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An Open Letter to Social Media Sheikhs

by in Identity on 17th November, 2017

This is a message for all my brothers. I am your sister, and I don’t know you personally and you don’t know me. I would like you to know that I do not spend nights crying for you. I don’t lose sleep over you “shedding tears” for my imaan and the way that I dress.

I know that our brothers are struggling. They’re struggling to remember that women do not exist  for the male gaze regardless of what they happen to be wearing or doing. It’s sad because they should not be objectifying women in this way. It’s sad because they should respect women despite whether or not her hair is covered and regardless of the way she dresses, without feeling the need to make a comment. A common thing I’ve noticed, is that these akhs feel the need to impose their views of why women do what women want.

My choices and actions are not because I lack a father figure in my life to provide me with all the male affection I am apparently craving. Even if that assumption was correct, I don’t need any social media sheikhs to come and provide me with brotherly guidance.

And if we go by such logic, what would you see as the cause for muslim boys disrespecting and objectifying girls?

Would you say that it’s because they lack strong matriarchal figures in their lives?

Or do you think that it’s because we don’t hold them accountable for their own actions?

While I appreciate the necessity of naṣīḥah, I’m fed up of double standards.

I’m fed up of being told to cover up because of men rather than for the purpose of nurturing my relationship with Allah.

I fed up of my imaan being questioned because I don’t wear a headscarf.

I’m fed up of hearing about how someone’s hijab doesn’t count because some of her hair is showing, or that her jeans are too tight, or that she wears too much make up.

I’m fed up of men dragging women before checking themselves.

And most of all I’m fed up of the male gaze and the way that females are constantly measured within its parameters.

I’m speaking on behalf of the sisters, we don’t need you to keep us in check.

I find the obsession with advising women problematic. While your intentions may be ‘to guide us’, to give us advice with no context on who we are, ignores our individual experiences and struggle. You don’t have us all figured out, we are not black and white.

Whilst telling us how inappropriate it is for 14-15 year old girls to be ‘whining and grinding’, I’d also like to remind you how inappropriate it is for you to be commenting about what these young girls are doing. “You think you’re gonna get a man like that?” Sorry, what makes you think that we do anything with the intention of “getting a man”? This constant enforcement that women exist to please men and aspire to entertain the male gaze, is tiring, reductive and untrue.

For all your unsolicited advice on premarital sex, there is no need to state the obvious. We get it, “sex outside of marriage is a sin”, but it takes two to tango. You claim that it hurts you more when sisters fall off the deen and you “just don’t know why”. Perhaps it’s because we are socialised to shame our women when they do the same as our men. You say you’re a guy and “you know guys”, but how well do you know your brothers turning up for jummah at 1pm and turnin’ up in the club at 11pm.

There is a problem within the ummah and wider society of focussing upon the constant shaming of girls. There are so many issues worth our attention, yet the obsession of social media sheikhs seems to be disproportionately focussed upon the supposed tragedy of their sisters’ sins. I find it frustrating and often hilarious that the role of providing accessible Islamic guidance has been taken on by these internet sheiks.

Is the advice they so heartfeltly provide actually effective or genuine?

Or does it just create echo chambers for like minded, chauvinistic individuals?

On behalf of us sisters who are beyond exhausted of men trying to dictate and dissect our relationship with our deen, I want to tell all those akhs save your breath (and tears for that matter). We know where we stand and we know what we need to achieve.

From a well meaning sister who doesn’t want your advice.

Lamisa Khan

Lamisa Khan

Lamisa is an International Relations graduate. She enjoys eating cake, drinking lemonade and ranting about important things.