Why it is hard for a Muslim to be a feminist.


so here i am trying to figure out another things in my life by writing it out. This time i wanna talk about my passion on empowering girls right and its relation to feminism.

I have heard someone said in internet that it is impossible to care about women’s right without calling yourself a feminist. Since then, i tried to identify myself as a feminist because I love the idea of being in the same group of people that are passionate on the same thing like me. I got sucked up to that idea for a while, thinking that the definition of feminist is a person who fight for female empowerment. In fact, it is not that simple. Nowadays Feminism has become a pop culture that bring bunch of contradictory issue to my belief as a practicing Muslim.

Here’s why:

Feminism assert the absolute equality of women and men without perceiving it’s nature. From it’s first wave the main goal of feminism has been shifted from standing up for women’s right to break gender roles, which include promoting homosexuality and oppose any social roles being determined by sex.

I am a person who belief that gender and all other natural difference that human have is a hint from God to nurture the nature as the way it is supposed to be. Man can’t become a woman as much as white people can’t just turn themselves black. One just can’t easily accepted Kylie’s decision to fill her lips and use cornrow, right? And you still remember Michael Jackson for this case, right? I project that genderless world would be unbalanced world because we need difference in life so that life could stay in it’s tranquility. I believe, difference is not the obstacle, but hating the differences is.

God clearly stated the reason behind His Creation of varied human being in Surah Al-Hujurah Ayah 13.

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَىٰ وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another. Verily, the noblest of you in the sight of God is the one who is most deeply conscious of Him. Behold, God is all-knowing, all-aware.

Muhammad Asad explains that through this ayah (verse) God want human being to know that all human are belong to one human family without any inherent superiority of one over another. This ayah (verse) even connects with the exhortation in the preceding two verses, to respect and safeguard each other’s dignity. The differences that human have are meant to foster their mutual desire to understand and appreciate the essential human oneness.

In the last part of the ayah (verse) God even already acknowledge and pointing out equity for men and women in almost every aspect of one life, whether it is in front of God and in front of other human being, whether it is about politics or economy. God will reward both sexes equally for the value of their work, though it may not necessarily be the same activity. In Islam, it is always about your intention and the process of doing good deed itself.

On the other hand, Islam also recognizes the natural differences between men and women despite their equity in life. For that, Islam guide its followers to the obligation and rights in the social role that may differ to one another.

Stated in Surah An-Nisa ayat 34, Allah explained the social role of men and women. I recommend you so much to hear Nouman Ali Khan interpretation of this ayah in the video below.

Men get the role to be the care taker of the family while women in the position to keep everything in balance. Lots of people think those are unequal and those roles make women oppressed from the men. But then think again, isn’t being a good ‘balancer’ is as hard as being a good leader?  (I mean if you watch Scandal you’ll get the idea whose running the White House right?)

I think the ideas of gender roles exist to underline the importance of focus in a family as the miniature of the society. Islam sees family as the first line of making a balance to the world, that’s why it is very carefully construct the chart of organization. I think God just want to make everything easier for human being by guiding us to fulfill the maximum potential in our nature. He points out that the main task of a men are to earn money, fulfill his wife needs and guard his family and He ask the women to take care of their children and being a good wife.

From what I know, Islam isn’t a religion that full of restriction, so once you can fulfill your obligation, you can do whatever you want with your dream and wish. I am woman who believe that all women should speak up their mind and pursue their dreams no matter what, but that doesn’t mean i believe that woman shouldn’t be cooking and taking care of their children.

Equality isn’t the answer for what women needs. Women needs equity cause equity provide them the chance and opportunity –not status. In my mind, equity for women is when women got respected for all difference that they have, when women can achieved their dream without forgetting their duties because the circumstance supporting it.

Writing this article give me an ease to understand that as much as I want to belong to the group of strong women, I just can’t. Too many contradiction for me to oppose to. As I search Muslim Feminist in google, I found a lot of website that is really disturbing for me. I found a lot of queer, homosexual muslim and women hating men in those pages. It’s not that i am homophobic, it’s just the idea of them identifying something as it is not supposed to be bothers me. But then from them, i also learn more about respecting many interpretation in Islam, i constantly remind myself that they are not less Muslim than i am, they are still my brothers and my sisters even though we don’t share the same thought.

So, I am not a feminist. But i will listen to their ideas that it’s not opposing my belief, i would love to be surrounded by them to get some inspiration and atmosphere to support achieving women equity. Hopefully, we all can get along together. 🙂


5 thoughts on “Why it is hard for a Muslim to be a feminist.

  1. So, from the sura, what is the equity between tribes? Because if there isn’t suppposed to be equality between man and woman – just equity – I suppose the same is true between tribes? I mean, just as you point out there are biological differences between men and women, there are biological differences between different races, europeans, africans, asians… So there can be no equality between races, right just equity. Is that what you are saying? Because you can’t claim it’s true regarding gender, without also claiming it’s true regarding tribes.

    • Salam Sister, i think gender and tribes are completely different things that can’t be comparable to one another. The nature of gender differ from its divine form, where the nature of nation and tribes could be interchangeable.

      For that equality on tribes and nation is likely to be achieved because in their nature every tribes and nation are alike. The natural difference that they have could be changed by natural efforts and perseverance, but then you can’t change any natural on man and woman without going against their nature.

      May Allah always give us enough knowledge to understand His secret. 🙂

  2. Hi Azmi-chan… i am a Muslim and a feminist, and whether you perceive it as a negative or a positive thing depends on the whole definition of feminism according to you… Feminism according to me is equal rights, for both men and women. In the Qur’an it says that we’re all equal in the eyes of God. It means that the dignity of every person is important.

    Yes, I get your point on the who equity and gender roles, but then again it depends on each individual. What if there are woman who are unable to have a family or unable to have children (like my current self)? What they should their role be? Of course I get the whole concept of men being leaders in the household, and women keeping things together – but what if you don’t have the chance to apply this concept? and there are women (i’ve met a quite few already) who has been so traumatized by their own childhood and family that they have clearly stated that they choose not to get married due to a number of reasons. Shouldn’t we tackle these problems first before we talk about gender roles?

    Personally, if I were to marry and have kids one day, no doubt I will choose my family over any other ambitions out there – and that will be by choice, not by what what is expected of me.

    .. As for feminism in Islam, much as in any other holy books out there such as the bible or the torah, all describes the role of women in society and how they should perceive themselves. The Bible and the Torah are comparable to the Qur’an in their statements on women; yet we do not commonly hear that “Judaism and feminism are a contradiction in terms” or that “you cannot be a Christian and a feminist”. Why is it always “You cannot be a muslim and a feminist at the same time?”

    I see islam and feminism in a positive way somehow… for example, the rights for women to wear the veil… The veil is often viewed by non-Muslim feminists as an oppressive act for muslim women, however for many Muslim women nowadays, wearing the headscarf has become a feminist act (in their own terms), serving as a symbol of their identity.

    Anyway, I hope you don’t get angry by my opinions… I still love you azmiii… :* :*

    • KAAAK….I MISS YOU SO MUCH and i wish that we could talk about this somewhere while shipping a coffee in a Parisian cafe! anyway, i had quiet the same thought like you, i saw feminism as a great symbol for women empowerment. But then, my ideas of feminism can’t be found in nowadays feminism. What they think is important is the thing i am opposed to. So, for me taking the stand to not be identified as a feminist is a solution when my heart goes partway in this issue. I think this idea is better and easier than challenging the idea of feminism it self. Anyway, I didn’t say that Muslim can’t be a feminist, it’s just hard. :*

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