Short Answer: Of course not. “The drop in religiosity among women is the symptom of a different problem, and that problem is not feminism… “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people”. Islam is the answer. If feminist ideals are showing Muslimahs that we are human beings, worthy of the same considerations and privileges and opportunities as men, then the problem isn’t feminism. Does Islam turn women away from Islam? No. Muslims turn women away from Islam.”
As-Salaam ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh
There is a good deal of rhetoric that goes around regularly, saying that feminism is antithetical to Islam.
“It was born a secular movement, by secular women, and is thus doomed to exist solely within the secular sphere,” they argue.
“The rise in feminism coincided with the decline of religiosity. The connection makes itself,” they say.
But is it true?
Who Defines Feminism?
It is certainly true that many early and modern feminists were and are secular, and even anti-religious.
But that does not necessitate an overarching definition of feminism as a strictly secular movement.
Feminism, like many social movements is multi-faceted; what feminism means to any person is largely defined by the individual.
One of the most relevant and important modern movements of feminism is that of intersectionality, which looks at feminism and how it connects with issues of race, class, and gender.
This movement is particularly relevant to Muslims, as many Muslims are people of color.
It is easy to spout platitudes of how there is no racism in Islam, but does that mean that issues of race do not affect Muslims?
Similarly, just because women have high status in Islam, does that mean Muslim women are untouched by misogyny?
Correlation does not equal causation
The argument that the rise of feminism coincided with the rise of secularity/the drop in religiosity is irrelevant.
The per capita consumption of mozzarella cheese in the United States has a 95.86% correlation rate with the number of civil engineering doctorates awarded between the years 2000-2009.
Did one cause the other? Of course not, and it would be ludicrous to think so.
It is similarly ludicrous to imagine that once “wicked” feminism began to rise, women were drawn towards it like moths to a flame and they suddenly had nothing but revulsion for their previous faith.
The drop in religiosity among women is the symptom of a different problem, and that problem is not feminism.
Is feminism driving women away from Islam?
The short answer is no. If women are leaving Islam, what is causing it?
It is too easy to blame feminism or Satan or the evil eye. And it is this lack of critical self-exploration that is precisely the problem.
Take a look at Muslim communities both within and outside of North America:
Women are told to “be patient” when dealing with abuse while men are told to divorce or marry another wife if he is unhappy with his current one.
The taboo of divorce is so strong in many communities that women choose to suffer emotional, psychological, physical, and sexual abuse rather than leave their marriage.
Even on some moderate Muslim sites, women are being advised to give up career opportunities to pander to their husbands’ egos.
Women are being prohibited from attending mosques.
Women and men are held to different standards in such a way that is not allowed Islamically.
Muslim men are allowed to get away with being romantically involved with more than one woman in the name of “looking for a spouse,” including sending inappropriate pictures.
Imagine if a woman did the same?
What is the Solution?
Any Muslim worth their salt can see the injustice described above. What can be done?
“Don’t turn to feminism,” some say, “Islam is the answer.”
This is not untrue. Islam is the answer.
God has forbidden a great deal of things that people still do anyway.
Saying that Islam is the answer is true, but this answer is, sadly, not enough.
When Muslim Leaders Are a Main Cause Of The Problem
Those put in charge of running Muslim communities are often those upholding oppression, and they have a vested interest in keeping things the way they are.
These leaders are the ones telling abused women not to leave because “divorce is hated by Allah.”
They are the ones telling women to give up everything she has worked towards because “men must feel they are in charge.”
Do we expect people so invested in their own egos and maintaining the status quo to have a moment of awakening because someone is telling them to “turn to Islam”?
The sad truth is, they believe that the oppression they uphold is Islamic.
Marie Shear said, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
If feminist ideals are showing Muslimahs that we are human beings, worthy of the same considerations and privileges and opportunities as men, then the problem isn’t feminism.
Does Islam turn women away from Islam? No. Muslims turn women away from Islam.
Salam and please keep in touch.
(From Ask About Islam archives)
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