Feminism and Islam: Is it REALLY possible to be both a Muslim and a Feminist? Watch

Talus
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Coming from a Muslim background myself, I have met SO many Muslim women who do not hesitate one moment in describing themselves as being a feminist that embraces Islam.

Hijab is considered to be a way of empowering women. Many Muslim feminists argue that it's not worn for men, it's not worn because they're inferior or sexual objects, but it's worn as a part of their identity, dedication to their God and a way of being themselves without being judged on their outward appearance.

To that, I say fair enough. Women should be able to wear whatever they want without being judged for it, whether that is a thong bikini or a full abaya and niqab.

HOWEVER, I personally feel that being both Muslim and a feminist is an oxymoron- the Quran itself states that daughters receive less inheritance than their brothers, and that their husbands are permitted to beat them lightly if they have "misbehaved".

The interpretation of hijab in this day and age- ie covering the hair and the body except for the face, hands and feet - is derived completely from hadith rather than the Quran itself, which states "draw your veils across your bosoms, and do not show that which is not normal to show". Following this rule, it basically says cover up your boobs and don't show off anything else that isn't considered to be normal. If a Muslim woman said to her family and peers "I don't agree with head coverings, and I will never cover my hair", she would most likely be considered to be breaking rules of Islam.

Obviously the previous two paragraphs are solely my own opinions, which I have come to from being an ex-Muslim female who has experienced the religion and culture, read the Quran and also attended religious school for a number of years.

I'm not trying to hate on Islam, or "Muslim-bashing"; I genuinely want to know other people's opinion on this topic, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Ideally if there are any feminist Muslims about, please would you mind giving your viewpoint? I'd love to hear it and discuss.
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ChaoticButterfly
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Well I would agree there are contradiction innate in most religions including Islam that contradict with feminism. But that doesn't mean self identifying Muslims can not do feminists things. For example...

"Together with the ethnic and religious minorities of the region – Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians, Christians, Kurds – we have written a collective political structure for these autonomous cantons: our social contract. We have established a people’s council including 101 representatives from all cooperatives, committees and assembly’s running each of our cantons. And we established a model of co-presidency – each political entity always has both a female and a male president – and a quota of 40% gender representation in order to enforce gender equality throughout all forms of public life and political representation."

~ http://tenk.cc/2014/11/a-revolution-of-life/

Muslims are involved in that. Sounds vaguely feminist to me.
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Talus
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(Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
Well I would agree there are contradiction innate in most religions including Islam that contradict with feminism. But that doesn't mean self identifying Muslims can not do feminists things. For example...

"Together with the ethnic and religious minorities of the region – Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, Armenians, Christians, Kurds – we have written a collective political structure for these autonomous cantons: our social contract. We have established a people’s council including 101 representatives from all cooperatives, committees and assembly’s running each of our cantons. And we established a model of co-presidency – each political entity always has both a female and a male president – and a quota of 40% gender representation in order to enforce gender equality throughout all forms of public life and political representation."

~ http://tenk.cc/2014/11/a-revolution-of-life/

Muslims are involved in that. Sounds vaguely feminist to me.
It's very true that there are many things that Muslim women can take part in and do in order to show and support feminism. However, surely it's hypocritical to agree and take part in these things, but also follow the rules of Islam that demean women?
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Bill_Gates
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This always make me laugh and the non muslim feminists i have asked always avoid the question. If anything feminism should be altering Islam but they're just out to get a more easier life rather than bring any useful change.
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ChaoticButterfly
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(Original post by Triceps Surae)
It's very true that there are many things that Muslim women can take part in and do in order to show and support feminism. However, surely it's hypocritical to agree and take part in these things, but also follow the rules of Islam that demean women?
Why not own Islam and revise it into something else? I think it is something for individuals to decide on. The hard part if being in a culture that allows that self development. Often religions are very restricting and don't take well to changes or people doing things differently.

Do you consider yourself a Muslim?
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Talus
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(Original post by ChaoticButterfly)
Why not own Islam and revise it into something else? I think it is something for individuals to decide on. The hard part if being in a culture that allows that self development. Often religions are very restricting and don't take well to changes or people doing things differently.

Do you consider yourself a Muslim?

On a personal level, that could be possible; however one of the main ideas of Islam is that the Quran is the absolute word of God and has not been edited or revised by any human being. To "own Islam and revise it into something else" would be considered to be changing the direct orders of God to suit your own life, which goes against the principals of Islam.

I am not a Muslim- I stopped calling myself one two years ago and have no plans of going back unless I can be convinced that Islam promotes equality between people of different genders and sexuality, and be given proof that God exists so it's worth following religion.
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SotonianOne
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Of course it is. Except that a Muslim Feminist is roughly equivalent to a 1850 Feminist.

If women were able to be feminists in a male dominated society with institutional anti-female laws back then, Muslim women can do the same today.
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Air_wolf
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If you're not muslim why are you bothered? As far as I am aware, I have met no muslim woman who has a problem with the status given to them in Islam, you no longer identify yourself as muslim, so I fail to understand why you would need to ask such a question?
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Talus
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(Original post by Air_wolf)
If you're not muslim why are you bothered? As far as I am aware, I have met no muslim woman who has a problem with the status given to them in Islam, you no longer identify yourself as muslim, so I fail to understand why you would need to ask such a question?
Islam is embedded into the culture I have grown up with, and I will always have strong ties to Islam for as long as I live. I'm bothered because I enjoy discussing such issues, but I don't know quite enough about Christianity or Judaism as I do about Islam to give my own opinion and reflect upon other people's opinions.

I want to understand other people's mindsets, I want to know what other people think and believe. What's wrong with that?
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Air_wolf
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(Original post by Triceps Surae)
Islam is embedded into the culture I have grown up with, and I will always have strong ties to Islam for as long as I live. I'm bothered because I enjoy discussing such issues, but I don't know quite enough about Christianity or Judaism as I do about Islam to give my own opinion and reflect upon other people's opinions.

I want to understand other people's mindsets, I want to know what other people think and believe. What's wrong with that?
There is nothing wrong with that I was merely wondering what the motivation behind the question was, seeing as you no longer are part of, what many perceive to be, a problem religion.
That said you will never get a definitive answer. You are comparing chalk and cheese, a western idea of what female empowerment is against an eastern religion embedded in a culture which historically protects its women folk.
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ckingalt
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It is impossible to be a true muslim and a true feminist. It is also impossible to be a true muslim and a true secularist.
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St. Pius X
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(Original post by ckingalt)
It is impossible to be a true muslim and a true feminist. It is also impossible to be a true muslim and a true secularist.
What are 'true Muslims', 'true feminists', and 'true secularists'? By what objective standard do you hope to define them?
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Talus
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(Original post by St. Pius X)
What are 'true Muslims', 'true feminists', and 'true secularists'? By what objective standard do you hope to define them?
I suppose there is no way to define what a "true muslim/feminist/secularist" is but I imagine that ckingalt meant those who follow every rule and ideal promoted by the group without hesitation or question.
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Maariyah_p
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(Original post by Triceps Surae)
Coming from a Muslim background myself, I have met SO many Muslim women who do not hesitate one moment in describing themselves as being a feminist that embraces Islam.

Hijab is considered to be a way of empowering women. Many Muslim feminists argue that it's not worn for men, it's not worn because they're inferior or sexual objects, but it's worn as a part of their identity, dedication to their God and a way of being themselves without being judged on their outward appearance.

To that, I say fair enough. Women should be able to wear whatever they want without being judged for it, whether that is a thong bikini or a full abaya and niqab.

HOWEVER, I personally feel that being both Muslim and a feminist is an oxymoron- the Quran itself states that daughters receive less inheritance than their brothers, and that their husbands are permitted to beat them lightly if they have "misbehaved".

The interpretation of hijab in this day and age- ie covering the hair and the body except for the face, hands and feet - is derived completely from hadith rather than the Quran itself, which states "draw your veils across your bosoms, and do not show that which is not normal to show". Following this rule, it basically says cover up your boobs and don't show off anything else that isn't considered to be normal. If a Muslim woman said to her family and peers "I don't agree with head coverings, and I will never cover my hair", she would most likely be considered to be breaking rules of Islam.

Obviously the previous two paragraphs are solely my own opinions, which I have come to from being an ex-Muslim female who has experienced the religion and culture, read the Quran and also attended religious school for a number of years.

I'm not trying to hate on Islam, or "Muslim-bashing"; I genuinely want to know other people's opinion on this topic, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

Ideally if there are any feminist Muslims about, please would you mind giving your viewpoint? I'd love to hear it and discuss.

what is feminism? It's completely overrated in my opinion. You don't need to be a 'feminist' to be a strong independent woman, just like you don't need to be a Macho male to be MALE. It's an over rated label, we are all individuals and strong in different ways; we just express it differently. Feminism is just a tool to seperate genders and their roles in society.

But if you look at the core principles of 'feminism' it is fair to say it promotes freedom and individuality for women. I don't see how that is incompatible with islam? The most iconic of women for Muslims is Khatija who proposed to the prophet (peace be upon him), whereas somehow I'm western society men have instrumental power over proposals till this day. Inheritance, divorce settlements as well as right for women to get a divorce was offered to muslim women 1400 years ago yet it was only recently when these VOTING was granted to women in UK. Women weren't even allowed to divorce and they had no rights or recognition under the law. Look at the history. So 'feminism' existed in Islam long before it was introduced to western society. there's still prejudice against women in today's society, the very language you use (English) is full of marked terms and has semantic bias when it comes to gender. Study it.

Also, the interpretation of the word 'freedom' and the perception of 'individual identity' is subjective but that does not mean just based on your view of those terms the views and interpretation of that word for muslim women is wrong (or an oxymoron as you say). To suggest so is, quite frankly ignorant and close-minded of you. Just because you think freedom and feminism is so and so and based on YOUR VIEW OF IT, it contradicts Islamic views on women so muslim women cannot be feminists. However, muslim women interpret that differently. Just like a Jew would interpret feminism differently or a christian or poeple of different cultural background to you.

So, If wearing a hijab or covering modestly provides muslim women with freedom and gives them an identity who are we to argue otherwise? The core principles of feminism is to give women the right to express how they feel, and if muslim women feel like their religion empowers them then by definition that is feminism; empowering women to be who they are and allow them to be what they want to be!
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Jaaneman Tu Mera
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As a muslim, I would not consider myself as a feminist. I believe Islam is about justice, and justice is far more important that plain equality. Women and Men are different physically and to some extent also mentally.
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Talus
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(Original post by Jaaneman Tu Mera)
As a muslim, I would not consider myself as a feminist. I believe Islam is about justice, and justice is far more important that plain equality. Women and Men are different physically and to some extent also mentally.
Why should a difference in hormonal systems and physical appearance mean that we shouldn't be treated equally?
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Maariyah_p
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(Original post by Triceps Surae)
Why should a difference in hormonal systems and physical appearance mean that we shouldn't be treated equally?
Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'equality'? What is equality? equality is an illusion! If we're trying to make a distinction between the rights of each gender, their roles and experiences being of the same level, even nature itself is unequal! Women have their monthly menstruation (along side period pains etc) men DONT. Women carry children for 9 months and go through labour/child birth and the extent of the pain sacrifice and suffering that entails no man could ever feel or experience at the same level. Their roles are completely different, their life experiences are to an extent too, thus they are unequal-that doesn't mean in a negative discriminatory way where one has less value or one is more superior than the other but in the way they're just, naturally, radically different. So they are treated differently. Even by Mother Nature herself!
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Talus
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(Original post by Maariyah_p)
Where do you draw the line when it comes to 'equality'? What is equality? equality is an illusion! If we're trying to make a distinction between the rights of each gender, their roles and experiences being of the same level, even nature itself is unequal! Women have their monthly menstruation (along side period pains etc) men DONT. Women carry children for 9 months and go through labour/child birth and the extent of the pain sacrifice and suffering that entails no man could ever feel or experience at the same level. Their roles are completely different, their life experiences are to an extent too, thus they are unequal-that doesn't mean in a negative discriminatory way where one has less value or one is more superior than the other but in the way they're just, naturally, radically different. So they are treated differently. Even by Mother Nature herself!
What about a trans woman then? Technically she's a woman that is unable to bear children.

Islam doesn't seem to cater very much for genders other than cis man / cis woman.
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Maariyah_p
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(Original post by Triceps Surae)
What about a trans woman then? Technically she's a woman that is unable to bear children.

Islam doesn't seem to cater very much for genders other than cis man / cis woman.
That's because 'she/he' went against their nature to follow their 'soul identity'. Why should God cater for something which you decide to change yourself? Frankly it's unnatural, you can change your physical appearance, have hormones and get implants but it's an illusion. You were born a certain gender so you would fall under that category which is how God created you, your the one choosing to change that so religion based on its principles does not have to, and should not be expected to, cater for that.

And to be frankly honestly society doesn't cater very well for transgenders at all, even caitlyn jenner herself said society, western society in particular, doesn't class her as 'normal' and it's difficult for her to live like that and she wishes she could fit in etc ... TV shows and mainstream media mocked jenner for plastic surgery and made jibes at her when her transformation was only RUMOURS! There's so many poeple, celebrities like Christ brown etc who have called her a 'science project' and they cannot accept her, discriminate against her and don't give her any rights! Therefore, secularists cannot even provide a stable environment for the transgendered community, why take issue with religion which doesn't accept it in the first place?
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Real_jenn
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As a Christian, I personally believe that Christianity ,Hinduism,Sikhism e.tc is not as harsh and thorough as Islam,from MY point of view one cannot be portrayed as a westernised MUSLIM feminist,as maybe a Christian can,not because of inferiority but how the rules are so clear in the Qur'an that It would only mean that you would break it.Do not get me wrong in the bible it does state that women are the weaker vessel,but not due to inferiority,it's due to the way we are more delicate and a man can withstand more,as traditional women we dont really have a "restriction" or certain requirements such as covering the hair ,our purpose was (still is ) to look after the house and husband ,cook,and advisably to pursue a career and most importantly be God fearing similar to the role of Islamic women. So in general,I don't think the DAILY,WESTERNISED AND MODERN FEMINIST CAN BE ACHIEVED BY A MODERN ISLAMIC WOMAN
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