In yet another attempt by the “gender mujaahidaat brigade”, I managed to come across a somewhat dismal article regarding the trials and tribulations of South African “women of the north”. Prior to reading this article penned furiously by an extremely angry, yet strong-willed muslimah, I felt the need to take a step back and analyse the reasoning behind pursuing a crusade in the name of Islamic gender equality.

These Muslim feminists fighting their desktop gender jihads, our very own mujaahidaat as I like to call them, never fail to surprise an individual like myself. There is always something waiting in the wings; something lurking in the next blog or twitter update; or even worse, a hadith or Aayah which the gender mujaahidah genuinely believes needs immediate reinterpretation so as to free herself from the expletives of ‘frightened and injured male egos’.

Unfortunately for me, I have always had a weakness for searching for the truth and in doing so, I cannot ever truly say that my mind has never been clouded by judgment or anger but rather, I can safely say that most of the time its clouded by the truth and I think I like it that way!

In any event, I had to admit that what these Muslim women were initially saying made a little sense to my ignorant mind. That’s what ignorance does to you by the way. It does not allow your mind to think, to expand or to consume the greatness that is Islam. The result is a claustrophobic mind hanging on so tightly to a preconceived notion that often results in destructive behaviour. The same goes for prejudices we tend to harbour. It does not matter whether its racial, religious or gender-based prejudice. Prejudice is prejudice and prejudice clouds your judgment.

Herein lies my problem. The truth is out there but its the journey towards the truth that really unsettles most people. You have to forsake everything you believe in in order to grasp on to the truth of Islam. And you have to like it (if you’re a Muslim). That is the test for a Muslim. That is the sacrifice of a Muslim.

In all fairness, the Muslim feminists had what they may have genuinely thought to be a solid foolproof argument. And they could have sold it pretty convincingly to the unsuspecting public if they had gone about it in a proper manner. In choosing to state rather than debate, they faulted greatly. It is one thing putting forth an idea for discussion and debate but it is quite another when you go looking for ‘proof’ to fuel your argument and then present this ‘proof’ to the public leaving aside pertinent and detailed explanations and differing rulings and views.

To then profess scholarship under the banner of some university or Darul Uloom degree is a slap in the face for those who truly seek the truth beyond a predisposition or preconceived notion. It is insulting to those who have taken the time to learn, understand and accept the science of Islam, the importance of hierarchy and the danger which lies in allowing anything but the truth to cloud your judgment.

I had forsaken my preconceived ideas, my preconceived notions, my prejudices. I had willed myself to learn and I had made myself understand the science behind a ruling which did not allow a woman to attend the Masjid. I had understood and I had accepted for that is the life of a believing Muslim, that is the life of a true Muslimah. For those women who believe that “Muslim women will not sit back and accept a status quo that usurps their right to participation in religious life,” I urge you to empower yourself with education, true education in line with the teachings and true spirit of Islam. Education which does not promote hostility towards male counterparts but education which helps a true Muslimah submit to the will of Allah Ta’ala.

It is quite saddening when Muslim women wish to promote a feminist ideology through Islam and for Islam. This is not to say that Islam harbours any anti-feminist sentiments but rather, that where women are concerned, Islam has only always been about protecting the modesty of a woman.

It is true that the history of feminism finds its roots in westernism so many of its key aspects and beliefs simply conflict with the essence of women in Islam. The ideas being preached to Muslim women by Muslim feminists is really unnerving, simply because ‘Muslim feminism’ finds itself undefinable and too complex given the nature of the followers of this ideology and its varying degrees.

Many women in South Africa, especially in the north of South Africa, chose to stay away from attending the various Eid Gah venues as this, according to Islam, was what was expected of them. When the Muslim feminist mujaahidaat began their desktop gender jihads in South Africa during the time of Eid-ul-Fitr 2010, it was unfortunate that much of the Islamic rulings and information reaching the public was one-sided. This was expected since the Muslim feminists could not and would not explain the viewpoint of true and authentic scholars of Islam since:

  1. The scholars are men and would therefore only harbour misogynistic views
  2. The scholars kept this information away form the public, especially women, and therefore it was the duty of the Muslim feminists to expose these scholars
  3. The scholars held true to their beliefs since they could explain why and how they reached this conclusion using authentic and traditional scholarly works
  4. The scholars would not change their misogynistic views and this was not acceptable
  5. The Muslim feminists had in their possession clear-cut hadeeth as well as various view points from other Ulama around the world
  6. The Muslim feminists simply did not need to include the view held by any Fuqaaha which was contrary to their message

A number of refutations were published by various organisations and according to my knowledge, those Muslim feminists who were guilty of gross misrepresentation of facts and non-disclosure never made any attempt to retract their statements. This should have been highly unacceptable in any community, let alone a Muslim one. I, for one, was surprised that nobody ever called Quraysha Ismail Sooliman a blatant liar because that certainly was what she was to me. In omitting certain sections of the book she was translating or had translated, she managed to conveniently prove her point but she attributed statements to the writer of the book, Allaamah Zafar Ahmed Thanvi rahimahullah, which he never made. You can sugar-coat that all you like, but her article was written with the express intent to further her own agenda and, of course, after the ‘error’ was pointed out to her, she never retracted her statements!

The ruling regarding women attending the Eid Gah or the Masjid is clear. It is not permissible for a woman to leave her home in order to pray. This ruling has been discussed in detail, therefore I will not go into the intricacies of the ruling. The main reason for this ruling is due to ‘fitnah’ or ‘chaos’ or translated more loosely as ‘wrong or the possibility of wrong occuring’. No person can deny the existence of fitnah and so, due to the danger in ladies leaving their homes, the original permissibility which was granted to ladies going out for any kind of salaah at whatever time has been abrogated.

If only we lived in a perfect world where everybody did as they were told and if they truly committed acts which were better for them, we would be free of this current conflict. Sadly, this is not to be. Due to the fierce and raging battle, the Muslim feminists have proceeded to claim the right awarded to them by Nabi sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam whilst not understanding the wisdom of his words to act on that which was better for them. It is only when we live with prejudice and ignorance, do we run about, ranting on like sweet-deprived children, wanting what is due to us without seeing the benefit and wisdom behind the rulings of our knowledgeable A’immah. It is only when we remain steadfast in not wanting to understand that we continue to infect others around us with our half-truths and diseased ignorance.

When we refuse to bend our minds, perceptions and ideologies to a purer truth, we remain ensconced by a darkness no light will ever erase. It is with this understanding of the truth that a large majority of women in South Africa have remain steadfast in their belief of true Islam that the place for Ibaadat, the best place to worship Allah is in the innermost recesses of their homes. What kind of a Muslimah forsakes the words of her beloved Nabi sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam and forsakes what is better for something of a lesser value?

Of course there is not much of a fuss in staying at home and reading salaah. Surely salaah that is to be read in the innermost recess of one’s home requires no preparation for going out to the Masjid, no fanfare, no frills; it is just you and your Lord. Therefore for the woman who claims to be wanting to attend the Masjid in order to gain a higher spirituality with, a greater nearness and connection to Allah Ta’ala must surely be sorely mistaken because in remembering Allah Ta’ala and connecting with Him in the innermost recess of your home simply through salaah is an attribute afforded only to women. Therefore, I ask you, dear Muslim feminist sister, dear gender mujaahidaah, why exactly are you dragging your sisters out of their homes, out of the innermost recesses of their Ibaadat, out of their closeness, privacy and nearness to Allah Ta’ala, endangering their modesty in a world rampant with fitnah, luring them from the best place for their salaah?

Another issue I would like to point out is the climbing of the ‘gender-equality’ ladder. Where does it all stop? Sure, today it’s ladies at the Eid Gah but tomorrow? Ladies at the Masaajid? Then what? Ladies reading side by side with men? And then? Ladies leading mixed-congregations in prayer? Ladies giving adhaan? Lecturing the Jumu’ah bayaan? Will the Muslim feminists ever be truly content? Or is the idea of an Islam where a man is an Imaam, a lecturer, a masjid-goer too unbearable for the gender desktop mujaahidaat?

In the field of gender jihad, the goal posts do not ever remain fixed, they are always changing. If it’s this today, rest assured that there will always be something else tomorrow. When asked whether I thought there was a place for a kind of feminism in Islam a very long time ago, I battled an inner turmoil whilst seeking the most appropriate and correct answer. I understand it now. Islam has always been all for women’s rights, Islam has always been protective of the believing women, Islam has always had the best solutions for the female servants of Allah Ta’ala. Within itself, Islam has its own brand of feminist ideology. It is an ideology which is difficult to grasp, accept and understand by the current brand of feminists, Muslim or otherwise simply because the current feminist ideologies rely too heavily on western influence.

It is safe to say that until our feminist mujaahidaat can see it fit to become totally accepting of Islamic principles, values and ideologies and forsake western influence in matters of religion, their cause is nothing more than a means for Muslim women to regress back to the very state for which Islam was meant to save them.

Islam does not require change, Islam changes us.

The Say What? column featured on Muslimality is meant to inspire, teach, engage debate or simply make you laugh. This column revolves around a variety of issues relating to Muslims in South Africa and Muslims around the world.

Today’s Say What? column is written in response to the article, ‘They Don’t Have Prayer: The Media and Eid for Muslim Women in South Africa’

Find it here: http://muslimmatters.org/2010/10/16/they-dont-have-prayer-the-media-and-eid-for-muslim-women-in-south-africa/

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