It’s always ironic when homophobic academic-activists think their homophobic interpretations of Islam are so important for everyone to know that they worry that those with a more egalitarian interpretation of Islam might not be exposing their students to the “true Islamic” (in their opinion) view on homosexuality – i.e., homophobic views.
Category Archives: your face is haraam
A Response to Yasmin Mogahed’s Article Against Female-Led Prayer
Since the article by Yasmin Mogahed where she argues against female-led prayer (google it) has been making rounds again and it has some misleading and false statements, here’s a response to it, point by point. Collectively written by me, Zahra K., and someone else. Yasmin Mogahed’s points are in red, and our responses follow. Please note that this post is only a response to Mogahed’s claims and not entirely on female-led prayer. For an article on female-led prayer and how Islam does actually permit it, please click here (it includes references – and I’m gonna link to this a few times below because).
Can Muslim Women Marry Non-Muslims?: A Qur’anic Response
Pre-post: This is for those who believe that Muslim men are allowed to marry People of the Book while women are prohibited; because that means that the whole “shirk” of the People of the Book becomes relevant only when we’re talking about women but not when we’re talking about men (I address this below). If you believe it’s prohibited for BOTH genders, this isn’t for you.
According to most (Sunni) Muslims, and to the historical Islamic tradition, Muslim men are allowed to marry Christians and Jews, and according to all Muslim sects and schools, Muslim women are prohibited from marrying any non-Muslim. The Qur’an has a few verses that prohibit marriage to the mushrikeen (polytheists, generally), and since there’s little disagreement on this and since this prohibition applies to both genders, I’m not concerned with it. I’m interested in the claim that it’s “haram” for women to marry Christians and Jews.
Muslims popularly believe—and Muslim scholars/teachers of Islam falsely promote the claim—that the Qur’an explicitly prohibits women’s marriage to People of the Book. So I’ve been doing some research on this, and it turns out that the Qur’an actually does not prohibit women’s marriage to People of the Book at all. It merely allows men explicitly to marry them. So here’s some interesting stuff that I think people should know, especially Muslim women who are shamed and guilted for marrying People of the Book.
re the myth that male sex drive is uncontrollable and stronger than female sex drive
This may get a little … vulgar? uncomfortable? immodest? etc. And very long. But here’s the idea: 1) there’s a popular myth going around that male sexuality is uncontrollable, and that’s why they get to do the things they wanna do (i.e., “nature” is exploited just to validate male irresponsibility), 2) this myth has powerful and destructive consequences for women and society at large, 3) this myth is linked to the way we study science, humans, nature, etc., and – and this is very important – 4) if a woman doesn’t wanna have sex with you, it’s most likely because you’re not doing it right (because discomfort doesn’t just come out of nowhere) – but, yes, yes it might also be because she isn’t ready to or interested in having sex with anyone right now. Or ever.
how not to respond when women point out an #allmale panel
The latest case of blatant patriarchy (that I know of) in the Muslim American community is this image to the right. Accessible also through this link.
Apparently, over 30 “Muslim American scholars” gathered at some “impromptu” event, and the person who shared this picture, someone taken a little more seriously than he should be in my very professional and humble opinion, with immense pride, so pleased with himself like he was doing us all a favor or something.
And they met to talk about “major issues.” I’m so curious to know what these “major issues” must have been that could be discussed only by men – and I’m curious to know what their definition of “major issues” even is. Obviously, all-male panels aren’t among them. Even though, as documented here, all-male Muslim panels are a disturbingly common reality.
If you were a Muslim woman and didn’t have any faith in your own community, you’d think this was all intentional or something. But we can all just go back to our back seats of invisibility and, at best, marginality and relax and calm down and chill and all because it turns out, this was “just an impromptu” event. #sighofrelief.
Book Review: “Men in Charge?: Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition”
Needless to say, I recommend the book very, very highly. It’s one of the most important books I’ve ever read.
Pre-Post: Please click here for more details on the book.
Men in Charge?: Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition
Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Mulki Al-Sharmani, and Jana Rumminger (eds.)
Oneworld Publications, 2014. ix, 286 pages.
Published in the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences (details below)
At a time when men’s assumption of leadership roles through all-male events and publications is a popular phenomenon, Men in Charge?, a byproduct of a project by the women-led organization Musawah, could not have been published at a more opportune moment. Comprising a Foreword by Zainah Anwar, Musawah’s director, an Introduction by the editors, and ten chapters from academics and activists of varied backgrounds, the book historicizes and problematizes the Islamic notion of qiwāmah (authority) and wilāyah (guardianship), among other legal patriarchal precepts. It successfully argues that the Islamic legal tradition with regards to gender roles rests on the false notion of men’s superiority to women. Men in Charge? carries immeasurable value for scholars and students of Islam, religion, and women’s and gender studies, activists working towards gender-egalitarianism, and (Muslim) feminists seeking empowerment within a religious framework; it also speaks to reform leaders and lawmakers in Muslim states, who might better understand the fundamental assumptions upon which family laws operate and their disconnect from the reality that women and families face. The book’s major success lies in covering several important layers of the myth of men’s authority: from the theoretical gaps in the notions of qiwāmah, wilāyah, istikhlāf, to a practical examination of the impact of these legal principles, and proposals for new and creative approaches for feminists to apply in their vision of a gender-egalitarian Islam. Continue reading
Call for Contributors: Women-Identified Sexualities and Islam
Anyone who works on or studies gender-/sexuality-related topics with a focus on Islam might be interested in contributing to the following edited volume. Please consider sending submissions and/or share with friends.
Deadline for abstracts: March 15, 2016
Deadline for complete papers (7500+ words): May 1st 2016
Tentative Title: Women-Identified (lesbian and trans) Sexualities and Islam
Editor: Huma Ahmed-Ghosh (firstname.lastname@example.org – please contact Dr. Ahmed-Ghosh with questions)
The following call is verbatim from Dr. Huma Ahmed-Ghosh. The accompanying image is from Google.
Call for Contributors—please consider and let your friends and colleagues know!
There has been very little published work on the above topics in Asia/larger Asia/Asian diaspora. Possible topics and methods include, but are not limited to religion, Quran, Hadith, Sharia, lived experiences of Muslim women, ethnic and regional diversities, oral histories, feminist theory, research, fiction, and poetry. Authors may use a pseudonym if they prefer. Please send your proposed contribution (abstracts) to Huma Ahmed-Ghosh at email@example.com by March 15, 2016. Papers will be evaluated for originality and writing style, as well as how all the contributions fit together. Potential authors will be invited to submit full articles in the range of 7,500 + words by May 1, 2016.We hope you will consider writing about your scholarship and experiences, so that these important topics receive the attention they deserve. Publisher has been finalized.
I am hoping that this volume will complement two books edited by me that will be in print (SUNY Press) on October 1, 2015 titled Asian Muslim Women: Globalization and Local Realities; and Contesting Feminism: Gender and Islam in Asia.
Muslim women scholars of Islam, the question of qualifications, and romanticized images of the “Islamic tradition”
The following was inspired by the #NoAllMalePanels conversation that took place on Twitter. Speaking of which, if you’re a Muslim man and agree that there should be no more all-male panels, your support is useless without your signature on the pledge. Sign here. But understand that the #NoAllMalePanels wasn’t limited to acknowledging the authority of women scholars of Islam: it was about acknowledging and appreciating women’s knowledge in all fields. Many people made the discussion about academics versus traditionalist scholars, but that was just one part of the campaign.
One of the major and more recurring points in the discussion, coming from the opponents of the conversation, was that “This isn’t about gender! Stop making this about gender! No one ever / we don’t invite women to talk about Islam because there aren’t any qualified women to speak on Islam. The women you’re talking about who you claim are ‘scholars of Islam’ are actually not scholars. They are academics! Know the difference, okay, you feminists?” To deny that gender has anything to do with this is to deny that there are serious structural obstacles to women’s religious authority (I’ll talk about this below), but for now, let’s acknowledge that we rarely/never hear anyone questioning the men’s qualifications. We simply assume they must be scholars if they have a beard of an acceptable length, wear a head-gear of some sort, preferably wear Arab clothing. When it comes to the qualification of the men “scholars,” we remember to focus on their knowledge, not the details of where/how/by whom they were educated about Islam. Zakir Naik anyone? Or some 95% of the other men “scholars” of our time. It helps them immensely that they merely say what the community wants to hear, that they only satisfy the community’s patriarchal expectations of what Islam is like. But when it comes to a woman who speaks about Islam, her knowledge becomes completely irrelevant, and we have a whole bunch of other important questions to ask. Like is her hair covered, did she study at a secular institution, is she a feminist, etc. You can read more about this problem here. And here’s something on the gendering of knowledge and authority (so when you say something like, “no, no, she’s just not knowledgeable. It’s not about her gender at all. Stop making this about women, you feminists!” maybe you can look a little more closely and see that gender is actually a huge factor in the denial and dismissal of women’s religious/interpretive authority in our communities). Also, “not enough qualified women scholars of Islam” my foot. Check out this positively overwhelming list of scholarship on Islam, most of which is by Muslim women – and it’s not even comprehensive! And, while I’m at it with this whole self-promotion thing, I might as well also share a link to something I wrote once on female authority, the role of justice and ethics in Islamic feminist hermeneutics, and my response to the idea that “Muslim women/feminists would be able to exercise some authority in the Muslim community if only they’d just …” (insert appropriate patriarchal statement).
The Islamic Reform Symposium in Exeter: authority, Muslim feminists, and woman-led prayers
In June, I attended an Islamic reform conference in Exeter, UK. It was a beautiful experience, and I’m saddened that the symposium at which I spoke was the last of the 3-year project – because it would’ve been great to try at it again, hah!
What It’s Like Being a Pashtun Woman on Social Media – Story 4: when men send you porn to try to silence you
Continuing our series on Pashtun women’s experiences with social media / what it’s like being a Pashtun woman on good ol’ internet. (The other stories are linked at the bottom of this post. PLEASE read the Introduction to the series so you understand why I choose to focus on Pashtuns and not on other people. No, harassment and intimidation have no race, I know that.) Note that one of the following ladies’ harassers has been identified and his Facebook is linked; another of her harassers, a Hamza Jahed, is also linked with his Facebook – and a quick visit to Hamza’s FB page proves the man’s hypocrisy: he’s got pictures of the Qur’an with Allah’s name here and there! I believe in naming and shaming to death all men like this.
Quoting verbatim in italics.