I feel a certain change within me which I need to address. Please kindly advise me on how I can feel better. I have two main issues:
1) For so long, I’ve witnessed unfair judgment, negative attitude, misogynic misinterpretation, and egotistic attitude towards women from men online. I am fed up and irritated. Now, when I see a bearded Muslim man while I’m out, I feel nervous and insecure. It’s mild, but I don’t feel like it’s normal.
I get the urge to run away or distance myself from them. I fear if this gets serious I may become a victim of a road traffic accident. I get the vibe that Muslim men are misogynistic even if not explicitly expressed.
I don't feel normal inside. I am okay with my own brother, male teachers, or relatives, so it usually occurs with complete strangers. You may tell me that not all Muslim men are like that and that a lot of non-Muslim men have such attitudes.
However, shouldn’t Muslim men show more responsibility as followers of the religion which has the richest legacy of respecting women. Why are women are mistreated in Muslim communities and countries if Muslim men are so good? It is quite shameful, unfortunately.
How can I improve my situation so that I don't become a victim of a road accident at least?
2) Another issue is that I am developing an allergy towards Saudi Arabia because they restrain women in various ways which have no religious basis. You may tell me that in all countries women are mistreated and I also admit that, but sadly Saudi Arabia claims their ill-practices to be a part of shariah, which is misleading.
Because of that, I am feeling a disinterest towards going for Hajj when I am financially stable. Sadly, I have a physical problem which makes maintaining purity difficult and I also have problem adjusting in new environments other than my own home. As a woman, I feel marginalized, and I’m becoming bitter because of it. I tell myself that Hajj is worship and that I will just do it and return, but I feel if, as a woman, I'm undervalued, then what's the point of it?
I don’t want to feel this way towards an act of worship just because of the country’s attitude. How can I feel positive about my Hajj experience despite my negative feelings? How can I positively convince myself about it? Please don't take my feelings negatively & don't label me as a sinner. Thank you.
In this counseling answer:
• Islam is a perfect religion, but that doesn’t mean that Muslims are perfect.
• The simple remedy is to look at how the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) treated women, especially his wives, and see how much respect, love, tenderness, and mercy he had for them.
• If you take this energy that you are feeling and put it into proactive education and advocacy to productive changes in the community and society you live in, you may find your fear begins to reduce.
• Urge you to focus on Allah and your obligations to Him. Let others do as they may, Allah is the final judge.
• Surround yourself with like-minded Muslims.
As Salamu Alaykum dear sister,
Thank you for writing to us with your very valid concerns about the treatment of women by some Muslim men as well as by those making rulings in certain countries. I admire and respect your study and voice in this matter as it is one that affects our ummah to a great extent.
Treatment of Muslim Women
As Hajj was just recent, some Muslims (women in particular) are reflecting upon Islam and questioning some of the practices, rules, and treatment of women and others. It is true that a lot of misogyny takes place in various cultures, communities, and religions and personal family values, however, it has no room in Islamic teachings.
Sadly, however, this is not always the case as some may follow a particular culture or interpretation of Islam. The simple remedy is to look at how the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) treated women, especially his wives, and see how much respect, love, tenderness, and mercy he had for them.
Not Feeling Normal
You stated that you don’t feel normal inside, except with your brothers or male teachers or relatives. Your feelings of unease, according to you, occur with unknown men. The problem with this is that it can be hard to define exactly what you are feeling at any given time as it is viewed as an unpredictable risk.
If the person is unknown to you, you do not have to interact with them, therefore you shouldn’t be at risk of being insulted or treated badly. Your feelings of mistrust, however, may present an issue for you when you are forming new business relations at your job or school, or if you are thinking of getting married.
In this case, while your fears may be based on truth, they can also be dispelled by inquiry. This would mean any male that you are contemplating doing business with or perhaps marrying, you can get to know in a halal manner to determine if they are properly following the Qur’ran regarding their treatment of women. This is your right.
You asked why are women mistreated in Muslim communities and countries if Muslim men are meant to be so good. This is a point well made and sadly it is true, to some extent. Yes, there are good and bad Muslim men as well as women.
Your observations, studies, and inquiry towards this issue have left you feeling ’not normal’, when it should be the other way around. Those who are not following Islamic teachings should not be feeling right with their selves.
Islam is Perfect while Muslims Aren’t
Yes, sister, it is a shame. Islam is a perfect religion, but that doesn’t mean that Muslims are perfect. However, Muslims should strive to perfect their Islam. In the situation you’re talking about, it would mean that men need to understand how Allah SWT commands them to treat women.
It also means that if they say that they follow the Sunnah of our prophet (PBUH), they should treat women with the ultimate respect, kindness, and mercy, just as the Prophet (PBUH) did. If they do not, they cannot say they are following the sunnah.
Again, one of the solutions to this worldwide issue is to implement proper education to young Muslim boys, as well as educate the brothers in the Masjids and Islamic centers. This has to be a unified effort by imams, scholars, and Muslim sisters.
In shaa’ Allah, with the efforts that are currently taking place in some areas, we will see a reduction in these sinful, distasteful, and harmful behaviors.
Improving Your Situation
Regarding your question about improving your situation so that you do not become a victim of a road accident, I am rather confused because I’m not sure what you mean. I apologize if I misunderstand. If you’re referring to driving in a country where it is legal but not culturally accepted for a woman to drive, there are things you can do.
You may wish to ignore men when you see them. Just say Bismillah, and go about your business. There is no need to think further upon the situation unless someone steps up to you. If this happens, you should have someone whom you can contact someone for help.
To avoid road accidents, as you have described them, I kindly suggest that you focus on yourself and driving, not who is around you and what they think or do. That is a distraction you don’t need when you’re driving. It is a fear that is becoming more of an interfering thought or intrusive thought at this point.
In order to stop these thoughts, you may want to divert your thought to something else. For instance, if you are driving and you see a Muslim man, you may immediately become nervous and think he may harm you because he ’may’ be misogynist and you are driving.
The moment you start to think that, perhaps you could recite Quran or think about an instance when you were having a good time and felt safe. You could also picture a big red stop sign in your mind, and move on to the next thought.
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Generally, we must let intrusive thoughts come and go and not give them much attention so as to not make them stronger. I am offering you a suggestion to stop them before they take hold. The reason for this is because you are driving and your attention needs to be on the road for your safety.
Addressing Issues when not Driving
You may wish to address the issue of misogyny when you are not driving. I understand you have fear while you are driving, however, if you take this energy that you are feeling and put it into proactive education and advocacy to productive changes in the community and society you live in, you may find your fear begins to reduce.
The reason for this is because you are placing your energy into an action that can in shaa’ Allah create positive change. The more engaged you are in directing this energy to create positive change, the less concerned you may be, in shaa’ Allah, when you are driving.
As the energy and fear manifest when you are driving, if you place this energy elsewhere, in shaa’ Allah it may decrease.
Commitment to Education
These behaviors and attitudes of misogyny are something that can be addressed. In fact, many women, both Muslim and non-Muslim, address misogyny in various ways. Some women are teachers, some give lectures, and some organize protests and campaigns.
Other women teach male members of their families at a very young age how to treat women. This is especially evident in women who have sons. Your fears are based on reality; a sad reality which is serious. Men who are misogynist or abusive have committed many atrocities against women.
Misogyny can be subtle, or it can be severely abusive. In part, it stems from a need for power, as well as misguided information which is handed down through families or cultures. Addressing misogyny in Islam will take a commitment to education, intervention, and unification of the ummah against all sorts of oppression, misogyny included.
Issues with Hajj and Saudi Arabia
Your issues with Saudi Arabia are concerns that some people do agree with. However, as pointed out earlier, advocacy for education may be the strongest element for change. It is bothersome as a Muslim to see that some parts and practices are against what Islam teaches.
However, we must remember that everybody is accountable to Allah. While great change may not take place in their false practices, as it is their country, small changes can happen with unified efforts and voices of Muslims. Only Allah knows.
Hajj: Feeling Marginalized
I understand that you feel undervalued, marginalized, and are becoming embittered, thus losing interest in making Hajj. Sister, no matter what anybody else is doing or how they are doing it, we must not get caught up in the intentions of others.
This is in reference to making Hajj. As Hajj is one of our pillars, we must perform it if we are able to afford it. We cannot let our disagreements or someone else’s actions prevent us from this most spiritually beneficial act of worship. Your intentions for making Hajj are for Allah and for your spirituality, and it is between you and Allah.
Therefore, I kindly urge you to focus on Allah and your obligations to Him. Let others do as they may, Allah is the final judge. With that said, Allah understands your physical difficulty in maintaining purity. I understand this to be a hygienic matter, as you have discussed it in terms of making Hajj.
Do your best and let Allah be the final judge. Allah knows your heart and your intentions, sister. Plan your Hajj joyfully, and make duaa to Allah to handle the details and disabilities that you may experience.
Pray to Allah to make your future journey one of ease. Your goal is to focus on what Allah requires of you, not what others think or require.
You brought up the issue that you tell yourself Hajj is worship, and that you can just do Hajj and return. However, you also feel also that as a woman, you are undervalued so you don’t see the point. You are not undervalued by Allah. Allah values you very much and loves you, which is all that should matter.
Mankind’s issues and problems are not reflective of Islam nor of Allah. They are reflective of human imperfections, lack of knowledge and understanding of Islamic principles, or even an unwillingness to apply these principles.
However, it doesn’t matter what country you are living in, you must maintain your Islam and your relationship with Allah. You know that you are precious to Allah and that He values you, which is the most important point.
Others may try to make things difficult, but with every difficulty, there is ease, in shaa’ Allah. Allah has promised us this. I kindly advise you, sister, to focus on Allah and his Mercy, His promises, His protection, and His judgment. Those that seek to distort or to change the laws, words, or commands will have to face Allah on the Day of Judgment.
We are all accountable to Allah. Trust in Allah and do your part as a Muslimah who is seeking her Lord.
Sister, I kindly suggest that you take this energy and apply it to change oppressive situations. Seek out like-minded sisters, imams, and scholars to build a support base for education. They do exist. In shaa’ Allah, try not to feed into your fears while driving or while thinking about marriage and intimacy.
Muslim men who respect women do exist! I kindly advise you to surround yourself with like-minded Muslims. They can provide inspiration and be a support to help you gain hope in your situation. The more we are around those who truly seek to live as our beloved Prophet (PBUH) did, the more we will feel at ease, be joyful, and overcome obstacles and tests.
We wish you the best, you are in our prayers.
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