I'm going to express an opinion that might not sit well with some, but here it goes anyway. I've heard countless times this year that being a Muslim is not compatible with being a 'feminist' and the reason for this is that Islam is empowering enough. I don't disagree with that at all, truly Islam is a religion that empowers women like none other.
A while ago, I read a book called Women in Eighteenth-Century Europe by Margaret Hunt and it mentioned how women from other faiths at the time, would always, always want to have their matters dealt with by Islamic courts, simply because of how just and favourable it was towards women.
Whilst I wholly appreciate that the religion is empowering, society isn't. And nor is society running in accordance to the laws laid down by Allāh, and the example of Muhammad SAW in how to treat women.
If it was, we'd all be winners. The sad truth is that misogyny is probably more rife amongst Muslims, than in general society. So many people have not learnt the religion like they should have (+ they inject religion with culture), because true knowledge of the religion would make men quake at the thought of even mistreating women.
The sad truth is that misogyny is probably more rife amongst Muslims, than in general society.
The injustice women face in society is staring us right in the face. FGM is rife in Africa, thousands of girls cannot pursue an education, thousands are child-brides, every two minutes a woman is raped in India, in some parts of the world, women are paid less for the exact same job done by men, women also are very unlikely to attain leadership positions in workplaces (especially if they are of a particular skin colour). I've listed a few, but there are thousands more to add. This is social injustice with women bearing the brunt of it all, and this is social feminism that many root for - for men and women to be equal in these societal matters. And feminism as a movement works to address some of these issues. (With active campaigns to address FGM, to educate girls).
Women's suffrage would not even be a thing right now if it wasn't for the work of feminists.
The dear sister hashtag on twitter spoke volumes about the deeply embedded misogyny in the Muslim community women face.
#DearSister I mean I've slept with a few girls but I still expect to marry a virgin wife who's never had history with males before
— Ladan 🗣 (@LadanXO) March 6, 2017
#DearSister my wife/sis/daughter doesn't need an education but only a female doctor can touch her & be present during her childbirth
— Wurishmeen (@Afgeezy97) March 6, 2017
I appreciate how toxic the term/label has become, but take the name away and really it's just a movement calling for the equality of the sexes on bases like equal societal opportunity (for girls to be able to go to school just like boys do).
Being a Muslim, you're obligated to address injustice. And injustice against women is among many other injustices.
Certainly wear the identity of a Muslim proudly before you wear the identity of a feminist (for those who might associate with the term), because Islam instilled those principles in you before feminism did, and the identity of being a Muslim encompasses addressing all kinds of injustice.
Feminism, Black Lives Matter, these are just movements we can be a part of to actively - as Muslims - fight against injustice.
For now, the crux of my argument is that I don't think being a Muslim & a feminist is incompatible, the ideals overlap (unless your feminism starts to transgress aspects of the deen), but I would say Muslims also need to start switching things up a little. We need to start placing ourselves at the forefront of addressing injustice in every regard with just our Muslim identities so this can be a form of da'wah to those who aren't of faith.
(P.S also truly can people not talk about feminism if all they know of feminism is facebook statuses and tweets - there's a big wide world out there ya know, a whole Maughan library too, I can hook you up with readings to show you how wide the feminism spectrum is. Some might probably see women hating men to their core and calling it 'feminism' - that's really not feminism. And feminism is also about men realising the mistreatment of women in society and working to address it - so it's a collective movement.)
Moral of the story: feminism is a literally just a movement please, not a manhaj.
Thahira Khatun reads English Literature and Language at King's College London. She is involved with a number of societies, ISoc, Students4Syria and iFemSoc (Intersectional Feminist Society). Thahira is really passionate about the rights of women, refugees and those displaced. She really loves the Quran and wishes people knew more about the content of it (Muslims and non-Muslims alike). Thahira hopes to start a social media campaign post exams iA to share pertinent ayaat and show how elevating Islam as a religion is.