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Feminism, Q&A

Q: “How would you respond to those who believe women’s rights in Islam is equivalent to “Islamic feminism”?”

The “Q&A” posts on this site are snippets of discussions I have had, or questions I have answered, in person, by email, or on other social networking platforms, which are collated here for ease of reference.

Question 1: 

“How would you respond to those who believe women’s rights in Islam is equivalent to “Islamic feminism”?”

Answer: 

The goal of “Islamic Feminists” is, as is openly admitted by its own advocates, not about comprehending God’s will re men and women, and not about comprehending the moral code provided by God, but actually to reinterpret the Qur’an in light of liberal / feminist values.

Asma Barlas, for example, openly declares that her method of determining whether the Qur’an’s teachings are “ethical and egalitarian” (which are themselves vague concepts she has personally decided are good yardsticks to import from liberal thought and measure the Qur’an with) is to “combine” the Qur’an’s view of egalitarianism and justice with feminist theories (also suggesting that the word of God is on equal footing with the musings of some of His Creation) [see “Believing Women”. You can find the same sort of discussion in the work of Ziba Mir-Hosseini (“Men in Charge”) and many others – these are just a couple of examples that come to mind right now.]

In other words, “Islamic Feminists” are not acting as objective interpreters of Allah’s revelation, but as liberal feminist reconcilers.

There is no equivalence between striving to objectively understand the Will of God, and striving to impose your personal choice of liberal/feminist values onto it.

Question 2:

“How about those who do not have a liberal feminist mindset and simply view efforts of women demanding their rights in Islam as feminists? What would you call women such as Zainab Al Ghazali, Nusaiba Bint Kaab (ra), and Fatima Al-Fihri?”

Answer:

Those who would seek to realise Islamic rights comprehensively for the benefit of both women and men, and not just for personal interest or the interest of one gender, are just “Muslims”, and that is the description we should aspire to.

The reason some may feel the need to describe them as “feminists” is due to the incorrect perception that feminism has a monopoly over women’s rights. Feminism is not just a benign term, though – it’s an ideologically charged one (and regardless of the many types of feminism, often champions erroneous ideas around body autonomy, experimental definitions and approaches to fulfil platitudes on equality, individualism, and grossly inaccurate presumptions of male and female power).

Applying the term “feminist” to those who only advocate Islam is a dangerous conflation as it leaves the door ajar for feminist ideals to seep into Islamic thought (which is what we have seen evidence of), and inadvertently validates those feminist ideals which contradict Islam – it suggests that Islam is simply one location on the grand spectrum of Feminism, rather than a perfect ideal of its own.

Discussion

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