Feminism In Islam, Through The Eyes Of A Muslim Guy

Feminism In Islam, Through The Eyes Of A Muslim Guy

For the sake of our religion and the women of Islam, men like us MUST do better.

At a time when Islam is under the most intense scrutiny, it’s been under since our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) introduced it as a faith in Makkah, the role of women and feminism as an ideal in the Muslim faith has been brought into question as a highly contentious point of debate. Many who oppose the ever-expanding presence of Islam in the United States claim that it is a faith entrenched in misogyny and chauvinism, demeaning women to little else than obedient housewives who are at the beck and call of their male counterparts.

They use the plight of women in terrorism-stricken countries such as Iraq and the horrific instances of South Asian men assaulting women who have rejected their sexual advances as justifications for their hatred of what they assume to be a violent religion, and argue that women have no rights to stand for as long as Shariah Law reigns supreme across Islamic lands.

While it is true that many Muslim countries are guilty of disregarding the basic human rights of various groups (Saudi Arabia being a primary instigator), the misconception that women’s rights in Islam are nonexistent is a false accusation, which begs the question - what is feminism in Islam, and what are the rights of a Muslim woman?

Under Islamic law, women have the right to education, equal rights to choose a spouse and subsequent divorce, and the right to own property and title deeds to their own possessions, amongst a multitude of other freedoms.

What many people seem to forget is that Islam was a faith that came down to liberate women from the mistreatment they suffered in Makkah before the time of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which included the burial of infant daughters (who were seen as unworthy in comparison to sons).

The very first person to accept Islam itself was Khadijah (RA), and one of the most notable soldiers in the Prophet (PBUH)’s army was Nusayba b. Ka’b al-Ansarriya, who fought in the battle of Uhud against the Makkans during the struggle for Islam. Muslim women have continued to set shining examples to follow throughout history-- clearly, they have set themselves apart in roles far beyond the typical caregiver. Even here on Stony Brook campus, Muslim women such as Chaplain Sanaa Nadim continue to define leadership and a commitment to serving humanity in their own capacity.

What does that mean for feminism in Islam, however, and how can men (such as myself) help to understand the plight of misogyny and free ourselves and others from our own mindsets of toxic masculinity?

We can do our best to follow through with the examples that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) established throughout his life, and make sincere efforts to understand how our actions or behaviors could potentially be harmful and strive to change them. The Prophet (PBUH) was a feminist who fought for the rights of equal representation of men and women in Islam, and we should do just the same in order to help oppressed peoples (both men and women) around the world to realize their rights as human beings.

As men, we can let go of the superiority complexes that have been instilled in us through cultural shifts of power and help to overthrow the darkness of our own inborn sexism and strive to be better human beings for the sake of our fellow men and women.

I can’t say that I know the struggles that Muslim women go through daily, nor would I presume to even begin to understand what opposition they face as they endeavor to establish themselves as professionals. But I can try to make an effort to help by becoming a better version of myself and helping to empower the women in my life by standing up for their rights whenever applicable.

For the sake of our people, men like us can do better. For the sake of our religion and the women of Islam, men like us MUST do better.

Cover Image Credit: Adeel Azim

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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.

We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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A Mosque Is A Home

As-Salaam-Alaikum. Peace be upon you.


This past Friday, a savage attack ripped through the Christchurch, New Zealand community as a gunman rained fire on the Linwood and Al Noor Mosques during Friday prayers (commonly known as Jummah prayers in Muslim communities) that left 41 dead and 48 people, including young children, injured. The attack sparked a collective ripple of international outrage, with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemning the incident as "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence" and the UN security council calling it "heinous, cowardly" and unjustifiable.

The motivation for the attack was detailed in an online 74-page manifesto rife with hatred against immigrants, symbols of white supremacist ideology, and a call to arms against Muslims worldwide in retaliation for what he claims is the "decaying" culture of the white, European, Western world.

As a Muslim American who has lived nearly his entire life under the shadow of Islamophobia and xenophobic slander, I'm no stranger to the racism and far-right vitriol that this psychopath embodies.

I've learned to watch, with almost a detached acceptance, as our communities and our religious faith was derailed and dehumanized by hordes of white supremacists. Muslims all over the world have experienced these sentiments of hatred by those who feel that their very existence in their host nation is a credible threat — as if we were somehow the enemy, as if all Muslims (who consist of a plethora of diverse backgrounds) were nothing less than "targets" who should be marginalized for the sake of restoring the status quo of days gone by.

As shocking as this attack is, the motivations behind it are not new to me — it is a buildup of the symptoms of the rising tide of far-right extremism experienced across the world. The most shocking thing to me about this attack was that it happened at a Mosque during our Friday prayers.

Our mosques are our houses of worship, similar to Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, and our weekly sermons occur on Friday afternoons. It is a time for our communities to gather not just in prayer, but also in solidarity. We congregate and ask about our lives, and we spend time together as brothers and sisters in faith and in humanity in our mosques. Traditional marriages are held in our mosques, as are celebrations and the passings of our community members.

A mosque is not simply a place for us to pray — it is the bedrock of our community, the foundation by which we share ties as a people.

An attack on our mosques is an attack on our home, the very symbol of our faith, and our values of love and respect for humankind that our religion espouses. The slaughter of so many innocent men, women, and children in a house of worship is a savage crime without basis or justification. Terrorism has no religion.

To the people of Christchurch — my heart goes out to you all, and my prayers are with you always. I stand with you all against racism and bigotry. Hatred cannot and will not win as long as Love is there to drive it out.

To my friends and family — thank you for being there for me and my community during our hard times and our happy ones. Your love is cherished so much more than you will ever know, and we are blessed to have you in our lives. May the love you show us be reciprocated to you 100 times over.

As-Salaam-Alaikum. Peace be upon you.

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