Hello and welcome!
I am a young Muslim woman in my early 20’s and I’m starting this blog to help myself and others (mainly women) who struggle with the patriarchal bullshit that plagues the faith of many Muslim women (and men). I’m going to share a bit about my ongoing spiritual journey.
I grew up Muslim and lived in the United States my entire life. Religion wasn’t ever forced into or onto me, but it was definitely important growing up. Thankfully, I never felt pressured or coerced into following religion by my family– which I believe is why I have still held onto it alhamdulillah. I picked up praying salah (the five daily prayers) on my own (first and foremost through Allah’s will and mercy, alhamdulillah) in middle school, and have kept up praying salah regularly since (alhamdulillah). But in high school, the wavering of my faith became significantly impacted for the first time.
I came across very unpleasant things that were presented as Islam– particular hadiths and views of women from Muslim “scholars.” Since then and well into college, I would be very confused and woshipped God more out of desperation and fear rather than with love and the feeling of God’s mercy. I knew that I should seek knowledge to help myself become more strong in my faith, but I became scared of that because the “knowledge” I found, especially when searching online, was especially disturbing and distanced me from my faith rather than making me feel more secure in it.
I just graduated college and I became even more avoidant of finding knowledge especially regarding things with gender and women and queerness (I myself am not queer, but it always bothered me whenever I would hear and see queerphobic attitudes from Muslims and non-Muslims alike, as it should bother any decent person) throughout college– though I had strong conviction in the miracle and authenticity of the Qur’an– it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in my faith. It was more that I did in the revelations from God being real and Muhummad peace be upon him being God’s last prophet, but I didn’t like the religion, or the perception of the religion, that I had. I had to accept this reality that I didn’t like, though I couldn’t bring myself to want to believe this reality. Like I said, I was worshipping God out of fear and desperation rather than love. I was having a major dissonance with morality– I felt that I was perhaps challenging God and disagreeing with Her on moral stances, but as a Muslim I was supposed to love and agree with God because God was the source of morality. As you can see, this caused me a lot of distress and confusion.
So recently, especially with more time on my hands and more loneliness, I was forced to confront my fears and the uncomfortable things that I had been seeing and that have been challenging my faith and closeness to God.
And damn, what a struggle it was.
There were many tears and distress and confusion and borderlining on agnosticism and almost losing my faith.
As before, doing research only brought me more distress and made me lose hope and doubt God’s goodness. All the things I found was laced with patriarchy and the oppression of women, and the idea that it was Islam and God’s will that women’s primary duty is to serve and obey men and be good wives and submissive to their husbands and all that. But then I went beyond this.
One of my good friends, also a Muslim, may Allah bless her immensely (ameen), told me about how having conversations with God helped her. It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried to talk to God before, but the ways in which I was doing it was more done in a rash manner and one in which fear served as an obstacle for me to truly be honest of my frustrations and doubts and disturbances with God. Once I let myself surpass this fear from being more authentic with God (Who already of course knew what was in my heart from the beginning, this was just the first time I allowed myself to stop suppressing my communication with God and stay true to myself), I noticed that alhamdulillah, I started getting answers and guided toward God in a way I was never before alhamdulillah.
I found more information online through more “progressive” platforms, which I was hesitant to go on before. I had this idea that they would be too far from the scope of Islam and its authenticity; I was giving more credibility to “conservative” platforms even though they highly disturbed me and actually made my faith worse. I think I had this idea subconsciously that if things were made harder and complicated and popular and widely accepted even if they didn’t sit right with me, then they must be more reflective and likely of what was true, whether I liked it or not.
For a lot of us Muslims and people of all faiths, we often think that conservative interpretations and perspectives are most authentic and true toward the genuine religion or faith we strive to follow. After all, the word “conservative” itself is tied to preserving what is genuine and true and pure– but this actually often ends up going the opposite.
I eventually found that as I distanced myself from the so-called conservative “Islam,” the closer I felt to God. But then later, especially through information I garnered from the more progressive platforms in continuation with my conversations with God, I realized that the ways in which I was seeking God was more the real Islam, alhamdulillah. The “conservative” Islam presented by others was more based on what men said and interpreted, with little room for discussion and challenges– especially when questions challenged patriarchal norms.
The purpose of religion and spirituality is goodness– yet, conservative ideologies or the presentation of conservative ideologies pervert this goodness. There is so much– too much– focus on tradition and rules and strictness that we lose the essence of true religion, of the truth itself– of God. Yes tradition and religion can be intermingled, but with conservatism, tradition is emphasized while spirituality is lost.
People– men in particular when it comes to gender-related concepts and issues in Islam– are so focused on being in control of themselves and with their relationship with God that they try to control women through barring them from public spaces– this means of controlling others gives them a sense of their own self-control. This isn’t to say that we should generalize that all Muslim men are like this– but ideologies and false interpretations that call on men limiting and oppressing women is prevailing enough that too many women have been struggling with oppressive systems and structures in societies, within their own religious communities which are supposed to be inclusive and welcoming of them! And even in their own homes, where wives’ autonomies are dependent on the husband’s will and permission! And there are too many women themselves who perpetuate ideas that women are to be subservient to men.
Of course, this isn’t an Islam thing. This is a people thing, and it’s not limited to Islam– you see it in many religions– women being reduced to mere sex havens and baby machines to serve husbands.
The job of Islamic feminism isn’t to put women over men– it’s to challenge and take down the societal norms and expectations that men are over women and to affirm the equality between them, both through their differences and similarities. It’s to affirm the autonomies and free will and closeness and value to God of ALL genders. It’s called FEMinism because we are trying to empower the less valued, the oppressed, the ones who are disadvantaged and disempowered by society that privileges, favors and prefers men. Where in the concepts of masculinity and femininity, masculinity is valued while femininity is belittled and glossed over.
Feminism is simply the radical concept of gender equality– that genders are all equal in value and potential with their differences. It is the movement to end the very gender-based oppression of women and girls on the basis on their gender– if feminism still offends you after knowing this, then please take a good look at yourself and may Allah guide you (ameen). Muslims need feminism, HUMANITY needs feminism– as long as girls and women are being oppressed all over the world today, in the name of religion and other things by societies that privilege men.
If the radical concept of the equality of genders offends you more than does the fact that there are girls and women being raped, tortured and abused and killed throughout the world and within our own Muslim communities based on their gender, then there is something very troubling about that and like I said, take a good look at yourself and may Allah guide you (ameen).
I will be going more into this into my future blog posts insha Allah (God willing), but this is just something I want to clarify for those who try to paint and shame feminism for what it is not. The very essence of feminism is EQUALITY.
And I am keeping my identity as a blogger anonymous for a reason. All too often, as sad and infuriating and as disheartening as it is, there is a lot of danger and toxicity that comes toward people who challenge accepted norms and standards in religious communities. For example, me trying to stand up for the God-given rights of women in Islam and calling out the toxicities and negativities within religious communities can be dangerous for me and may threaten my safety, God forbid. I’ve seen a lot of Muslim TikTokkers for example being harassed and threatened online by FELLOW Muslims for little things or for having a perception of Islam that others didn’t agree with. Maybe one day insha Allah I will reveal who I am, but for now, especially as I am starting out, I would like to maintain this degree of my privacy.
The thing is, I love having discussions. This is different from being talked AT. If you are going to comment on my posts or want to engage in an online discussion with me, I expect mutual respect from both sides. If not, don’t expect a reply or engagement.
I know I’ve focused mostly on Islamic feminism in this post and for the intentions of my blog, but insha Allah I may also discuss other aspects of society regarding equality among humanity and justice. Islamic feminism is what is mostly on my mind at the time being, so I’ll be focusing on that for now.
Thank you for taking the time to read my first post, and I hope it and the rest of my future posts help anyone else struggling, insha Allah. I look forward to connecting with you all again soon!