Volume 3, March 2009
St. Louis, Missouri
Editor: Hajji. Mohamed Ziauddin MSW LCSW ACSW
What would be the first thought that comes to mind when you say to a feminist, “there she is, the devout Muslim with the headscarf that I was talking about”.
Could it be intolerance from both sides? Could it be blind stereotypes based on misinformation about each other? How many Muslims have with an open mind really tried to understand the roots of feminism and the details of their value system? In the same way, how many feminists have with an open mind really tried to understand the roots of Islam, details of the life of Prophet Mohamed (PBUH) especially as it pertains to his championing the cause of rights of women? Because they have been consistently flooded with misinformation about Islam and lack of such accurate and true information, they may be wondering, “what is he talking about”?
Both sides are almost blind to the positives of the other. Misinformation from the media (against Islam) and from the unenlightened Muslims (against feminism) feed into each other breeding additional intolerance and hate for each other.
The hate between both the groups in the 21st century has reached a point of creating a blind spot – which is the POSITIVES THAT BOTH GROUPS HAVE TO OFFER FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE FEMALE.
It is here that Muslim organizations such as ours could call for a change in such rigid and intransigent attitudes on both sides against each other. While we are fully cognizant and realize that we cannot totally and successfully change the feminist’s organizations to our ideal expectations, we do believe that as a Muslim organization we can take the initiative in this direction.
Taking above initiative to FIND COMMON GROUND is within our control, although we acknowledge that we in the process may be fired from the extremists on both camps – the taliban style Muslims and the radical men-hating feminists. But both extremist elements may not be able to stop above positive initiative mainly because of the support from the majority on both sides of the isle, who generally do not carry such extreme positions of hate and intolerance towards the other? There is a small group in between that is symbolically a hybrid such as FEMINIST MUSLIMS.
IS THIS EXERCISE IN DILUTING INTOLERANCE AND FOSTERING TOLERANCE BETWEEN BOTH GROUPS SOMETHING NEW?
What we are basically doing is RESURRECTING THE LONG FORGOTTEN VALUE OF “TOLERANCE” THAT WAS PREACHED BY OUR LOVING PROPHET MOHAMMED (SAW)) AND WHICH UNFORTUNATELY GOT BURIED OVER LAYERS OF CULTURAL VALUES MANY OF WHICH HAD NOTHING DIRECTLY TO DO WITH ISLAM.
It is a paradox that even though the “feminists” are perceived to have moved away from the “feminine” concept that traditionally distinguished them from “masculine”, still their name falsely continues to signify a preponderance to be “feminine”.
As with any other kind of relationship, there will be irreconcilable differences between the feminists and Muslims. Further both may have to respectfully AGREE TO DISAGREE on certain issues.
HOWEVER THE QUESTION WE NEED TO ASK IS: "SHOULD THE ABOVE DIFFERENCES AMONG THE MUSLIMS AND FEMINISTS BE A VALID REASON TO CLOSE THE DOOR TO EXPLORE WAYS OF TEAMING UP WITH EACH OTHER AND FINDING COMMON GROUND TO HELP THE NEEDY FEMALES?
Most Muslims support the feminists for common issues such as EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY FOR EDUCATION AND CAREER ADVANCEMENT et.c?
Who among you would think that the feminist organizations are going to deny a request by Muslim organizations to team up together?
(1) In order to help fight the unislamic and local cultural practice of Female Genital Mutilation that is SHOCKINGLY still continuing in some Muslim countries?
(2) In order to help the Muslim victims who have been partially burned and traumatized due to issues relating to dowry?
(3) In order to help build schools, vocational and career training centers for Muslim women?
(4) In order to help the girls in Muslim orphanages and Muslim women in shelters?
(5) Provide female volunteers to help in various social service agencies that are focused on helping females in crisis and other related situations?
By the way, MAY I ASK, WHAT IS THE UMMAH SERIOUSLY DOING FOR OUR SISTERS THROUGH THEIR INSTITUTIONS OF MOSQUES AND THEIR LEADERS? DUE TO PAUCITY OF RESOURCES TO HELP OUR SISTERS, WE ARE EXPLORING ALL PRACTICAL OPTIONS AND COMMON GROUNDS.
THE WRITER ARGUES THAT THE HATE AND NEGATIVITY BETWEEN THE FEMINISTS AND MUSLIMS HAS SHUT DOWN MANY AREAS OF CO-OPERATION THAT COULD HAVE EASILY BENEFITED THE MUSLIM FEMALES WORLDWIDE. IT IS SAD THAT THE ULTIMATE BENEFICIARY – THE MUSLIM FEMALE GETS TO LOSE, AS LONG AS THE POLARITY AND ONGOING TENSION CONTINUES BETWEEN BOTH OF THE ABOVE GROUPS AGAINST EACH OTHER.
ABOVE EDITOR CALLS FOR INCREASED PARTNERSHIP ON COMMON AREAS OF CONCERN TO BENEFIT ALL DECEDENTS OF THE FEMALE SPECIES OF EVE.
Having explained the above, it is to be noted that the focus is on COMMON GROUND. We as Muslims will continue to stick by the gems of Islam in terms of following Holy Quran and the teachings of Prophet Mohammed (SAW).
With increased awareness of the UMMAH in terms of professional Social Work and related Social Services, it is all the more important to enlist the assistance of females, especially when dealing with female clients.
Islamic values definitely prefer women to help women compared to men helping women especially in situations that call for both of them to be in the same office or being alone in the absence of a third person. Unfortunately most of the Muslim females globally still lag behind in their educational and literacy rates.
It does not hurt for the Muslims to tap into the feminist organizations talent, & expertise especially as it relates to assisting Muslim females with health, medical and psychological issues. There are tremendous possibilities for both the feminists and Muslims to work jointly as a team to reach out to all the Muslim females in need.
If feminists think that they could directly enter the world of Muslim women and change them as they please, without the direct support and encouragement of the Muslim men, then they may be wrong?
If Muslims think that they could reach out to the maximum number of needy Muslim females and help them all by themselves without enlisting the logistic support and other related forms of assistance from non-Muslim sources, then they are wrong too?
THIS ISSUE AIMS AT BRINGING BOTH THE MUSLIMS AND FEMINISTS TOGETHER TO WORK AS A TEAM FOR THE BEST INTEREST OF THE MUSLIM FEMALE. WE ARE AWARE OF VARYING DEGREE OF APPREHENSIONS ON THIS ISSUE, THE SAME WAS TOLD INITIALLY OF INTERFAITH WORK, BUT NOW YOU SEE MORE AND MORE PEOPLE ARE JOINING THE INTERFAITH INITIATIVE FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF HUMANITY.
IF DIFFERENCES COULD BE PUT ASIDE IN INTERFAITH WORK FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF HUMAN BEINGS, WHY NOT BETWEEN THE FEMINISTS AND MUSLIMS FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF FEMALES, MORE SPECIFICALLY THE MUSLIM FEMALES?
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