According to some scholars, one cannot be both a believer and an intellectual at the same time and must choose between the two. But as a believing Muslim woman and a feminist, I would like to present some facts and question specific ideas and practices of the society I am living in.
The growth of feminism, nowadays, appears higher than that of the Chinese population in the 18th century! It is influencing more and more people, specifically those assigned female at birth, between the ages of 16 and 26. Slogans like “Girl Power” are more popular than “Abki baar Modi sarkar”. Just kidding. But the fact is nowadays every second person is masquerading as a feminist and they have a greater tendency of reading discrimination and misogyny in practices, particularly in Islam. This view arises from some Muslim feminists’ condemnation of Islam’s own misogynistic biases, and this has only happened because of a flawed reading of Islam.
Deification of women and the imagination of so-called ‘ideal’ and ‘real’ women has led to their textual harassment. The Quran has been read as a patriarchal text which privileges males and teaches the precepts of female inferiority and subordination to men. The very reason for this is its reading by patriarchs—a handful of male scholars during the middle ages.
Every text has multiple meanings, and there is always a disjunction between the theory and the practice. Most anti-women ideas among Muslims as well as practices like female genital mutilation and stoning to death for adultery, predate Islam. They do not originate from the Quran, and the Quran does not endorse them. Other practices especially polygamy, divorce, or inheritance are the result of its flawed reading by the so-called fundamentalists and the patriarchs.
For instance, according to the Quran, a brother inherits twice the share of his sister of their parents’ property (and a mother twice that of a father from the property of their children), but we must see this unequal division in its context: the husband, and not the wife, is charged with the responsibility of maintaining the family. Similarly, take this verse in Quran: “If you fear that you will not act justly towards the orphans, marry such women, but if you fear that you will not be equitable, then only one.” This verse was revealed after a battle in which many Muslim men lost their lives, and many women were left as widows and orphans (at a time when the entire population of Muslims was the counted in hundreds). Another verse reminds men that “God has not made for any man two hearts“, implying that a man cannot love two women equally.
Islam never presents polygamy as catering to men’s sexual needs or as a universal male prerogative. Similarly, laws related to inheritance, divorce, and evidence have been misread and presented to us as misogynistic and discriminatory by the male scholars and the patriarchs. But, in reality, they somewhat just for both the genders equally.
Not everyone can read and understand the Quran in a year or two. But it’s better to read it by yourself and not to follow fundamentalist interpretations.