Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Asmaa Perlas

“Islamic Feminists” singing out of the Pack?

The term “Islamic Feminism” was coined in 1992 by Shahla Sherkat. Shehla published a weekly magazine in Tehran (Iran) called Zanan (women) and women contributed with articles and papers.

Prior to that date, many Turkish women authors have used similar term. For example, the authors Yasmin Arat, Farida Akar, and Wanilo Fargoul. In 1999, the Arabic American Margo Dadran grabbed the term and ran with it: Margo liked “Islamic Feminism” as opposed to Western feminism.

A world conference was held in Barcelona in 2005. The conference discussed the Islamic women trends and many papers were submitted.  The main outcome was this statement: “The culprit is not Islam for the persistent persecution of Islamic women: It is the malicious and willful misinterpretations engaged my male chauvinist of the verses and hadith of sacred books…” 

In 2006, the UNESCO, a UN organization, organized another world conference in Paris. Many secular and Islamic women participated.  These two conferences contributed in establishing the term “Islamic Feminists” as a movement, which spread in Arabic and Islamic countries and communities.

The “Islamic Feminists” movement was preceded by many women movements since 1920 that started in Egypt and encouraged women to drop the veil and reclaim the civil rights on equal terms with male gender in education, positions, marriage, voting, and inheritance…

In the last two decades, many women authors confronted the rigid interpretations of the fundamental Islamic religious political parties.  For example, Fatima Mernissi published “Political Harem: The Prophet and Islam”.  Fatima tried to figure out the causes and historical circumstances that alienated and pushed women aside from participating in the political scenes and decision-making…Fatima came to the conclusion that it was basically willful and sustained historical misinterpretations of the Prophet message by patriarchal Arab/Islamic societies.

For example, Fatima described in details how powerful women in early Islam defied the Califs and Imams pronouncements and managed to get their ways.  Um Samat (one of the Prophet wives), Aicha (the most beloved wife), Sakinat bint Al Hassan (daughter of Hassan the first grandson of the Prophet)…and many others refused to wear the veil, insisted on their rights to discuss in gatherings and in public, and wrote their own wedding contracts… 

A group of 70 women congregated in the presence of the Prophet Muhammad to complain of husbands beating them and the Prophet was pressured to voice verses on that critical issue…

The Afro-American Amina Wadoud was appointed Imam of the mosque in New York City in 2005 and then Imam at Oxford.  It is not the first time that women were elected Imam: In early Islam, a religious Islamic sect called Al Khawarej, appointed Shabibyah as Imam.

Amina claims that it is not necessary for Islamic women to transit through secular movements in order to impose their equal rights among men.  She suggest a vigorous mental “Jihad” to counter discrimination through the re-interpretation of Islamic religious culture.

Asmaa Perlas, Pakistani women by origin, published “The women believers in Islam” and demonstrated the basis of total equality between the genders.

Rifaat Hassan, originally from Pakistan, teaches religious cultures and humanities at the Univ. of Louisville (Kentucky).  Rifaat opened up the question: “What made Islam males believe that women are inferior?”  The breast bone story is not included in the Koran…

There are currently other women movements in the Arab/Islamic communities. Many of them want none to do with reverting to religious texts in order to reclaim their rightful equality in societies: They think these re-interpretations of sacred books are futile undertakings. These movements are opposed to the entire religious culture and prefer to be labelled “Angry, indignant Islamic women”.

How about “Indignant women”. Period.

I have published countless articles on women and reviewed many books on women and Islamic women.  You may find 9 articles “Women in Islam…”, specifically dealing with the verses and their interpretations related to women rights in the Koran and Hadith… You may start with women movement in Egypt of the 20’s

Note 1:  This article was inspired of a book review “Out of the pack: Study on the opposition of Islamic Feminists and the lure of Liberty” by Fahmi Jadaan. The reviewer, Haitham Mazahen, published his piece in the Lebanese/Arabic daily Al Nahar (Oct. 18, 2011)

Note 2:  You may read




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