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Dear President Erdogan: You’re the One Who Doesn’t Get It

Dear President Erdogan: You’re the One Who Doesn’t Get It

Dear President Erdogan,

Have you ever heard the story of Shajar al-Durr? The “gentle lady” widow declared Sultana of Egypt in the 13th century. The “fragile” woman who, almost single-handedly, terminated the Seventh Crusade. The “dainty” leader who orchestrated the capture of King Louis IX of France. The “delicate” politician who fiercely negotiated with the French, regained control of Egyptian land, and ransomed Louis IX for 1,000,000 bezants, a whopping 30% of France’s annual revenue at the time.

But how dare she go against her nature? How dare she successfully defend her country in a position of power reserved only for man? Right?

You make a public attack on feminism as an insult to women, but you’re missing the point. Feminism is as much of a movement for men as it is for women. But that might be why you have a problem with it.

Feminism is not the rejection of motherhood as you say, President Erdogan. Feminism is equating the importance of motherhood to the importance of fatherhood. Feminism is allowing our children, regardless of gender, to dream of fitting into the mold of any position in society. Feminism is creating an atmosphere where men can be stay at home dads in the same way that women can be stay at home moms. It’s to create a society in which men can be generals and presidents and doctors and judges in the same way that women can be any and all of those things — with the same opportunity and with the same respect. That is feminism.

Feminism, President Erdogan, reminds us that the nature of gender equality is not a modern one, and the Islamic ideology you are so quick to generalize is not at all anti-feminist. Rather, Islam is a religion of justice, to which feminism is not at all foreign. To quote Reza Aslan’s No God but God,

“[The feminist’s] Medina is a society in which Muhammad [SAW] designated women like Umm Waraqa as spiritual guides for the Ummah … in which women prayed and fought alongside men; in which women like Aisha [RA] and Umm Salamah acted not only as religious but also as political — and on at least one occasion military — leaders; and in which the call to gather for prayer, bellowed from the rooftop of Prophet Muhammad’s house, brought men and women together to kneel side by side and be blessed as a single undivided community.

I don’t see any indication from Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), the role model of Islamic conduct, that women are not on an equal societal footing with men.

After all, it was his wife, Khadijah (RA), who consoled him upon his first Qur’anic revelation, when he ran to her in fear.

It was Umm Imara who defended the Prophet (PBUH) during the battle of Uhud, to which he recounted:

“On the day of Uhud, I never looked right or left without seeing Umm Imara fighting to defend me”

It was Sumayyah bint Khayyat, a “delicate” female, who was the first brave martyr in Islam, executed by the people of Quraysh for her conversion.

Don’t all these women, according to you, go against their “delicate nature”? Weren’t all these women limited to the duty of motherhood? Do you tell your daughter these stories, President Erdogan? Or do you simply tell her what she cannot do, what she can never amount to, as she sits in the audience listening to your anti-feminist rants? I hope you tell her, President Erdogan, that your religion proclaimed that women deserve rights just as men long, long, long before anyone else did.

Or is it easier to preach to a room of women that, no matter how many seats are taken, the room will still only be half as full as a room of men, than to believe those “delicate natured flowers” are as capable of leading a nation as any other man? Is it easier for you to tell your daughter that she, because of her biology, cannot dig in the soil the way a man can, rather than believe that there are female archaeologists uncovering the earth with their bare hands, discovering the wonders of the world alongside their male counterparts? Is it easier for you to generalize the Islamic position for women in society as one of absolute motherhood, rather than open the Qur’an and read all the social opportunities outlined for women that don’t include staying home?

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When God judges us, there will not be a separation of male and female souls. Or did you not read the part of the Qur’an that clearly states the most basic concept of gender equality?

“I shall not lose sight of the labor of any of you who labors in My way, be it man or woman; each of you is equal to the other.” (3:195)

Did you not read the part of the Qur’an that allows women clear political power, political duty, stating:

“And the believers, both men and women — they are friends and protectors of one another; they enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong.” (9:71)

You mentioned during your speech that women are only deserving of equal respect and, for some reason, not equality. However, equal respect and social equality fall hand in hand. If the man truly respected the woman, he would respect her dreams, her efforts, her aspirations, and he would step aside and let her achieve without unjust interference. Let the woman do as she pleases. Let the woman be a mother. Let the woman be a doctor. Let the woman be a ruler. That is respect, President Erdogan. That is feminism.

I am not sure what kind of limited definition of respect you have, but the respect I know is all encompassing. The respect I know has no boundaries. The respect I know, knows no gender or skin color or background. And women deserve every ounce of it.

Best wishes,
A Fragile Female™

View Comments (19)
  • I am sure you wouldn’t mind changing the car tire while your husband sips tea inside the minivan and I am sure you wouldn’t mind working in the office from 8am until 5pm while your husband spends his day in the mall checking out the latest deals.

      • Hiba, I’m not so certain that Aayjay missed the point – but, has rather brought up a point of contention where gender roles or expectations may be concerned. Men are quite often physically stronger than the women that they love and are committed to – because of this, women are often, but not always, quite impelled to let their husbands “change the tire” – expecting not to be involved with the repair itself. Of course a woman, almost any woman, can change a flat tire – even as her husband sips tea in the minivan. More often than not – I may hate to say, or I may not hate to say – when a flat tire needs to be changed and both husband and wife are present, dude does the work. Much of this is cultural, some of this is likely simply physical. I do see your point – please do not doubt me. I see Aayjay’s point as well. To me, equal judgment/opportunity/appreciation/etc. is a must. Equivalent duties or expectations seem to get lost with this concept, however. I think it would be tough to delete gender expectations here and now today. I’m not saying that gender expectations should not be revised – but, that many do expect, and consequently conform with, these current expectations – right or wrong.

          • Wow, I’ll take that as about the best compliment as I’ve ever received! No, I’m simply a middle-child. Perhaps I’m simply a bit diplomatic out of necessity – from my childhood years. 🙂

          • I have a middle-child so I understand although that middle-child upon teaching her later teens has become a little more outspoken 🙂 I kind of want it that way. I don’t want her to keep those feelings, to tell everybody as it is, in her for too long.

      • She missed because there is no point, except perhaps the one you missed; men and women are equal in THEIR own way in the eyes of the their Creator.

    • Most women don’t sip tea while their husband are at work , and they don’t often go for shopping as much with their husband’s ” Money” because they control it. Women life is harder than men life anyway generally so why not be bread winner and have economic independence .

      • Actually, many (if not most) of the women not only sip tea while the husbands work, they also are watching dramas on Hum TV (after they wake up at noon), throwing kitty parties around and doing the grunt work of checking prices out at the mall. If you disagree, do you want to study some statistics? BUT that was not what my point was. How about if the author so wants to be an “equal” to her husband, she should be willing to do everything that a man does including changing tires, mowing lawns, carrying bags, to name a few. Because unless she wants to do (and does) exactly everything the guy does and maintains complete gender neutrality in the household, this article written against Erdogan’s statement of women being unequal to men is disingenuous.

        • The article doesn’t really argue complete equality between the sexes. There is an OBVIOUS distinction between males and females, particularly in biology. The article is arguing economic, social and political equality.

          What you do at home with your wife on your own time is not a matter of feminism. That is a matter of domestic life. That is up to you. But how our women are treated on a national level (i.e. being paid less than men) is not okay. That’s what this article is arguing. That women should be treated equally publicly.

          I think the author is making it clear to everyone that there are hidden messages behind innocent commentary from someone of such a powerful status, such as Erdogan, that can impact people on a large scale.

          • He is a leader. By stating “women are delicate” he is belittling their nature from all aspects. He cannot say things like that and expect the world not to be offended. Full stop.

          • I think he said two things: that women are mothers and as such need to focus on that – nothing wrong with that if he is giving us 6 months off with paid salary after a baby is born and 6 months paid work from home. I mean what’s wrong with getting extra concessions as a mother? The next thing he said was that women can’t do certain things that men do. That’s true as well – send the guys for overnight work related trips. Here is the thing- intention really matters. If Erdogan wants to improve things for mothers and women, it doesn’t hurt us but if he was thinking of lowering salaries for women even though the man and the woman do the same work, then that is just idiocy. Even Islam wouldn’t allow that.

            My problem with some ladies is the fact that in striving for equality, they don’t care if they lose benefits because somehow they just feel better that they are equal to men. And then there are some women who boast of equality on the domestic front but would not be willing to do any guy things without throwing a fit.

            For me, feminism is trying to get all that I can get as a woman and mother, and not jump on this man and woman are equal bandwagon and lose any concessions down the way. In fact, Merriam and Webster has both the definitions : the equal thing and protect the women thing.


            Count me in for the latter. I don’t want equality if it hurts me. I want everything I can get as a woman, wife and mother.

  • Shame on you! Now you are attacking perhaps the only real Muslim Leader in the world. Honestly, with all my heart, shame on you.

    Feminism is as much of a movement for men as it is for women Utter rubbish. Stop trying to impose manjna-ism to men too. Feminism has done little improve the lives of women overall with the utter chaos in society. More bastards and more fatherless homes all through the land. Women in their 40’s with successful careers and important positions in society now are seeing empty nests and big fancy houses with no family.

    Feminism is equating the importance of motherhood to the importance of fatherhood Wrong. Motherhood and fatherhood are not the same and don;t be so naive as to think in Islam the role of the mother is nay lessened in any sense, without you projecting your inane advocation of feminism. So before this ideology were mother worthless ??

    Feminism is allowing our children, regardless of gender, to dream of fitting into the mold of any position in society What kind of a retarded religion do you people believe in anymore ? [Ideally] MEN AND WOMEN DO NOT HAVE THE SAME ROLE IN GENERAL SOCIETY.

    …generals and presidents and doctors and judge… God Be Praised for that! Yes, I agree completely. Women can and should be entering these field, but WHY feminism ? Why this absurd ideology ? Are women nothing without feminism? So a 20th century ideology now liberates women, that I always thought the religion liberated 1,400 years ago ?

    Also Reza Aslan, a progressive liberal secular professor of religion, does not actually believe that Prophet received divine revelation.

    he would step aside and let her achieve without unjust interference
    Here is the Farewell Sermon of the Nabi:
    O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

    You are not a fragile female, but one is misguided to think a western 20th century ideology can all of a sudden give Muslim women what apparently they missed out on in their religion.

      • I sit and wonder if feminism (lower-case “f”) is fine and dandy by my bothers’ and sisters’ standards, but that it might not be so OK when imposed/evangelized upon others – as those being imposed upon might not accept the “new” cause itself as a Must. Imposition by “militarism”, conceived or real, is truly a turn-off. Just a thought. Hmm.

  • To all these so called feminists, i have one simple question. In islam are women allowed to assume the role of imam? We all know that the imam responsibility is that of a great burden. It is equal to modern day ruler. The answer is no so stop skewing the truth in islam. Women do have a crucial role in islam but its a role of raising good, well mannered generations for years to follow-with the help of father ofcourse- not on her own. But i have never ever heard or read anywhere in islam that women can be leaders on men. And go back to islam once again, it is not acceptable for a woman to go to work and provide for her family while she has a able man at home. Stop inventing a new version of islam where you want women to be “free” by leading over men and having the freedom to come and go as she wishes. It might not be what this young generation wants to hear but it is the way we are supposed to follow. One last thing, why is it that a woman cannot perform hajj on her own and she needs a male relative (حرم ) to accompany her? I simply think feminism goes against islam. May Allah (swt) guide our sisters to hudaa.

  • It was narrated that Abu Bakrah said: When the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard that the people of Persia had appointed the daughter of Chosroes as their queen, he said, “No people will ever prosper who appoint a woman in charge of them.”

    Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4163

    When the sahih hadeeth comes to us, we as ahlussunah throw all the other opinions and arguments against the wall and follow the hadeeth. So this is the END OF THE STORY for us! The saheeh hadeeth has come to us, clarifying that women should not be rulers!

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