Sunday, June 8, 2008

Some notes on Feminism

I try to stay away from controversies among Muslims especially when both sides had valid opinions but this is one controversy I am willing to indulge in wholeheartedly.

I never liked feminism from day one. High-school, junior high, even elementary (probably as far back as 4th grade). It was always disturbed me and my various readings on the topic of women and feminism all helped me to increase my stance. As for Islamic Feminism, it’s an oxymoron because not only does it advocate wrong ideals and beliefs but it also shows how Muslims have tried to adjust Islam to make it compliant with Westernism.

Essence of Islam

Firstly, Islam is a not just a religion. It is a way of life which is practical and withstands the test of time. In other words, one cannot say that Islam cannot be practiced in a certain age or time or that Islam does not cover a certain aspect of life. Secondly, Islam is a religion not based upon what people want or believe to be good rather it is what Allah (SWT) says is righteous and true. Unfortunately throughout time, Islam has been adjusted to serve the beliefs and ways of people, many Muslim, many not. There are multiple examples of how Islam was adjusted under various Caliphs to meet their interests and there are even more numerous examples of how Islam has been adjusted to meet the interests of non-Muslim leaders, cultures and nations. Because of this, if one really wants to practice Islam purely, he or she must look back into the life and practice of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) as an example and if one cannot find answers there, then look into the lives of the various companions of the blessed Prophet (SAW). By the grace of Allah (SWT), both these examples have been preserved for us through the work of hundreds, maybe thousands of Ulemah (scholars).

Keeping this in mind, a person should realize that true Islam is not and can not be influenced by other’s views. Islam is wholesome and unchangeable, not dependent on what or how these people or this person thinks or acts. Likewise, the status of woman in Islam is unchangeable and cannot be manipulated by others.

Islam is never influenced by a society. Yes, it can influence a society and change people’s views but it can never be influenced itself. It is like a diamond which can scratch other rocks but cannot be scratched itself.

Equality of Woman

In Islam, men and women are equal. Though this view seems to be similar to the views of feminists and many Western societies, it is not. An excellent lecture on this topic is by Yasir Qadhi titled Perfect Justice-Debunking the Male Bias Myth. In this lecture, Yasir Qadhi states that men are not to be compared with woman in materialistic ways. Comparing men and women with each other is like comparing apples with oranges. The only way that men and women can be equal is the way that truly matters: in terms of Taqwa(fear of Allah). On the Day of Judgement, Allah (SWT) will judge every individual on his level of Taqwa, not if they had money or not, if he or she had certain rights or not, or had the permission to do different things. Allah (SWT)’s justice is unlike any other and it is PERFECT. It is one thing to eat to apples and tell which one is better but it is a totally different thing to eat an apple and an orange and then tell which one is the better of the two.

The problem with feminists is that they believe both men and women are apples and can be compared with each other. They believe that not only are men and women equal but they are also the same as well. This belief causes them to undermine the roles of women and causes them to define equality as similitude.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

A State of Ignorance

I had some guests come visit us today from India. Unfortunately they weren't too religious. Without going into further detail about how nonreligious they were, I want to bring up something that really bothered them.

My mother tries not to go in front of non-Mahrem men like a Muslim woman is supposed to according to the Shariah. Not only did these guests not observe this practice but they were unfamiliar with it. Yes, they knew the term "Purdah" and understood what it meant but it seemed as though, especially the wife, had experienced it for the very first time. They wanted my mother, to come and eat together on the table where there were both men and women seated. My mother had to explain to them that she observes "Purdah" and cannot sit with them at the table. This is not an unusual thing for non-Muslims or even new Muslims. but these were Muslims who lived in India. Though Muslims were in the minority, the Muslims still ruled the country for thousands of years. I don't understand how Muslims who still live in India have become so ostracized with their religion, themselves.

Another incident which my grandmother brought up was what happened in Dubai quite a few years ago. Some lady at a gathering guessed that my grandmother was from Pakistan and her friend was from India. How? The length of the Saree's. A Saree is, pretty much a long cloth literally wrapped around a woman's body. When Indian women(Muslim or not) wear the Sari, it shows their stomach but Pakistani Muslim women cover atleast their stomach. Considering that many Muslims migrated from present day India to present-day Pakistan, it is unusual that Muslims living in Pakistan have become in a sense more religious.

Maybe, the "Purdah" was not something new to them. Maybe, it was something of the past. The "Purdah" was quite prominent in the subcontinent for a long time even after it started disappearing in the Middle East. So then, what happened? Did the Muslims who left to Pakistan also take their religion with them? That can't be the answer. India is not far behind in producing scholars and works of Islamic art. Zakir Naik is probably one of the most prominent and The Sealed Nectar(Ar-Raheeq ul Mukhtum) is also written by an Indian Muslim.

Cultural Diffusion

I remember back in the US my teachers used to describe cultural diffusion as a good thing. They described America as a melting pot, where cultures of different parts of the world would combine together.

Personally, I never liked cultural diffusion. Cultural diffusion has its good aspects since it causes people to accept others and not be too reproachful of those who are not like them. Nevertheless, it causes a lot of bad to come as well. What I'm guessing happened to the Muslims in India, is that they were affected by cultural diffusion and in an attempt to be accepted by the non-Muslims of India, they lost much of their religion.