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“How Can A Muslim Woman Be A Feminist? Let’s See How”

By Arshi Dokadia:

When one thinks about Muslim women, there comes this image in mind, where we are dressed from head to toe in a burkha and only our eyes visible. We are not allowed to gain an education and go out and pursue careers. And when it comes to Hijab and us covering ourselves, everyone has an opinion on how we are suppressed and living under a male-dominated culture because of it. I am not even going to go into the argument of how all Muslims are not terrorists because it has been written on length about how we are not; and how we ourselves keep on pleading to the terrorists, who terrorise in the name of Islam, to actually learn Islam and accept it so they stop shedding innocent blood.

women in hijab
Image source: Wikipedia. For representation only.

In a society where feminists are criticized, I am personally a bit paranoid about some of their ideals too. Because, what I see in today’s feminism is not a chase for equality, but a chase to overpower men. I want to tell these feminists that we can do much better than feed our ego by overpowering or suppressing the other. Let’s just co-exist in peace. In an era where ‘Feminism’ is a stigmatized term, calling myself a feminist is some risk I am taking upon myself. Numerous times I have seen my male friends criticize one of my friends for claiming openly that she is a feminist. And to be honest, she counter-claims that I am not a feminist because I wear a hijab.

And as I interact with my readers on Wattpad, where I am their career counsellor, I realize that the stigma against Muslim feminists prevails.

How can a Muslim woman be a feminist?Let’s see how.

Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines Feminism as

: the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

: organize activities in support of women’s rights and interests.

So I can summarize Feminism as the belief that men and women should have equal rights. Now, let me quote the noble Qur’an:

And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” [Noble Qur’an 2:228]

So, where does the holy scripture go against feminism?

Apart from that, I think that we must remember how feminism came into view- to fight for the rights of women. And what it represents now is a bunch of women who want to suppress men. But wasn’t fighting suppression the main idea of feminism?

Why can’t we just be humanists? Humanity is the best religion, best principle and the best cause to chase after.

We Muslim women, in general, are not suppressed, but that doesn’t mean that there are not other extremes where women are suppressed. What feminists should do is fight for actually suppressed women and not the ones who choose to wear the hijab or niqab by choice. Often I have been asked to remove my hijab to show liberation of women. But isn’t liberation wearing what you wish to? I mean if a woman is fighting to wear jeans and a mini-skirt, or showing off her body in India, no one bothers, but one woman is asking to cover herself and everyone is just screaming suppression!

That my dear friends, is hypocrisy.

I am twenty, I am from an age group where your worth is decided in how many likes you get on Facebook and how many followers you have on Instagram. So, when I am moving away from the oft taken road, why are people so insistent that I should follow what everyone is doing? Be it what I wear or what I choose to study? That I gave up MBBS for writing? That I want to exercise my choice and wear a hijab?

Stop criticizing each other’s life choices, this is not just for feminists, but everyone in general. Guiding someone, giving a suggestion is completely different from criticizing people.

We have many troubles to face, from the increasing prices and economic depression, from neck to neck competition, to global warming, to the danger to our own life through imminent nuclear wars. Do we really have time in this fast paced world to criticize others for their choices? Or for their level of religiosity or modernism? For anything, really?

Please, lets just live and let live.

Also readIn Iran, One Woman Is Leading The Battle Against Compulsory Hijab, Through Facebook

You must be to comment.
  1. Raeesa

    I really like your views about your right of choosing what to wear and when it comes to hijab where most of the modern world is against hijab because of the stigma of terrorism related to it, It is important for the world to learn from history. White people badly treated black people that stopped their progress.
    We must let this whole world a better place to live.

  2. Jerry

    Dear Author,
    You raise some very valid points and i agree that we live in a world where we are overly critical and intolerant of other ppls views and beliefs.

    I align myself with feminism and i can openly tell you that your friend was in the wrong to say you cannot be a feminist, she and many others often have a skewed view of feminism what most ppl do not realise is not everything is black and white.

    I find it absurd on how often ppl have very strong opinions on oppression of muslim women, when there is as much oppression in conservative/orthodox christianity, hinduism, etc…

    I suppose one of the reasons for this is how the media often potrays things in general.

    That said I do believe that wearing a niqab or not should be ones personal choice, however most ppl do not get to make that choice and so long as muslim community recognises that its all good. I can understand though why muslim feminists feel the need to defend it and they should defend it for themselves and those that can make that choice i do feel it is wrong when they speak for everyone… And this goes for every other kind of feminists not just muslim feminists.

    As for what u said about most feminists wanting to establish their superiority over men, i believe it to be false… As with extreme factions in islam there those with extreme views within the feminist realm. Some are driven by hate and anger… And they have skewed view of why and what feminism really is….

    It was a movement started to bring women to an equal standing as men… Its primary focus is women ofcourse thats not to say it is not concermed about men who have suffered under patriachy or the LGBTQ community.

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