Thursday, September 10, 2009

Islamic Femininity

I am currently reading "Western Muslims and the Future of Islam" by Tariq Ramadan (maybe I should just start a blog about him, haha) and I thought I'd post some interesting points:

"The issue of women is a sensitive one in almost all Western Islamic communities, and it sometimes appears that the whole question of faithfulness to Islam centers on it. Moreover, the repeated allusions and questions of our fellow-citizens, intellectuals, and the media about "women in Islam" cause a sort of psychological pressure that drives Muslims to adopt a defensive and often apologetic stance, which is not always objective."

"We are far from the ideal of equality before God, complementarity in family and social relations, and financial independence, behind which many ulama and intellectuals hide behind by quoting verses and Prophetic traditions."

"One also finds all sorts of restrictions to do with women, such as the "Islamic" prohibition against their working, having social involvements, speaking in public, and engaging in politics. And what have we not heard about the impossibility of "mixing"! One can certainly find ulama in the traditionalist and literalist schools who declare that these are Islamic teachings, but it is essential we go back to the scriptural sources to evaluate these practices, and to draw a clear distinction between customs that are culturally based and Islamic principles.

AMEN! I couldn't have said it better. And he finally labeled what I've been wondering what to call - the traditionalists and literalists (commonly known as fundamentalists in the media).

He goes on to mention how Muslim women who work at grassroots level do not judge each other re. hijab, but rather see it as a personal choice, and accept each other's choices. That sounds strange to me, since it's definitely not what I see in blog world. In fact I think the issue of hijab has very severely split Muslims into opposing camps, with a lot of bitterness, judgment, and negativity being exchanged between the 2 "sides".

Great book, I recommend it to everyone. I actually found out yesterday that Tariq Ramadan was supposed to be the person supervising my thesis, if he had ended up coming to my university (which he didn't, even though he accepted the job. Not sure what happened after that). I'm sure you guys can imagine how annoying that was for me!

By the way here are the videos of the debate I posted about earlier (there is more but it wasn't posted):


NoortheNinjabi said...

Salaam alykom wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,
I'm totally blog-stalking again. :-P

So apparently the arabic word for "literalist" is Dhahiri. And there's a whole Dhahirist movement, which is the extremist "Allah has a hand!" group. (There's a longer story behind that, but basically, it relates to the verse 48:10 and whether or not Allah has a human hand or if it was meant as a figure of speech. Most scholars say the latter.) It's also the group that tends to say others are outside the fold of Islam.

What all did he have to say on restrictions on women?

And hippie Muslims are awesome. :-P

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Hey Noor! If only all stalkers were like you :P (I'm currently being stalked by this Egyptian guy. Ironic how I left Egypt to get away from the sexual harassment, then come here and get stalked by an Egyptian. Sigh.)

Anyways! Like you said, this group likes to say that they're real Muslims and everyone else isn't, and that's what bothers me. Some even go as far as to say that Muslims who don't practice the way they do are going to hell. It's really sad.

Ramadan also said that restrictions on women in Muslim communities tend to be cultural, imported ideas from their countries of origin, not something that is Islamic. He clearly believes in gender equality which is enough for me to love him.

Thing is I really think that if you're a literalist/traditionalist Muslim then yeah, living in the West will be difficult.

You should really check out his books! He's great. AND HE WAS ALMOST MY SUPERVISOR. UGH!

NoortheNinjabi said...

OMG What is it with Egyptian men?!?! I had one of those about 2 years ago. Is he in Egypt or in Holland? If you let the proper authorities know, they'll inshaAllah take care of it :S Cyber harassment is actually a crime, which is a good thing!

I have a couple of blogs ranting about them. It's so sad that we can't just accept that other people may not practice exactly the same as we do. Granted, our nafs (ego) likes to get in the way of that, but pluralism (instead of sectarianism) is prescribed by the Qur'an! Gah.

Why isn't he your supervisor? (He sounds fantastic, btw! mashaAllah!) Obviously, he's got his head on straight!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Yeah he's in Holland, and works down the street from my apartment. Ugh it's so annoying! But it's been a few days so insh'Allah he got the message!

Well he accepted an offer to come work at the university I go to, and he accepted, but then mysteriously the whole thing fell through. Weird. And he recently got fired from another university in Holland (Rotterdam). Sooo weird. And sad for me :(

Anonymous said...

That books sounds good. :) I have seen how the hijab issue has split us women, it's sad. :(
I think that takfirism is very dangerous. It's not up to us to judge others.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

I really appreciate Tariq Ramadan the more I see of his work. I wish he could be multiplied by 1000 and sent all over the Islamic world. I have to check out the book inshaAllah.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Aynur - exactly, we are all going to get judged in the end, so why do people feel they have to also judge each other now? Esp. when it comes to the veil issue.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Stacy - I wish he could be multiplied too! He's actually banned from a lot of Islamic countries, unfortunately.

Candice said...

I need to look into his work, seriously! It's a good thing you are dedicating your blog to him recently! Just talking about him one time or two got me interested but now I will just need to look into his work much further. I always get distracted at work though, which is where I go my blogging... Gotta remember to check it out at home!

Bahlool said...

Salam alaykum
He was removed from the Univ of Rotterdam because he is active at the iranian Press TV, as Press tv shows another picture of the world then the accepted one in the west, they saw it not fit for him to work for them at that university.

As for his statements. Do you like his statements because they comply with yours? or do you like his statements because they comply with the truth? After over 100 yeras of Ommayyid rule, a lot of the hadiths were forged. This is a shiamuslim stance. But we should ask ourselves are women and men realy to be alike in everything? There is no question about the fact that muslims have let culture take over and mistreated the women, but not all rules are culture.
I think a lot of the muslim women of today wish or hope for a more "modern" view on women rights..but the question is how islamic and how right is that?

Bahlool said...

G said...

Is it getting weird how much I gush about loving your blog? Well I don't care if it does I'm still going to do it!! ME LOVES YOUR BLOG!!

This is a very interesting post. My interest MIGHT be starting to spark about this Ramadan guy. I always shy away from Muslim scholars because of some of the garbage I have read that made me look down on the religion itself. So it scares me sometimes to try and read someones work least I get more revolted. And God knows I am hanging by a thread already!! (I'm sure you pretty much know this too :P)The only books I have read about Islam recently are by Karen Armstrong, which incidentally you recommended to me in front of the library at university one day. I remember the same day I went and checked out a couple of her books. Did I ever thank you for that? They were really good!

I was reading a book a while back and I vaguely remember reading that the whole head Hijab thing was only integrated into Islam after their expansion and interaction with the Persians as it was a Persian custom and not an Islamic one? Also that the Hijab mentioned in the Quran is basically the wives of the prophet speaking to men from behind a veil (like a sheet or curtain) due to their higher status and the whole rumor that happened with Aysha, her bracelet and the man with the horse? Ring a bell anyone?I would like to hear more about this since I don't remember much.

On another note, I really think that Islam is obscenely fragmented nowadays. I mean there are so many schools of thoughts and hate for the other. Debate ad differences are good. But when you judge someone else, let alone someone of your own faith, and condemn them to hell....well I just find it nauseating.

Finally, I have noticed that I am one of the few men who periodically comment on your posts! I feel intimidated sometimes lol. But as you know of me, I will continue to speak my mind! Thank you for this medium to do so :D I mean no offense to anyone, be it in this comment or one of my others!!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Candice: you HAVE to check him out! Mash'Allah he really is amazing. I only "discovered" him a month ago, by watching a YouTube video, and then I began reading his books. I'd love to know what you think of him :)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Bahlool: I like Ramadan because of both reasons: yes, his views are similar to mine, and yes, the way he presents his arguments is logical and he uses proof, unlike many Islamic scholars.

I'm not going to deny that there are rules in Islam that, when interpreted a certain way (the dominant way today unfortunately) DO oppress women, in the sense that they do not give women equal value to men. However, more open interpretations do not do this, and I am definitely in favour of these ones, as opposed to traditional ones. And no, I don't think a modern view of women's rights contradicts Islam AT ALL. When the Qur'an was revealed, it gave women more rights than they could ever have dreamed of. This is a trend we need to continue. And for me, equality doesn't mean saying men and women are the same. It means saying that we have the same VALUE, no matter what we do. And the Qur'an definitely gives men and women the same value, especially in terms of religion, which for any Muslim should be the most important aspect of life.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

G: I totally remember that day in front of the library! I even remember that right after we spoke I bought orange juice from Cilantro, lol! Weird! I'm glad you like her, she's AMAZING. Ramadan is very similar to her in his approach to Islam. I really recommend watching his debates and reading his books.

Sadly the hijab issue isn't up for debate among, hmmm, 98% of Muslims? I find that very interesting. It's not about whether I believe in it or not, but I think debate can never be a bad thing, and when women who are unsure about hijab are shunned/insulted/ignored, then what does that say about the state of the Ummah?

Yeah, I think you're the ONLY man who regularly comments! Lol, not sure why that is. Don't feel intimidated! I LOVE reading your comments (about to write that to you in an email too :D).