Some Muslims, who insist on calling themselves “feminists”, often complain that when other Muslims criticise the values and concepts behind the Feminism, this is only the mainstream (and origin) of Feminism, “Western Feminism”, and they say this is a different feminism from “their” feminism. This is because they have taken the word Feminism (from the West) and then amongst themselves re-defined it their way, and called it “Muslim Feminism”, which they claim doesn’t take the same values as “Western Feminism”. These “Muslim Feminists” then complain that those criticising Feminism shouldn’t generalise feminism! ( #NotAllFeminists …)
“Muslim Feminists” then claim that despite its origins, original meanings, mainstream Western understandings, large preponderance of Western scholars, activists and philosophers, that “Muslim Feminism”, as their small coterie of followers have chosen to define, doesn’t contradict Islam and therefore shouldn’t be resisted by Muslims.
Muslims hearing this then wonder what’s the point of taking a Western term, with a mainstream global following, intellectuals and activists, and pre-existing understanding, and superimposing it on Islam, when Islam is accepted by all Muslims to be self-sufficient? Indeed, wouldn’t it act only to provide confusion?
Unfortunately, when Muslims point out all these issues, “Muslim Feminists” react angrily and use defensive tactics like responding “Why are you against rights for Muslim women?!” Which is as fallacious an accusation as being told “why are you against the rights of poor people and the working class?!” just because you criticise Communism…
Furthermore, using unIslamic ideologically loaded labels, could possibly provide an entry for unIslamic ideas, as Muslims calling themselves “Feminists” then bump into the mainstream (Western) understanding, which also labels itself as Feminism (and as vastly more literature and history).
On the other side of the coin, another problem so-called “Muslim Feminists” encounter, is that in the West, Westerners don’t call Feminism as “Western Feminism”, they simply call it “Feminism”. And why not? They invented it. They defined it. And ALL schools of thought within Feminism agree with the minimal definition of the Secular liberal (and also Communist) formula that Feminism means “equal rights for women” – by which they mean gender identicality under law. However, while Islam believes that the souls of men and women have equal value in the eyes of God, Islamic law doesn’t posit identical gender roles or obligations.
The difference between Islam and mainstream Feminism become highlighted when these so-called “Muslim feminists” appear on TV, or hold talks and conferences where mainstream “Western” feminists turn up and challenge them on Islam’s contradictions with mainstream (original) Feminism. Points raised by Feminists include the idea of head of the family, inheritance, lack of identical rights, and the gender roles of women and men in families, as well as gender differences in political/military responsibilities – leading to “Muslim Feminists” being put on the spot and desperately obfuscating at best, or obsequiously placating “Western” Feminists with “reinterpretations” of Islam at worst.
In order to avoid scrutiny from Western mainstream society into the details of “Muslim Feminism”, some “Muslim Feminists” use diversion tactics, like complaining that they’re having their “definition” of “feminism” being imposed upon by “Western Feminism” advocated by “white people” and “colonialists”.
Sadly, the irony is that it is actually the “Muslim Feminists” who have been already colonialised in thought, as evidences by the fact they desperately sought to borrow Western terms and ideological labels like “Feminism” to make themselves look respectable and gain currency for themselves in the first place!
These Muslims cling with all their might to the term “feminism”, because they wish to use Western language in their causes in order to gain currency for then – regardless of whether or not these terms carry pre-existing and well known unIslamic connotations and ideological baggage!
But as everybody knows, if you use the currency of a country, you surrender to them the right to determine its value – and eventually, you end up paying for it.
As famously (allegedly) narrated of Jesus in the New Testament, when in the Holy Temple, He (SAAW) was (allegedly) asked by his opponents about whether devout Jews should pay taxes to the pagan emperor in Rome, whose Empire was occupying the lands of the Jews:
‘Should we pay or shouldn’t we?” But Jesus knew their hypocrisy. “Why are you trying to trap me?” he asked. “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it.”They brought the coin, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” And they were amazed at him’ [Mark 12:15-17].
An amazing response indeed, because the people had gladly accepted the coin and currency of their dominator (even in their holy Temple), but hypocritically quibbled on paying taxes to him to make themselves look good.
Falsehood belongs to humans, and anything taken from them should be returned, but to God belongs everything in the heavens and the earth – including human affairs, law, rights and duties.
Therefore in response, we must hold up the proverbial Roman denarius and ask “Muslim Feminists”:
Ask them: “Who coined the term Feminism, stamped their image upon it, and originated it – which you use for currency?
They’ll sheepishly admit: “The West”
Say: “Give back to the West, what belongs to the West, and give unto God what belongs to God”
‘Do they then seek the judgement of [those in] Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm Faith’
[QURAN, al-Maa’idah 5:49-50]
READ: “FALSE COINS”