#MuslimGirlLife

Stop Saying These Microaggressions Against Muslim Women

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  • Suzanne Shahadah

    Yes. Absolutely. This article nailed it! The things this article describes seem so deliberately mean-spirited and knowingly nasty. If someone says flat-out that not wearing hijab means one is “not really Muslim”, or alternatively asks me if I am being forced to wear my hijab, that’s at best a deliberate ignorance and and worst a deliberate cruelty. I always thought of microaggressions as being more repeated continual comments like “So, where are you from?” which makes a series of problematic assumptions about me personally and about Muslims generally, but isn’t inherently a mean or overly intimate question. I don’t mean this in any way as a criticism of this article, or even to suggest that my definition of the word “microagressions” is correct, but just to say that I think these comments described in the article are extremely serious and seem to be quite calculated efforts to ostracize and ‘other’ us.

    • Mike

      If you CONVERTED to Islam either by marriage, as is in most cases in the West, or for other reasons, you have of your own accord, ‘OTHERED’ yourself. I believe you agree with this! You become neither here no there, a painful place to be especially for a convert. That’s you have almost completely lost your previous community and is not fully accepted let alone, integrated into your new community. If you are a white female you already experienced this and your trophy wife status, a sinister objectification of western females by muslim males, would sooner fade away. Please understand Islam is a racialized-cum-regionized religion despite it having world-wide adherents?

      • Suzanne Shahadah

        Hey Mike, I’m just going to repeat the last line in the article for you,
        since it seems like you may have skipped it: “Now is the time to
        unlearn and relearn your perception of what Islam is.
        Don’t treat Muslim women based on what you think we are, and just
        listen.”

        Did you hear that? JUST. LISTEN.

        Because, frankly, your post is a semi-coherent rant, and it’s full of assumptions. My spiritual history and path to faith is not the point. My personal position vis-a-vis my Muslim identity is not painful. I don’t feel “othered” by my Muslim community. For the most part, I don’t feel “othered” by the non-Muslim society I live in. To say that I (or any Muslim, convert or not) am somehow lost between two non-overlapping worlds is stupid. Who says that being Muslim and being American, or Canadian, or European, means we somehow have to reconcile two mutually-opposing parts of ourselves? That’s an assumption about both Muslims and about Western societies that reduces both these so-called “categories” to simplistic stereotypes.

        The issue, for me, is when otherwise-intelligent people ask ridiculous, assumption-filled questions about my personal life that are not their concern and that they could find the answers to with a quick Google-search. If someone asks me if I’m bald under my hijab it is not, ON ITS OWN, an aggressive question. Dumb, maybe, but not aggressive. However, when these kinds of questions pile up over the course of a lifetime, they are, IN THE AGGREGATE, a way to suggest that hijab-wearing women are somehow too different to fit in the Western societies we inhabit. And that is just plain bullshit.

        Because you seem to be looking for answers about me, I’ll spell it out for you: I AM A MUSLIM WOMAN. And y’know what? That’s all the personal info you need about me in an online forum! Anything you fill in on top of that is your assumption.

        And you know what they say about assumptions…

        • Mike

          Ms Shahadah, Please if I offended you in any way I hereby tender my unreserved apologies. I am not interested in whether you are Muslim or pagan woman rather that, in whatever we do or practice, we have to apply tact and be pragmatic.
          For instance, I am always of the opinion that when western females convert to Islam for marriage, it is not out of religious conviction rather an exercise in pragmatism. Why? Because somebody who jumps from one religion to another invalidates both.

          Meanwhile, AS A MUSLIM WOMAN, if Islam CLAIMS to be UNIVERSAL (I don’t deny it is not) for all of humanity irrespective of race or region, why are non-Arab Muslims and especially convert females, encouraged to Arabise everything about themselves from given names to manner of dress plus being persuaded to learn and speak Arabic?
          Would it not be more PRAGMATIC and REALISTIC even beneficial to Moslems (and Islam) to make Islam FIT every race or people rather than the current irrational practice of making every non-Arab Muslim especially converts, to FIT Islam! That’s, why should an American female convert to Islam be transformed into an Arab lady overnight? Does such a development not imply that conversion to Islam comes with the additional burden, even if hidden, of promoting Arab cultural imperialism?
          Finally, the fact that more than 75% of Western converts to Islam are women is indicative that a heavy dose of sexism is an integral element inherent in these conversions. The mere fact that “a non-Muslim woman marrying a Muslim man must necessarily convert to Islam is, of course, a sexist assumption. It takes a proprietorial view of ‘your’ women becoming ‘our’ women by dint of religious conversion. It’s not very pleasant, when you stop and think about it.”
          Correct me if am right!

          • Suzanne Shahadah

            Hi again,

            I absolutely agree with you that converting should not entail a total cultural switch-over. I’ve never been a fan of the attitude that being Muslim necessarily means that a person is or ought to be Arab, and this is a point of view promoted both by Fox News-style conservatives and often by our own Muslim communities. There are so many historically Muslim societies that are not Arab, and they are sometimes forgotten or overlooked in the discussions about Muslims and our histories. You’re quite right that it’s wrong to expect or want all converts to Islam to become “Arab ladies overnight”, and a universal religion absolutely should have space for many cultures. The thing is, there are many Muslims who have written about this problematic association already! In the interests of fully citing my sources, I suggest you read Omid Safi’s collection of essays by various authors in the book Progressive Muslims; it’s a good intro. You could also reed Deepa Kumar’s Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire; she touches on this in a roundabout way, as it’s not her main focus. You can also check out the tumblr sites ‘The Beauty of Islam’ or Party Til Fajr. I’m giving you these titles because it’s important to back up your assertions with facts and where you found those facts. Islam is varied and multicultural; not all Muslims are Arab nor are all Arabs Muslim. We are aware of this, thanks.

            You aren’t the first to have said that thinking Muslim = Arab is a problem. I promise you that we, as Muslims, are aware of this. For another example, this website is fantastic at calling out anti-Black racism (and therefore the assumption that all Muslims must be or are Arab), especially some of Leah V.’s articles. You probably don’t know many Muslim converts or you would be aware that many do not wholesale adopt Arabic or Arab cultural practises when they convert . . . and if they do, it’s not really your problem or your business.

            However, again I take exception to your assumption that any woman who converts is doing so “not out of religious conviction rather an exercise in pragmatism”, even if she converts when she marries a born-Muslim man. Who are you to judge someone else’s spiritual path and personal beliefs? How would you ever know what goes on in someone else’s head? Also, in what way does “jumping” from one religion to another “invalidate” both? Surely a sincere conversion is not an insult to either the new or the former religion. Insincere conversions are another story, but again, how would you ever judge what’s going on in someone else’s head in terms of their spiritual beliefs? You tell me that “more than 75% of Western converts to Islam are women is indicative that a heavy dose of sexism is an integral element inherent in these conversions” – first of all, you need to cite your sources if you’re going to toss out statistics. Second, how is the gendered breakdown of converts indicative of sexism? Again, as a source you can look up, I recommend to you the Zarqa Nawaz documentary Me and the Mosque, which contains interviews with a couple of female converts — both of whom cite feminist reasons for their conversions. Amina Wadud, the author of the magisterial work Qur’an and Woman, is another convert whose attitudes are distinctly pro-women’s-rights.

            Again, you do not know what is going on in someone else’s head. You don’t know why each individual female convert to Islam made the choice she made. You don’t know that for male converts either. You are not in their heads. If you’ve actually spoken to them, great – you are beginning to listen to someone else’s point of view. Keep doing that. It’s important.

            Mostly, though, what in the world does your extended quasi-apology/justification of yourself have to do with an article about microagressions and the comments Muslim women are forced to deal with on a daily basis? The article that sparked this whole conversation between us is about the things we as Muslim women hear so often that we are sick of it. Does it matter whether the Muslim woman hearing it is a convert or not? Does it matter whether or not you think her conversion is “authentic”? Does it matter whether or not she’s particularly religious? Does it matter if she wears hijab or not? Does it matter if she’s Arab, or Black, or Malaysian, or a white convert, or whatever? SHE IS STILL HEARING THIS SHIT. It’s still a problem, whatever her background, skin colour, or degree of religiosity.

            Are you trying to imply that prejudice against Muslims doesn’t count, or doesn’t matter, because some Muslim communities and Muslim individuals push a very Arab cultural interpretation of the faith? ‘Cuz that’s what your previous post sure sounds like you’re saying.

            I’m getting pretty tired of tapping out long rebuttals to you. Please do what this article says and actually listen to us when we speak. You’re doing that thing that conservative trolls do – it’s called sealioning (Ihttp://everydayfeminism.com/2017/01/sealioning/) You’re wasting my time, and everyone’s time, with digressive arguments that don’t address the issues raised by this article. Why don’t you start by just reading every single thing on this site? It’s a good site. You’ll learn lots. Remember, though – we are not here as your object-lessons, tutors in cultural awareness, or guides to the mysteries of Muslim women. We are real live human beings, and you’re not inside our heads.

          • Suzanne Shahadah

            Quick PS: I get passionate and angry about injustice and prejudice. I don’t always watch my words. If you were sincerely trying to apologize and learn, then I apologize for being harsh.

          • Suzanne Shahadah

            Hi again,

            I absolutely agree with you that converting should not entail a total cultural switch-over. I’ve never been a fan of the attitude that being Muslim necessarily means that a person is or ought to be Arab, and this is a point of view promoted both by Fox News-style conservatives and often by our own Muslim communities. There are so many historically Muslim societies that are not Arab, and they are sometimes forgotten or overlooked in the discussions about Muslims and our histories. You’re quite right that it’s wrong to expect or want all converts to Islam to become “Arab ladies overnight”, and a universal religion absolutely should have space for many cultures. The thing is, there are many Muslims who have written about this problematic association already! In the interests of fully citing my sources, I suggest you read Omid Safi’s collection of essays by various authors in the book Progressive Muslims; it’s a good intro. You could also read Deepa Kumar’s Islamophobia and the Politics of Empire; she touches on this in a roundabout way, as it’s not her main focus. You can also check out the tumblr sites ‘The Beauty of Islam’ or Party Til Fajr. I’m giving you these titles because it’s important to back up your assertions with facts and where you found those facts. Islam is varied and multicultural; not all Muslims are Arab nor are all Arabs Muslim. We are aware of this, thanks.

            You aren’t the first to have said that thinking Muslim = Arab is a problem. I promise you that we, as Muslims, are aware of this. For another example, this website is fantastic at calling out anti-Black racism (and therefore the assumption that all Muslims must be or are Arab), especially some of Leah V.’s articles. You probably don’t know many Muslim converts or you would be aware that many do not wholesale adopt Arabic or Arab cultural practises when they convert . . . and if they do, it’s not really your problem or your business.

            However, again I take exception to your assumption that any woman who converts is doing so “not out of religious conviction rather an exercise in pragmatism”, even if she converts when she marries a born-Muslim man. Who are you to judge someone else’s spiritual path and personal beliefs? How would you ever know what goes on in someone else’s head? Also, in what way does “jumping” from one religion to another “invalidate” both? Surely a sincere conversion is not an insult to either the new or the former religion. Insincere conversions are another story, but again, how would you ever judge what’s going on in someone else’s head in terms of their spiritual beliefs? You tell me that “more than 75% of Western converts to Islam are women is indicative that a heavy dose of sexism is an integral element inherent in these conversions” – first of all, you need to cite your sources if you’re going to toss out statistics. Second, how is the gendered breakdown of converts indicative of sexism? Again, as a source you can look up, I recommend to you the Zarqa Nawaz documentary Me and the Mosque, which contains interviews with a couple of female converts — both of whom cite feminist reasons for their conversions. Amina Wadud, the author of the magisterial work Qur’an and Woman, is another convert whose attitudes are distinctly pro-women’s-rights.

            Again, you do not know what is going on in someone else’s head. You don’t know why each individual female convert to Islam made the choice she made. You don’t know that for male converts either. You are not in their heads. If you’ve actually spoken to them, great – you are beginning to listen to someone else’s point of view. Keep doing that. It’s important.

            Mostly, though, what in the world does your extended quasi-apology/justification of yourself have to do with an article about microagressions and the comments Muslim women are forced to deal with on a daily basis? The article that sparked this whole conversation between us is about the things we as Muslim women hear so often that we are sick of it. Does it matter whether the Muslim woman hearing it is a convert or not? Does it matter whether or not you – a man who is presumably, given your attitudes, not Muslim – think her conversion is “authentic”? Does it matter whether or not she’s particularly religious? Does it matter if she wears hijab or not? Does it matter if she’s Arab, or Black, or Malaysian, or a white convert, or whatever? SHE IS STILL HEARING THIS SHIT. It’s still a problem, whatever her background, skin colour, or degree of religiosity.

            Are you trying to imply that prejudice against Muslims doesn’t count, or doesn’t matter, because some Muslim communities and Muslim individuals push a very Arab cultural interpretation of the faith? ‘Cuz that’s what your previous post sure sounds like you’re saying.

            I’m getting pretty tired of tapping out long rebuttals to you. Please do what this article says and actually listen to us when we speak. You’re doing that thing that conservative trolls do – it’s called sealioning (Ihttp://everydayfeminism.com/2017/01/sealioning/) You’re wasting my time, and everyone’s time, with digressive arguments that don’t address the issues raised by this article. Why don’t you start by just reading every single thing on this site? It’s a good site. You’ll learn lots. Remember, though – we are not here as your object-lessons, tutors in cultural awareness, or guides to the mysteries of Muslim women. We are real live human beings, and you’re not inside our heads.

            PS: If you are serious (because you did make some good points), and if your apology is sincere, than I apologize for my harshness. Let’s turn this into a productive conversation.

  • Veritasss

    These are silly questions that sound fabricated. Frankly, if someone asks such ignorant questions, it’s best to respond like an adult with a truthful answer, whatever that may be for you, rather than claim victimhood behind the excuse that questioners are ‘mean’, ‘microaggressive’, or ‘Islamophobic’. In other words, Grow Up!!

  • king Kong

    Did you have your clitoris Cut off…. Does your husband beat you… Do you believe in sharia law… He so do Christians have to pay Muslims a jizya…or tax.. How about asking those questions…

    • Guest

      No problem…

      Clitoris cut-off (rather crude of you?) or FGM – Cultural rather than religious practice. People who claim its Islamic do so based on doubtful and inauthentic alleged narrations attributed to the Prophet.

      Husband beatings – Aah yes, those women’s shelters in the First World are full of Muslim women because of those darn Muslim men who beat their wives. Again, acceptance of women abuse is based on culture or an individual’s actions not any religion. FYI…please google Russian Domestic Abuse Law for futher info of the Russian government and its Churchs’ stance on this issue.

      Shariah law – you have to be more specific as it covers an entire spectrum of various issues. Means the same to Muslims as halakha or Jewish law is to Jews. Anyways it means “the path” for Muslims to follow in their daily lives and yes a part covers criminal law which seems cruel to some, but hey so is death by Euthenasia for criminals in some States in the USA or torture carried out by same country. Muslims all vary in opinion – some believe it should just influence your personal life and stay out of government and some don’t. IMO, I find hand chopping abit gruesome as I’m a lover and not a fighter and I’d prefer if a thief got jail time instead.

      Jizya – Don’t worry, the only tax non-Muslims would need to pays is the kind owing to the Tax Man at the Revenue Services like everyone else. Jizya is a tax that non-Muslims used to pay in Muslims countries where they were minorities. The purpose was to ensure their protection as minorities under the state and to exempt them from military service and thus protect their numbers if the Muslim state was attacked. Jizya was used for social services and assisting poor non-Muslim families the way Zakaat is used to uplift poor Muslim families. Some fanatical Muslims do see it as a penalty against non-Muslims which should be implemented which is not very nice of them but many Scholars believe that Jizya on non-Muslims and Zakaat on Muslims are both compulsory and used for similar purposes and therefore is not discriminatory. Jizya is not levied anymore in any Muslim nation and exists mostly in the history text books.

      Thanks for your patience. I sincerely hope you learnt something.

      • Suzanne Shahadah

        I hope they did too! A well-argued post, thanks!

  • Dave Kinard

    It’s great that many women can make these choices. But Islam doesn’t let everyone make these choices. That’s where the concern is, and equating objection to the ideology of Islam with racism against individual muslims empowers the conservatives. Generally, westerners who aren’t born into Islam don’t have to worry about being oppressed by Islam. And there are western muslims who are pressured by the religion to do things. The fact that that isn’t the case for you and the people you know doesn’t mean it doesn’t occur.

  • Suzanne Shahadah

    Hmm, there seems to be a problem with the comments on this article. How come I can view some comments on my iPad, but not my computer? Also, the order of the comments changes depending on which device I use. Anyone else seeing this?