This is disturbing, so don’t read further if you will be triggered.
Tag Archives: why we need feminism
a response to both Nomani/Arafa and their detractors
I’m writing the following while waiting for my flight, so expect typos, incoherence, etc. I’m happy to clarify things later on if necessary.
In what follows, I want to discuss some of the problems with Asra Nomani and Hala Arafa’s recent article as well as some problematic reactions and responses to it. Most basically, both Nomani/Arafa and their detractors are displaying and perpetuating a whole bunch of patriarchy in their attitudes towards Muslim women’s bodies and choices. One side says the hijab isn’t required so why wear it, being totally dismissive of the nuance in some women’s choice to wear it; another side says, “you don’t cover your head, you ‘so-called Muslim,’ and so you don’t get to have an opinion on the hijab! We wear it because this is our choice, because we want to respect our bodies, because we want to obey God’s command that we cover.” I think this response to Nomani/Arafa is deeply flawed (arrogant and patriarchal and righteous), as is this other response, coming mostly from men: “Uh… actually, the hijab is mandatory, and it is so per the consensus of the ulama for over 1400 years.” What happens here is that, while some hijabi women have told Nomani that she doesn’t get to opine on the hijab since she doesn’t cover her head herself, they totally ignore the fact that men are constantly talking about the hijab, in support of it, and those men do not wear a head-covering. Why do men get an opinion, then? (I know, I know – a lot of women have spoken critically of this, but I’m speaking of the men who have been talking about it in response to Nomani’s article and not a flinch from the hijabi women who don’t want non-hijabi women to speak.) Or is it that you can have an opinion so long as you say women are required to wear the hijab, because apparently, that’s the only legitimate face of solidarity?
So, I fully support problematizing popular claims–in general but especially when they pertain to women or have some sort of an impact on women’s lives, including the claim that the hijab is required or that its purpose is modesty and all (because early Muslim scholars’ opinions actually don’t see it this way – and remember that the hijab was not allowed to slave women while required of free women. That should make us pause for a second and wonder about modesty and piety, unless we decide that slave women don’t get to have access to the same level of piety and modesty that free women do); I also think that the claim that “we” wear the hijab to resist patriarchy, Islamophobia, capitalism, etc. is totally fair (so long as it’s not “we” but “I” or “some of us”), but then I’m tempted to ask … how do Muslim men show resistance to those same things? Note, then, the gendering of resistance. My point isn’t that resistance can look only certain ways; my point, instead, is that we need space to critique the different displays of resistance, of piety, of any and all things, really, when they carry serious implications—and one person’s telling us that “we wear the hijab to be modest” does have implications, as does the argument that “we wear the hijab to oppose imperialism.” But at the same time, I think that there’s an appropriate time and place for raising these discussions or probelmatizing popular ideas and practices.
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.
Ramadhan Mubarak, Everyone! Aka: May we all have a feminist Ramadhan!
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.
No More Male-Only Panels, Meetings, Edited Volumes, etc., Muslims!!
On May 2-3, 2015, a “diverse group of contemporary Muslim educators” held a meeting at Cambridge Muslim College to discuss a contemporary curriculum for the Islamic Sciences and the future of the madrasa, the Islamic institution of learning. According to the individual who shared information and photos about this event on Facebook (and it’s been circulated widely now), “The goal of the meeting was to reflect on the curriculum of the traditional madrasa in light of the diverse contemporary educational experiences of the participants.” According to the event’s website, “The participants each gave presentations on how the teaching of the Islamic sciences could be improved to respond to modern challenges.”
Pashtun Personality of the Week: Bushra Gohar – A Remarkable Leading Politician
The following is being pasted from my old blog; click here for a discussion on the post.
And at last, we continue on with our Pashtun leaders series … I’m going to stop apologizing for the delays in being consistent with this series because writing these out really does take a lot of time 🙂
Bushra Gohar is one of my personal favorite women in contemporary times. It makes me so proud that she’s Pukhtun, too, because she’s quite an accomplished woman, and whenever I lose hope in my people, I think of her to feel hopeful again. What makes me happiest, though, is that she’s really easy to talk to and interact with. Very humble and down-to-earth. I know too many people, when they make it big, start feeling so big that they refuse to interact with us “smaller” people then. Gohar isn’t like that. In fact, I sent her a few questions in preparation for this post that I wanted her to answer, and she got back to me right away. There wasn’t any “I don’t have time for this average human blogger random Pukhtun girl to write about me” kind of responses, and she certainly didn’t ignore me.
The Privilege of Sexy Talk – and the expectation to remain faceless on Pashtun social media
In November 2014, while at a panel on authority and Muslim women bloggers at the AAR Conference (dang, I never wrote about that on this blog, did I? Oops. k, no more promises then), I discovered something about myself: Whenever I am inspired and feel empowered, I want to write something provocative. Provocative in the religious and cultural, especially Pashtun cultural, senses. And the moment I realized this, I felt uncomfortable with this response to inspiration. It’s just too sexy for me, for my people (the Pashtuns), to the understanding of Islam that I grew up with (not that I still uphold all of those ideas I grew up with – just that they influence how I carry myself years after having rejected many of them), to many Muslims. Because one of the presentations on this panel I’d attended was on The Fatal Feminist’s blog entries on nail polish during menstruation, I wanted to write something sexually provocative the moment inspiration was gushing through all over me. And then I stopped my thoughts, went back to the beginning of the thread of thoughts that had brought me to this “very un-Pashtun” decision, and I realized what a privilege it actually must be for a woman, Muslim no less, to be able to talk about her body and something considered so intimate and private as menstruation without feeling guilty and without fearing any consequences. It’s a privilege I am denying myself currently but one that I want to enjoy eventually. And, no, it’s not simple like: “You are freeeee! Write on whatever you want!” Shut up, please.
On Angry, “Bitchy” Women – and death to patriarchy!
I’ve met lots and lots of girls and women who are what society would label angry and bitchy. The kind who are really hard to deal with because they’re just so constantly angry — because we are socially programmed to deal ONLY with nice, soft-spoken, soft-minded, and just generally soft girls because that’s how all girls are supposed to be. This post is about calling ourselves and each other out on our incessant need to expect girls to fit into this narrow mold, and when they don’t, then they’re being bitches – and that, society tells us, is unacceptable for a girl to be: a girl’s choice to be “bitchy” means, we are taught to believe, that she’s up for mockery and attack and condemnation and other public commentary from society.
How my Qur’an Teacher Sexually Abused Girls
In light of the recent discovery that a “high-profile Chicago imam” has been sexually abusing women, men, and children, I decided to share a post of mine I wrote a few years ago on the old blog. When I wrote it first on the old blog, the comments were surprisingly supportive in response to it; scroll down to see them if interested – kudos to humanity! We’re going somewhere!
Pasting from there. I’m sure there are plenty of typos and stuff, but I cannot read this to correct any errors.
On female friendships – and death to patriarchy
The last several months, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships (and love and stuff). I’ve grown to love my friends, I’ve gotten closer to the ones I was already close to–’cause life and shit teaches you to keep the good people in your life closer to you because they’re a blessing; good friends and a good friendship are great excuses to be happy … not that you should ever need an excuse to be happy, though, but more on happiness another time. I don’t have as many male friends as I’d like (I believe in being friends with people of all genders and sexes, all races, all colors, all language groups, etc.), and the few that I do have brighten my day whenever I talk to them.
But this post is specifically about friendships among women. Because the image that the media keeps throwing at us about female friendships is that all girls/women are deep inside jealous of each other, all are in a competition with each other, all hate each other, all want the same things, and so on. This is a dangerous, misleading, and unfair image of us – we’re not like that. That’s not to deny that I’ve had some bad experiences with a few female friends I’ve known, but that’s also not to deny that I know plenty of males who’ve been terrible to their male friends as well.