still largely follows British and French educational systems – the leftover legacy of colonialism. The major religious institutions were hijacked or pushed underground. In schools all over the Muslim world, religion and ethics classes have been compartmentalized to one or two subjects, while the rest of the subjects do not reinforce morality. But the goal of Muslim schools should be to contextualize all knowledge into an Islamic paradigm.
We often wonder why so many Muslims are turning to secular and liberal worldviews, including feminism (just a branch from the tree of classical liberalism). It’s because they have a practical monopoly on education. One amateur khutba per week (at best) is not enough to give Muslims an epistemological framework that is organic to our tradition.
The World Muslim League created an encyclopedia of educational papers on the Islamization of Knowledge two decades ago, but this effort was entirely theoretically and not practical. It has not been translated into tangible classroom resources, textbooks, curricula, lesson plans, or classroom activities.
Muslim teachers mainly use secular government-issued textbooks and simply rip out or whiteout pages that they would consider immoral. But this is not enough. Individual teachers will produce inconsistent results, so there must be a standardized effort. The first step is creating sample lesson plans, then unit plans, then textbooks, then curricula. Some things need to be built from scratch, while other good things can be borrowed from the Western model.
For now, here are a few ideas that Muslim teachers can implement in Islamic schools right away. Consider these a bandaid solution until something more substantial is established :
1. Create a Muslim Classroom Environment.
(A) The Oral Environment of the classroom should have Islamic and Arabic terms and phrases that substitute ordinary phrases (Basmala at the beginning, Salaam alaykum instead of ‘good morning’, Subhanallah instead of ‘wow’ or ‘jeez’, JazaakAllahu Khayran instead of ‘thank you’.) The meanings can be explained appropriately to the students’ age. (B) The Visual Environment can reinforce Islamic knowledge in images and art – Islamic patterns, calligraphy, mosques, and nature. Many images in classrooms and textbooks only normalize non-Muslim dresscodes and traditions.
2. Making the Quran and Sunna relevant.
In the Muslim world, the Quran is being used mostly liturgically and ritually for baraka purposes (prayers, funerals, Ramadan). But this only reinforces the disconnect between “knowledge” and “religion”. A related Quranic verse, or just a part of a verse, can be used in the classroom. It could be a verse on thinking, on ethics, on science, etc. The same can be done with hadiths. Remember, there are over 6000 verses in the Quran, and many thousands of hadith on almost every topic.
3. Establishing Islamic Historical Relevance.
Mention the brief biography of a Muslim personality relevant to the class topic. For a science class on optics, one can speak about al-Hasan b. al-Haytham. Connect students with their cultural past and let them realize that Muslims contributed in all fields of learning. (1001 Muslim Inventions is a relevant book that every Muslim school should have)
4. A Moral Message.
Schools must not only be a place where skills are taught. They should be a place where we are made into better human beings. Utility must serve morality. Every class must teach a moral message and have a clear moral direction. The biggest problem in Muslim countries is corruption and dishonesty. Cheating is also rampant in our schools. We should look to uplift and not just repeat the cycle of mediocrity. A graduate must at least be conscious of right and wrong.
Someone may ask, “this sounds good in theory, how does this apply to math?” Even in math, we can start a class with the basmala, use images with Islamic themes, speak on the Muslim invention of Arabic numerals and mathematical concepts, and give word questions with Islamic examples.
In the long term, we must create an online database for Muslim teachers to upload and download lessons and activities. This will make Islam-centred learning more accessible.
In general, we must stress the Muslim obligation for the acquiescence of knowledge. We are not afraid of truly presuppositionless knowledge. But without an Islamic educational framework, we’ll continue to buy into the dominant narratives and their promises of prosperity. We did better without them.
Prophet Muhammad (s) said, “Surely, knowledge is three: (1) a definite sign, (2) a just obligation, (3) and an established tradition. All else is superfluous.” (Sunan Abu Dawud)
Do Muslims need a feminist theology? Islam and feminism are not compatible – even according to Muslim feminists.
The following paper was first delivered in Frankfurt (Germany) at Goethe University’s conference: “Horizons of Islamic Theology” convened in 2014 by the Centre for Islamic Studies (Zentrum für Islamische Studien). The panel was entitled ‘Feminist Theology – Islamic Feminism – Muslim Feminism’, and I was asked to present on the title, “Do Muslims Need a Feminist Theology”. This piece was developed further and delivered variously in the UK, New Zealand, and Malaysia.
Since I have been asked to speak on this topic on multiple occasions, I have decided to share the below past piece in the hopes that it might benefit Muslims who wish to engage and build on this topic. When ‘Muslim feminists’ themselves claim that particular aspects of Islamic theology need to be reinterpreted or ignored when they do not line up with feminist sensibilities, they are attempting to formulate a “feminist theology” to replace Islamic theology. By doing so, however, such feminists themselves demonstrate that Islam and feminism are not compatible.
“What is [the matter] with you? How do you judge? Or do you have a book in which you learn that you shall have through it whatever you choose?” – The Holy Qur’an (68:36-38)
The following piece not only refutes the idea of a “feminist theology”, but also highlights some examples of the incompatibilities between Islamic theology and a feminist theology.
Do Muslims need a feminist theology?
Read here: https://wp.me/p3eOO3-q1
To understand postmodern activism, you must understand Foucault.
Foucault inspired a system that divided the world into two camps: “dominant” and “marginalized”. The dominant narrative was the Eurocentric heteronormative neoliberal patriarchal narrative. The marginal narrative would be that of the people of colour, minorities, the poor, the disabled, women, children, and homosexuals. His ideas became the basis of activist groups after the 1960s.
Upper-middle-class academics in the West were thrilled that they could now speak for the marginalized groups, which they couldn’t really do when communism was popular among the dispossessed. So they formed their own marginalized narratives of history. Each narrative was aimed at deconstructing the dominant narrative’s “artifacts” – its pop culture, its founding literature, and its theorists. Each marginal group then formed its own history, literature, and artifacts. This process was in full swing by the 1980s.
At first sight, it appears compassionate to give a voice to marginalized people. But this postmodernist system comes with the exact same assumptions about the world that the dominant system has: (1) the belief that the world is controlled by power and chance, (2) the belief that truth is relegated to the observable natural sciences, (3) the belief that pre-modern spirituality is superstitious and ritualistic, (4) the belief that suffering is all evil, all natural, and does not have meaning, (5) and no formal end-goal or salvation, unlike Islam, Christianity, and Marxism.
For Foucault, there is no way out of the suffering – only a means to “resist” the dominant powers and survive on the margins. Postmodernists believe only in power and the fight over it. They are experts in jargon, little catch phrases, but not actual dissent. They disintegrate much, but they construct nothing. When all is said and done, they ultimately put their faith in the free market, and fall back onto Anglosaxon individualist naturalist liberalism.
Foucault offered the educated bourgeoisie the opportunity to side with and speak for the working class. They are not awaiting some proletarian revolution – they are more bent on co-opting the current political and economic system to give themselves a bigger piece of the pie.
What leftist Muslims have effectively done is added themselves to this marginal coalition. They’ve completely embraced intersectionalism, and they’ve put aside whatever ethical beliefs they have that clash with other marginal groups (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) Some have completely embraced those things.
So Muslims intellectuals have a big task ahead of them. They need to understand Nietzsche and Foucault if they really want to be able to correctly recognize the time that we are and the challenges that we face. Then, we need to continue developing our own distinct worldview, and support leaders in our community who are driving towards that change.
May Allah give us tawfeeq.
What we have over the reformists is that our faith is built on imaan.
The reformists are motivated by cultural mores that are in constant flux, questionable funding, contradictory worldviews, unprincipled institutions, the shifting impressions of their colonial masters, and the underbelly of mass media. Feminism does not even cultivate stable families or a steady birth rate, let alone maintain a billion-person millennia-old civilization.
Since imaan is our motivation, we will always try to inch closer to the Sirat. Even if the overwhelming culture is against us, we try to cling to the light of faith, and stay objectively loyal to it. When that light settles in your heart, you don’t look for a paycheck, and you don’t care if your views are pleasing to the dominant powers. True imaan even removes your fear of created things. Allah has given us a creed that resonates with our very nature.
The foam of the sea goes wherever the sea takes it. Their values will surely change, according to what their television or their university teaches them. But if your foundation is the Quran and the Sunna, mountains will fall before you ever will fall.
“Allah is the ally of those who believe. He brings them out from darknesses into the light.” (2:257)
The meaning of hijab from the Quran.
After colonization, the hijab, for the first time, became a contentious issue among Muslims. The colonizers saw it as a symbol of our oppression, then the Islamists turned it around and made it into a symbol of our freedom. Muslim feminists question the veil altogether. But the hijab is much more than a socio-political issue, so let’s return to the Quran and try to understand the concept.
The first verse is 24:31, which tells believing women to (1) lower their gaze, (2) guard their private parts, (3) to not expose their beauty except that which is apparent by necessity, (4) to draw their khimar over their cleavage, (5) to not stamp their feet, ringing their anklets (which had little bells in those days) to draw attention to themselves.
Some feminists here say “aha! There’s no mention of a headcovering”, forgetting that a khimar in Arabic is precisely a headscarf. According to Quranic exegetes, before this verse was revealed, Arab women would wear a flowing scarf on their head, and drape it behind their backs, exposing their necks and upper chest. This was done after the manner of the Nabateans of Northern Arabia and Iraq. The verse therefore mandates that women were to take their khimar and close it from the front as well. Every traditional Islamic legal school requires a headcovering (among other coverings) for free Muslim women.
What is the reasoning provided in the Quran? 33:59 provides two explicit reasons:
(1) So that they may be recognized. Clothing is a source of identification, and when a woman wears a khimar, we know what her rights are. There are specific laws in Islam pertaining to ritual purity, food, marriage, charity, testimonies, status, and crime where the religion of a person matters – so the khimar allows people to recognize her religion without bothering her. Part of this recognition may also be a way to raise society’s moral standards, identifying the muhajjiba as a free, respectful, trustworthy woman who should not tolerate injustice or base degeneracy in her surroundings. It is also a means for da`wa – many people use the khimar as a conversation ice-breaker.
(2) So that they may not be harassed. Of course covered sisters still face harassment, catcalling, and even rape, all of which is reprehensible. But this verse does what every Slut-Walking feminist despises: it associates harassment with clothing. Of course, no woman should be harassed because of their clothing. But we know that harassment is not just motivated by “power” hunger, but by visual stimulus – according to the US Department of Justice, the overwhelming majority of female victims of sexual violence are young adults and teenagers; not children and the elderly. We also know that clothing has communicative intent; it is a means by which many people explicitly or subtly broadcast their sexuality. In the same way we dress a certain way to a job interview to give a certain impression, your clothing is a message and a presentation. So in a society where women dress promiscuously, and expect men to also “make the first move” and be “confident and assertive”, they will absolutely attract looks, stares, comments, awkward conversations, sleazy pick-up artists, DM slides, and other forms of unwanted attention. Many women will attest that what they wear effects how people react to them in public.
So what’s the meaning of “hijab”?
The word “hijab” appears seven times in the Quran. In 7:46, the hijab is a “barrier” that divides Paradise from the Fire. In 19:16-17, Mary “secludes” herself from her family to devote herself to God in solitude. In 33:53, a “screen” protects the Prophet’s wives from onlookers. In 41:5, a “barrier” prevents the disbelievers from heartfelt belief. In 42:51, a “veil” prevents Allah from being seen. In 17:45, a “partition” prevents the disbelievers from comprehending the Quran. In 38:32, a “curtain” prevents Solomon from seeking his prescribed prayers.
The Quran never refers to the Muslim headdress as a hijab. In our traditional literature, the garment is instead referred to as a khimar, a jilbab, or a kisa’. So this begs the question: what is a hijab in Islamic terminology? A hijab primarily is a barrier that prevents or protects one thing from another. It can be both physical (like a curtain) or metaphysical. A physical hijab may be a simple covering that prevents unwanted access to an object or a person – much like the curtain that would prevent strange men from seeing the Prophet’s wives. A metaphysical hijab could be an attitude that a person has – like Mary’s seclusion from her people, or like the “social hijab” that prevents unnecessary mixing between men and women. But a metaphysical hijab can also be a boundary that Allah has set between two things.
The purpose of clothing in the Quran is to project elegance and cover shame and nakedness (7:26). In all instances, the hijab protects something sensitive from those who have not demonstrated a sincere connection to it. It prevents both intentional and accidental harm from coming to the object of value. Only those who have demonstrated a sincerity to the gem beyond the barrier can access its excellence. The precious pearl hides inside the oyster’s mysterious shell.
Likewise, even the hijab (both physical and social) of a woman from a stranger protects her from complete objectification. The only ones that can access her feminine energy, her motherhood, her personality, and her physical beauty are (1) her direct relatives, or (2) a man who has sought her expressed consent, the permission of her guardian, and has devoted himself to her sustenance. Once that sincerity is established, the barriers are gradually removed, one after the other.
The highest form of hijab is Allah’s. The hijab of Allah is Light. Allah’s Light is simultaneously both guidance to Him and a barrier between the creation and His Essence. On the Day of Mi`raj, Allah raised His Prophet (s) nearer than two bow lengths to His divine presence (53:9), passed the Light that Jibra’il could not permeate, all the way up to Sidrat al-Muntaha. The mi`raj was the ultimate unveiling to the sincerest servant of the divine.
The hijab therefore is not just purely a horizontal (dunyawi) phenomenon, it is a vertical symbol that connects the celestial world (samawat) and the material world (ard). And so the ideal hijab is one that inspires guidance, but also preserves mystery from the unwanted outsider. And what is better to say than the fact that the verse of hijab was mentioned in Surat al-Noor, the chapter of Light…
Some of our sisters are not spiritually ready for the khimar. My advice to those sisters is to be patient, understand the meaning of the veil, and make those steps towards it. You can start by limiting your privacy settings on social media, and deleting unnecessary pictures. This can be a first step towards humility, as it takes some to delete pictures with many likes and “encouraging” comments. Then they can start gowning the veil at certain settings. Then finally, once your imaan is up and shaytan is gone, take advantage of the moment and gown it with confidence. Allah will assist you with your effort and reward your abundantly. Remember that this world is fleeting and insatiable, and that which is with Allah is everlasting and fulfilling. May Allah forgive us all for our shortcomings.
“We have not sent down to you the Qur’an that you be distressed, but only as a reminder for those who fear.” (20:2-3)
A lecture by Brother Daniel Haqiqatjou:
“What we so often forget is that God has honored the woman by giving her value in relation to God—not in relation to men. But as Western feminism erases God from the scene, there is no standard left—except men. As a result, the Western feminist is forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing, she has accepted a faulty assumption. She has accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man.
When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army. She wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had it.”
– Yasmin Mogahed
Why feminism leads to apostasy?
Simple logic: If you adopt a moral standard by which the Quran is considered immoral, then you have two choices. You either reject that moral standard or you reject the Quran.
Have you heard of the Bechdel Test? This is a feminist standard used to determine whether a written story or film meets the bare minimum requirements of representing women. The Test is straightforward: Does the story or film in question have at least two female characters who speak to each other about something other than a man?
What feminists realized is that many stories and films have minimal female representation and the few female characters that do appear are simply love interests of the male characters, who are the focus of the narrative. This is a gross violation of gender equality and, hence, of justice, as far as feminism is concerned.
Now, is the Bechdel Test a good standard of justice and morality? Is it a good standard for determining female representation and visibility? Virtually all feminists would say, “Yes, of course! Women *must* be represented!”
Well, if we judge by this feminist standard, then the Quran would be considered unjust and immoral (as would the Prophet ﷺ, his companions, and literally all the scholars of the Islamic tradition prior to maybe 20 years ago). For example, Surah Yusuf, which Allah describes as “the best of stories,” does not pass the Bechdel Test and, therefore, does not adequately represent women as far as feminism is concerned.
The feminist asks, “How is this the best of stories when not a single woman is referred to by name? How is this the best of stories when the only women mentioned are those who lust after and conspire against a man? What about Yusuf’s mom or sisters? Why are they not mentioned anywhere? Was there not a single positive woman in that time to include in the narrative?” This is all the feminist sees but the rest of us recognize the folly of questioning Allah in this way.
This is just one example but it encapsulates why many Muslim feminists end up leaving Islam. They eventually realize that the feminist morality they have adopted renders scholars, the companions, even the Prophet ﷺ, even Allah as immoral, wa na`udhubillah. So they reject it all and apostatize.
So what is the upshot? Well, first of all, Muslims *must* reject the Bechdel Test, clearly. If the best of all stories in the Quran does not meet the feminist standard of morality, then our very iman depends on throwing that standard in the trash.
Then what can be said about female representation?
Feminists, Muslim and non-Muslim, emphasize representation. “Women’s voices need to be heard!” they shout. Well, of course they do. Islamically, no one disagrees with that. Of course women’s voices are important and need to be respected and represented. Allah acknowledges this in the Quran when He says, for example:
“Indeed Allah has heard the statement of her that disputes with you concerning her husband and complains to Allah. And Allah hears the argument between you both. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Seer.”
But feminists are not satisfied with these assurances. It is not enough that women’s voices are represented. They need to be represented in a particular way. Speaking panels need to include as many women as men. Mosque boards need to include a proportional number of women as men. Books need to cite as many women as men. Islamic orgs need to give women as much visibility as men. Etc.
Visibility is the important concept here. To be represented, women must be physically seen. Otherwise, one is guilty of “hiding” and “marginalizing” women and this is the epitome of injustice, we are told.
But then, where was the female representation among the Rightly Guided Caliphs? Where is the female representation in Surat al-Kahf? Where is the female representation in Surat al-Baqara? Where is the female representation in al-isra wal-mi`raj? Where is the female representation among the authors of the authoritative hadith collections or the most prominent books of fiqh or the most cited books of tafsir (which is not to deny that there were female scholars)? Etc., etc.
If feminism informs our standards of female representation, then we stand to lose a great deal of our religion, if not the entirety of it.
If we dump feminist standards, then what standards should we adopt?
We adopt Islam’s standards, the Quran’s standards.
Maryam, peace be upon her, was not looking for representation. She was not demanding to speak her mind and “be heard.” In fact, Allah commanded her to remain silent. But then by His command, her baby, peace be upon him, spoke for her and miraculously defended her from the crib.
We see the same from the Mother of the Believers. They weren’t demanding to stand in front of everyone and “be visible.” They weren’t demanding to be “represented” in every gathering and consultation and on every platform. What lessons should we take from their example? Are those loud, screeching voices that are attempting to disrupt our communities with their calls for “representation” really following any Islamic precedence?
Here is the critical question the screechers don’t want you to ask. Does the lack of visibility from the Sahabiyyat mean that they lacked influence? Absolutely not. It is feminism’s deceit to conflate visibility with influence and power. Influence and power do not require being visible and, in fact, a great deal of power is obtained *through* deliberate lack of visibility, as I explain in the article linked below.
In sum, we don’t need to be fooled by this toxic, man-made ideology of feminism that has corrupted the minds and hearts of so many of our brothers and sisters. The time has come to throw it away.
To my black brothers and sisters, you will not find your salvation in Black Lives Matter.
Yes, police brutality is rampant, and it proportionally targets African Americans at a higher rate than whites. But let’s separate the issue of police brutality from BLM as an organization for a second.
BLM completely ignores black fathers. Go to their website – go to “What We Believe”, and you’ll find plenty of references to mothers and trans people, but you won’t find a single reference to fathers. In fact, the same section says that BLM would like to “disrupt” the nuclear family structure, seeing it as a “Western” construct. Tell that to African Muslims, who mostly live in what you would call a patriarchal nuclear family.
BLM is primarily an LGBT organization, and its leadership tends to be hostile to straight black Christian and Muslim men, calling them homophobic “hoteps”. In general, you want to avoid websites that replace “history” with “herstory”, and ignore black fathers as a vital part of the solution for black people.
Why does this matter? Fatherlessness is detrimental to any society, and it should never be normalized or legitimized. Fatherlessness leads to higher rates of poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, and mental health problems. 72% of black children in America are born out of wedlock. Any solution to the plight of African Americans must include black men. How else are we to combat gang violence, incarceration, drug abuse, and hookup culture?
It is common to find feminist circles that paint black fathers are irresponsible misogynists that are part of the problem and not the solution. This attitude of ignoring black men will not make things any better.
Let’s say it how it is: cis-gendered heterosexual black men only matter to BLM after they’ve been shot by police.
You may have heard people “identify as a gay person”, or “identify as a black nationalist”, or “identify as a vegetarian”, or identify themselves with a certain race, nationality, creed, economic class, or ideology. They are then expected to behave and dress according to the mores of that identity. Discovering oneself is indeed a necessary process in the journey of life. It is common for Westerners to travel around Europe, flirt with Indian mysticism, or teach in east Asia in an effort to “find” themselves.
So what is our true Islamic identity? One may say Muslim, but even prophets Ibrahim (a) and Isma`il (a) had to pray for Allah to make them into Muslims – submitters to the will of Allah (2:128)
The answer to this question may be in the famous saying, “Whoso knows his self, assuredly knows his Lord.”
The prophets, messengers, and awliya’ had a self-awareness, believing that their selves were a part of a grander creation, whose origin and point of return is Allah. This is an expression of the weak, limitedness of man, which thus highlights the strength and capacity of Allah.
This means that one must acknowledge the most fundamental and essential fact about himself: that he was created, and therefore, he is a finite and limited being in need of a Creator and Sustainer. One must realize the limits of his own power and his intelligence to understand He who is All-Powerful and All-Knowing. That is the beginning of the process of ma`rifa – cognizance of the Divine – where one surrenders himself in faith and in action to Absolute Perfection.
So the true identity that a person must recognize is that they are a created servant who is in total need of God. We say “ashhadu anna Muhammadan `abduhu wa rasuluh” (I bear witness that Muhammad is His Servant and His Messenger), which acknowledges the primacy of the servitude of Muhammad (s) to his Lord. This servitude is the key to true greatness, because one who is a slave to God cannot be a slave to worldliness. All people surrender, whether to their own desires or to an outside force, but if one’s reliance is completely on Allah, he will be free from obeying others. One who fears only Allah does not fear anything else, which elevates his status in the creation. It is out of Prophet Muhammad’s sincere service to Allah that made him the best of creation.
Returning to postmodern identity politics: identifying yourself with what you eat or who you have sex with is very shallow. Food and sex are functions of the lower self. Identifying with a race is identifying with an accidental characteristic of yourself rather than your essential nature. As much as these “groups” may be relevant in today’s world, we should not be fixated on `asabiyya (tribalism, group mentality), which was the underlining feature of jahiliyya. Identity politics can blind us from ethics, which is rooted more in verbs and adverbs than in nouns and pronouns. It can cause irreparable division and segregation. And finally, it can cause us to lose focus of our purpose and goal:
“And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me.” (51:56)
Knowledge of self, and knowledge of God.
You must seek knowledge, even if it means going to the depths of the sea. Let alone only seeking knowledge from men, or only seeking knowledge from women. We don’t accept the idea that only men can talk about men’s issues, or only women can talk about women’s issues, or only whites can talk about white issues, or only Arabs can talk about Arab issues, etc. This is a form of tribalism (`asabiyya). People of knowledge talk about whatever they are qualified to discuss. Yes, a woman can give a valuable perspective on women’s issues, and teach men something that they may not know, but that does not mean that male fuqaha’ cannot give a ruling in women’s issues, in the same way that there are male gynecologists.
The idea of “mansplaining” emanates from a man-hating trend in third-wave feminism, which decries things like mansplaining, manspreading, and toxic masculinity. It is rooted in the idea that males are an inherently privileged yet subhuman class that collectively and institutionally oppresses women. But frankly there is no room for that in Islam.
No, they don’t, unless we redefine and selectively choose what a religion is, and here you run into the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.
This train of thought is an easy option for lazy thinkers who have never found good enough reasons to justify following the tradition they do. The Quran can be cut apart to appear to support this claim, but the Quran also makes exclusivist claims to authority, and it routinely refutes and discredits the claims of other religions.
But hey, everything is “arrogant” or “dogmatic” except for the absolute universalist, who is the only one who can really see the “full picture”. By the way, that too would be an arrogant and exclusivist claim that invalidates other worldviews. It is inherently paradoxical.
This is called a dialetheism. “A dialetheia is a sentence, A, such that both it and its negation, ¬A, are true”. This, of course, is unscientific, and it opposes the Law of Non-Contradiction.
Next time someone tries to sell you religious universalism, ask yourself, at what cost are you willing to believe this? Should you just put your cognitive faculties and intellect aside? Should you deny that there are red lines, and deny any evil and misguidance? Should you deny the corruption, interpolation, and abrogation of pre-Muhammadan faiths? Should you deny that the true founders of many post-Muhammadan faiths were imposters, charlatans, and false prophets?
And yes, I understand that the fitra (natural human intuition) points one toward God, and that all nations have received prophets. That does not make all modern religions equally valid, even if they may have a kernel of truth somewhere. I also understand that modern extremists have often misused takfeer and excommunication, and engage in su’ ath-thann. That does not mean we should run towards the opposite extreme.
“It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the religion of truth, that He may uplift it above every religion, though the polytheists be averse.” (9:33)
Ancient debates in Islam were based on theology – for example, whether the Quran was created or uncreated.
Modern debates are based on sociology – for example, the role of gender in Islam.
Sociological debates have theological implications, because they often lead to questioning the role of hadiths in the application of the religion.
So theologians today must focus on creating a robust defense of our tradition. They must delve into the `illa (reason) and hikma (wisdom) behind traditional rulings, they must understand historiography, and they must study literary criticism to argue for the authenticity of the Sunna (elucidations of mutun and not just criticism of isnad).
This is similar to the Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform divide within Judaism, which are not exactly theological sects, but social interpretations of how the Law is to be applied in the modern era. Very soon, we will start seeing Muslim mosques and organizations prop up under the titles “traditional” and “reform” – it is already happening informally, but it will soon be formal.
We have a lot of work to do, but with the help of God it can be done.
Hollywood is a sick place.
If strangers came to your door, and asked you if they could entertain your children for a few hours, would you let them into your house?
Well, that’s what we do when we keep a television in the house. Hollywood is rampant with philanderers, abusers, cheaters, pedophiles, homosexuals, and drug addicts. To think that their lifestyle has no influence over their screenplays is beyond naïve.
The importance of Muslim media alternatives should be more obvious now than ever …
“Prophet Muhammad (s) was a feminist because he gave women rights”
This is a common line of argumentation used by Muslim feminists. You can see it in their 1-star reviews of this page. The premise here is that one who gives a woman privileges is therefore a feminist.
While it is true that Islam gave women certain rights that were not given to pre-modern Western women, it also applied certain gendered restrictions. The Quran gives different hijab, `idda, marriage laws, and inheritance laws to women.
There were also certain rights that women enjoyed in jahili society that were cancelled by Islam. For example: women were allowed to pursue istibda’ marriages. Meaning, if they were married to a man, they were permitted to marry a second man for the desire to have a son of a noble or strong lineage. Similarly, prostitution was institutionalized in jahiliyya; and if a prostitute gave birth, she was allowed to choose the father from among the men she lay with, and that man was forced to accept the child. The Prophet (s) restricted women from engaging in this form of pre-modern hookup culture and free love.
The definition of feminism according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” This is objectively a categorical contradiction to Islamic ethics, because it assumes that the equality of the sexes is only achieved in equality of socio-political outcome. By this logic, the shari`a should give men and women the exact same rights and responsibilities – including women marrying 4 husbands, women paying mahr to their husbands, female conscription in wartime, women praying and fasting whilst menstruating, women’s money being redistributed to her family, Muslim women marrying non-Muslim men, women covering only from their navel to their knees (or less), and much more. Prophet Muhammad (s) never advocated any of this.
Islam ennobled women by giving them rights and responsibilities that are suited to them. Feminism is a product of the secular humanist modernist West. A few of feminism’s earlier contributions may have been good (like giving Western women the ability to own property), but saying that the Prophet was therefore a feminist would be categorically incorrect. He brought rights, but he also brought law and order.
Some Western Muslims have totally adopted Western relationship norms – dating, delaying marriage, abolishing gender norms, avoiding parenthood. When you ask why, they cite the problems (or the “backwardness”) of marital norms in Muslim cultures.
While it’s true that there are many problems in our cultures that need fixing, the Western model is no replacement. Why? Because Western countries are barely able to replace themselves with future generations. Why do you think they have progressive immigration systems? It’s not out of the “goodness of their heart”, it’s because they need a continual flow of young workers and taxpayers to bring balance to their own demographic problems. The only way they can maintain their bureaucracies, their schools, their pensions, and their healthcare systems is by opening up their borders.
Western relationship life may look very tempting to young Muslims – fewer commitment risks, fewer family responsibilities, more educational and career options, more dating based on attraction/compatibility, more variety in partners, and more time to yourself in between relationships – but it all leads to a dead end. 50% of people are unmarried, and the divorce rate is near 50%. Only the rich are marrying, and the instinct to have children is rarely fulfilled.
There’s a lot that our parents’ and grandparents’ generation got right. To think that we enlightened millennials can just turn all of that on its head and do better is foolish.
Despite gains in women’s rights, female happiness is declining every decade.
This is happening despite that fact that more women are in the workforce, pursuing education, marrying later (or not marrying at all), have looser sexual lives, and are receiving more quotas and civil protection.
Is it really the big bad patriarchy that is making women unhappy? Or is it because women are abandoning lifestyles that truly did satisfy them?
Three readings today:
The kalima of the modernist Muslim:
“In my opinion there is no god but Allah, but, you know, that’s just my personal view and who’s to say, really, because it’s a free country and you can believe whatever you want, but I just feel that there is no god but Allah but then again, that’s because of my personal life experiences and you have different experiences, so as long as you’re happy and you respect my right to believe, it’s all good, you know, because I think the most important thing is respect and freedom and that’s what religion is all about anyway, and I’m not the king of the world so I can’t really tell you what to believe, not that I would if I were, but, I mean, let’s just be good people and that’s really what matters at the end of the day, I think, and I hope I didn’t traumatize you by saying that there is no god but Allah because that would be wrong and I apologize for that.”