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In the Name of God بسم الله


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Mehvish last won the day on December 12 2009

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  1. Just go with what you want. your parents will come around eventually. But maybe you should just be a doctor. You're going to make a terrible businessman if you have trouble making decisions like this one.
  2. I recently started working at an extremely right-winged political organisation. Believe me when I say that it is a racist working environment beyond imagination. My very presence makes some people in the office extremely uncomfortable...but of course that's all part of the fun! Ha! I had a pretty hilarious conversation the other day with one of my colleagues who is doing a project on Muslim women. Just for kicks, I asked her to explain to me "what is it like being a Muslim woman?" and a white, blonde girl proceeded to explain to me about the sad, depressing lives of Muslim woman. Let me tell you...that if Edward Said had decided to to write a morbid satirical play, this would have been the story line! Anyway, I played along, acted in surprise, and praised her work and thanked her on behalf of the Muslim world and she felt real good about herself :lol: The very idea that an outsider, or an 'Other' is making money by writing about 'Muslim women' is pretty depressing. But it got me thinking, who has the right to write about Muslim women when, in fact, our lives are not monolithic? How do we talk about our own lives, fight stereotypes about Muslim women without discrediting the lives, experiences and challenges that other Muslim women face? The idea that Muslim women are oppressed, have to worry about honour killings, evil parents, overbearing culture, early marriages, etc are all stereotypes we all fight on a daily basis. But how do we 'fight' these stereotypes without discrediting the experiences of Muslim women who actually face these things? Take hijab for example. I think every woman has a very different relationship with their hijab and it means very different things to each person. Some women actually are forced to wear hijab, or at least pressured to do so by their parents. Some girls put it on at the age of 9 without really knowing why they are doing it except that they are expected to. Over time, I think a girl's relationship with their hijab evolves and it starts to mean very different things to them according to their life experiences. While there is an awful lot of effort by people to conceptualize what "the hijab", what we don't realize, is that the very nature of the question of wrong. We shouldn't be talking about hijab as "the hijab" (as a monolithic, static entity) but rather as "hijabs" (in the plural) because my hijab might mean something very different to me than it does to you. So when I hear a certain-English-mulla on the mimbar talking on and on about "the hijab" and why women wear it - I find even that narrative very problematic because just as the White Blonde Girl has no right to write about the 'life of a Muslim woman', neither does the English-Mulla have the right to narrate what My Hijab should mean to me. /rant
  3. Urgh that is the biggest problem. Sometimes I'll just make it look like I am the evil, cold-hearted woman just so they can feel better about themselves and allow them to live with themselves. NO. By refusing a guy, you have to know that you WILL be breaking his heart, and you have to live with that fact forever. But I agree with being as honest as you can. And I absolutely advocate that, and I'm glad you mentioned that. Its very important to be painfully honest. You'd be hurting them more in the long run by lying to them more. But how do you bring it up? And sometimes being honest isn't enough. Some guys are like "oooh but i can change for youuuu. I will wait the rest of my life for you if i have to for you to change your mind". :dry:
  4. Hello, Its been a while since I've posted on this forum, so I thought I'd come back with something fun. I could do with a little help here because I realised recently that I am not so good in this department. Hypothetical situation: A guy approaches you for marriage, and he says you are the love of his life. Because you are so vain, you are flattered by just how much he likes you. But lets be serious...for whatever reason, this guy is way in over his head, and he totally isnt for you. SO - what are the most creative and interesting ways to let a guy know he isn't the one for you? Think about the totally off base marriage proposals from guys who are NOTHING LIKE YOU. Saying "no" can often be really hard, and for whatever reason sometimes girls just say "yes" to avoid having to say "no". Do you invite him on a date? Do you call him?...what do you say? Do you turn up at his door? Do you just block him on your phone one day? So, fire away and be as creative as you can.
  5. That will be a hard video to find. He cries in his lectures...a LOT and 'parents' are one of his favourite topic.
  6. In your attempt to clarify 'for the sisters' what feminism is, you've defined it based on your stereotypes and hence, completely inaccurately. It isn't an ideology at all, or at least in the same way Marxism or Liberalism are. By definition its a collection of movements which seek to establish gender equity. But what is gender equity? It can be defined and understood in so many different ways. Its wrong to completely homogenize feminist discourse. African American feminists have completely different concerns than white feminists in America. Same with Latin American feminists, African feminists, etc. Its not an all-encompassing program . Women have completely different concerns everywhere. I don't agree with many North American feminists at all. And there lies the core of your problem. You have no clue what feminism actually is, or who feminists are. If this arguement was about Ayatollah Khomeini and Wilayatul Faqih, and I simply said "I've no clue what Ayatullah Khomeini actually said, ive never read his literature, but I hate WF and Iran looks like a terrible place based on what I've observed on TV - what would you say? You're being quite the hypocrite in this respect. Feminism is not synonymous with being "western" and western society is not driven by feminists, it is in fact the complete opposite. I don't think there are any feminist writers, or at least any that I have personally come across that have actually said they agree with the status quo in the west. It is not that they are necessarily fighting to be able to do more things men do, or "take away their roles" as someone else, but to make public life more equal. Even first-world feminists have a lot of problems with what you consider "western" society. As I have mentioned in another post - there are even feminists who are looking to make tighter pornography laws, and some feminists who want pornography to be illegal all together! Nothing here is "against" Islam. And you don't have to be secular to be a feminist. Everyone who answered these questions have pointed out some social problems they have observed whether they are "conservative" or "liberal". The point of this thread was to see if we could define a Muslim version of feminism that is simultaneously critical of first-world feminism and of the culture of the Muslim world. I've much more to say on this note, but I think i've made these points clear in my previous posts.
  7. This isn't offensive at all. I agree with you to a large extent. I think Muslims, but also other cultures, have done a lot to sexualize every part of the female body. The whole concept of hijab sexualizes the hair doesn't it? I mean, without this concept of covering our hair, would Muslims really believe that hair is erotic? or sexy? Other cultures certainly don't. In Africa, for example, female breasts were never considered erotic until European colonists required women to start covering them. So I agree that Muslim women have been highly sexualized, and this, to a large extent, reduces equality. But this does not fall into the fact that a woman who enjoys sex is necessarily equal to men. Because men aren't sexualized in the same way women are in public life (outside the bedroom). I also disagree with you because I think its problematic when women conform to the sexualized roles that have been defined by culture, because this only perpetuates the problem don't you think? This is actually very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I've actually always wondered what it would be like to take it off. It would be cool to start a thread and compare experiences, but from what I've observed there are not many the same boat as you on this board. But you don't think that men abuse their own privileges? I really disagree with you here. Male politicians play with women's issues all the time to gain popularity. In the US, for example, Obama recently signed a bill to reduce access to Plan B, which is a contraceptive pill also known as the "morning after" pill. It prevents women from getting pregnant should they have been raped, or if their condom broke, etc (but its not an abortion pill - it simply makes it impossible for a baby to be conceived). It was a clear publicity stunt from the perspective of American politics, because it was a move that neutralized the Republicans who weren't cooperating with him. But from a woman's perspective this is horrible; there are so many women who get raped everyday and rely on the pill to make sure they aren't impregnated. In other respects too we see women's rights being abused: pornography laws, sex abuse cases (both in the West and in Muslim countries), inheritance rights (especially in the subcontinent). I don't think men have done a great job at handling women's issues at all. Nothing can change, in my opinion, unless women actually get involved in the field. No one is objective - and its not like men would never implicitly be involved in the law making process even if more women were involved in politics. Why would you say that? This is a highly misinformed definition. All feminists simply demand some form of gender equity. Not all feminists are the same, and it would be wrong to categorize feminism under one general idea. In your opinion, are women's rights in the Muslim world "perfect"? Do you think they are, generally, treated as they should be? So you blame women's behavior for men not being able to behave themselves? What do you think women should do to change themselves? If you are talking about modesty - even women who wear hijab and dress Islamically appropriate are still subject to all the problems "western" women are. Again, feminists generally are not fighting for men's roles. They generally, fight to varying degrees, for equality and to be treated fairly in areas of law, political society and the media. Most feminists say things that are quite in line with Islam's views on women. There are some feminists like Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin who have actually tried to outlaw different kinds of pornography. Doesn't that sound like something you would agree with? There is always a bias present in the interpretation of anything. How do you know men who interpret the laws aren't like the men here on shiachat who have been clearly brainwashed by precepts of their own cultures? This was such a great post. You hit the nail on most of the points I've been trying to make. If there was a woman's movement that set out to fix these problems - wouldn't that be a form of feminism? It could be under a different name; I've got a pretty dull imagination, so I came up with the word "Muslim womanism". You've clearly identified things that need to be fixed, and these things can't be fixed overnight, and certainly not until there are some hardcore institutional changes in Muslim countries. What I think we need is a discourse that expands on the things you've highlighted above. Women deserve equality, and I don't think any of the posts here disagree with me on that. We just don't want equality as it has been defined in the west, which is fine - but its still "feminist" no matter how "western" that word is associated with.
  8. No, I think you have a point. But its not that women are necessarily turning their back on what they've reaped the benefits from, its that with all these greater opportunities they've also observed serious problems with western culture as a whole they'd like to stay away from, and by rejecting anything that is "western", we are safe from these things. Western culture isnt perfect. Its not that women in the west are more advanced than we are. We simply have different issues. Thats why feminists in the west have no right to talk about Muslim women's rights - its not in their domain, or anything they could comprehend or understand. Moreover, women are very much subordinated in the west, through laws, through media, culture, etc. For example, the legality of some types of pornography are extremely subordinating to women. It creates very degrading precepts in the minds of those who watch hardcore porn about women and what sex should be like. You should look at sex abuse cases in America, and you'll see how hard it is for people to decide things out in a court, when their reference points to sex entail hard core porn they watch on the internet everyday. Veena Malik appeared nude on the cover of a mens magazine, and people in the liberal media saw that as "liberating" or the act of a "free woman". But thats not liberating at all, is it? Objectifying your own body on a cover of a men's magazine is equally reductionist and patriarchal as wahabbi fanatics are in Pakistan with their crazy fatwas. Both are guilty of sexualizing a woman's body and silencing her intellect. We need to get past the fact that the West is an ideal standard, or something we need to work towards. AT the same time, we need to get past the idea that everything in the "west" is bad. We just need to be more imaginative and figure out our own discourse. I do have a hard time understanding some of the ideas written by women here who are so against any form of feminism, but that doesnt mean these women are passive, theyre just reluctant to accept anything thats related to the "west"
  9. I guess it only makes sense that everyone has the chance to scrutinize me too. Below are my answers: Islam was revealed to a patriarchal society, and therefore, things had to be catered to making a patriarchal society more just. I do not think its incompatible with non-patriarchal societies, we just need to find a way, and change the way we think. There is nothing divine or profound about patriarchal societies that we must continue to live by them. If Islam was revealed today, the Prophet wouldn't get very far in convincing non-patriarchal societies to readjust and change their entire lifestyles, just like he wouldn't have gotten far in asking patriarchal to become non-patriarchal. The Ahlul Bayt clearly catered to the societies they had to work with. Yes I do consider myself a feminist. I don't like the word, because its the same word first-world women refer themselves as, and I am definitely not part of that category. First-world feminists and mainstream Islamic scholars are equally reductionist in their view of Muslim women. While first world feminists see the developed world as the only gateway to female empowerment, and fall back on cultural relativism to explain third-world women, Islamic scholars and Muslim politicians are equally reductionist in that they take it upon themselves to create a set of rules as to how a woman should live. I define feminism as a Muslim as standing up against the orientalist-driven critiques given by first-world feminists, and against the mullahs that feel that they can control our lives. Muslim womanism would entail critiquing gender roles as they have been set by Islamic culture, and as they have been imposed on us by the west. I think this type of discourse is needed since we have so many different groups of people, be it Islamic scholars, Muslim politicians, male relatives, western scholars, western women etc who are all trying to decide what our roles should be and what we should or should not do. Muslim women, in this sense, have been silenced. Been wearing hijab since I was a kid. Absolutely women should be involved in politics. They need a more active role in the justice system too. As I have mentioned repeatedly, there are so many areas men cannot have any foresight about. Rape is probably the biggest example of this. How do we define rape? Is it sex without consent? How about women who give their consent but feel pressured to or are forced to? There are so many puzzles on the topic of sexual abuse its absolutely impossible for a man to decide laws on these things. In Arabic, words can be translated in so many different ways, so translations and interprations of the Quran certainly can be abused by the translator or interpreter. I think risalahs are generally inaccurate when it comes to rules on the kinds of blood seen by women. Its absolutely confusing and completely unfair. While there are many men at mosques and Islamic gatherings who do make an effort to be appropriate and act respectful, I have certainly faced instances where I felt disrespected. There are many times I feel I'm not being taken seriously or simply ignored. I've also overheard lots of guys talking about other girls in an extremely disrespectful way. Its natural to be checking girls out, but the problem in our segregated communities, is that young girls and boys simply don't know how to interact with each other appropriately. I absolutely despise whenever any lecturer takes it upon themselves to address women's issues. They have no right to lecture women, when there are no women physically in their presence to defend themselves. This is wrong, and completely unislamic. I think its awful. I know as a fact it does happen in a minority of our community. But who are the ones circumsing girls? Women. We do it to ourselves and we need to fix this. I think monogamy is quite unnatural. People should have as many sexual partners as they can handle so long as they can do it responsibly with no one getting hurt. A woman should have the right to divorce if she feels uncomfortable with another wife around. In practice i have seen many polygamous marriages where the wives and children generally feel satisfied with the arrangement. In these cases, they seem much more independent than women in monogamous marriages. Personally, I dont see myself entering a polygamous marriage. Virginity is a construct we make up in our head and is influenced by pseudo-christian culture. There is nothing islamic about being a virgin. Mutah is a responsible way of having a boyfriend or girlfriend. I think its an interesting concept that absolutely does not work in reality. We simply do not have an Islamic culture that would make mutah okay, without tarnishing the reputation of the girl, and making it into something controversial in the community. No age. Marriage isn't a priority at this stage in my life. Not sure if I will or when it will be.
  10. I feel offended that you feel the need to label the choice women have made to enhance their own bodies as the "exploitation of women". How do the two have any correlation with each other? What makes you decide that women are being exploited because of implants gone wrong? Women are exploited in far other, much more serious ways that have little to do with capitalism or consumerism, but you fail to make any note of this at all. How about men in the Muslim world and in Europe deciding what a woman can or cannot wear? How about President Obama reducing access to Plan B to boost support in the senate? Or Sharia courts making it virtually impossible for sexually abused women to seek justice? And yet, when a woman decides to make a choice over her own body to enhance her breasts so that she feels more comfortable in her own skin (for whatever reason), she is said to be a victim of "western culture". Why is it necessary to group all women to have breast implants into one category and label them as "exploited"?
  11. jen - thanks for your comments. I'll definitely respond in length in a few days. Just have to catch up on some of my own work first! She actually did respond in her last post. See here:
  12. So you consider yourself a feminist. But not exactly in the western sense. How would you define the Muslim version of feminism? What rights of women are not being respected in the Muslim world? Have you ever considered taking it off? How do you feel about women who decide to take it off? Personally I sympathize with them because although I wear hijab I know how hard it can be. But by that logic, dont you think men are bias towards their own rights? What do you think about women who choose to have sex before marriage via muta? Do you think women, in general, should wait for marriage? There is the stereotype, I think, in our community that women who choose to have sex before marriage are like prostitutes do you feel comfortable with the idea of asking a man permission before you go out? or before you do anything? You dont see that as something that hinders your own independence as a human being? That said, does independence appeal to you? Are there things you think a woman cannot do? I'll ask you the same question I asked whiteskies and that is: how do you feel about women who choose to take their hijab off? Do you sympathize with them in any way? If I've understood this correctly, you are arguing that women, at times, may be too emotional to think objectively? But isn't that a case for all human beings? Sure women have pregnancies and periods, but men have testosterone that cause them to be equally egotistical, stubborn and certified [Edited Out]s. In the medieaval era, there actually used to be MANY female scholars in Islam who used to lecture in mixed arenas.Do you see culture now a days as a hindrance on female empowerment in this respect? You said that its because of culture that women aren't taken seriously. Have you, personally, experienced this? I agree with you here. Personally even as a hijabi, I was offended by the way he approached the topic. Just the idea in general that he felt he could get up on the mimbar and yell at women for not wearing hijab. So you feel that virginity of a woman is very important. How do you define 'virginity'? Is a man's virginity important or significant as well? Do you really feel that virginity is a gift for men? If so, how does that feed into the idea of equal status between men and women? And just to clarify, you do feel that there a tension between Islamic laws on Muta'a and your own personal feelings about sex and virginity? I think forte put it nicely - men might be given more power, but it does not have to make them superior in status. This was actually very inspirational. So in a sense, what you are saying is that you feel hijab is a muslim symbol of female empowerment. Can you elaborate on what you see as "wrong" hijab? Nope, there aren't any women working along side ayatollahs to make their rules. Sure, women do hang out in hawzahs but they don't end up getting many scholarly positions, as far as I know... http://www.shiachat....e-circumcision/ Thats a great point. What would you say to kim.tinkerbells response here:
  13. Actually, I do mind. You are free to post here, of course, since you are not breaking any rules. However, your input is completely defeating the point of the thread. I do not mean to single you out because I know its tempting and there are a few other men who have taken it upon themselves to give their opinions on a thread where I really wanted to explore what Shia women think and feel about certain things. It is important for people, and in this case especially women to understand that it is okay to have difficulties understanding certain concepts or accepting certain things that may be "halal" and be uncomfortable with them. Judging from the responses I've seen here, even though certain things might be halal or haram everybody (again this is from what I have observed) faces some tensions between what they feel and what is "islamically" right and wrong. Its important to highlight these tensions, not to criticize Islam, but to figure out how we can confront them, because I truly believe Islam is a religion for all times. While the men on this board do make a lot of contributions, this is simply a domain they cannot contribute toward. They can lay down all the hadiths, ayats and "objective" opinions they want, but that doesn't change or help how we feel about gender-specific issues.
  14. Thanks everyone for your responses. I'm glad to see some of the women on this board taking this discussion seriously, and I also find the responses very interesting, in fact, a bit different than I expected. This post will be long, so I have summed up a few conclusions at the top here: 1. I noticed that a few women may have misinterpreted the word "patriarchy", or, at the very least, associated the word on very negative terms. Haydar has already posted a definition, but I'll restate it here: Patriarchy, for the sake of this discussion is a social system in which men play the authoritative role over women, children and property. This happens in economic terms (in that the man is the breadwinner of the family), political terms and legal terms. 2. Men and women on this board alike seem to dislike the word "feminism", but everyone has different understandings of what the word means. 3. I believe that women are very conscious of their rights in Islam, and that Muslim women are a very mobilized group (as opposed to the oriental view that women are passive, sexualized beings). At the same time I do not believe that men see women's rights in Islam the same way women see their own rights. Many women may have passed off my questions as really typical, 'same-old' type topics we see ALL the time on Shiachat. Thats true. I just wanted the chance for women to be able to speak by themselves FOR themselves. 4. I also believe that men are confused about their own roles too. This is not just in the Muslim world, but in the West as well. Women have been writing gender discourse for centuries so we've had a ton of time to think about our issues, our position in relation to God, and our position in relation to men. At the same time, men have also been thinking about women's issues and made their own contributions to the field as well. But very rarely do men think about their own position in relation to women. 5. I'd really appreciate if more women answered the questions and we stay on topic. I know they are time consuming so just answer the ones that interest you. I really did enjoy reading every single person's response here. I've taken a few days just to read and think about what you all have written, so thank you! And now I'll respond to a few of the posts I found interesting. Well if you can say it in a respectful way, I'd really like to know what you think! You are a very distinguished character on shiachat, so your opinions are very valuable in this discussion. Interesting. So what do you consider 'modest'? Is it a way of dressing? What was it like to remove your hijab? Did you see it as 'liberating'? Do you think you've changed as a person after you took off your hijab? Well how about women's issues in law? Do you feel comfortable about men deciding what constitutes 'rape'? Sexual abuse? Abortion laws? Access to birth control? These are issues that men clearly do not have any foresight about. Outside the domain of Islam, do you believe women should save their virginity until marriage? Why is virginity important? Often it is associated with chastity and purity - do you agree? This was a lovely response. You can disagree with me here if you want. But often I find that in majlises, different lecturers will stress on different aspects of Bibi Fatima and Bibi Zaynab. Some will specifically talk about their roles as great mothers and housewives, and others will focus on their outspoken will and defenders of Islam. I see you have emphasized on the latter. When did you start wearing hijab? Why? Well said. Perhaps. I suppose if you take the topic of hayz though, there may be the issue that male ayatollahs can't tell us what a period is or isnt since they clearly havent experienced it or seen it. In the Prophet's time, the rules for women were explained through Fatima (as). Shouldn't it continue to be that way? There is a long winded thread on shiachat which basically says that female circumcision is allowed in Islam. There are certain rules that apply, but at the end of the day it is circumcision. It is not mustahab or anything, but it is allowed I believe you certainly have a point here. I don't disagree. Historically speaking, virginity and chastity were first associated with one another via Christianity. Islam was not traditionally a proponent of this idea of associating the two things together. First of all, thank you so much for your long detailed response. You clearly put a lot of thought into your answers and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that enjoyed reading your answers. I am looking forward to reading your answers to the rest of the questions. Certainly, I think men's opinions are great contributions too, but frankly, they are overrepresented on this board. The idea though was so that we could get a real discussion flowing on how women view their own rights and place in Islam. My plan is to start another topic in the men's forum and ask them some gender specific questions as well (although probably not as many as this one calls for). We can have a discussion on circumcision for example, and the discussion will go on and on about how female circumcision is halal, but it will hardly talk about how women feel about the issue, and whether they'd willingly allow the practice. I think your take is very interesting but I have a few followup inquiries for you: 1. Do you think equality for every being is really what Islam promotes? Equality is not necessarily synonymous with justice. This world can be just, but it does not mean that everyone has to be equal in order for it to be just. Animals, for example, are clearly not equal to the status of human beings. God created us with intellect that animals do not have. 2. Are you implying being a feminist in the most general and orthodox sense of the term is selfish? Your view on equality seems a bit idealistic to me. While anyone might believe in equality of all kinds, as in the examples you mentioned, there are only certain causes we can take up. We cannot simultaneously mobilize against every injustice at the same time: this is not very productive or realistic. Furthermore, just because one is a feminist does not necessarily mean they are ignorant of other issues. Most hardcore feminists are vegetarians as well. That said, are there certain causes you would prioritize over the rights/needs of women?
  15. I dont think its an unfair question at all. I dont care if you dont like the undertones because the question isn't for you. The question of mutah and viginity are often associated with one another when it is called into question, specifically for girls since some women may or may not be comfortable doing mutah depending on whether the want to "save" their virginity.
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