What is Gender Jihad and is it necessary in Islam? (2)
Muslim organizations in the United States, including the Islamic Society of North America, issued a 28-page report in July 2005 entitled, “Women Friendly Mosques and Community Centers: Working Together to Reclaim Our Heritage,” recommending reform, including an affirmative action program to get women on mosque boards.
Not all Muslim women see Islamic feminism as a positive development, however. Fatima Awad, also of Maryam Islamic Center in Sugarland has countered, “Islamic feminism is an oxymoron. Muslims should not follow feminism in order to gain equality and rights for women. Rather, feminists should follow Islam because Islam is the only ideology that has ever succeeded in elevating women to the status of a human being who is equal with a man. Men and women were created equal but they are different. Feminism does not recognize these differences and the spread of feminism has led to some very detrimental problems in society. These problems include the dissolution of families, marriage, homosexuality, oppression of women and men, and the loss of masculinity for men and the loss of femininity for women. It has caused a role reversal for men and women that over time has led them to adopt traits that are not conducive to their gender.”
Ms. Awad continues, “This is oppression because oppression means to take something out of it’s place. Now, why is it that so many Muslims have chosen the term ‘Islamic feminism’ to describe the Muslim woman’s search for equal rights? This is because feminists have done a very good job of leading a global movement of women’s liberation. But, has this movement really achieved its mission? I have been living now for over a year in a Muslim country, Jordan, and I have had a firsthand account of two groups of women who I have come in close contact with since they belong to the family I married into. One group of women follows feminism and the other group follows Islam. I can honestly say that the group that follows Islam is ten times happier than the group that follows feminism. Now, this is one country. If we look at the status of women globally, we find that women overall are not getting the respect they deserve because Muslims have only begun to practice Islam properly and Muslim women are just now starting to let their voices be heard. When these voices are heard loud enough, then all women can expect to be empowered because Islam clearly describes and lays down the foundation for the upliftment of women as well as men.”
Although the debate continues concerning whether Islamic feminism should be the term used to define the pursuit of gender equality amongst Muslims and within Islamic nations, the goal is clear and the intentions are similar: for the world and the Muslim world to be a place where justice prevails and where injustice is prohibited. Is Islam, however, in need of a gender jihad?
Sister. Amina states, “Islam is a message for all of humankind so we must support others, women and men, in any struggle that leads to a better society and a better understanding of one another. Muslims have been commanded to struggle for justice, so we have to take part in seeking solutions to the inequity that affects our societies.”
Nasreen Amina’s efforts have allowed her to witness women gaining empowerment upon being informed about their rights and she has received messages from women telling her how some of her articles and opinions about gender in Islam have lead them to read more, to search more and to finally find Islam within themselves so that they can start their own jihad towards a deep spiritual development.
Further reading on the topic: