Islamic Feminism

Here. An excellent article, and she makes an excellent case that fiqh rulings that justify zina and huddud laws are irrational and are not valid interpretations of the Quran. The fiqh rulings were made by Islamic scholars down through the centuries. They interpreted various passages in the Quran as meaning this or that. For instance, the idea that women are supposed to cover up their whole bodies comes from an interpretation of the Quranic statement that women must cover up their “jewels” when out in public. In the Quranic context, it seems that the jewels refer to a woman’s private parts – her breasts, ass and pubic area. Somehow “jewels” was interpreted by partriarchal male scholars to mean that a woman had to cover up the near entirety of her body. Make sense? Of course not. Zina and huddud laws are those that regulate sexual behavior. In practice, they have regulated the sexual behavior of women but not men. Women are imprisoned under these laws for adultery and fornication. Even women who are raped are imprisoned, incredibly enough, for adultery and fornication as in Pakistan’s huddud laws. Zina laws are also the basis for the honor killings that are so prevalent in the Muslim World. Various excuses for honor killings that say that people other than Muslims also do this do not hold water as the practice is largely confined to the Muslim world. Clearly though, honor killings are an Arab practice that spread to Arabized cultures such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Caucasus, Turkey and Berber North Africa. On the other hand, there seem to be Muslim nations where this does not occur especially where Islam was a recent foreign import and local religious traditions have not yet been usurped. Honor killings are rare to absent in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Albania and Bosnia. The author shows that passages criminalizing sexual behavior actually refer to people having sex in public or where others can see them. So fucking in public and probably strip shows and pornography are covered but private sexual behavior is not. In addition, the Quran grants divorce rights to women, yet fiqh rulings have always forbidden divorce by females and instead codified divorce initiated far too easily by males. In Mohammad’s time, female Muslims were relatively free. They have only become more restricted with time. For instance, Ayesha was known to frequently preach in the mosque after Mohammad died. When was the last time you heard of a woman preaching in the mosque? I have read a few of these feminist and progressive interpretations of Islam. While they make sense, they unfortunately seem irrelevant to our times. This is because the Muslim world is going backwards and not forwards. All across the Muslim world, Muslims are getting more fundamentalist and less progressive and liberal. The spread of ISIS and Al Qaeda and their various offshoots, along with Islamists winning various elections in Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Turkey and Iraq are indicative of this trend. Even where seculars won elections such as in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon and Tunisia, strong, often armed fundamentalist groups continue to operate. Each of these countries deal with armed Islamists stirring up trouble, in Pakistan’s cases, a world of trouble. Show men one area where Muslims are liberalizing. The Muslim World is evidence that clocks do indeed run backwards at times.

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0 thoughts on “Islamic Feminism”

  1. We live in such a rapidly globalizing and shrinking world that is socially changing in such a rapid manor, it sure will be interesting to see what the next ten years will bring.
    Personally, I think the notion of an “Islamic World” will become obsolete in the long run.

    1. Exactly. The Muslim world is faced with a great deal of exposure to and interest in western, modern things. You can’t really get away from it in the age of globalization, tv and internet. Even in Iran there are backstreet vendors selling Hollywood films on DVD and underground western style parties. I think the trend towards fundamentalism is both a rejection of the perceived threat of western ways and values (moral degeneration and decadence from an Islamic viewpoint) and an assertion of their own identity in response to that. In simple terms, they feel under threat so are reasserting their own Islamic values and identity.
      Absent that perceived or actual threat, they might relax things. In the presence of it, they tighten up even more and go further in the opposite direction.

        1. Japan’s a tough one to figure out from the outside. Women were emancipated under the postwar constitution, but girly-girl remained the norm. Girly-girl images that would rankle the sensibilities of western feminists are all over Japanese pop culture but nobody seems to mind. In the west, action heroines are amazon types that are hard to imagine being sexual – well, maybe running an S&M chamber. Japanese action heroines are often kawaii schoolgirl types that seem ready to run off and doink their boyfriends in a karaoke booth after a hard day’s work.
          In Shinto, goddesses are the heaviest hitters.

      1. In Iran, the Mullahs are barely keeping a lid on things. Iranian women are asserting themselves in all sorts of ways.

  2. of course there are a lot of young people in the Islamic world who would like to embrace some of the western things and ways. Which is exactly why others are so threatened by it and pushing Islamic fundamentalism.
    Plus don’t forget the influence of Saudi Arabia, with their huge well funded efforts to spread their version of Islam.

  3. Honor killings are rare to absent in…India,
    It’s a cultural thing and it isn’t restricted to Muslims. Tribal and collectivist cultures (some of them) practice honor killings to control and monopolize women’s reproduction.

      1. Yes they do happen on a regular basis, he;s right especially in places like UP, Rajasthan which is embroiled in the casteist feudal system…

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