OFTEN people object to the term ‘feminism’ as being a western one. One maulana when invited to speak in a workshop of this title refused to come as he considered feminism un-Islamic. Is the use of this term objectionable from an Islamic viewpoint? Not at all.
In fact, Islam is the first religion which systematically empowered women when women were considered totally subservient to men. There was no concept of a woman being an independent entity and enjoying equal rights with dignity. What is feminism? Nothing but women’s movement to empower women and to consider them full human beings. Thus we see in western countries until the early 20th century that women did not enjoy an independent status. It was only after the 1930s that women won equal status legally and various western countries passed laws to this effect. Yet patriarchy still looms large in many societies.