Feminism & The Modern Muslim Woman

Feminism & The Modern Muslim woman

I could write about this very topic every day for the next year and it still would not be enough.

Not all feminists think or act the same.

Well isn’t that news. It might surprise you to hear that it is my religion which has inspired me to want to speak up against the subordination of women. I know it’s hard to believe whilst living in a world painted with dominant western culture that a religion being tarnished as barbaric and a threat to modern civilisation was one of the first to recognise inequality and grant women with rights.

I’m not here to list a dozen ways that Islam liberated Muslim women, nor point out that Muslim women were emancipated from being the property of men fourteen hundred years before women in the west saw any light of such rights. All that I wish to make clear is that Islam, does not support the ill treatment of women.

The patriarchy which has governed most nations for centuries and manipulates laws, both theological and social, to their own advantage has allowed the largely prevailing misogynistic culture to impose certain rulings that feed hegemonic masculinity; by oppressing women.

Unfortunately, it is the misuse of religion which has created the notion that the Islamic faith is the enemy of the modern woman. However, it is also true that in certain ‘secular’ societies that claim to be ‘forward thinking’, women are still not treated as equals, in pay, under laws and by culture itself.

As a Muslim woman, it is devastating to see the hypocrisy practiced by the Muslim community and the wider non-Muslim society.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-1.png Are there problems with the feminist movement? Absolutely.

However as a young participating member of society (regardless of my gender), I believe that referring to a supporter of equal rights as a ‘feminazi’ is the modern day digressing of human rights as a whole.

Why? Well, the movement itself holds the weight of the struggles and sacrifices made by women (and men) from whenever you believe feminism arose, up to present day. By calling someone a ‘feminazi’, you are undermining an entire era of change. Not only is the term degrading to feminism, I take it as multiple steps back for society. Whether you call yourself a feminist or a humanist is besides the point.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-4.pngDo I see flaws in the feminist movement? Yes. No movement is perfect and most are prone to criticism, particularly one that is represented by people who are seen as ‘minorities’ or ‘inferior’. Insulting a struggle which was (and still is for many) an identity for equality and an advocate for awareness of inequality – is, for me, and should be for any living breathing member of the 21st century, is a ludicrous call to pull.

For me, the fact that some (yes, not all) feminists believe that most Muslim women are oppressed by their religion is a problem. Women, muslim women that are living under misogynist regimes ARE oppressed, yet little, or dare I say it NOTHING is being done to help them.

screenshot_2016-09-19-12-23-35-3.pngWe ought to see more coverage on sexual harassment, on FGM, on child marriages and the daily tenacity that women and girls go through – as well as attempts to help.

Yet all that is ever highlighted, all that I do see mainstream media debating on – is whether a veiled women is free, ‘oppressed’, or harbouring terrorists.

Come on.

A muslim woman does not need to lift her veil to prove that she is not oppressed. The fact that muslim women are forced to prove on a regular basis that they are not oppressed, to me – is real oppression.

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Of course, this claim would be unfair if I didn’t point out the fact that I am speaking from an advantaged point of view. I do recognise that not all women are born under the same circumstances or under the same situation as me. Which is why I believe that our efforts need to be put to effective use, we should stop analysing a free walking Muslim woman, and use our privileges to create aid to those that DO need it. 

| do keep in mind, that me talking about Islam, does not in any way undermine or insinuate disrespect towards any other faith. Comments suggesting things of such a nature will be dismissed. Bigots will not be entertained. |

*you guessed it, this was a self-illustrated blogpost*

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To contact me regarding a collaboration, or to simply get in touch – drop me an email at: rimsharasul8@gmail.com

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2016: Veils Don’t Sail?

It is the year twenty sixteen and women still feel the need to walk around covering every inch of skin, including their face! You no longer need to bend under the misogynist standards set by the no longer ruling patriarchy. You don’t need to step outside clad in black floor length clothes in fear of your abusive male spouse. You have human rights.We all have human rights. We have feminism! Wait, I’ll save you…

That’s already a whole seventy-four words in and I haven’t even introduced the topics of interest I will be covering today.

Hello people of the internet. I am sure quite a few of you might have already contemplated jumping off my post as you might have judged from the opening paragraph, that I am here to ‘ridicule’ feminism; but I assure you, I am not. This post is written for the sole purpose of educating/informing and creating a platform for healthy discussion of queries and questions.

I was inspired to write about the misconceptions of veiled women and the hijab when I happened to trod upon a pretty heated discussion between what seemed to be a group of rather ignorant people in the comments on a post on Instagram. Ah Instagram, of course. Where ever else.

However my need to literate my thoughts comes from more than just that, I am a young woman living in Britain, who dresses up everyday the way that I choose to – and that happens to end with covering my hair with a headscarf. Therefore, to me, it is important that the people I interact with in the world are aware that I am not forced to wear the hijab.

There is a lot of talk on Muslim women in the media, particularly social media, but what it is, is rarely discussed. Scriptures of all Abrahamic religions indicate a notion towards the covering of the hair and body. Where the rules of most religions are absolute, the interpretation of such divine laws are subjective; generally speaking,

hijab is – a religious code which is to be implemented by both men and women,

since the topic of this post is women; the female covering consists of loose clothing which is not skin tight nor transparent and a piece of cloth to cover the head and chest.

Some women choose also to cover their face with a veil or niqaab, showing only their eyes. 

You might be getting the jist here. Choice. Women that cover more of their bodies than other women, do so out of their own free will. To question a woman’s freedom based off of what she wears does not empower her, rather – it restricts her choices. 

My opinion is not very humble when I say, that feminism without intersectionality is pointless. You need not to be an atheist or of a certain colour to believe in the equality of rights. You do however, need to take into account the individual experiences of different people based on the unique circumstances they were born into/live in and with. There are many women who believe that religion in fact inspires their inner feminist. 

Her choice to cover should certainly never offend you.

I get it. It’s extremely easy, to read the first few  poorly translated verses of a Holy Book of any religion ‘online’,  those that are clearly taken out of context – and say that this religion sets women back. Reading a few essays on Wikipedia, doesn’t make you a historian. You are far from the expert when you believe a Muslim woman is oppressed. 

Are women in some regions of the Middle East oppressed by a society that uses religion as a poor excuse to mistreat females? Yes. Do I deny the fact that in such cases, some women and young girls may be made to cover and live their lives deprived of the simple notion of making their own choices? Of course not. 

Women are still seen as second class citizens in many countries, It’s a fact. It happens. I am not here to hang such issues to rest, if anything – I believe more needs to be done to speak out for women who don’t have the opportunity to project their own voices. 

However, aren’t women in secular or Non Muslim developing countries abused? Are they not raped and forced into human trafficking? Are women in these countries not misused, mistreated and pushed aside too? They are. 

Shouldn’t our attentions and focus then, be on the women who need our efforts – rather than questioning why a free walking woman is covering her hair? 

Veils Don’t Sail 


Personally, I do not cover my face but I cover my hair, another woman may not cover her face nor her hair. 

Categorizing levels of covering/modesty to what can be worn and what cannot and judging the character of the women who choose to dress otherwise; is true oppression. 

I have seen fellow Muslim veiled women being spoken to in derogatory manners. A thin layer of fabric covering the face of a human does not devoid of the fact that she is a human. 

Her hair or face being covered should not come as a novelty in a world where almost anyone can mould, sculpt or mutilate/pierce their bodies to the way they like (literally).

Her choice to cover should certainly never offend you. 

Thank you for reading, feedback is always welcome on my blog.

Rimsha

* this was a self-illustrated blogpost, the doodles and drawings were created by yours truly *

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A cold summer

It has been a while since I have blogged.

In all honesty, the past couple of weeks have been a blur, with the end of Ramadan and celebrating Eid, I guess you could say that I neglected the writer in me for a while.

The irony is that it is the events that take place in the world that materialise as a form of encouragement to voice my exasperated thoughts; however over the last month, it is the exact reason why I haven’t been writing.

The world has never been at peace, conflict is not new – but the cameras are and I understand that, but seeing innocent people pelleted to death in Kashmir, Turkey in turmoil and the slaughter of hundreds of people around the world can I guess make you feel helpless at some point.

Yes. I guess it’s true, I do feel helpless.

At the same time I have realised that I can’t slump under the covers forever, I’m currently working on something new which will be on here in the coming month. Stay tuned and more importantly, stay conscious of the world around you.

Oh and here are a few blogs that have helped to keep my spirits up, they’re definitely worth a read (possibly with a cup of tea).

@herinkedsoul

@ofbrownhuesanddarkeyes

@aclockworkhafsa

💙

The last cup of tea

Behold, the last cup of tea I’ll be having at 11 am. For the next thirty days Muslims around the world will only be eating/drinking once the sun has set, and begin their fasts before sunrise. We fast to experience for ourselves what it would feel like to go hours on an empty stomach, Islam is not a religion that sympathises with the less fortunate, but teaches its followers to empathise and actually know the feeling of not having the means to eat. Of course it’s not the same, I’ll eat once the sun has set, and not everyone is as privileged as you and me may be. Other than that, we give charity in this month and aim to be closer to God, spiritually.

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http://www.instagram.com/auburnrhyme

For those that will/have already started fasting, I hope this month is fruitful for you and your family. To those that don’t celebrate Ramadan, have a happy summer break.

🎈

British and Brown

A female British Muslim of Asian heritage are just a few factors that make up my identity, which mean a lot of things. It means being able to live a life almost as mundane as any other Brit and having the basic human rights to practice my religion, to step outside clad in my headscarf free of objection and to live in almost perfect harmony. I say almost because it isn’t long before the news headlines shout ‘terror’ and the fingers point at us.

At me.

Today, I value my identity and my consciousness towards it’s implications. I value the efforts of those that strive to break free of labels that…

In #BritishandBrown I talk about what my South Asian heritage means to me. Read the complete article on https://medium.com/@Creatyst/british-and-brown-d0d1a270c466#.1ai3de2fb

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I would like to thank Sania and the Creatyst team for giving me the opportunity to share my experience on such a diverse platform for artists. 

Women Under The Veil

“A society has no chance of success, if it does not educate its women”

– Khaled Hosseini (A Thousand Splendid Suns)

I’m not a student of politics who can give word perfect reiterations of human rights and state legislations. Nor am I a preacher, who can address every word of God sent down to man without blinking twice. I am merely a spectator in a mass of confusion, a writer aiming to put forward her feeble thoughts, a teenager who knows her rights.

H I J A B, a word that has caused immense misunderstandings over the recent decades, why are Muslim women obliged to wear it? How can any female be oppressed in such a way in the 21st century? When will they let go of such archaic laws and let women be free?

As global media is growing, we are becoming increasingly aware of issues in parts of the world that just half a century ago, we may not have even known existed. The general contradictions have grown to, what some people now believe as hard underlying facts; amongst the others, a strong contender is that Muslim women are oppressed.

The misunderstandings surrounding the topic of the oppression of women is one that, as suggested by a leading sociologist, is that the subordination of women has only been present since about four thousand years. Armstrong argues that in ancient polytheistic religions, women were highly respected due to them being worshiped as goddesses such as the Greek goddess, Hera. It is only since the introduction of monotheism that the focus shifted to a single male God, and woman were began to be seen as inferior.

The point put forward by Armstrong is valid to a certain degree, but it is also important to point out that before the introduction of a major world religion, Islam, women in polytheistic Arabia were not even considered as second class citizens, they were bought, sold and were merely seen as men’s property.

It is blatant that in many societies, till this day, women are not regarded as equal to men. This is seen as particularly true to nations in the East. The problem arises when we mix the inequalities taking place as being pushed by religion, when in actuality it is culture. A key notion in this view of females in Islam being oppressed is because they generally choose to wear a hijab. What we often fail to realise is that the covering of hair and skin is prevalent in traditional Judaeo-Christianity and not just Islam. What the spectators see as a form of patriarchal control, for the Muslim woman symbolises resistance to oppression, and encourages men to see them for the person they are rather then the outfit they are clad in. To think someone is oppressed is one thing, yet to pass laws permitting religious headwear is another.

The rise in extremist groups has shown Islam as a sexist and violent faith. These groups that claim females should not be educated or anything of the sort are a minority and Muslims worldwide condemn the horrific acts committed by these groups, but the bad press and generalisation that all Muslims have this ‘anti female’ view of life has taken precedence. What we forget is that Islam was the first ever religion to recognise women as equal to men, allowed them to run their own businesses and pursue an education and granted them with rights that women in the West didn’t see light of till about 1300 years later. One of these being, the right of a woman to initiate a divorce.

At times like this, it can be hard to distinguish between reality and what we see in the news. It is evident to historians and those that study religion, that Islam was the first to grant women with freedom and allowed them to gain a sense of identity, the rulings passed around 630 CE gave light to the injustice towards women and gave women the rights to keep their dowry and earnings.

The crucial factor in disagreements between faiths and people of different lifestyles is a lack of communication. The next time you see a lady in a veil, remember they are free thinking members of society and choose to wear what they wear. If you’re unaware of a custom or practice and would like to learn more, just ask a fellow Muslim or a person of any other faith that you would like to learn more of.

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PC - @im_pakistan (Instagram)

Thank you for reading, please do leave feedback or suggestions as I would be happy to see them.

Rimsha