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Today I’ve Decided to Kill a Woman

Today, after reflecting a lot about it, I’ve decided to kill a woman. Murder can be as complicated as living so, following my habits, I prepared a list of things that will help me to do it more effectively.

10 Things I Need to Do to Kill The Woman I am

1.- To kill a sluggish woman, I will take an emetic to shake myself a little and make me see that the way in which I have lived so far has been pleasant, but insufficient. My achievements has put me in a comfort zone where my talents are easily to manifest and I forgot to challenge myself. I’ll follow my intuition and let me flow to new books, places, people and patterns.

2.- To kill a proud woman, I’ll exorcise the demon of pride that lives within me, crouching in the shadows, occuping the gaps of my soul, waiting for a moment of frustration, vulnerability, misunderstanding or full adulation to go out and devour others. I’ll fill those gaps with humility, patience and temperance, because everything in life is fleeting.

3.- To kill a fearful woman, I will summon the ghosts of my past. All of them. I will open widely to them the door of my life, to see the lessons they bring me under a bright new daylight. I’ll stop projecting my past fears on others and instead, I’ll talk openly about my experiences, because in that way I can help others.

4.- To kill an insecure woman, I will change the magic mirror in which I have reflected so far. I will rescue the sweet, tender, spontaneuos, loving and caring woman sleeping behind the glass that separates the mind and heart. I won’t say sorry again for the times my heart spoke out of control. Rather, I will empower the voice of my heart and master the art of speaking without words.

5.- To kill a severe woman, I’ll break every bone with the hammer of flexibility. Thus, I will realize that I need not always be right, in control, have the correct answer, the day made. I’ll give myself permission to be an unapologetic crazy lunatic in love with life, showing my weaknesses and contradictions and leaving no room for shame.

6.- To kill a unsatisfied woman, I will abuse the pills of gratitude. They are highly addictive. I will give thanks until my jaws hurt. Gratitude for what it was and what was not. Gratitute because everyone I’ve met in life gave me something of his/herself, for those who stayed for a moment, a season or a reason.

7.- To kill a selfish woman, I’ll electroshock the idea that the value of what I do, say and feel must be agreed for others. So far I have abused, perhaps unconsciously, of the patience, time and friendly feelings of some people. So I have become a person who was once lovable to one who’s often annoying A discharge of 20,000 volts of humbleness every 6 hours should definitely kill this bad habit.

8.- To kill a procastinating woman,  I will strangle lazyness with focus and accountability. Not enough to identify my potential and establish my mission, my duty is to take care of that and focus my attention on a plan to take me to expand my talents. If I want to contribute to a better world, I have to be able to make myself better, without quoting excuses.

9.- To kill a resentful woman, I’ll mow the pain with forgiveness and acceptance. I’ll leave the guilt and revenge. I will accept my soul, like all souls having a human experience, has dents, wounds and scars. I abandon the habit of blame. The greatest act of justice is to forgive and forgive myself. My honor lies in my ability to be honest.

10.- To kill the woman who is very hard on herself, I will throw myself to the deep vortix of compassion in a free fall without the rope of perfectionism, sustained only by my own strength.

Never forget to be always patient. There’s no perfect murder and probably I have to try many times until succeed :)

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Have you ever wondered how people celebrate the new year in faraway places to your own city? The most beautiful experiences of my travels and long stays for work abroad, are sharing local celebrations and holidays. I share two of my favorites experiences of new year in South America, hoping you will find them interesting and maybe they inspire you to add some special to your own celebration.

New Year at  4000 meters above sea level

In Cusco, Peru, the new year is received in the mainsquare. People from all parts of the city meet in the porticos surrounding the central plaza to expect the cathedral clock strikes midnight .

All is silence and anticipation as the people are waiting for the call of the watch. December is the beginning of the rainy season in the highlands of the Andes, so sometimes it rains the new year eve . But the people of Cusco are people of faith and does not abandon its traditions for nothing.

When the hour mark the end of the old year and the beginning of a new one , people warmly embrace each other, no matter if they know each other or not. There are cheers , sparklers and fireworks noises . For a few minutes , it seems that the city was invaded by a horde of crazy noisy carnival .

Then everyone starts running around the fountain plaza 12 full turns around , one for each month of the old year,  while bells ring, vigorous , in all churches .

The rest of the night is party, dancing, laughter in the streets, with a lot of alcohol to bear the cold season.

Burning the Body of Evidence

The coast of Ecuador is a beautiful and vibrant place which I was blessed to know and taste. Sunny all year with beautiful wild beaches and delicious homemade food, people are friendly, relaxed and always cheerful. I lived in the Santa Elena Peninsula, in the resort city of Salinas.

On the occasion of the new year, the inhabitants of the coast of Ecuador made ​​”the old year dummy.” It is a real size cloth doll made of old clothes and stuffed with straw, cotton or fiber. This doll represents everything wrong with the old year. The manufacturing process is in charge of the whole family. The great significance and dedication that the people give to this doll has caused the residents of Salinas and nearby cities make competitions for the most real, spectacular and original doll.

The morning of the 31th, families exhibit the old year dummy in the garden or on the street for everyone to see. In the neck, the doll has hung a piece of cardboard with his “Confession” handwritten. In that document, the doll asks forgiveness for all the bad things of the year and declare itself guilty of having punished the family with disease, debt, death, broken hearts, etc..It’s a huge entertainment visiting every neighborhood, reading the confessions of the felonies of those criminals made of cotton and  fabric.

At sunset, families take the old year dummy to his “last ride” around the city by car, bike or rickshaw, depending on the social class and money. After the last dinner of the year, around 11 pm, families take the old year dummy and head walking towards the edge of the beach. Within minutes, the coast of the Peninsula swarms of people, from Salinas to Montañita.

When the stroke of midnight, all the people at a time and following a ritual inherited from their ancestors, set fire to the old year dummy. Within minutes, the coast of South America’s most diverse country is burning with a line of fire that stretches for miles, caused by burning all the anxieties, fears, troubles and pains that are sewn into old cotton fabric.

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As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance,

I am in the right place at the right time and everything happens at the exactly right moment.

So I could be calm.

Today I call it “SELF-ESTEEM”.

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering

are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth.

Today, I know, this is “AUTHENTICITY”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,

and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.

Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody

As I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it,

and even though this person was me.

Today I call it “RESPECT”.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life,

and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow.

Today I call it “MATURITY”.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future.

Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own

rhythm.

Today I call it “SIMPLICITY”.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health -

food, people, things, situations, and everything the drew me down and away from myself.

At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism.

Today I know it is “LOVE OF ONESELF”.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right and ever since I was wrong less of the time.

Today I discovered that is “MODESTY”.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future.

Now, I only live for the moment, where everything is happening.

Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it “FULFILLMENT”.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick.

But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally.

Today I call this connection “WISDOM OF THE HEART”.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problemswith ourselves or others.

Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born.

Today I know “THAT IS LIFE”!
Charlie Chaplin on his 70th birthday, April 16, 1959

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My Uncomfortable Position

It is my uncomfortable position not to be chosen to be:

The “Other half”

The perfect wife

The mother of his sons

The believer who leads him to heaven

It’s an awkward position, because there is noone there in which I can mirror on

Only my own reflection

There is no other that can define me

Only my own character and mission

No one can save me

I am the only one accountable for myself

Somewhere out there

There is a special place of punishment for women like me

Challenging authority with my ideas

Fierce in my desires

Straightforward in the expression my feelings

Fearless about my sexuality

Because we are educated to suffer loneliness

Not for using it in our own self-discovering

Because we have been told for centuries

That we are worthless without someone to make us:

His “other half”

A perfect wife

The mother of his children

A believer to lead him to heaven

It has been terrible for a woman like me

To be ejected from a system

Where she is meant to be tamed

Left to her own devices in the world

Alone with her own expectations

This have been very terrible…

Terrible as Freedom

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Female Emancipation Theory Has Ruined Completely My Life

Whereas:

After many years struggling for women rights,

After one year of looking for work in my country and was rejected again and again for being “overqualified” or “too learned”;

After my discomfort for being in a position below my capabilities and with 30% less than the salary of a man in the same job;

After getting angry for being disrespected in the street for unknown men, only because Mother Nature made ​​gave more flesh than the average women;

After responding with outrage for being harassed, attacked, insulted, labelled on a daily basis for expressing my ideas;

After often arguments with my boyfriend for my “too autonomous and selfish self improvement focused personality”;

I have to say that

My desire to be an emancipated woman has ruined my life:

I would like to be a woman with the soul of a doormat so:

My only concern in life would be to choose a nice wedding dress;

My only anxiety would be expecting the day a man would pick me up to take me to live with him

My only stress in the day, having the dinner at time;

All my life could be told in a brief edition of Good Housekeeping Magazine;

No need to have any special skill to make a living: It would be enough to get pregnant once a year to ensure my financial support. At the end of the day, this is what society expects from me.

No challenges to assume,

No worries for goals,

No searching for self worthy,

A life without meaning, but totally peaceful.

If I could say something in my favor, this is not entirely my fault: During my whole life I was poisoned by people around me. Yes.

This is how a father ruined the life of his daughter: Telling her that education is one of the most important sources of dignity and should never be left aside for a man, or for all the promises, trips and gifts in the world.

This is how a mother ruined the life of her daughter: Demanding her to be responsible for her own life every day and insisting that noone is worth enough to exchange a promising career for a house, a car and a mother in law.

This is how a grandmother ruined the life of her granddaughter: Saying that if she leaves her goals midway, there will be no Christmas gift for her.

This is how a girl friend ruined the life of her best girl friend forever: Confessing that a woman doesn’t go to college and engage in a career until she gets a husband, but she does this for her own merit.

This is how a group of teachers ruined the life of a female student: Telling her that she is worth much, very talented and deserves to be successful and independent.

I am tired of being in control of my life and I claim, right here right now, for the presence of a man, a guardian or a tutor to take over me.

Thanks to brainwashing perpetrated by persons in whom I trusted, the reduced cultural expectations about my role as a woman no longer make me happy.

Mind set changes caused by the theory of emancipation, AKA Feminism, are irreversible. There’s no rehabilitation.

This is how feminism ruined the lives of a woman: Turning her into a full of self awareness person.

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My Experience as a Muslim Woman Within the Muslim Community

I am an opinionated feminist, independent woman and I converted to Islam by my own free choice, after several years of studies and many hours of meditation. Even when Islam has been a source of joy and personal development for me, my experience as a part of a community has not been so happy. Five years after and undergo anger, insults, belittling, hatred, abuse by my way of thinking and living on a daily basis, my conclusion is that linked with Muslim communities is being exposed to violence, abuse and oppression in the name of religion. If you dare to think differently, they’ll make your life miserable; if you get good at something, they’ll discredit you,  they’ll mess with your work and your family, and will do every effort to try to break you.

The official Islam, which is practiced in most mosques in Chile and Southamerica, go from the conservative to the extreme approaches. Wahhabism is wide spreaded. Regardless being sunni or shia, the place of women is said to be the most honoured according to the Quran (what is very accurate) but is expected that real muslims women are quiet, silent, submissive, without many aspirations to actively participate in the management of the mosque, aware of her place, even though in the Koran this is equal to every human being, in the community life is always two steps behind a man.

Since I started my life as a Muslim involved with the community, the problems were immediate: My feminist condition did not help me to be better accepted, even respected. Would be too long to enumerate all the situations, but in all of them the insults were present, people were questioning my morals and I was accused of not being a “real” Muslim. The situation worsened when my work on Islamic feminism began to be known by non-Muslim audience. I’ve been called a prostitute, adulteress, that I’m an embarrassment to the community. I received threats of attacks on several occasions against me and members of my family. Everything in front of the total indifference of the community.

But Who are They?

As a Muslim, I interacted with converts. I realized that for most of these Muslims, radicalization is the only possible way to live religion, because this is all they have to validate themselves as persons. Is common that many of them hadn’t a fullfilled life and a personal identity before entering Islam or have failed to develop both. Many of them are people without much education background or social opportunities and they see the new religion as a way to fill the lack of sense of belonging and channelling the need to feel recognized that in other areas of life they don’t have.

Hassan1

It is very common that they take religion as a full-time activity, a way to distinguish themselves from the rest and they put it in everything they do: Apparently, being a Muslim is a job for them, a way to solve their lives: They persecute anyone who, in their view, is a threat to their “job” what is “The Call and Defense of Islam”. They specially hate anyone who is not a Muslim or other Muslims who have other no religion related activities.

Attracted by the formal aspects of religion (clothing, language, rituals, cultural traits) and at the total lack of encouragement from the environment to develop critical thinking and reflection, they become mere imitators of foreign cultures and harsh judges of those who “do not look like Muslims.” Their religious practice is based on doing what people do in Saudi Arabia, Qatar , Egypt, etc. and not in the searching for enlightment. This usually leads to alienation and conflict within the family and the known world.

Hassan2

Sadly, these people is the standard Muslim you can find around who, clinging to the only thing that makes them feel included and special, it becomes an intolerant, violent, angry human being, driven by emotions and/or by the particular interests of the Islamic authorities or groups, who don’t hesitate to hurt others to defend their idea of religion and keeping alive the mirage of “Truth” they live in.

Finding my Own Place

In Muslim communities today, there is no place for those who think differently, especially women. Abuse is a common way to treat Muslims that are out of the norm. If a person converts to Islam and wants to maintain individuality, the road can be very violent and full of criticism; this can dammage selfsteem and inner joy. Not worth risking one’s soul to try to be accepted by those who even can’t accept themselves.

My spiritual life is more stimulating since I stopped interacting with these average Muslims who make community life. I feel better as Muslim away from them and more connected with God. I’ve linked to academia and those who study Islam with an open mind. I’ve linked to interreligious dialogue and social work with women in social vulnerability, regardless of whether they are Muslim or not. I organize meetings at my home with other women interested in religious issues and we read, debate and pray together. I learned a lot and I’ve come a long way in both knowledge and the enrichment of my soul. I feel I am performing better my “Khaliphat on Earth”. I am very glad for not to be “that Muslim”, for not to fit and have become a pariah. I won in peace and as a person.

There are still Muslims who continue attacking and harassing me and using social networks to annoy my friends. There’s nothing I can do about it. I did all what I could do to protect myself from further harm. I bear in mind that spiritual development is an individual process and we don’t need others approval. God loves me for who I am.

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A Reflection on Feminist Theology and the Real Woman

The XVII Conference of Latin American Religious Alternatives was held few weeks ago in Porto Alegre, Brazil. This event brought together scholars and researchers from across the continent to talk together about religion, integration, and identity. I was invited for presenting three papers, all about Islamic feminism. I was pleased to have such a space to discuss new ways of understanding the phenomenon of religion in Latin America and the role of feminism in Latin American religion.  I want to share some of my personal reflections regarding gender, feminism and religion with you today.

It is true that today all so-called ‘major’ religions—Islam, too—are patriarchal and male minded. It would be a fall into denial to say that abuses in the name of religion do not have a concrete impact on the lives of many women around the world. While it is possible to differentiate between what the Qur’an says and the discourse of patriarchy on Islam, the reality is that it is this patriarchy that dominates our understanding of religion.

The revealed messages have been used to reinforce gender oppression in bans on “women’s issues” from therapeutic abortion to driving a car. But we know these bans do not come from the holy books themselves, as the revealed messages can support a reading of oppression or liberation. The problems are the historical authority of sexist readings as criteria of truth and the incorporation of androcentrism as the axis in relation to the divine. Sexist readings and androcentrism both give rise to oppression and violence in the name of God.

Feminists have denounced these abuses over and over again. Many feminists say religions are patriarchal, so let’s leave them without feminist intervention. I think this is not enough. We need to recognize that the religious world is patriarchal. We must name and draw attention to women and their contributions to the development of religion. We must also remove the legitimacy and authority of the androcentric understandings of the spiritual, which have caused much damage throughout history. Feminism in religion is essential.

It is often said that feminists want to undermine the foundations of the faith. Who says this? The same people who justify the exploitation of human beings, the degradation of women, and wars in the name of a God whose message is peace, mercy and social justice. But I ask—is it so dangerous that women and groups historically segregated from society want to own their spiritual experiences and live them autonomously?

What kind of God is adored by those who oppose our approaching the Divine from a feminist point of view? Just listening to their diatribes is to know that it is misogyny and not piety that motivates their messages. Misogyny also lies behind the violence against women. And behind the violence lurks the fear.

Beyond the Female Believer

Patriarchy has silenced its fear and built an “ideal believer” to legitimize the control of women in religion. But feminists no longer want to remain silent and obedient. We are seek to respond by creating our own theologies.

However, even in feminist theology, heteronormativity is still present. It is a bias that still sees gays, lesbians, trans and queer people as “abnormal” outsiders. This approach validates the patriarchal ideas of “minority” and “marginality” regarding the male-female heteronormative assumptions that dominate the religious world.

Dismantling the patriarchy in religion is not only about making the feminine more visible in the mystical, historical, and experiential approaches to religion. We must also demystify and dismantle the axis of androcentrism and heteronormativity and the hold it has in the academy and the “mainstream”.

For example, more than once, sisters who call themselves feminists, have called me “whore,” “deviant,” and “immoral” for my queer understanding of gender roles and my critique of marriage as “half the Deen” [the Islamic idea that for women marriage completes their faith, which in Arabic is ‘Deen’], a replica of the romantic patriarchal discourse of the “other half” that is so damaging to the autonomy and the self-esteem of women in the real world.

This is a problem. Feminism in religion is not landing in the everyday lives of women. Feminist theology still speaks to a woman who is cis-gendered and heterosexual, who wants to marry and have children. Feminist theology is still quoting patriarchy.

The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house

The reality is that not all women in religious communities are heterosexual, not all heterosexuals wish to get married, and not all married woman understand their position in marriage as subordinate and complementary to the male.

Along with eliminating the patriarchal “revelations,” feminists who theorize regarding faith must be decolonized from the need to build another “perfect believer.” We should not assume an archetype of woman, as this exercise gives authority to patriarchy’s model of the female believer that imprisons women in destructive and limited dimensions with labels like saint, mother, and whore.

I think we must remove from women the roles that are supposed to make them proper “believers.” In fact, I think we have to destroy once and for all both the concept of “believer” itself and the category of “woman” as we know it in religion. Assessing the degree of spiritual development and the agency of the religious woman according to the degree of her functionality as a “Model” is NOT emancipatory, but is both limited and sexist. If there are “role models,” someone will always be outside the norm.

Instead, let us take over the theologies and feminisms, regain power over ourselves, and raise awareness in communities that feminism is not only a field of study and analysis but also an outlook on life. We can legitimize the authority of the feminist perspectives of religion, and commit sacrilege against the exemplary women and models that are imposed on us.  Let us not talk anymore about “Muslim women” or “Christian women” or “Jewish women,” but about ourselves as women.

Above all, and essentially, we must act on behalf of women of everyday, on behalf of those women who do not want to be “perfect believers,” but who want to be happy and fulfill their goals in a world that belittles them in many ways on a daily basis. Reasonable, imperfect, diverse and ‘under-construction’ women were created by God to be in this world as an expression of life and humanity.

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Towards a Recognition of Multiple Feminism: The Voice of Muslim Women

Feminist movement emerged from lived experiences of women with an aim to understand nature of gender inequity and women’s role in society. Though its aim was to bring fight for equity for women.

First and second wave feminisms came under heavy criticism for taking account only white, middle class and privileged perspectives of women. Though the mainstream feminism and feminist have tried to incorporate a lot of things to address those concerns, there are still huge gaps and concerns in terms of understand and making up for them.

This is one of the main reasons, women of colour, third world feminists, black feminists etc. doesn’t recognize themselves with mainstream white feminism. The issue is that mainstream feminism views everything from a single lens perspective. They view themselves to be white saviours who can move ahead and fix the situation of women around the world, even if it means lack of understanding and respect of others’ culture, religion and identity.

The same trend has been witnessed by the rise of Islamophobia in West, especially after the incident on September 11, 2001. We do recognize that patriarchy exists in our cultures and there are some serious issues around women and their access to basic rights, but we are not in favour of the fact that western white women, can come up and speak on our behalf. We are more than capable of speaking up for ourselves. This act of taking space and leadership by white women on issues of women of colour and Muslim women, de-legitimatizes and reduces the impact of our work. This places women of colour and esp. Muslim women in a difficult position where they are fighting patriarchy in their spaces but they also have to ask ‘white women’ to back off.

In this day and age, when women all around the world are fighting for their space, in terms of the right to access education, health and basic services, mainstream white feminists have only done harm than good by being disrespectful of our cultural and religious values.

People need to understand that Islam is not a single race, it’s one of the most multi-racial religions in the world. Muslims come in all colours and they bring their unique cultural identity into it.

This lack of understanding from the part of mainstream feminism of the particularities of Muslim women or Muslim feminists is pretty clear in some statements based on stereotypes provided for Orientalism and new media. Leyla Ahmed has denounced such stereotypes, where she says these stereotypes are very useful to justify political issues. Wrongly, white “Universalist” feminism tends to reproduce codes of oppression and Islamophobia when assuming this fabricated images about Muslim women as the truth. Let’s see some of these statements:

First, the ideological bias which secular feminism holds, assumes that Islam is the cause of the oppression of women, so that the only way to salvation for females is if they abandon their faith. Thus, it promotes a universal feminist concept which is read singularly as secularization.

Second, a continuing victimization of the “poor submissive Muslim” to which you have to save from submission to the barbarism of fanatical men, without an actual approach to Islamic thought, much less thinking of Muslim women, discarding prior level and the possibility of recognizing them as active persons able to explain themselves.

Third, a belief that is not possible for Muslim women to articulate a feminist discourse by themselves. This idea, promoted by intellectuals such as Wassila Tamzali and repeated amongst many feminists who do nothing but deny the very existence of Islam, is nothing but a sweet trap of patriarchy to get some women to exclude others: deprive them of voice. The legitimate right to freedom of conscience, expression and ultimately usurping the right to be and existence.

Fourth, the idea that feminism doesn’t have surnames. It is true that the ends must be shared and is even true because it is absolutely necessary to focus efforts toward a common goal. However, it is also essential to demonstrate the contexts from which the various feminisms are inserted into a larger work. Naming is to give existence and to give existence is to recognize. It is only fitting to name the work within a religious framework that attempts to deconstruct the patriarchal exegesis of the Qur’an which have been made in favour of Muslim women in particular and women in relation to spirituality in general.

This attitude towards Muslim women or others that don’t represent the mainstream are just a patriarchal reproduction form of some women. If we talk about feminism we must recognize this is first, a process of gaining own awareness and recognition of a gender conscious that start in the self, so no one is entitled to apply any frame of normativity about this process of emancipation, since every woman is different and bring her history, motivation, ideas, concepts, experiences to this act of liberation that means adopting gender conscious that lead finally to the construction of a feminist discourse. So, who is entitled to say some experiences are better or more feminist than others? That is establishing hierarchy which is exactly what patriarchy does with women as whole!

We women, need to work on recognition of each other as humans, able to explain ourselves a develop our own rhetoric about what a woman is and about the theories that explain us. It is also necessary to move forward in recognition, respect and integration of diverse strategies to build true partnerships, to re-appropriate the common universal, that is ultimately only a sum of human diversity around common values, which is suppose Feminism was an expression.

The same goes for feminism. Female identity, “being woman” “being a free woman” is in constantly defining and developing. None can be left out just because alternative conceptions do not match  “mainstream” feminism. The modern world, through its scientific and technological progress is narrowing the gap between human beings like never before. Let us women not be the ones who return us to stagnation.

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Islam and The Preachers of Abuse: Protecting Them Is Not Protect Your Faith

What if she was your daughter?

A Yemeni girl has died of sexual wounds inflicted by her husband on their wedding night. The girl was 8, the husband 40

According To the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls Will Become child brides. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.

It would be naive not so say that all these practices are reinforced, at some level, by religion, which makes them difficult to eradicate.

Yes, of course, abuse of women and children occur everywhere, inside and outside of religious communities. But this argument is banal and not enough to turn a blind eye. The problem is that, currently, still child marriage and marital rape are justified through religious authority in the Muslim community.

There is a problem within the global Muslim community, that most believers do not want or are not able to recognize: The Preachers of Abuse, who work in full time in front of the view of everyone.

Preachers as Muhammad al-‘Arifi, who calls Muslim women (except those of his family, of course) to serve as sex slaves for the Syrian rebels, in “The name of God” . He also has said is ok to hit  women to discipline them, as long is “with a toothbrush.”

Perhaps the worst thing is not what he says,  we know those are stupid things,  but the status and prestige that people like him have within Islamic communities, to the point of having loyal followers, both men and women, which allow them to turn theit statements in logic, profit from Faith and have the life of a celebrity star.

Or Fayhan Al Ghamdi, from Saudi Arabia, who raped and tortured his daughter to death. Fayhan Al Ghamdi broke her left arm, several ribs, caused a skull fracture and even burned her with an iron. Randa Kalee, hospital employee, claimed that the girl had a broken back and had been raped “everywhere”. Fayhan Al Ghamdi has confessed that the girl was subjected to electric shocks and he used a cane to inflict injury to the child.

But, he was released and enjoys good health thanks to impunity. Despite the public outcry of his country, nothing prevents him to continue preaching or performing functions in a mosque, in Saudi Arabia or abroad.

In the following video, a Saudi preacher refers to CEDAW as a tool against Islam because it proclaims “women equality with men” and “She can act with complete freedom” and “She can not marry before age 18 “

Show me a person, no matter the religion, who publicly supports marriage of a girl of eight years with a 40 year old man,  who is not considered a fool by his/her own community or denounced for making apology of child abuse.

In Islam, preachers of abuse are protected by impunity and the veil of holiness that they win thanks to Muslims themselves, who, in majority, choose to remain silent, thereby legitimizing the abuse-speech as part of religion, instead of making a stand and take their share according to the Qur’an, which is, to denounce injustice and protect the weak.

And do not tell me “… you know, the Catholic Pedophilia …” because the offense committed by the neighbor does not excuse our own offense.

I wonder: If child marriages and domestic violence are not part of Islam: Why are the human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and not the Islamic organizations, the first to mobilize for punishment of these crimes and justice for the victims?

Why a Muslim preacher, who  advocates in favor of violence against women, is still regarded as a wise person in the community?

How much piety you can find in protecting the criminal?

Is there a moment when conscience begins to annoy for keeping so quiet , for so much hypocrisy, for such huge amounts of indifference disguised as “modesty”?

This is not just a problem in the Middle East or Asia. From UK to Chile, Western countries are beginning to fill with mosques and Islamic centers of dogmatic-extremist approach, where preachers of abuse and terrorism,are  imported from countries where these crimes are part of the “cultural tradition” .

To say this is not to attack Islam – like most Muslims like to say, too comfortable not taking responsability for the general apathy that affects the community.

If preachers of abuse remain between us and are still considered Muslims, is because the community permitted and thus, is accesory in what those people do.

If you really want to defend Islam, this must start by sincere self-criticism from Muslims themselves on the state of things in the community. It is unfair to blame others for our own vices. In Islam, everyone is responsible for their actions and omissions. If we talk about a Umma, a community, let be coherent and accept that a community is not only a word to talk about to enjoy Ramadan parties: Is also, to assume faults together and work together for solutions.

In defense of Islam, I would begin to expel the preachers of abuse from the mosques and never call them Muslims again, because they don’t promote equity and social justice, but discrimination and violence; and never allow them to call themselves or be treated as Sheikhs, Imams, wise people or authorities of any kind, nor do recognize them any prominence in the community.

Criminals exist between us and must have their proper destination. Be innocent is acceptable, but being indifferent not. Transforming religion into a hope for thousands of girls and women, is an unavoidable task in which Muslims must be present and active and can not and should not miss.

¿How to start? Simply, stop sweeping the dirt under the carpet. Because there is a difference in “not to embarrass a brother for their faults” and “Cover up crimes”. Because neither the “defense” of God is above human rights.

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Houston: Is my Vagina a Problem For You? On Women’s Biology and Cultural Control

enzaraPOPAs if it wasn’t bad enough, attacking women just for the symbolic category of being a woman, now the system, with a repressive twist against biology itself , is attacking the vagina, with its cycles and natural fluids included.

What’s going on with the vagina? Lately, advertising round the world seems to not want them. Haven’t you noticed? Now there’s one more reason for the system to make us feel something is wrong with us: We have vaginas.

As if it wasn’t bad enough,  the constant  media blitz against our right to be accepted as we are, without having to conform to a stereotype of height, weight, skin color, hair and eyes, the “C-Reactive” audiovisuals”- Yes, because what they’re doing is just feeding ‘Reaction Campaign’ against the emancipation of women.

Faludi dixit – now they want to ‘sell us the cookie’ that not only is it bad just being a woman, but that the cause of all our problems is having a vagina .

First of all, it’s not the same thing being a woman, as having a vagina. Being “Woman” is a symbolic category unrelated to appearance, gender, sex or sexuality. In the final analysis it’s a personal opinion. Traditionally, patriarchy has assigned the category “woman” in its most stereotypical, limiting and oppressive sense to members of the human species, classified as female according to their appreciable anatomical features, that is, the presence of the vagina .

The media and advertising industry has been selling us pre-packaged patriarchal ideology for a long time now: their strategy against women, is based on the idea that it is wrong to be as we are, that we really should change, that the consumption of certain products can make us more acceptable and above all, much more sexually attractive, which would ensure our success in life: being accepted by Men would ensure our financial and emotional stability and would grant us a place in the great ”Cycle of Life” as reproducers and procreaters – of the Patriarchy, obviously. Thus we would indeed also achieve prestige, and the status of Mother and Wife, so necessary to keep the meat grinding machine running.

It’s a curious thing how this logic works, and perverse to say the least : From the patriarchal mindset, the female has always been associated with nature, its maintenance and reproduction, because of the biological capacity of motherhood. On the contrary the Man is always seen to have  the right to obliterate or modify nature,  to operate machines and transform the environment. However, the industry of culture, run by men and where women are represented as objects, calls on us to denature the natural, to continue to maintain the system running. Appearing to be always 25 years and looking  like a Greek goddess three weeks after childbirth, for example, are totally unnatural mandates, but ones which  this ideology normalizes in its favor.

So we see that now it’s not enough, attacking women just for the symbolic category of being a woman. Now the system, with a repressive twist against biology itself , is attacking the vagina, with its cycles and natural fluids included.

1. – Meanwhile in India: “Your Vagina is NOT  WHITE ENOUGH, darling”

lighteninggelforsensitiLindi West wrote on the site Jezabel,, an amusing but revealing article, which destroys the ideology behind this commercial 0n India TV. In the video, the poor husband is very hurt and offended, because  his wife’s vagina is coffee coloured. Even seeing a cup of coffee gives him  nightmares, reminding him of the awful color of his wife’s vagina And she in her turn responds to his anti-vaginal depression by getting depressed herself.

Happily, she is intelligent and eager to fulfill their husband’s expectations, including sexual fantasies of white vaginas – in a country of brown people-. In the shower the product “Clean and Dry Intimate Wash”, is applied, promising to BLEACH the vagina and surrounding areas with one solo use and… Miracle! The brand new color of the wife’s vagina restores to her husband the will to live, and saves the marriage from divorce and ruin!

The Product Justification by the  C-Reactive advertisers is that “clear skin reflects the light better” to which  Lindi West responds ironically: “See? It all makes lots of sense. They just want our vaginas to reflect light better, can that be bad? For example, What if my car breaks down at night and I dont have a vagina bright enough to warn the other drivers? Well, maybe a vagina light could replace the fish that glow in the bottom of the sea … maybe I could use it to attract more shrimp and so my husband would approve of me again! “

2. – Repent Vagina Sinner!

 virgin maker kit

Virginity is an important requirement in Eastern culture. The Orientals value women who have not shared a bed with other men. So women, if they are not virgins, looking for ways to pretend that they are.

So no matter if before marrying you have lived your sexuality freely, having boyfriends and orgasms all over the place. You can repent and act as if “nothing at all ever happened here”, There are ways to help support the sexual confidence of your future husband in its rightful place, lest he feel diminished or embarrassed, knowing that you had a joyful happening between the sheets. It would not be right if you got treated as a whore, just for not fitting into his fantasies of control and domination over your body.

Among the methods is the “Virgin Maker” a device that is inserted into the vagina,  acting as an artificial hymen. When the device comes into contact with the male member, it squirts out a red liquid, simulating the blood of first time sex.

This device tells women that what’s really important about their sexuality, is what men think of it. As in many cultures, the man will only accept the woman’s sexuality if he is the first to penetrate her, and the woman must hide all traces of autonomy with regard to her orgasms. As if womens’ sexual desires only begin when we sign a piece of paper and get a certificate that permits us to enjoy our sexuality.

I wonder how many patriarchal males have been well fooled with the tricky ‘Virgin Maker’, believing themselves the first and reaffirming their masculinity due to a little bag of red ink. Ha! My vagina laughs and smacks her big and little lips at the thought of it!

In China there is controversy over the use of “virgin maker” because researchers have established that it could cause infections in the female reproductive system. Special offers have been removed, ads have been erazed from internet websites. They could take the opportunity to try and also eraze from people’s heads the myth that says virginity defines the qualities of women.

3. – Your Vagina needs a plumber

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After menopause, the vagina isn’t considered a vagina any more, just a dripping tap. As there don’t exists plumbers to pinch the tube and seal off leakage of fluids, the solution is… ‘Poise’ Wipes.. designed for us,  specially to not be embarrassed by not having menstrual flow. So they problematize  further, the period of life when the woman can no longer bear children for the patriarchy.

Where before the vagina was a dilemma due to menstruation, forcing women of childbearing age to wear all kinds of motley devices, from traditional to high-tech, to conceal a natural fact of biology-now with menopause the tragedy is not menstruating but natural  flow. On top of all the stereotypes that paint women at or after menopause as hysterical, maniacal and non-orgasmic, due to a descent in our hormone levels, they’ve added the idea that the woman is an erratic ejection of urine and fluids, which must be neutralized with endless products, created especially to protect the public and make women feel safe in her “Maturity” (?) thanks to the wipes.

Beware decent citizens! Those women over 50 who do not use Poise can with just one blow, take out an eye with a deadly squirt of fluid spitting from their vaginas!

The truth is that our vaginas are not the problem, it is patriarchy that has a problem with our vaginas, as well as with “Woman” as a being, and the endless possibilities that this implies. As always, the ideology holds us accountable for all the things that only annoy the  Patriarchate. If we know already that finding the perfect woman is a sickening and impossible imposition – because there is no such woman,  and it will always be better to be a full entire woman than a perfect one-  let´s seek to achieve in this life the status of joyful enjoyable vagina, no matter how big , hairy or multicolor it may be because, obviously, the quest for ‘perfection’ will leave us something between the legs that will be anything but a healthy vagina.

Published for TheFreeOnline

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Understanding Islamic Feminism: “Is Urgent to Return Back to Women Their Full Rights”

muslim-woman-praying-inside-mosque

” My conversion to Islam became the spiritual foundation of my struggle. I was happy to discover there was a divine plan where women were not designed to be subjected to man, that our destiny was not paying eternally the “original sin”. It was a deep happiness to know I have the greatest reason for my struggle: Accomplish the will of Allah for women as commanded in Quran, which is Equity, development, fulfilment.”

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente known islamically as Nasreen Amina, is a Chilean Feminist Muslim woman and women Rights Advocate. She graduated with highest honors in Public Relations, studied Journalism and has a Postgraduate Degree in Management.

She has been a feminist and involved in movements for the restoration of democracy in her home country, Chile, since her teenage years and has successfully led international volunteer initiatives and training programs surrounding Gender and Women’s Rights issues within rural Andean communities in Peru. Her journalistic work can be found on international websites such as The Huffington Post, Women News Network, Global Press Institute, World Pulse, Web Islam and Nurain Magazine.

Nasreen Amina is a pioneer of Islamic Feminism in Latin America and has been a speaker at various seminars and conferences on the topic of social development and gender throughout Chile, Peru and Ecuador. Recently she was the only Hispanic Muslim among 29 women selected worldwide to participate in a six-month international training program entitled Voices of Our Future and sponsored by UN-Women, Nobel Women’s Initiative and Channel Foundation. She believes strongly in what she calls “The Spiritual Revolution and the power of words being able to change the world.”

THE INTERVIEW 

This interview has two parts. In Part 1, Nasreen Amina explains the ideology known as Islamic feminism in an effort to help us gain an understanding of what Islamic feminism is all about and its relationship to secular feminism. She talks briefly about what led her to Islamic feminism and and clarifies the use and impact of interpreting Quran and other islamic texts have on enforcing the rights of Muslim women.

________

Muslimah Voices: Assalaamu alaikum sister Nasreen. Ramadhan Mubarak! May Allah (s.w.t) accept your fast, salaat, duas and all your efforts towards the deen inshallah. Thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview with Muslimah Voices.

Islamic feminism is a relatively new concept and has been the centre of much controversy and debate in the Muslim world over the years; and I sense that some Muslims, especially from amongst the so-called “grass-roots” are either unclear or are unaware of what Islamic feminism is and what Muslim feminists such as yourself are really trying to achieve.

So please explain to readers what is meant by Islamic feminism and how is it different from secular feminism?

Nasreen Amina: Wa aleykum salam and thank you. First I think is important to define what is feminism because many of the wrong concept spread by Patriarchy about feminism are put on IF also and sadly are repeated ignorantly for other Muslim and non-Muslim women and men:

Feminism; this term has bad reputation but, despite everything, a beautiful meaning, refers to the attitude that promotes the realization of women as genuine human beings, fully equipped and also very different and deserved of the same rights , dignity and power in all spheres of life. It’s also a coordinated set of ideas as well a practical plan of action, rooted in women’s critical awareness of how a culture controlled in meaning and action by patriarchy, to its own advantage, oppresses women and dehumanizes men.

Islamic Feminism is a reform movement based in the Quran that in one hand wants to promote the participation of women in the building of Islam as Faith; visibilize their achievements and contribution and claim for women the right to read, interpreting, communicate and spread the revelation according to the rights and duties we have as Muslims. On the other hand, we work for the inclusion of Muslim women in all areas of social life, to end with the myths and misunderstanding about Islam, we struggle for the end of Islamophobia as well as for the end of violence, discrimination and exclusion that affect all women as part of humankind.

We believe the current interpretations of Quran have been twisted in behalf of the maintenance of Patriarchy system and not in the name of Islamic model of life; we state also, most of the interpretation we listen from muftis, sheikhs and mullah are not according to a serious hermeneutical work but to a very pleasant attempt to legitimate male opinions in the name of Allah (SWT); an example of this is the bunch of videos you can see in you tube of sheikhs justifying gender violence as part of Islamic Ethics when from a serious hermeutical approach is easy to find the intention of Allah never was to give the power of harm to any creature on other.

Allah stated clearly in the Quran the principles of wilayat and shura for the life of the community, for men and women so, Why they preach lies? Why the justify with Quran things that are not there? Why they, in fact, exclude women systematically when Quran include them and recognize them as a vital part of society in all areas?

As Islamic feminist I use my right to knowledge, my right to Iytihad given by Allah from the very first verse of Quran,( Iqraa! ) To question all the interpretations, especially those that justify the ban on my rights given by Allah i.e my right to be treated as equal inside the community, my right to education, to give my opinion, to decide about my life, to be part of the government of the community, to work and enjoy the product of my effort, to a fair divorce and social protection, the right to not to be punished, threatened or excluded from the umma for being a woman.

If we understand the humankind as the big ummah of Allah (SWT) we can extend the recognition of these rights to any women on earth so in this frame, Islamic feminism has a lot of sense not only for muslim women but for all women.

About secular feminism, first of all I have to say there is no only one secular feminism. There are many feminisms. Islamic Feminism can be placed in the third wave of feminisms together with black, Latin, indigenous feminisms and any other that come from the awareness of belonging to a particular identity. This is possible since the recognition of feminism as a revolution of subjectivity. From this point of view, there are many feminisms as women with gender conscious.

The only difference with other feminisms, are the particularities and context Islamic Feminism looks to explain and bring a solution to the problem of gender from. We state as Islamic feminists the discrimination for reason of gender, violence and exclusion of women and minorities can’t be accepted since are not the conditions Allah (SWT) commands for a fulfilled life, and also because prevent women to accomplish and enjoy the duties and rights given for Allah (SWT). Being Islam a message to all humankind, all the problem that affect them are our problems, so no matter if is about non – Muslim women, if they suffer violence, is our problem; no matter if is about non – Arab citizens if they are excluded and banned from their rights is our problem and on…

In the objective and mission, all feminisms share the same: Freedom, Equity, Social Justice, Inclusion, Understanding.

Muslimah Voices: What is the relationship between Islamic feminism and secular feminism? And what can the two learn from each other, if anything at all?

Nasreen Amina: The relation depends on the context and level. In an academic level, there are some resistances from “mainstream” feminism, I mean, White European high-medium class feminisms, that think they have to save the rest of the women of the world without recognizing them their own ability to explain and liberate themselves. This approach doesn’t recognize the existence of an Islamic Feminism as well as consider as second classes feminisms the reivindications coming from other subjectivities as African, Latin, Natives- american, immigrants or other cultures, as middle east and Asian feminisms etc.

Islamic feminists work in order to debate and debunk the wrong assumptions about Muslim women who are always seen as passive and subjected, with no initiative or ability to think for themselves.

It’s important to point out here that Islamic feminism is not the same as Arabic feminism. Not all the Arab feminists are Muslims or recognize Islam as a path of liberation for humankind and, as well as mainstream feminism, they deny totally the possibility that is possible to contribute to women’s rights and social justice from a religious approach.

But, in my experience, in the social and grass-roots level, is a struggle on a daily basis, those kind of separation doesn’t exists or are just framed in a theoretical discussion. I work on prevention of gender violence with non-Muslim women; when I join a march to claim the approval of a law on Femicide or the legalization of abortion I march with non-Muslim women. I anchor a radio program that I produce together with non-Muslim women where we receive claims on gender violence and promote women’s rights. I make advocacy on domestic violence claims and the women I listen their cases are not Muslims. This year I had the chance to be the first Muslim women to talk about gender issues in a University to a non-Muslim audience and brought the point of view of Islam on it. In October I will be in the National Meeting of Argentinian Women that will gather together more than 5 thousand women from all the country around the issues that affect us. All those women know I am a Muslim, they can see me with my hiyab in the march, at the radio, in the police station, in the conferences and is publicly known my spiritual option.

However, I never was asked to go back home or they made me feel I am out-of-place; actually are other Muslim women that  ask me to do that, saying activism is not suitable in a Muslim woman and rather I should get a man and stay at home to “complete my Deen”. I wonder what would have been the destiny of Islam without women who played important roles in its history as soldiers, scholars, teachers, philosophers, political leaders and spiritual guides?

In this point, there is something is important to understand here that lead us to the need to work together, since feminism is a personal revolution that struggle for shared objectives and this is what we can learn from each other: At the end of the day, further than our particularities, we’re women, subjected to the same pain and the same hope. No matter our life and religious options, that are always private and particular, we live in a world where women are subjected to harsh and systematic violence on a daily basis and, no matter what the holy and secular texts say about the condition of women, the reality is the words don’t match the reality so, if we women don’t get awareness and take over our situation and struggle to make that match and make the laws and revelations work in our behalf no one will do it.

In Argentina, where I live, a woman is murdered per day on an episode of gender violence, many women are raped and not always the court punish properly the criminals; In Mexico, in 10 years, more than 30 thousands women were victim of femicide and only the last year in Pakistan 1000 women die for honours killing. Argentina and Mexico recognize to be religious countries, same Pakistan so what? What is the problem? These situation make feminism the way to visibilize and put this issues on the agenda and search for solution, otherwise they won’t be there; because at moment, no Constitution of any Republic neither the Quran nor the Bible nor any Sacred Book have end by itself with these shameful situations women must to face in countries, where supposed these books are important foundations and inspiration of social life, and this is because people in charge are not interested in including women and give back to women their holy dignity and recognize them freedom to own themselves.

Muslimah Voices: Have you always been a feminist? Why Islamic feminism? Did a particular life experience (s) lead you to Islamic feminism?

Nasreen Amina: I have always been a feminist, officially since 15 years old and proud of be, always in training since feminism as well as Islam is a way of life. I am a feminist woman, single mother of a girl of 21, a writer, a free-thinker, a woman and an activists for lesbian, gays, transexuals and bisexuals; an advocacy against gender violence, a pro-choice defender and a Muslim. I am the honest product of my honest and well-informed decided options.

I became a feminist, like all feminists, from a particular reflection about myself and about what it meant to be a woman. I have always said feminism is a Jihad that first happens within ourselves: All feminists and activists have made a similar path: A fact of our lives that hit the bottom of the spirit and makes us wonder all, disassemble and reassemble reality and ourselves, and then assume a responsibility to the improvement of our life and lives of others.

I started my path as feminist and activist when I was a teenager in a situation that I am glad to share: Patricia had been my friend and classmate since the age of 10 and in 1989 we were in the first year of High School. She got pregnant and for this she had been expelled from the school but the boy involved won’t. The laws of the country and the rules of the school said a pregnant girl cannot study. She never told anyone because the social punishment and discrimination that in those years supposed to become a teen mom.

I had been recently elected president of my class. I used this representation and influence to organize my classmates around Patricia‘s case. After one month of struggle, the Educational Council decided always not to allow Patricia in the regular classes agree with the idea of “The Bad Apple…”;but, they decided she would have the chance to finish the high school attending tutorial workshops and free exams.

This experience was a life-changing one. For me, it was my first approach to social activism and the starting of my reflection and training as feminist. I felt first-hand the results of teamwork and organization around a cause of justice. I learned how important collaboration, empathy and friendship for everyday life are. More than any book, this experience taught me that solidarity among women is a gift we must make grow cause its fruits are abundant in every time and place.

My conversion to Islam became the spiritual foundation of my struggle. I was happy to discover there was a divine plan where women were not designed to be subjected to man, that our destiny was not paying eternally the “original sin”. It was a deep happiness to know I have the greatest reason for my struggle: Accomplish the will of Allah for women as commanded in Quran, which is Equity, development, fulfilment.

Muslimah Voices: Many Islamic feminists, refuse to be called ‘feminists’. Why do you think this is? And do you feel the same way or are you okay with being labelled an Islamic feminist? 

Nasreen Amina: I can’t answer for other women, since I believe strongly in the power of every women to explain themselves. Any thing I could say about what they refuse to be called feminists would be unfair no matter how accurate could be. All what I say is in the name of myself since, as feminist, I respect the right to subjectivity of all women. I can say I am happy and proud to be recognized as Islamic feminist, since are two words that explain my vision and lifestyle completely.

Muslimah Voices: In many instances, traditionalist Muslim scholars, as well as Islamist ideologues, conflate fiqh and shariah – using fiqh to represent the shariah or using it as if it’s synonymous with the shariah; and in some cases they give the impression that fiqh is somehow the superior of the two. Isn’t this a major problem for Muslim women when it comes to enforcing Islamic laws concerning Muslim women? And how do we make a distinction between the two?

Nasreen Amina: Yes this is a major problem since the most of unfair rules that affect women in Islam are identified as Sharia when they are only Fiqh. That means they are seen are seen as immutable, as laws that can not be changed, when in fact the fiqh is human product and as such can and should be subject to constant review and revision, for that Allah gave us the ability to think and reason and the privilege of ijtihad.

The absurdity of judging current issues through law dating back hundreds of years ago, has only led to the oppression of women and minorities, to a total lack of mercy in the law enforcement, reinforcing the idea that Islam is a religion of extremists, closed minds and misogynist.

Islam is more than a religion: It isn’t a set of dogmas and rituals to follow and apply blindly;  Islam is an ethic of life, and as such is dynamic, is in constant interaction with the human experience; Islam does not propose a way of suffering in this life, to live happily in the other: Islam is a proposal for a full life, which can and should be lived in peace, harmony in this world as well in the hereafter.

To live in peace and harmony with Allah and the creation, mercy, equity and social justice are necessary. This is the spirit of Sharia. Sharia means the way to the source. A source is something that keeps the essence of a thing, an idea, a feeling. Well, the essence of the Quran is Sharia that is the spirit of justice, reason and freedom that contains the message of the Quran.

It’s easy to see the difference between Sharia and Fiqh: Sharia is inspired on mercy, equity, in a reasoned sense of justice. The value of Sharia is eternal since is an expression of Allah attributes. Mercy is one of the most important attributes of Allah, is how we call Allah many times in every salat: The Most merciful, the most compassionate. I wonder: where are the mercy and compassion in fiqh currently?

Fiqh can be changed, is human product of the interpretation and application of sharia. The fiqh has to be inspired by Sharia and fits with its spirit otherwise is useless and must not be considered. Currently is not like that, because the fiqh conforms to the spirit of Patriarchy and not the Quran. Actually, the mainstream Islam, especially that one promoted for some politicians and oil vendors, serves Patriarchy rather than Allah. It’s the only explanation for the maintenance of unjust laws that do not go with the times and that absolutely contradict human rights i.e: In many countries who call themselves Islamic – hypocritically- still leaders continue justifying female genital mutilation and sale of girls into forced “marriages” with Islam, when in fact they are 100% patriarchal practices that have nothing to do with our faith and yet, our faith should be a reason to fight actively to its eradication.

Islamic feminists give part of our time to the comparative study of Fiqh and Sharia, and the study of Tafseer; also the analysis of the hadiths, as we believe that not every hadith is in harmony with the Quran logic those contradicts revelation must be considered as not reliable, especially those who justify the oppression of women and reinforce the idea she is a second-class creature.

Personally, since I have a special concern for gender violence, during these months I have been devoted to study comparatively various laws on domestic violence, femicide and honor crimes both in Muslim and Western countries. I found that many laws that are said to be inspired by Islam, for example, those to exempt from punishment who kills for “honor”, are originated in the Napoleonic Code not in the Quran. Are part of colonial heritage, so my question is: Why are they considered as base of Jurisprudence in Islamic countries? Why are they taught as part of Islam? My conclusion is they are kept to support a Patriarchal system against women, and this is not an isolate but a global approach to the value of the life of women. A few weeks ago I prepared a report on the subject which was included as part of the foundations that were presented to the National Congress of Argentina, to ask for a law on Femicide. I was happy to bring that information to attorneys, activists and legal scholars here and in this way contribute at the end of prejudice and a joint struggle for the rights of women.

Muslimah VoicesWith regard to fiqh and tafsir. Over recent years,  classical fiqh and tafsir texts have been brought under public scrutiny and made the subjects of public debates and discussions, offering compelling arguments and articulating alternative, gender-friendly understandings of Islam. But how far do you think Islamist feminist discourse and other efforts has been able to reach out to and influence the ‘grassroots?’ 

Nasreen Amina: It’s a good question that I would like to divide in two parts. First, about how far we are reaching our objectives; For me it all depends on context, while Islamic feminists have common goals, even with non-Muslim feminists, the changes are effective when they are the product of “think globally and act locally.”

According to my experience, every Islamic feminist person or organization that promotes women’s rights in Islam, has specific objectives, acting at different levels that relate to shared global goals.

Some of us are in academia, working in coordination with researchers, feminist scholars, theologians, experts in Islamic sciences, men and women, Muslims and others to produce new knowledge and interpretations of what is said about women in Islam for example, Amina Wadud, Laury Silvers, Leyla Ahmed, Fateema Mernissi, Ziba Mir Hosseini, Asma Barlas, Riffat Hassan, Asma Lamrabet are some to mention.

Others of us, without losing our commitment to the study, are in the frontline as activists, educators and counsellors. At this level, I would emphasize organizations as “Sister in Islam”, “Musawah”, “Baobab” providing support and legal advice to respect the rights of women in Islam in Muslim countries. They do an excellent job in Asian and African countries in this regard.

A group of us who live in non-Islamic countries are joining forces with women from all origin and conditions in the struggle for their rights, while working to overcome the barriers placed by ignorance, prejudice and Islamophobia, which undermines the inter-religious and inter-feminist dialogue and , at the same time, encouraging Muslim women to be an active part of the pursuit of society based in social justice, promoting the self teaching about our rights in Islam, organizing groups of discussion to learn from each other, to read and interpret the Quran and validate our own vision about what it has to say to us, as women.

About the second part of the question, my opinion is that it is still difficult, but not because of our lack of will, but because the essence of space for the Muslim community life, is closed to women on equal terms: I refer to the mosque. Because long ago ceased to be places where knowledge flourishes and have become more social clubs where marriages are arranged, and second, because it is practiced gender discrimination. Islam demands that women and men be spiritual equals. It defines relations between women and men as mutually complementary, and indeed, this mutuality is itself a sign of the Divine. Both have been given the guidance to inspire goodness in each other, and thereby, the goodness in all of society.

The respect, compassion, and mutuality that Allah has placed between women and men must be visible in not only our family life, but also in how Muslims conduct public transactions. Women and men, girls and boys should have equal access to and must feel equally welcome to participate in schools, the Masjid, and other civic and cultural institutions.

However, the trend towards inclusion is not as widespread as the standard demanded by Islam. There are many mosques that relegate women to small, dingy, secluded, airless and segregated quarters with their children. Some mosques actually prevent women from entering. There are also some Islamic centres and mosques that discriminate against women by denying them the rights of membership, voting, or holding office. No wonder to say a woman can’t be a teacher or be part in theological discussions.

To this I have to add the gender bias in the treatment of the problems faced by women. When a woman comes to the Sheikhs and Imams for advice, her vision of problems such as marriage, are always seen most often as a result of her lack of patience or her lack of control over her emotions. Nothing is done for her, she is told to be patient and pray. I have known cases of domestic violence, men who have driven out their wives from their homes, without following the procedure Quran states in the case of divorce and no one of these women have received any useful advice or support in the mosque, just the phrase “May Allah help you “and sometimes the ban to come back again.

These practices are unjust and degrading, and they contradict the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. It is urgent that they are corrected. Preventing women from full participation in the Masjid is a disservice to the institution and the community.

As Islamic feminist I think it is necessary to recognize the right of women to be sheikhs, counsellors, educators, as it was in the first days of Islam; it is necessary and urgent to return back to women their full rights to be part of the community and be treated as an equal. That is why I support the initiative for women Imams, for  women giving khutbas, for the presence of women in the mosque to give legal advice and psychological support; the mosque must be open to women and the community in its broadest sense. The presence and voice of women should stop being awrah.

Interview for Muslimah Voices