Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why I am an Islamic Feminist

I wrote this recently for an amazing website I recently came across called Feminism and Religion. Per their guidelines, I can share only the first two paragraphs of the article and provide a link to the original piece for the rest of it.

A question we get asked all the time as Islamic feminist--and especially a response to those who believe that Islam and feminism are an impossible oxymoron. Obviously, I disagree. Not that I need to defend my identity as an Islamic feminist, but I do believe it can help inform those interested in learning about Islam and feminist from an Islamic feminist herself as opposed to from the perspective of anti-feminists' or non-feminists'.

Why I am an Islamic Feminist

While Islam has undoubtedly granted women many rights—some of which were radical for much of the world in the 7th century, such as the rights to divorce, consent in marriage, education, and financial independence—many Muslim women around the world are denied those rights in practice. That these rights were “radical” for the 7th century is significant: one would think that this is an indication that our rights should be “radical” in all times. What Islamic feminism does is to help us deal with this tension of the existence of women’s rights in theory but their denial in practice. 

I understand Islamic feminism to be a response to the mistreatment of Muslim women, whose rights have been marginalized, or completely denied, because of interpretations of Islam that do not acknowledge their full humanity and view them as inferior to men; Islamic feminism therefore requires re-visiting the Qur’an to re-interpret it from a standpoint that does not favor any one gender over another and sees all as equally valuable. Needless to say, Islamic feminism, or any other form of feminism, does not claim that women and men are “the same”; men and women need not be the same in order to be viewed as and treated equally and fairly.

To read more, please click here.


  1. ''While Muslims claim that the Qur’an is the first and major source of Islam, the reality is often different: our scholars, their fatwas, their opinions have historically been given more importance''.

    This is the theoretical baseline of this manhood long ago prejudice towards womenhood,besides social and cultural frame evolving with time wheel...The points you made ,reflects genuine opinion with objective glasses and that is the beauty of this exclusive write up.Indeed this is an eye opener for men's possessive character....A thumbs up above sky Orbaly..:)

    That' why once I shared with you that culture should be separated from religion. Religion is more how share fix moral principles regardless of culture,race or social-eco round about..The Quran revealed in Arab society with an inbuilt tribal outlook..But it goes beyond their desert in terms of universal truths and morals...The dark tragedy is this that the patriarch ''Fiqha'' and scholars remained stick with Arabic cultural frame while interpreting something about women folk.She has been made sub missive and lured in the frame of 'sawaab and azaab',you mentioned rightly..The traditions says that in the age of prophet women had more emancipation and participation in religious ceremonies like mix prayers,but in the age of Umar bin Khitab,women religious lot has been re-defined and re-cultured by banning her in public and religious gathering.Omar had more how an arab nationalist personality like the Pashtun men have common to their ethnocentric mode particularly toward women..This kind of mix of arab nationalism (including middle east) with religious ideology that resulted discriminatory interpretations regarding women folk..Thus the role of women has been intentionaly and by default confined to four walls at the beginning of Islam.This beginning of the end of women role in early muslims badly affected the later on contribution of women in Islamic interpretation..

    But the dawn arises,the selective women like you-Orbaly has been emerged with more strength and power of wisdom..This is a pleasant news for Islamic feminist and some how irritating for patriarchic interpreting machines :)

    This write up needs to be translated in Pashtu and Urdu language and must be spread out among masses..

    Loved your freedom from the forbidden..


    Nawaz Khan.

    1. *smiles*

      Thank you so much for your comment, always, always, Nawaz Gwala! :) It always makes me so happy to come across people, especially men, who are willing to admit without hesitation that interpretation has everything to do with our cultures and overall understanding of the world. According to my limited understanding, it takes a lot of strength for a man to admit this, so thank you for being brave!

      I'm also happy you know how and approximately when things started to become different for Muslim and what role the caliphs, especially Umar, played in it. Umar is interesting, you know. On the one hand, we have plenty of evidence that he wasn't much a fan of women's liberation and didn't want women to be strong-headed (he once told the Prophet (pbuh) that he didn't want the apparently submissive Meccan women to become strong-headed and outspoken like the Medinan women!); but on the other hand, he designatd a woman named Shifa' bint Abdullah to be the inspector of Medinan markets during his caliphate. She ran the markets, she ruled the markets, she overruled men's decisions, including his, and he was totally okay with that. Umar is a fascinating character for sure.

      Thanks again for your insight, Nawaz :) I always appreciate hearing from you!

      P.S. Akhtar de mubarak sha!!

  2. :) Thank you so much Orbaly...Stay in touch...Staso dem akhtar ombarak she..




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