The world has been blessed with yet another Ramadhan so that, hopefully, we may all look inside ourselves and ask ourselves what needs improvement in our own selves as well as in the things around us. May this month be a source of inspiration, light, and justice for us all, aameen! May we all have a feminist Ramadhan – i.e., one in which we recognize and stand up against injustices in all forms but especially against the marginalized members of our community, whoever they are and whatever their beliefs and practices. May our abstinence and discipline give us the strength to stand with those who need our support to be able to continue living and fighting in not just Ramadhan but all other months of the year as well, simply for being who they are. Aameen.
Much of the below is inspired by The Fatal Feminist’s (TFF’s) experience at her mosque a couple of days ago where her imaam announced that “anyone” who wants to may recite the adhaan – and when she tried, through her mother who asked through the imam’s wife, the imam’s answer was that TFF should see him about this and that once he explains to her why women cannot recite the adhaan, she will understand! When her mother gave her the expected news that the imaam says she can’t recite the adhan because she’s a woman, TFF started to cry – out of anger, out of hurt, out of injustice. Understand that any and all sorts of exclusion (for those who want to be included “even” in things like being able to recite the adhaan), the injustice is personal and emotional and hurtful. And people should not be getting away with continuing it just because our “demands” are ridiculous, untraditional, too feminist, or whatever else. If there are people among us who feel treated unjustly, you and I don’t get to say, “no, no, that’s not injustice; you don’t understand.” It doesn’t matter what you and I think – because you and I aren’t the target of that injustice; what matters is that they feel it’s unjust, and something clearly needs to be done about it.
(UPDATE on the above incident: The imam’s words more along the lines of: “Yes, she can recite the adhan, but tell her to come to me so I can explain to her why women shouldn’t recite the adhaan, and she will understand.” In other words, it is Islamically/legally permissible for her to recite the adhaan, BUT since the community is too patriarchal and sexist and doesn’t know or recognize that, and because the imaam will lose all respect and authority in the community, she should not recite the adhaan. Talk about carrying on unjust practices and ideas simply because it’s the norm. Once upon a time, slavery was a norm, too. As was the killing of sons during the time of Fir’aun and the killing of female children right before the advent of Islam … and in some parts of the world still today. God willing, with enough voices against the sexism in our communities today, one day it’ll be acceptable for women to lead mixed-gender prayers, recite the adhaan in public, not pray behind barriers if they are not comfortable doing so, and so on.)
I’m too lazy slash not entirely able to write a formal blog post about why/how the way I think many of us approach this month lacks a certain element of justice and humanity that I truly believe was/is intended to be one of the many marks of the month, so I’ll just summarize my Facebook status message regarding it instead. But briefly, I want to remind most importantly myself (and interested readers as well) that many of us would agree that this is to be a month of discipline (hence all the restraint from certain human activities and needs natural to most of us (or all of us, in the case of foods and drinks), a month of inspiration to be better humans and better Muslims (one would think that with no Satan around, no Muslim would be committing any sin or crime, small or major), and so on. So just a reminder that as we reflect on our Muslimness, for those of us who do, let us make sure that that includes also a reflection on the way we deal with injustice in our communities as well as in our personal lives. If you know anyone who’s even remotely likely to be marginalized in your community, listen to what they say about their experience as whoever they are (women–especially feminist women–LGBTIQ, converts, those who do not belong to the majority ethnic group in your community, etc.), and ask them how you can support them; stand with them, and consider your support an attempt at getting closer to God especially in the month dearest to God.
Understand that especially women and converts have it really hard this month. (FYI, on converts, read Ramadan can be lonely for converts and For some converts, Ramadan is the loneliest time of year; as for women, whether born Muslim or converts, it is primarily their exclusion from mosque activities, lack of access to imaams or even to the mosque in some cases, the horrible women’s areas in mosques, the community’s response to the women’s demands and concerns when the latter give negative feedback, and so on). So when they speak up about the negative experiences they have in the mosques they attend for worship and gatherings so as to feel like a part of the community, reach out to them. Don’t dismiss their voices and tell them that they’re overreacting, seeking negativity in everything, etc. It’s important that everyone feel respected, and when they don’t — especially if what they’re experiencing is something they consider injustice — it is our responsibility as Muslims *always but especially in Ramadhan* to acknowledge their concerns as legitimate and ensure that justice is sought for them. Generally, it’s very difficult being a woman, a Muslim woman, and that too a feminist Muslim woman most days in this patriarchal world – but in Ramadhan, it becomes exceptionally more difficult. The month everyone admits at least feels like the most beautiful month of the year, where most of us have the natural tendency to attain more closeness to God, to become better individuals and Muslims can also be the worst, most ugliest for many Muslim women, converts, LGBTIQ Muslims, and other groups seldom respected and treated as equals in their communities. Going to the mosque outside of Ramadhan is usually a daunting task, but, again, especially in Ramadhan, going to mosques is simply painful. I want to reiterate that we understand that this month of reflection should be reflections on not just how we can best reach God for our own personal spiritual uplifting as individuals, but also as community members, such as by noting the different forms of injustices around us.
So as we fast (for those of us who do / can fast), or do whatever else it is that we do to fulfill our purpose, let’s remind ourselves to be conscious of our surroundings, to look out for each other, to stand up for justice to the best of our ability. Though all months of the year should welcome and embrace everyone as a full human being, with the full capacity to enjoy sacred spaces like everyone else, no one group treated as more or less human than any other group, it’s appalling that even in Ramadhan, we continue to exclude certain voices in our pursuit of divine grace. Instead of ensuring that everyone has or should have equal opportunities, we’re still obsessed with the idea that women don’t really belong in certain spheres. Because.
Apologies for possibly the usual incoherence. But I’m unsettled by the thought that this is going to be a month of heartbreak, of dismissal, of exclusion for so, so many Muslims for whom we as a community, as (faith and other leaders), as self-righteous Muslims make it difficult to appreciate being Muslim, to appreciate Ramadhan, to feel like a part of a community during a month that most of us agree is a month where nothing but a desire to get closer to God is in the air. Exactly how do we expect God to accept our efforts when we consistently play a role in marginalizing the already-marginalized without listening to their concerns? Justice isn’t only for those who are in a position of privilege because their beliefs and practices are the accepted norm, because history worked out in such a way that that group won and became the majority (though even within them lie some major differences and disagreements, so so much for “the norm”).
P.S. The idea of a “feminist Ramadhan” comes from a friend of mine (let’s call her C.O.) when she commented on my Facebook status regarding the above topic and proposed that there be a hashtag – #feministRamadan. What a lovely idea!
It is sad that in one of the most blessed months, minorities and some groups are excluded to enjoy the blessings. But (apparently) since Satan and his minions are locked up and those who are truly evil are exposed, we know now who doesn’t need satan to be evil.
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Ramadan Mubarak! I was at an iftar last night and one of my friends said in Sudan, families will often lay out a sheet and place food for the iftar for anyone who needs to eat. Blessings belong to Allah anyway, no one has any business withholding that from anyone and She loves justice. Your post is perfectly clear Allah Hafiz
A beautiful Ramadhan to you and your loved ones, SN! ❤
In Oman, they bring a huge plate of food to each mosque so that anyone walking by in the area during iftar can stop by and eat there 🙂 It was a really beautiful thing to see!
Ramadan mubarak! I just had the most frustrating discussion on 4:34 with 4 men. I laid out evidence from 2 Arabic-English dictionaries, Ayesha Chaudhrys book, Kecia Alis book, Amina Waduds first book and SSL’s blog………only to see that they
1. Not reacted to my points
2. Didn’t admit that I debunked ALL their points
3. Started about things/questions I already answered in my first post
4. And accusing me of saying that domestic violence is a problem because of Islam, even though I clearly said that was NOT what I meant!
May God bring some sense into their minds!
Ugh, that’s frustrating! I’m sorry. The thing is, they enjoy their power bestowed upon them through traditional readings of 4:34 so they can’t really agree cuz they don’t wanna give that up. It’s really sad how much we lose because of their greed for power.
Ramadhan Mubarak to you and your loved ones! You just do what you do and keep rocking 🙂 May we all be guided no matter what’s at stake, aameen!
Salaam, Ramadan Mubarak! Well, nice site. Did learn something. Well last year, when I was 11 years old, there was an adhaan competition selections going on. And the best girl who gave the adhaan was met by an Islamic Scholar, and she got a very very nice thing, it was a Quran, guess it’s kind of electronic cause it comes with a kind of a pen, and when we put the pen on a line in Al-Quran, a reciter recites that verse, I know it’s pretty expensive in Pakistan as well as the other Muslim countries. She didn’t give the adhaan in public, but in a room, randomly where the winners were given prizes. It was recited so well MashaAllah!! The competition is held every year, and I decided to take part in it. And I recited it the best in my class! Guess I can take part. “It’s a very good deed.” 😀 Am I right?
By the way, what’s aka?
May Allah shower you all with the best blessings, with the best smiles.
O Allah! Bless us on everything You give us, and avoid us from Hellfire. And with the name of Allah
Aameen to your duas and I wish you a beautiful Ramadhan!
Congratulations on winning the competition in your class! 🙂
“Aka” standards for “also known as” — or “in other words.”
Oh oh, I forgot one thing, that whenever the adhaan is recited, like when the imam says “Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar” we say it back if we hear the words properly. I’ve heard that many people are in fond for giving the adhaan, so this gives the oppurtunity for all people (men, women) (also includes kids), that if the hear the adhaan, like when the Imam (during 1st adhaan) says “Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar”, we say Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar back; no matter wherever we are, it doesn’t matter if we recite it in a beautiful voice or normal, or in our minds, Allah just gives us rewards for every word we recite back when the adhaan goes on.
Hope I’m clear…
Yes, you’re very clear. Agreed – there’s no legitimate reason to not let women recite the Qur’an or adhaan in public.
I think the thing about reciting Allahu Akbar or Aameen back after the imam does it is that that’s something everyone does together so no one person’s voice is at the center of attention. And, sadly, in my experience, the women’s area barely recites an “aameen” back! The men do it SO loudly it’s like okay men calm down already, but the women’s section … hardly anyone says it.
Yes, and they made the typical sexist argument that I “based my views (solely) on feelings”. Amin to the dua, sis!
The irony! Entire laws have been created and passed based on men’s feelings, but then they turn around and say BS like that. What the hell.
Ubadah Inn us-Samit (R.A) narrated that Prophet (SAW) said: “The prayer would not be accepted from one who does not recite the opening of the Book (i.e Al-Fatihah).”
In another hadeeth, he said: “It is also the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) to say “Ameen” at the end of Surat-ul-Fatihah. This should also be said when praying in juma’ah, or in a group.”
The word Ameen means “Oh Allah respond.”
According to Abu Hurayrah (R.A) the Prophet (SAW) said: “When the imam says: “waladdaalleen,” say “Ameen” because whoever’s ‘Ameen’ matches [in time and sincerity] that of the angels, he will be forgiven all his past sins.”
When the Prophet (SAW) used to conclude reciting Al-Fatihah in his loud prayers, he would raise his voice saying saying “Ameen.”
So don’t we pray like how Prophet (SAW) prays? We do pray the Prophet’s way, right? So we should follow him with all our best, no matter we are male or female, we just want to get rewards, right, and if we do that, InshaAllah, we would be in a level in Jannah in our second life, InshaAllah. Even though we say it in our minds (in a juma’ah), it won’t be considered as doing something what the Prophet (SAW) does, which is called as Sunnah.
So the next time you go for a juma’ah prayer, don’t forget to say “Ameen” whether you are a male or female. Especially if you are a female, don’t be afraid, or shy or anything, because Allah (SWT) is with you everywhere, He is the Almighty, All Wise. So don’t worry, no one is gonna say you anything. Keep Smiling!! 🙂
Wait, the first line, sorry to say, it’s Ubadah Ibn us-Samit. Sorry for my mistake.
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