A couple of hours ago, I came across this gem of a response to a tweet by Taslima Nasreen.
A bit late to the party, but here is my two cents worth.
2018 gave Muslims a troublesome begin as vicious Islamophobic threats surfaced due to the ‘punish a Muslim day,’ the sadistic crusade that turned into a far reaching episode. This left us puzzled, as we were unable to fathom how much abhor a human can have to treat this lovely life and world, as a callous contest of dispensing torment on each other.
“I’ve been seeing WhatsApp messages, snaps, Facebook statuses & other folks telling Muslims, particularly hijabi women, not go out tomorrow because of ‘Punish a Muslim Day.’ Every woman should do what makes her feel comfortable, but I am choosing to go about my normal day. Try me.” Rowaida Abdelaziz wrote on Twitter.
Soon, an outpour of solidarity was seen on social media, as #LoveAMuslimDay events were organised along with the ‘Protect A Muslim Day’ initiatives. Despite the events stemmed by Islamophobia, the resilience exhibited by Muslim Women enabled people to see them in a new light.
My truth may differ from your truth, but as Muslim Women, we all bear the same truth. Our purpose in this life should be to please our Creator, whilst loving ourselves and proving our humanity. As we toil to rid this world of Islamophobia, we ought to develop an ethical reading on the bases on Islam, namely the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Mohamed ﷺ.
“Allah will not change the condition of the people until they change what is in themselves.” – Surah Ar-Ra’d.
Thus, the changes we aim for should begin internally, within ourselves. We should cleanse our hearts with the unyielding intention of not losing ourselves in the bandwagon of the elite, where we will be forced to gamble with our belief and faith. We do not need their validation to quench our thirst of being empowered, as what were we before they acknowledged us? Frail? Meek? Oppressed? Certainly not. Whilst their praises can do wonders, we cannot afford to abandon our ultimate purpose in the phase of trying to attain this. We need to embark on the journey of empowering Muslim Women by challenging the misconceptions and prejudice that exists regarding the rights of women in Islam, despite the multitude of negative stereotypes against the concept of ‘Islamic Feminism.’ While at it, ask yourself whether you set your value in relation to your own selves, or the men in your society? Because when we make men our standard and our protocol, we lose our fitrah which has been bestowed upon us by Allah سبحانه و تعالى.
As the mainstream media claims that Islam is inherently misogynistic and that the term ‘Islamic Feminism’ is an oxymoron, the result of this is that the women who seek to secure alternative narratives of their rights are compelled to compromise or deny their faith. Hence, when I found myself within the confines of this situation, I set out the set of tools which I use to unpick patriarchal power structures in our society, and to alleviate discriminatory practices that have been broadly institutionalised in my society in the name of my religion. The tools are of course, the sources of Islam.
Yet, when we employ these sources, we need to implement them in a way which they do not lose their essence. Often, I see Muslims trying to mould and fit Islam into their own narratives, by discarding the teachings Allah سبحانه و تعالى has prescribed upon them. For instance, this is an example of how you can be within the teachings of Islam, AND be more accepting and compassionate. Remember, you reap what you sow.
In the Qur’an, Allah سبحانه و تعالى states the existence of people of various faiths and opinions as something that we have to acknowledge and welcome heartily, for this is how He created and predestined humankind in this world.
“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” – Surah Al-Ma’ida.
Hence, we ought to monitor our behaviour in our everyday interactions with people by acknowledging this fact. Construct your inner love for people who are not in line with your beliefs, too, for they are manifestations of Allah سبحانه و تعالى in this world. In representing ourselves as emancipated, we can change the image of Muslims around the globe, and thus also that of Islam.
My day begins with the humility I show in Tahajjud, but as I lift my head from sujūd, I am demonised by the bigots amongst Muslims, and ‘secular’ feminists who often consider my religion to be one which is diametrically opposed to their mandate. Thus, between both the liberal Western critiques and the attempts by Islamist fundamentalists to squeeze us out of the picture, it is often the voices of Muslim Women that are left unheard.
As nations before us caved due to of egotism and sin, and we may not be absolved from that, let us ensure that we face a virtuous end by not losing track of our faith amidst the fight for our rights. This can be attained by nourishing ourselves spiritually, which can be sustained through all storms, In Sha Allah.
“O Mankind! We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” – Surah Al-Hujurat.