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Essays, Feminism, Liberalism, Written Work

Would Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) get to say #metoo?

The #MeToo campaign, secular liberalism, and the problem of sexual harassment

Groundhog day

I was not going to write about the #MeToo campaign. The hashtag at first seemed to bring catharsis for some women and men speaking about their sexual harassment traumas openly (although reliving trauma on social media was itself traumatic for some). Predictably, the campaign quickly revealed deep contradictions, hypocrisy, and false virtue, and failed to provide any solutions to the root cause of the problem.

Like other hashtag campaigns in the past, the #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment in Westernised societies would not effect any change as long as its campaigners remained in denial about the social causes behind the problem. Some Muslims also participated in the campaign and joined in the mass chanting the modern-day hymn of hashtagging, with little thought on how Islam could solve the problem, let alone any thought to advocating it as an alternative solution for the world’s sexual harassment problem.

The Princess and the Pea

One of the most obvious problems within the #MeToo campaign is the wilful conflation by some, of mild negative experiences with much more serious and disturbing ones. For example, one actress receiving a work-related rejection email claimed it was in the same category as being sexually assaulted.[1]

This level of conflation is not unique to the #MeToo campaign but is typical of gender-centric political activisms championed by feminists. Consider for example, reports of a number of “allegations” against men in the media following the #MeToo, which range from “flirting” and “weird lunch dates” as being somehow in the same category as rape, assault, stalking, and physical violence.[2]

These lesser claims serve only to dilute genuine sexual assault with general-life-things-like-a-rejection-letter and only serves to ridicule the trauma of those who have experienced serious violations, making it even harder to tackle the skepticism with which victims are often treated.

In our lifetimes alone, we have witnessed, for example, the soaring rise in the rates of rape reported in India (the world’s largest secular democracy), the rise of mass sexual assaults in increasingly secularised Egypt, as well as reports that, in Europe and the USA, one in two women are reported to have experienced some form of sexual harassment or unwanted sexual behaviour in their lifetime.[3] The problem is clearly pervasive and disturbing, so its cause needs to be identified in order to find a real solution.


Although many women outed their stories of having been abused or harassed, many men did, too, and some women even reported female perpetrators behind their abuse.

Yet, men’s accounts did not garner the same level of sympathy or solidarity, with some feminists[4] even rejecting the inclusion of abuse stories against men (Alyssa Milano[5], who initiated the Twitter hashtag, seemed to condone this rejection). It was as if it would somehow detract from the female experience, or draw attention to the reality that this was not a problem with men or male power, but a problem with people. In fact, the “correct” thing expected in response to the campaign seemed to be for men to say, #IWillChange (but, curiously, not women, despite being perpetrators of sexual harassment and abuse being from both sexes).

Does Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) get to say #metoo?


For Muslims, it is worth reminding ourselves of a particular account from the Qur’an: the story of Zulaikha and Joseph (Yusuf) (a.s.).

The Prophet Yusuf (a.s.), is narrated to have undergone several ordeals in his life. In one, he finds himself as a slave serving in the household of a high-ranking official in Egypt, known as Al-Aziz, the husband of Zulaikha. Zulaikha is reported to have been a woman of beauty and, owing to her station, a woman of power and prominence as well. Yusuf (a.s.) is reported to have been a uniquely and remarkably handsome man and this became the cause of one of his ordeals.

As is reported, Zulaikha found herself intensely attracted to Yusuf (a.s.) and, unable to restrain herself from him, she one day manoeuvred Yusuf (a.s.) into a room and closed the doors, saying “Come, you!”, as if to order her slave. Yusuf (a.s.) rejected her sexual advances, despite the lure of her beauty, and turned to flee the room. Yusuf (a.s.) ran to the door, and Zulaikha chased him, reaching for Yusuf (a.s.) and grabbed his shirt from the back, tearing it, when suddenly they found her husband at the door (Qur’an, 12:23-25).

They both tried to clear themselves of blame, with Zulaikha accusing Yusuf (a.s.) of intending to rape her, and Yusuf (a.s.) denying this. Neither of their accounts was the basis for Al-Aziz’s judgment, though. Instead, material evidence was used to determine blame: if Yusuf’s (a.s.) shirt was torn from the front then he was lying and, if torn from the back, then Zulaikha was lying. Of course, it was found to be torn from the back and Zulaikha was admonished by her husband and told to repent for her deeds.

The first part of this Qur’anic story points to the understanding that sexual assault can occur regardless of time, place, or culture – and that women can also be perpetrators.

Before we return to this Qur’anic story to hear Zulaikha’s testimony about her motivations, let us see what modern research has to say on the matter.

Cause vs justification

In order to hash out a solution, rather than hashtagging the problem, we need to earnestly investigate the causes. Whilst the symptoms of the problems must be alleviated (through professional and personal support), the problem needs to be tackled at its root cause.

Firstly, no one would rightly think that anyone deserves to be sexually assaulted, harassed, or abused, in public or in private. Where many differ is in the diagnoses of the social situation giving rise to these problems and the method used to address these problems.

If a rundown town is filled with poverty and crime, no one would rightly think that the victims of those crimes deserved to suffer what they did, or that the criminals were justified in their actions due to their circumstances. Yet, we would point to the poverty and crime prevalent in that town as a cause of those occurrences.

If academics explain that terrorists commit the atrocities that they do due to grievances with foreign policy, those academics would not be accused of justifying those acts of terror or saying that innocent civilians deserved to suffer (unless of course those academics looked Muslim and you were a tabloid journalist) – they would merely be explaining the causes.

If a doctor diagnoses his patient with liver cancer and says that it is caused by the consumption of alcohol, the doctor is not saying “you deserve cancer because you drink!”. Of course not. This is because the doctor is merely pointing to the cause of the problem, and does not justify, wish for, or take pleasure in, harm befalling his patient.

If any reader does not understand the simple distinction between cause and justification, then it would be better for them to pause and make themselves comfortable with the distinction before continuing.

No mystery for sociologists and scientists

Despite the vigorous attempts by many ideologically motivated campaigners to argue that sexual harassment or assault was all about male power (‘patriarchy’), numerous studies have shown that it is instead a human problem.

Sexual harassment linked to sexualisation of society

Specifically, studies have shown that the pervasiveness of sexual imagery and fashion (i.e. the sexualisation of society) is linked to sexual harassment.

Dr Linda Papadopoulos notes, “It is tempting to dismiss the link between sexualisation and violence as being too far-fetched. Yet the evidence cited…suggests a clear link between consumption of sexualised images, a tendency to view women as objects and the acceptance of aggressive attitudes and behaviour as the norm. In many ways, sexualisation leads to dehumanisation.[6]

Rachel Calogero noted in her research, “[C]ultural practices of sexually objectifying women are pervasive in Westernized societies and create multiple opportunities for the female body to be on public display. A large body of research has documented that women are targeted for sexually objectifying treatment in their day-to-day lives more often than are men.[7]

What are the mechanisms of this link between sexual harassment and the sexualisation of society?

How a sexualised society influences choices

This sexualisation of the public space, turning it into a courtship arena, is observable in a number of sociological effects. For example, a 2011 study demonstrated that women chose significantly more ‘sexy’ outdoor clothing after being primed with imagery of attractive men before being given the task. Additionally, women’s choice of sexier outdoor clothing was also affected by ovulation, and being primed with pictures of rival attractive females (the latter, which could be understood as a drive to compete, interestingly had no effect when the women were not ovulating).[8]

The societal pressure that women are under to a dress a particular way is not new, a study from 1981, noted[9] that 80% of women believe that some or most women at work ‘dresses to be sexual attractive’ and that 57% of women believe that some or most of women at work ‘present a sexually seductive image’.

Studies show that a sexualised society creates the perception that acceptance and excellence must be gained through use of enhanced appearance to manipulate the behaviour and treatment of others. A study in 2009, found that attractive females were given higher performance ratings than unattractive females[10].

A study in 2009[11], published in a journal for the hospitality industry, noted that use of make up by waitresses gained greater tips from male patrons (than female patrons).

In a study conducted in 2010, and published in the Journal of International Women’s Studies, Dr Avigail Moor, a clinical psychologist, observes,

“In all types of questioning, women did indeed identify the social, interpersonal, and personal advantage of such [body-revealing] clothing in terms of attractiveness and desirability, as the primary reason for wearing it…the responses given by most women seem to connect the choice of a sexualized appearance to a desire to be and feel valued, in a social context in which these two variables are routinely tied together … to them [the women], it was clear that wearing such attire has nothing to do with a desire for sexual relations per se, but rather with a wish to attract. Moreover, even as they acknowledge that men may sometimes be aroused by the sexy look, this is in no way seen as its goal. Rather, it is seen as a means to an end, namely, to attract-generally one particular man and not men in general – and be valued”.[12]

The observed correlation between attractive appearance and sexual advances

Studies have also shown a correlation between attractive attire and visual appearance and increased number of sexual/courtship advances or solicitations by members of opposite sex.

In 2008, a study observed that “Makeup..was associated with higher [numbers of] male contact and a shorter latency for the first contact [with women in the study]…these results seem to show that the positive effects of make-up on ratings of physical or social attractiveness…translate to more overt behaviours of males”.[13]

Another study in 2012[14], noted that women who wore lipstick were approached sooner, and received more courtship solicitations than women without.

A study in 2010[15], observed that women who wore red clothing had men sit closer to them than women who wore another colour. The study also found that women dressed in red were asked more intimate questions than those who were not.

A 2014 social experiment showed a woman walking through New York for five hours, with Western clothing considered typical, and another with a hijab and jilbab (Islamic clothing). It was observed that the woman received radically different treatment depending on her clothing[16].

The problem of leaving people to guess each other’s intentions in a sexualised society

Another study in 2014 found that there exists a great degree of confusion in inter-sex perception regarding the conscious (and non-conscious) sexual intent of members of the opposite sex: men and women seem to not be accurate about what the other is thinking. The study reported, “men and, more importantly, women, believe that the level of likelihood that women intend to have sex is even greater than their reported intentions…men appear to overestimate women’s sexual intentions because women understate them”. The study concludes that leaving people to guess each other’s sexual intentions is an “inferior solution.”[17]

Since sexual harassment is defined as ‘unwanted sexual advances’, rather than sexual advances, a number of studies has shown that whether an advance is ‘wanted’ or ‘unwanted’ may depend on the attractiveness of the person and not necessarily the nature of the advance.

One study in 2008, observed that “Participants exposed to the attractive profile tolerated a greater number of sexually harassing responses than participants exposed to the unattractive profile. Also, participants exposed to the high status profile tolerated a greater number of sexually harassing responses than participants exposed to the low status profile…Participants’ rating of their likelihood to date the candidate was also significantly associated with the number of sexually harassing responses toleratedexposure to attractive and high status individuals was not only associated with a greater tolerance of sexual harassment, but those individuals were still held in a relatively positive light even after engaging in sexually inappropriate behaviors. This suggests that the behavior of physically attractive and high status individuals may have fewer negative consequences than individuals with less desirable qualities.”[18]

Another study in 2001 observed that ‘‘The behavior of attractive males was less likely to be seen as harassing. Attractive females were more likely to be seen as harassed, especially when the potential harasser was unattractive.[19]

Another study in 2009 concluded that “physically attractive males were perceived as less harassing than physically unattractive males”. It concluded that this would create confusion, since it may not be clear to an individual whether their sexual advances would be wanted or not prior to initiating them: “What has not been clear is how the guidelines for sexual harassment should be implemented, given the fact that the EEOC’s definition has been contingent upon the idea that the given behavior is unwanted. “Sexual” behaviors that may have been tolerated and encouraged from one person might be reviled when initiated from another individual…Upon closer examination, sexual harassment has been found to be a highly subjective term in which many behaviors may, or may not, fall into the defined category.[20]

These studies agree with prior studies from 30 years ago where, for example, a 1982 study noted a reduced perception of sexual harassment depending on the status of the job of the perpetrator.[21]

Dr Moor sums up the potential causes of sexual harassment as being a confusion brought about by the sexualisation of public dress together with turning the public space into an arena for pursuit of relationships.[22] In her study, she noted,

“It was hypothesized that women and men would indeed diverge in their ascriptions, such that men would view body-revealing clothing as conveying an interest in sexual exchanges on the part of the women so dressed, whereas women would reject this notion and point to a desire to feel and look attractive as the primary motivation for adopting this look. The results [in this study] confirm this hypothesis. In all types of questioning, women did indeed identify the social, interpersonal, and personal advantage of such clothing in terms of attractiveness and desirability, as the primary reason for wearing it…the responses given by most women seem to connect the choice of a sexualized appearance to a desire to be and feel valued, in a social context in which these two variables are routinely tied together. Eliciting sexual relations, on the other hand, seems to have very little to do for most women with choosing to adopt a sexy look. Accordingly, the commonplace accusation of women of “asking for” sexual violence with their revealing attire appears to be discredited as women report having no such intent at all. This resonates with previous reports (e.g., Johnson, Hegland, & Schofield, 1999) in which rape survivors strongly rejected the suggestion that they had intended to encourage sexual advances in any way by their style of dress.”

Commenting on the results obtained by a number of studies in experimental settings, she concluded that although both men and women agreed that women’s clothing was designed to be ‘sexy’ and ‘attractive’ (and women reportedly acknowledged that men were sometimes aroused by these appearances), they differed as to the specific intent of the women who wore it. She noted,

The divergent, gender-based interpretations given to the intentions [in the experiment] behind the pictured woman’s sexualized clothing and posture further substantiate this conclusion. While both sexes viewed her as intending to be sexy and attractive, they differed in respect to her presumed interest in sex. To many men, her revealing form of dress seemed to convey an interest in sexual advances. To women it generally did not for, to them, it was clear that wearing such attire has nothing to do with a desire for sexual relations per se, but rather with a wish to attract. Moreover, even as they acknowledge that men may sometimes be aroused by the sexy look, this is in no way seen as its goal. Rather, it is seen as a means to an end, namely, to attract-generally one particular man and not men in general – and be valued.”

Significantly, Dr Moor noted that the results, together with previous studies, suggested that men’s misperception of the sexual intent of women was due to the sexual arousal generated in the male subjects by the women’s choice of clothing. She states,

Inasmuch as men are highly aroused by the revealing look, it stands to reason that this very stimulation may be the basis for their misconstruction of women’s aims. In essence, men may be projecting their own arousal onto the object of their lust, erroneously concluding, in a rather self-centered manner, that since they have become aroused this must have been her goal. Indeed the significant correlations between these two sets of variables in the present investigation seem to substantiate such a supposition. The fact that the percentage of men who reported being aroused by the revealing look and those who perceived seduction in this type of appearance are almost entirely identical seems to imply that the former may in fact be responsible for the latter. This claim is especially conceivable given that it would be quite difficult to make a case for the opposite direction of causality”.

In conclusion, the studies have shown that the public sphere has become a place where many people (of both sexes) pursue, or are interested in, receiving solicitations for courtship from agreeable potential (relationship or sex) partners. In such circumstances, it is clear that many people will experience unwanted solicitations from members of the opposite sex.

When successful achievement in career, social acceptance, or attracting an agreeable partner, is linked with a sexualised appearance (i.e. sexualisation), studies have shown that misperceptions of sexual interest arise. When this is combined with the sexual objectification of women in the media, internet, and by the fashion industry, many sociologists (as cited above) report that this may open the door for more serious forms of sexual harassment to become rife.

‘Can you blame me? Look at him!’

Returning to the story of Zulaikha, she is so adamant to clear her reputation about her actions toward Yusuf (a.s.) that, even after she is reprimanded, she arranges what is in effect a public viewing of Yusuf (a.s.). Inviting a group of women to her home, she orders Yusuf (a.s.) to come out in front of them. The women who are gathered there effectively ogle him and swoon over him saying, “How perfect is God! This is not a mortal, this is nothing but a noble angel!” (Qur’an, 12:31). Zulaikha uses this viewing to try to show them that she acted the way that she did because he was so attractive. Having proved her point, she triumphantly says “That, then, is the one concerning whom you blame me. I certainly sought to seduce him but he firmly refused.” (Qur’an, 12:32). (i.e. ’Can you blame me? Look at him!’)

Yusuf (a.s.) now facing the tempting lust not just of the beautiful Zulaikha, but of all of her company calls upon His Creator saying, “My Lord, prison is more to my liking than that to which they are inviting me. And if You do not turn away their plot from me, I might incline toward them and thus be among the ignorant.” (Qur’an, 12:33)

The Qur’an goes on to report that Zulaikha later accepts the blame for what happened. She says, “And I do not acquit myself. Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil, except those upon which my Lord has mercy. Indeed, my Lord is Forgiving and Merciful.” In other words, she is not trying to justify what she did, but she is pointing out her human fallibility. Indeed, if Yusuf (a.s.), a Prophet no less, feared giving in to these influences, what does that mean for the rest of humanity?

Whilst some ascetics praise Zulaikha’s burning love as a symbol for divine love[23], if a Muslim man today, being no prophet, lamented the temptations of women around him as Yusuf (a.s.) did, he probably would not receive the mercy or consideration from feminists that Zulaikha received in the Qur’an, but only be blamed for being a male.

By identifying that Yusuf (a.s.) was handsome, and by narrating that this was the quality that affected Zulaikha so strongly, would Muslims who have adopted Western gender politics say that the Qur’an was “victim-blaming” Yusuf (a.s.)? No (I hope not). This is because it is clear that the Qur’an is merely reminding us of the weakness that exists in humans, and not just men, but women, too; how beauty and attraction can corrupt even those of virtue and good standing.

Some may read this account and think that this is an example of where a sexual assault is committed due to being in a position of power, even if they concede that it does not always have to be a man. However, this account, and by Zulaikha’s own testimony, shows that being in a position of power is not the cause, but merely an opportunity some exploit. The real culprit is human weakness and corruption in the face of temptation.

Human fallibility has always existed but, in the modern day, secular liberalism ignores this and unwittingly unleashes people’s weaknesses rather than their virtues.

Secular Liberalism’s ‘Public Courtship Paradox’

In secular liberal societies, people are inculcated with a selfish conception of self-entitlement that puts the satisfaction of one’s own desires as their prime concern (individualism).

This unrestricted individual ‘freedom’ leads to people employing every natural advantage they have at their disposal to get ahead – whether it is corporations using sex or pushing unrealistic notions of fashion and desirable appearance in order to sell clothing and beauty products, to film producers using sex in their productions to sell more box-office tickets. Ultimately, this creates a society permeated with hyper stimulation and an obsession with attraction. Within such a milieu, and with such an ideological foundation, we see the that unwanted sexual advances become rife.

In such a society, people will see no problem in pursuing their desires for sex with a desirable partner in any manner that they think is likely to succeed. This involves two approaches (often done in combination):

First, many people will attempt to attract a desirable partner(s) by maximising their attractiveness in public, whether that involves flaunting their bodies or accentuating their visual appearance, or displaying their wealth or status through material objects or advertising their titles.

Secondly, many will go into the public realm and initiate sexual advances on those they find attractive, approaching them and flirting, seducing, ‘chatting them up’ or propositioning them. This is simply because in an individualistic society many believe that if you do not ask, you do not get.

Predictably, in such an unregulated system, there will be a disproportionate number of people who receive unwanted sexual advances – either because they were not looking for partners, or because the suitor was not attractive or charming to them. And when one defines sexual harassment as ‘unwanted sexual advances’, the cause of the problem of sexual harassment becomes starkly apparent.

This creates a ‘courtship paradox’. People are permitted and, due to social forces, encouraged to ‘express themselves’, ‘express their sexuality’, ‘practice free speech as long as it leads to no physical harm’, and so on. Consequently, public flirting or attention seeking is not illegal in most Western systems (and where no social system exists to regulate and direct appropriate behaviour). However, considering that sexual harassment is defined as ‘unwanted sexual advances’, and studies have shown that people regularly misperceive interest – leading people to only discover if their attention is welcome only after initiating it – we arrive at an ideological contradiction: secular liberalism’s public courtship paradox.

A 2012 study identified the following: “Females…tend to perceive the more subtle forms of sexual harassment more easily than males do. In other words, while both sexes view overtly oppressive behaviours like sexual assault and quid-pro-quo as being clear sexual harassment cases, men do not perceive the more subtle behaviours as such”.[24]

Secular liberalism seems to be in denial about how people are attracted to potential partners, and also the means to effectively safeguard people’s interests. Leaving individualism to automate people’s affairs is what has resulted in chaos, with human needs being pursued in unacceptable, often perverse, ways.

So it is with much irony that those who were the inspiration for the #MeToo campaign – the Hollywood actors and actresses – were the very same whose films reinforced the ideological basis of self-gratification and the normalisation of casually lewd behaviour, incubating the very same sexualised society that studies show have a link to sexual harassment.

Hashing out a solution not just hash-tagging the problem

Sexual and relationship fulfilment is something that most adult humans emotionally require. Unlike secular liberalism’s (anarchic) laissez-faire approach to this, Islam regulates the human pursuit of partners by means of a responsible courting social system, that eliminates grey areas, promoting marriage as the sole outlet of sexual fulfilment, and removing sexual tension and politics from the public arena.

As the tale of Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) informs us, even the noblest of people (a Prophet of God) feared temptation, so those with a usually good reputation (Zulaikha), are prone to falling to it. It is the nature of temptation mixed with fallible humans that give rise to personal and social corruptions.

Islam has a number of solutions that, while they cannot eliminate human fallibility, corruption or temptation (which is impossible), can create a positive environment that minimalises it to the best possible degree. Islam does this through educating people with a worldview that better motivates them to be respectful, and provides guidance for the management of society (i.e. a social system).

Secular liberalism, a materialistic ideology, could only ever see the world as consisting of material objects and pain and pleasure. As such, it is unable to intellectually dissuade people from objectifying others as objects whose only value is their potential for pleasure.

Islam encourages mutual respect for all people by providing a basis for honour that transcends the material: “Surely We have honoured the children of Adam…and have exalted them above many of those whom We have created (Quran, 17:70)

While secular liberalism’s ‘physical harm’ condition behind restricting actions could never prevent people from looking at each other (and therefore prolonged staring or ogling) Islam orders Muslims (men and women) to guard their gaze and keep themselves to good conduct.

Tell the believing men to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts. That is purer for them. Indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what they do. And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment…that believers might succeed.” (Quran, 29:30-31)

Islam also encourages public modesty and explicitly prevents the sexualisation of society and men and women.

The very purpose of the hijab as informed to us by our Creator is clearly set out in the Qur’an: “O Prophet, tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to bring down over themselves [part] of their outer garments. That is more suitable that they will be known and not be abused.” (Quran, 33:59). The function of wearing the hijab is not a private act of worship, but serves a social function that is meant to protect from the sexualisation (objectification) of women in society.

It is true that simply donning the hijab does not make one immune to sexual harassment. However, (as the studies have shown with public make-up and dress, and even one with a hijab and jilbab) it is demonstrably less when one dons the hijab (although in the West, it does not protect against Islamophobic harassment).

Islam also restricts social contact between unrelated/unmarried men and women to public areas. The Prophet of Islam (a.s.) said: “No man is alone with a woman but the shaitan will be the third one present.” The fact that most sexual assaults occur between people who know each other is certainly something to reflect on.

Islam gives clear guidelines on etiquette between unrelated/unmarried men and women. No physical touching is allowed – even if ‘just friendly’. No seclusion. Conversations should be limited to what is professional or necessary – not frivolous. Communication intended toward marriage must be chaperoned. There is no legitimate expectation of a physical relationship outside of marriage.

These Islamic solutions do not imply that people are to blame for what befalls them if they do not do these. Rather, they are to protect people from those “in whose heart is a disease, should [they] feel desire (for you)” (Quran, 33:32)

#Metoo could have been used as an opportunity for a serious investigation into the root causes of sexual harassment or abuse. It could have been used to summon the bravery needed to truly tackle these problems.

However, in order to deal with the problem of sexual harassment or abuse, one would have to admit that the problem of sexual harassment or assault is not about gender. Rather, it is about human corruptibility mixed with (and exacerbated by) circumstances (i.e. sexualisation of society) caused by the most sacred and fundamental belief in secular liberalism – namely, the pursuit of pleasure and entitlement of the individual to do so (i.e. individualism). This leads to a mindset that places ones own desires as the highest concern and purpose of life above all other social responsibilities or concerns for others.

Until this pattern of Islam is manifested in the Muslim world, we must do what we can to alleviate the symptoms of the victims of this social problem. Unfortunately, this will only ever amount to palliative care unless we simultaneously treat the cause. And prevention is better than cure.

This is something that some the acolytes of secular liberalism are not willing to do. The understanding of individual freedom that they wish to pursue is the very freedom that others invoke to pursue their individualistic interests, which creates the kind of environment that leads to the thriving of harassment in the first place.

Islam, on the other hand, aims to put God above all other considerations, and aims at a society that reduces and discourages the base instincts of humans in public, and instead encourages nobility and responsible conduct in the public sphere.

And Allah wants to lighten for you [your difficulties]; and mankind was created weak.” (Qur’an, 4:28)

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/20/tv-film-industries-toxic-starts-audition-room-harvey-weinstein?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

[2] https://www.buzzfeed.com/doree/what-to-do-with-shitty-media-men?utm_term=.xcWzx3MJp#.obaZL27Yy

[3] European Commission, 1998; Pina et al., 2009; United States Merit Systems Protection Board [USMSPB], 1995

[4] https://www.facebook.com/cmclymer/posts/993793284096897

[5] https://twitter.com/Alyssa_Milano/status/919733667831754752

[6] Sexualisation of Young People, a Review [2015]

[7] Calogero, Rachel M. (2012) Objectification theory, self-objectification, and body image. In: Cash, Thomas, ed. Encyclopedia of Body Image and Human Appearance

[8] Ovulation, Female Competition, and Product Choice: Hormonal Influences on Consumer Behavior, Durante, Griskevicius, Hill, Perilloux, Li, 2010 [Published by the Journal of Consumer Research, Vol 37, No 6, 1st April 2011]

[9] Experiences of sexual harassment: Results from a representative survey, Barbara A Gutek, 1981

[10] Examining the Interaction Among Likelihood to Sexually Harass, Rated Attractiveness, and Job Performance, Lee, Melbourne, Hoke and Begs, 2009 (Publishing in the Journal of Management)

[11] Waitresses’ facial cosmetics and tipping: A field experiment, Jacob, Gueguen, Boulbry, Ardiccioni, 2009 [Published by International Journal of Hospitality Management, 2009]

[12] She Dresses to Attract, He Perceives Seduction: A Gender Gap in Attribution of Intent to Women’s Revealing Style of Dress and its Relation to Blaming the Victims of Sexual Violence, Avigail Moor, 2010 [Published in Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol 11, No 4, May 2010]

[13] The Effects of Women’s Cosmetics on Men’s Approach: An Evaluation in a Bar, Nicolas Gueguen, University de Bretagne-Sud (2008) [Published in the North American Journal of Psychology, 2008, Vol 10. No 1]

[14] Does Red Lipstick Really Attract Men? An Evaluation in a Bar, Nicolas Guéguen (2012), International Journal of Psychological Studies, vol 2, No 2, June 2012

[15] Red and romantic behavior in men viewing women, Kayser, Elliot, Feltman (2010), [Published by European Journal of Social Psychology, 2010]

[16] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgw6y3cH7tA

[17] Do Men Overperceive Women’s Sexual Interest?, Carin Perilloux and Robert Kurzban, 2014 (published in Psychological Science, 20th November 2014)

[18] Tolerance of Sexual Harassment: A Laboratory Paradigm, Angelone, Mitchell, Carola (2009) [published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour 22nd November 2008]

[19] Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Exploring the Effects of Attractiveness on Perception of Harassment, John H. Golden, Craig A. Johnson Rebecca A. Lopez (Published in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 2001)

[20] Sexual Harassment Perception as Influenced by a Harasser’s Physical Attractiveness and Job Level, Mark E Savery, 1997 (Published in Modern Psychological Studies, Spring 1997)

[21] Sexual Harassment in the Workplace as a Function of Initiator’s Status: The Case of Airline Personnel, Littler-Bishop, Siedler-Feller, Opaluch, 1982 [Journal of Social Issues, Vlu 38, No 4, 1982]

[22] She Dresses to Attract, He Perceives Seduction: A Gender Gap in Attribution of Intent to Women’s Revealing Style of Dress and its Relation to Blaming the Victims of Sexual Violence, Avigail Moor, 2010 [Published in Journal of International Women’s Studies, Vol 11, No 4, May 2010]

[23] See e.g. My Soul is a Woman, by Anne Marie Schimmel

[24] AN OVERVIEW OF THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT LITERATURE, An Overview of the Literature on Antecedents, Perceptions, and Behavioural Consequences of Sexual Harassment


9 thoughts on “Would Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) get to say #metoo?

  1. I really agree with this. I couldn’t sort out my thoughts and feelings on the #metoo hashtag as eloquently as you have done but I can’t express how much I appreciate you writing this article. May Allah reward you.

    Posted by Asma | October 26, 2017, 4:07 pm
  2. Strong and valuable piece.

    Posted by Guvecci | October 27, 2017, 11:45 am
  3. Thank you for the enlightenment… it was truly an informative read !

    Posted by Ayaz Moin | October 27, 2017, 1:21 pm
  4. Assalaamu Alaikum Sister.
    A thoroughly informative and educative read.
    Masha Allah, May Allah reward you immensely.
    The Ummah needs more sisters, mothers, daughters like you.
    I have one request, do you intend to put your articles in a book form? (Forgive my ignorance of you have already)


    Posted by abdul hafeez rabbani | October 28, 2017, 7:23 am
  5. Ma Sha Allah!

    Well said, sister. JazakAllah Khayran

    Posted by IsmailSatia | October 29, 2017, 10:15 am
  6. ASA Dear Sr Zara,

    Excellent observsations. I have berated a Wal Mart store manager as I stood in front of the cash register pointing to the magazine rack, upon which at 30″ off the floor there were four magazines with alluring mostly naked women in suggestive poses didn’t bother to see what they magazines were selling their “bait” was obvious, but who were they trying to snare? Who has eyes that are 30″ off the floor? Very young boys. The assault starts in the United States immediately on their modesty…what do you expect of a person who has natural hunger that will develop with age if you rub what they will be hungry for in their faces starting at 5 years old? You will have massive problems…and here we are. The store manager, when I told him the issue and he needed to pull those magazines or put them on a higher shelf out of child’s view he deflected in an arrogant way, “Those are managed by a supplier who stocks those shelves” Have to confess, I did want to punch him at that point, but didn’t. I did my part. Later when he was not looking I turned all the magazines face in. :)

    Posted by Abdullah Mikail MacKay | December 9, 2017, 4:02 pm


  1. Pingback: Would Prophet Yusuf (ﷺ) get to say #metoo? by Zara Faris – The Muslim Debate Initiative - October 26, 2017

  2. Pingback: Would Prophet Yusuf (ﷺ) get to say #metoo? — Zara Faris – Swaminarayan Glory - October 26, 2017

  3. Pingback: Would Prophet Yusuf (a.s.) get to say #metoo? — Zara Faris | Lia di sini - November 3, 2017

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