Feminism in Islam

Observer: by Rohi Sarbaz Khan —

Friday, April 18, 2014 – Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in educationand employment. Feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.Whereas Islamic feminism means is a form of feminism concerned with the role ofwomen in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in publicand private life. Islamic feminists advocate women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework. 

Although rooted in Islam, the movement’s pioneers have also utilized secular, western, or otherwise non-Muslim feminist discourses, and have recognized the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement.Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the religion, and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Qur’an (holy book), hadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) and sharia (law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society. Muslim majority countries have produced several female head of states, prime ministers, state secretaries. 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.Another important question is: what is the difference between Islamic and western feminism or is there any difference at all? 

If we go by the definition of feminism as an ideology to empower women, there is no difference. However, historically speaking, Muslim women lost the rights they had due mainly to the tribalisation of Islam, which was dominated by patriarchal values.In the West, on the other hand, women had no rights but won them through a great deal of struggle known as ‘feminism’. But there are significant differences between Islamic and western feminism. Islamic feminism is based on certain non-negotiable values, i.e. equality with honor and dignity. Freedom has a certain Islamic responsibility whereas in the West freedom tends to degenerate into licentiousness, not in law but certainly in social and cultural practices. 

In western culture, sexual freedoms have become a matter of human right and sex has become a matter of enjoyment, losing its sanctity as an instrument of procreation There is emphatic emphasis placed on a monogamous marriage in the Quranic verses 4:3 and 4:129. Multiple marriages were permitted only to take care of widows and orphans and not to satisfy man’s greater urge. Verse 4:129 gives the norm of monogamy and not to leave the first wife in suspense or negligence. Thus, as far as the Quran is concerned, sexual gratification is a non-negotiable right for both man and woman tied in wedlock. Hence a divorcee and a widow are also permitted to remarry and gratify their urge. 

His is against the concept of Islamic feminism, which while sanctioning sexual gratification to be as much of a woman’s basic right as a man’s prohibits extramarital sexual liaison. This, on one hand, upholds a woman’s honor and dignity, and on the other, exalts marital relations to the level of sanctity, restricting it for procreation. Islamic feminists have to observe certain norms which western feminists are not obliged to.Friday, April 18, 2014 – Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in educationand employment. Feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.Whereas Islamic feminism means is a form of feminism concerned with the role ofwomen in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in publicand private life. Islamic feminists advocate women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework. 

Although rooted in Islam, the movement’s pioneers have also utilized secular, western, or otherwise non-Muslim feminist discourses, and have recognized the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement.Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the religion, and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Qur’an (holy book), hadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) and sharia (law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society. Muslim majority countries have produced several female head of states, prime ministers, state secretaries. 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.Another important question is: what is the difference between Islamic and western feminism or is there any difference at all? 

If we go by the definition of feminism as an ideology to empower women, there is no difference. However, historically speaking, Muslim women lost the rights they had due mainly to the tribalisation of Islam, which was dominated by patriarchal values.In the West, on the other hand, women had no rights but won them through a great deal of struggle known as ‘feminism’. But there are significant differences between Islamic and western feminism. Islamic feminism is based on certain non-negotiable values, i.e. equality with honor and dignity. Freedom has a certain Islamic responsibility whereas in the West freedom tends to degenerate into licentiousness, not in law but certainly in social and cultural practices. 

In western culture, sexual freedoms have become a matter of human right and sex has become a matter of enjoyment, losing its sanctity as an instrument of procreation There is emphatic emphasis placed on a monogamous marriage in the Quranic verses 4:3 and 4:129. Multiple marriages were permitted only to take care of widows and orphans and not to satisfy man’s greater urge. Verse 4:129 gives the norm of monogamy and not to leave the first wife in suspense or negligence. Thus, as far as the Quran is concerned, sexual gratification is a non-negotiable right for both man and woman tied in wedlock. Hence a divorcee and a widow are also permitted to remarry and gratify their urge. 

His is against the concept of Islamic feminism, which while sanctioning sexual gratification to be as much of a woman’s basic right as a man’s prohibits extramarital sexual liaison. This, on one hand, upholds a woman’s honor and dignity, and on the other, exalts marital relations to the level of sanctity, restricting it for procreation. Islamic feminists have to observe certain norms which western feminists are not obliged to.Friday, April 18, 2014 – Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in educationand employment. Feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.Whereas Islamic feminism means is a form of feminism concerned with the role ofwomen in Islam. It aims for the full equality of all Muslims, regardless of gender, in publicand private life. Islamic feminists advocate women’s rights, gender equality, and social justice grounded in an Islamic framework. 

Although rooted in Islam, the movement’s pioneers have also utilized secular, western, or otherwise non-Muslim feminist discourses, and have recognized the role of Islamic feminism as part of an integrated global feminist movement.Advocates of the movement seek to highlight the deeply rooted teachings of equality in the religion, and encourage a questioning of the patriarchal interpretation of Islamic teaching through the Qur’an (holy book), hadith (sayings of the Prophet (PBUH) and sharia (law) towards the creation of a more equal and just society. Muslim majority countries have produced several female head of states, prime ministers, state secretaries. 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.Another important question is: what is the difference between Islamic and western feminism or is there any difference at all? 

If we go by the definition of feminism as an ideology to empower women, there is no difference. However, historically speaking, Muslim women lost the rights they had due mainly to the tribalisation of Islam, which was dominated by patriarchal values.In the West, on the other hand, women had no rights but won them through a great deal of struggle known as ‘feminism’. But there are significant differences between Islamic and western feminism. Islamic feminism is based on certain non-negotiable values, i.e. equality with honor and dignity. Freedom has a certain Islamic responsibility whereas in the West freedom tends to degenerate into licentiousness, not in law but certainly in social and cultural practices. 

In western culture, sexual freedoms have become a matter of human right and sex has become a matter of enjoyment, losing its sanctity as an instrument of procreation There is emphatic emphasis placed on a monogamous marriage in the Quranic verses 4:3 and 4:129. Multiple marriages were permitted only to take care of widows and orphans and not to satisfy man’s greater urge. Verse 4:129 gives the norm of monogamy and not to leave the first wife in suspense or negligence. Thus, as far as the Quran is concerned, sexual gratification is a non-negotiable right for both man and woman tied in wedlock. Hence a divorcee and a widow are also permitted to remarry and gratify their urge. 

His is against the concept of Islamic feminism, which while sanctioning sexual gratification to be as much of a woman’s basic right as a man’s prohibits extramarital sexual liaison. This, on one hand, upholds a woman’s honor and dignity, and on the other, exalts marital relations to the level of sanctity, restricting it for procreation. Islamic feminists have to observe certain norms which western feminists are not obliged to.

Origional Post here: http://pakobserver.net/detailnews.asp?id=239937

1 reply

  1. Indeed Islam protects the rights of the women in every sphere of life. The Muslim women in the time of the Prophet were not just home makers. They were business women (Prophet’s wife Khadijah), they employed and supervised men (Prophet’s wife Khadijah), they were not confined to their homes in purdah (Prophet’s wife Khadijah), they participated in wars not just nursing but fighting too. They were teachers of religion (Prophet’s wife Ayesha), they were leaders politically and also army leaders too (Prophet’s wife Ayesha). The fact is that the present day restrictions on women are hard to find in the time of the Prophet. These are innovations of the latter times when “protectors of Islam” appeared on the scene. Even when God says in the Quran, “I have send this religion and I will protect it”, these protectors carry on their self assigned assignment. And it usually means violating the rights of women, minorities and the weak!!

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