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In the Name of God بسم الله

I'm struggling with my faith... and reconciling Islam with women's rights

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  • Advanced Member

Salam alakum,

I realise the irony of my screen name and my topic of discussion.

I have never expressed this so openly to anybody so I'd appreciate if you respond sensitively and thoughtfully. Sadly despite living in a country with many Muslim communities, speakers and Islamic centres I have nobody to turn to to have this conversation openly and frankly. This is a failure which can be addressed on a different day.

I grew up in a Shi'i practicing balanced Arab household, with a light-touch Islamic education with exposure to lots of popular speakers.

From my teenage days I remember that there were always certain expectations and curfews that I experienced but that my brother didn't. This is likely to be because of a mixture of cultural and religious reasons. I still had a lot of freedom but I always felt like men have a better deal in every domain- freedom, financial, control etc.

Growing up I started to realise the occasional misogynistic things speakers would say on the pulpit... backed up by hadith, quran etc. I don't think I need to spell out what these are but they relate to the permissibility of wife beating, polygamy, unequal share of inheritance, husbands control over wife etc etc. When I asked my parents they would give me vague answers and brush it off. Similarly speakers would skirt around it, down-play the meaning and essentially I have never been fully satisfied with the answers.

Last year I started to take up Islamic study at the Al-Mahdi Institute- a very progressive institute which encourages the study of a diverse range of research and texts. I was driven because of my desire to get closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) but also to learn for myself what Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) says about women and their rights. I am studying part-time so it's still very early days and I have started to discover "alternative" non traditional interpretations of some texts. However, I still get the feeling that there is an apologetic reading of Islamic texts and I cannot ignore the swathes of misogynistic texts (from main sources) and interpretations.

It has been 10-15 years and I still do not feel satisfied with the answers I am getting. Also, I am in my late 20s and have struggled to find a suitable husband. This will be due to multiple reasons but deep down I know it is partly because I cannot deal with overtly traditional views that a man is in control of the woman. I understand men and women are different but sadly even men raised in the west who act "modern" freak out when I talk about women's rights due to the level of ingrained misogyny.

I have faith in Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)'s- I have experienced His love and feel like He is watching over me. i feel like without my faith and prayer and spirituality I would be nothing. Even recently I felt like He was calling me to pursue Islamic studies to find the answers. However I am truly struggling with the wider Islamic religion and what mainstream Muslims are preaching.

Please note that one of my close friends who I would have previously classed as religious has abandoned Islam and is looking for truth elsewhere. This saddens me... I couldn't comfort her... but I can see why she decided to leave as sad as it is to say...

Also, I have one other friend who have abondoned the hijab... lives a none Islamic lifestyle and she's married a non- Muslim man. I can see how tempting this is. Unfortunately, I feel like I'd be more likely to meet a suitable man who is non- Muslim than a Muslim because many Muslim men can be so closed minded in my experience.

Please note that the men in my life (my father and my brother) are incredible human beings that treat women with utmost respect so it's not to say I don't have good examples of good men in my life... 

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  • Veteran Member

Do not limit yourself to only two different perspectives. Those liberal Muslims and certain dogmatic traditionalists may be both be wrong. And those that reject the religion may also be wrong.

There are many different angles and levels to consider.

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  • Advanced Member
25 minutes ago, HopefulBeliever said:

Because I am a woman and I feel disadvantaged by the religion I have chosen. Try stepping into a woman’s shoes for a few weeks... 

Well all things considered are things that bad as a Muslim woman ?

Why do you feel disadvantaged ?

It's sounds like being able to study Islam is a great blessing. What things opportunities have you missed out on had you been a man ?

I'm asking just because I think it's better to understand a person before offering advice.

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  • Advanced Member

Salam sister, thank you for sharing your concerns here. 

You mention that the main issue is the misogynistic nature of some teachings, hadiths, and perhaps even Quranic verses. It is very reasonable and acceptable to share your concerns and doubts, if you weren't someone who genuinely cared about the value of morality and sublime guidance you wouldn't be sharing/holding these concerns.

I, therefore, commend you for continuous search for (more) answers even after your unsatisfactory experience within the religious institute that you were a part of. I think what is best is to perhaps share some of those Hadiths, verses, or provide an example of said teaching and perhaps we can all hash them out Insha'Allah, as our main concern is the spiritual, physical, and mental well being of our dear brothers and sisters. 

We can also discuss any alternatives that you have in mind, as well as where you derive your understanding to what is 'misogynistic' as you may know, depending where an individual stands in their understanding of morality, the misogynist barometer so to speak differs. We will then examine this alternative that you find to be appealing, and perhaps we may find it existing in Islam itself! Maybe in a more fashionable form, otherwise we would examine the issues with said alternative(s) if it does not accommodate the Islamic understanding.

There is a lot to discuss, and much to unpack. Your willingness and patience as displayed by your continuous search highlights the seriousness of your approach and I assure you with such an attitude you won't be let down. Trust in Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) as the Most Merciful and Just, and let us all together Insha'Allah discuss these matters and seek to arrive at a solution that will not only resolve your theological conflicts, but leave you with a sense of pride and confidence of not only being a woman, but a Muslimah. 

 

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Guest Psychological Warfare

fyi

https://www.al-islam.org/fatimah-al-masumah-role-model-men-and-women-sayyid-muhammad-husayn-fadlallah

Qur'an 1:7. follow the role models provided for us, not the ones who had the same issue iblis had, i am better or why him, not me issues. 

Muhammad al-Mustafa (Peace be upon him and his pure progeny) has a daughter. This fact needs to be understood, before we look in to Women right issues. 

Edited by Hameedeh
typo
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Guest shia woman

Salaam dear sister,

my advice to you is to maybe consider finding another perspective. As a brother said, not everyone is right. Not the traditionalist nor the liberal.

I see a ton of research claiming a gender neutral interpretation of the Quran where Nisa and Rijal is actually not synonyms for genders but rather “Weak” and “Strong”. It changed the whole meaning of everything and no misogyny was to be found. Look at this perspective and research it

Please try harder to find the truth and don’t settle for less than that. I hope your imaan will strengthen and you’ll be closer to Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى).

wa saalaam.

 

 

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