Writing for Aquila-Style.com, blogger Fatimah Jackson-Best discusses the work that Muslim women are doing throughout the world for women’s rights (Malala Yousafzai, anyone?). She wonders aloud if Muslim women should call themselves “feminists” and discusses why Muslim woman may choose not to identify as such. Check out this excerpt below and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Recently, a student approached me after class. Whispering, she asked if it was possible for Muslim women to be feminists. She came to me in a manner that let me know that she didn’t mean to offend and was only curious about what I had discussed in the last two lectures. I explained to her that Muslim women around the world are fighting for our rights to equality and justice, but that our struggles towards this goal may not always be the same because we all lead different lives.
Her question got me thinking about what Muslim women call the work they do to eradicate injustice and inequality, and if they would consider it to be feminist. Consider for a moment in countries like Yemen, where women are working to combat child marriage, or the women who lobbied the Saudi Arabia government to officially ban domestic violence this year. These are issues that largely affect Muslim women and they have been the most committed advocates against these kinds of injustice.
Sometimes women’s rights organisations are the ones pushing the issues. Although feminism also promotes women’s rights to equality and justice, these organisations may not necessarily call their work feminist.
It is also true that depending on where Muslim women live, our experiences of discrimination and sexism will be different because there is not a single Muslim women’s identity or experience. Where we live, our culture, race, ethnicity and class will differently impact how we practise and interact with Islam.
Sisters in Canada and the United States who are advocating for equal participation in mosques may be rallying behind an issue that is a concern in that part of the world, but the same may not be true for Muslim women in China who have been leading their own mosques for over 100 years.
The challenging of social norms in Egypt when Egyptian women ride bicycles despite social and cultural ideas about appropriate femininity may be a less important issue for some Muslim women in the Netherlands, where bike riding is a common activity for either gender. In short, Muslim women’s lives are not all the same and so neither are our struggles.
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Read more at Aquila-Style.com.