I’m not sure why but I always seem to find myself in difficult positions on social media. It must be the downside of being a bit wishy washy and not holding solidified views in a world of labels and boxes.
The latest drama has been the re-surfacing of a 2010 blog post by Yasmin Mogahed, in which she takes a pop at Dr. Amina Wadud’s decision to lead a mixed Friday prayer in 2005.
I’m no student of knowledge, but I’ve heard Dr. Wadud’s justifications, as well as other scholars who cite the Hadith of Um Waraqah who led the men of her household in prayer, as proof of precedence. Although I believe in many feminist principles, and have the conservative shaykh Al Albaani’s classification of the Hadith as “hasan” (good) as security that this isn’t just an equality-loving woman’s dream come true, I’m still not entirely convinced.
However, despite this, as well as the fact that I personally view Dr. Wadud’s stance on a lot of things as “out there,” I’ve found myself in the odd position of being her cheerleader.
This is the point where any woman with feminist or, for those who are a bit afraid of the ‘F’ word, progressive ideas rolls their eyes.
Yasmin Mogahed’s lengthy criticism is based entirely on an assumption of Dr. Wadud’s intentions. Rather than citing any of Dr. Wadud’s research, Yasmin Mogahed used a technique we Muslim women are, unfortunately, all too familiar with: she based her whole argument on a misconception.
For example, when people want to discredit the hijab or niqab (as the political party UKIP are currently doing in the U.K.), they point to the assumed reason behind us wearing it: that we have been forced to wear it by our menfolk, because obvs!
It is not until courageous women, like Sahar al-Faifi, stand up and explain the true intention behind it that people realise why we are covering ourselves.
Similarly, Yasmin ignored Dr. Wadud’s insistence that this was based on 11 years of “research and soul-searching” and, instead, attributed her decision to lead the mixed prayer as wanting to ‘be like a man’ because- obvs!
This is the point where any woman with feminist or, for those who are a bit afraid of the “F” word, progressive ideas rolls their eyes. To simplify any woman’s actions to wanting to “be like a man” is a very common insult. It is used to shut down any woman who seeks to question the current status quo and, frankly, it’s been devastatingly overused. For more on my thoughts regarding the relationship of Muslim women and feminism please read here.
This issue aside, I have enjoyed seeing a sister “make it.” Yasmin Mogahed has faced tremendous hate from all sides and come a long way from her initial YouTube video days. But it does show how far we still have to go when on one of her latest lecture videos, on behalf of the well-respected AlMaghrib Institute, the majority of comments seem to be about her nail varnish. Muslims pride themselves on being somewhat superior to the notion of objectifying women to just their physical appearance. But how does #nailpolishgate differ from the Daily Mail’s preoccupation with U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May and Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon’s legs?
And this is the reason why her criticism of Dr. Wadud is so poisonous. Why is a sister in the public eye, who is more than aware of the struggle, making the same mistake every other critic makes?
Why use her actions as an excuse to go on an anti-feminist tirade when really this is a fiqhi issue for students of Fiqh to address?
To simplify any woman’s actions to wanting to ‘be like a man’ is a very common insult. It is used to shut down any woman who seeks to question the current status quo and, frankly, it’s been devastatingly overused.
Dr. Yusuf al Qaradawi, an Egyptian shaykh, was very critical of Dr. Wadud’s decision to lead the prayer. The difference between his criticism and that of Yasmin Mogahed was that he addressed varying dimensions of Dr. Wadud’s reasons rather than a blind, wrongful assumption of them.
Muslim women are JUST finding their seats at the table. We are all painfully aware of how hard it is to get Muslim women on a speakers panel, on a conference line up, on a poster! It is not that long ago our faces were considered too much fitna and that flowers or silhouettes were a more “modest” representation of our identity. But things are changing.
2017 has seen the rise and rise of more Muslim women in every field of public life and the momentum is exciting to watch.
It is interesting to note that Yasmin wrote this years ago. The speed at which it has been shared and re-shared in recent days implicates the fear of many Muslim men and, unfortunately, women who have internalised misogyny, at this shift in the power balance.
The issue becomes even more interesting when you compare the treatment on social media of Dr. Amina Wadud in comparison to Dr. Taj Hargey, the anti-niqab imam, who was interviewed alongside niqab-wearing molecular geneticist, Sahar Al-Faifi this week. This man’s venomous attack on Muslim women who choose to cover their face seems much more troubling than a woman who wants to unite people in prayer. And yet, where is the public outcry against him? Where are the shared and re-shared statuses declaring him an innovator or enemy of Islam?
In order to bolster the notion that Dr. Wadud is untrustworthy, people have started sharing her ill-advised tweet supposedly declaring Prophet Ibrahim as a “deadbeat dad.” I was as shocked as anyone seeing this but, unfortunately, this comes down to two things in my eyes: our “clickbait,” fast information culture and Dr. Wadud’s unwillingness to explain herself properly. It would have been more effective if she had included a link to her research/full blog post on this subject in the tweet. It is unclear why Dr. Wadud has chosen to defend her initial tweet rather than expanding on its meaning.
But what has saddened me more than anything else is seeing prominent female Muslim women fall out and argue publicly over this issue.
However it is at points like this where we need to stop and think if the right approach is to tear a woman down without mentioning their true intentions — particularly if we are talking about a student of knowledge.
There are many speakers out there that need to be pulled down as Dr. Wadud has been these past few days, but they won’t be. Speakers who have declared a woman’s need to orgasm as unimportant, shaykhs who have suggested women get aroused by smear tests, speakers who have made light of domestic abuse or those who have wrongfully given rulings on a number of issues. But they won’t be. Because they are students of knowledge? Because they are men? You decide.
But what has saddened me more than anything else is seeing prominent female Muslim women fall out and argue publicly over this issue. During the course of this social media storm Amina Wadud has been incredibly vocal in shutting down anyone who opposes her and, unfortunately, even some tentative allies. Similarly, many Muslim women in the public eye have taken to social media to express their anger at Yasmin Mogahed’s words.
We have so many obstacles to overcome and causing unnecessary bad feeling does not help us at all. The issue here is not whether you agree or disagree with something that took place 12 years ago. Students of knowledge can and should be called out when they slip up, but could we all just take a step back and think about why we seem much more comfortable doing this to a female student of knowledge?
We have so many fights ahead and the battles will seem less daunting if we are united.
Well said! Muslim women are always the first to be criticized over any and every little thing. Therefore we most definitely shouldn’t be the ones belittling one another. Especially over topics that require broad conversations and respectful listening of each other’s opinions. I’m SO glad Muslim Girl provides a self, respectful place for Muslims to have such convos. Also I noticed the other day that Amina was being attacked with rude language from younger/millennial aged muslims who simply disagreed with her on a topic. They were hurling insults at her like “Stupid Old Lady” and “Idiot” simply because she was stating her perspective on certain topics. Not only are attitudes and language such as that regressive but overall it discredits the Muslim community integrity and portrays us all in a terrible light. You have every right to express your opinion on a topic, however if you consider yourself a good or decent muslim and person, belittling someone on twitter will not do you well. Shame on those kids, I hope they find it within themselves and their egos to learn how to speak with modesty.
You probably should preach that to the old wretch herself. A person who blasphemes against a Prophet of Allah and call his wife a selfish bitch deserves no respect, they are outside the fold of Islam. And their sentence in an Islamic court would be death. There are no perspectives to blaspheming Prophets of Allah
Would be a good pickup joint for teenagers. Elders could eye the hotter young’uns too!
Who needs bars and clubs, would be a good pickup joint for teenagers sans guilt. What with all those pheromones hanging around at close proximity, lots of erections and wets one could safely guess. Should increase attendance though, to this holier than holy mosque. Elders could keep an eye on the hotter, eye candy too!
Jihadies will not like it, but then they are becoming extinct, being eliminated at an increasing rate.
You’re babbling nonsense
I understand where this article is coming from and I read it in an attempt to understand the counter view to this issue.
But I also think to say that we have much greater issues to worry about doesn’t absolve us from discussing it. Yes, I agree the manner in which it was done could have been more academic and neutral and social media really has a thing for blowing things out of proportion. But there are some implications of mixed prayer congregation on society that should not be ignored.
I respect your view but at the same time, I cannot reconcile this type of prayer with the prayer taught by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). For me, it isn’t even about the whole feminist drama in between. It’s just something not settling quite well with my beliefs.
Nonetheless, I appreciate your blogs on sensitive issues. They really get me thinking. And I always try to listen to and accomodate different viewpoints.
Honestly, these attacks on each other shows that Muslims are often our own worst enemy. Unless Wadud can back her views with sound authentic hadith and religious injunction, I just will not feel comfortable with mixed gender prayers. Praying next to someone of the opposite gender in no way enhances your own prayer or spiritual experience and if you think it does, then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. That said, I also hate the old cliche of women wanting to be like men. That silly argument has been used to shut down women from those who want to join the workplace to those who merely wish to exercise their Islamic rights. Seriously Yasmin Mogahed should know better. This entire episode just emphasises how much we need self-reflection and honest discussion of the origin of current Islamic rulings and its history. It’s 2017 and yet Muslim women in some parts of the world are still discouraged from attending mosque prayers for fear of “enticing the male species” and yet Muslimahs praying in the mosque was normal during the time of the Prophet. Where does this misogyny originate from and why?
4 years ago i was heavily researching into feminism and now look where we end up. An entire generation of young Muslim girl have swalloed the F-pill with open arms. It will have repercussions. I am afraid by just reading this article and reading Dr wadud “Hajar in the dessert ” feels like the religion is being sucked out. The divine and righteous traits the humans had are being overlooked by the glasses of post- mondernity. The attempt to reach levels of perfect trust just like hajar aleyha selam did. Is not an ambition any longer. Our battles have become battles of worldly affairs only. Her full obedience to Allah swt remarkable. The beyond genious dua of Ibraheem aley selam to ask for strong emaan before physical provision is overlooked. Her strength and belief undermine and judge according mondern standards. Its a shame. For such a long time they were figuring out how to get to us. Finally shaytan found a way. Rasullah warned us about movements in the later days that would misguide females.
The muslim women has divided herself from the rest. Its now Muslim women problems. This alon just proves that a lot young muslim girls were yearning for representation. Nothing came. They took matters in their owm hands. A dangerous path
”Muslim MEN aren’t criticized as much as Famous celeb muslim WOMEN are”, ”Hence I will side with a muslim women EVEN IF she speaks ill of a Mighty Prophet of Allah (peace be upon them all)” <
You want condemnation of a nobody who issued fatwa on ovulating women?
As for TAJ Hargi, does he even consider ISLAM to be the best way of life for all human beings? He HATES every scholar on the planet.
Please don't promote ANY innovator or liar upon Islam. Just because YOU haven't heard of any public outry against ANY specific corrupt fool doesn't mean the silence shows support from the noble upright scholars for THAT particular fool.
Please don't speak over matters that you do not qualify to speak over nor give personal opinions in matters of Muslimeen. Imagine the consequence of ignorant individuals spreading their personal doubts/ignorance online, breeding more ill will/rhetoric against actual noble scholars of Islam that speak against any and every falsehood there is.
Wassalam 'Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh
I don’t view this argument for a woman leading a mixed prayer as substantial
I know Prophet Muhammed (saw) believed in women’s rights and that he is a strong supporter of strong, capable women like As-Sahabiyaat (the female companions of The Prophet pbuh)
but still don’t we have to pray as he prayed?
And also an Imam who leads prayer has to be present and ready to pray.
What if she as her period at an unexpected moment?
imagine the horror of period cramps in sujud. ouch.
and leading an entire congregation while having period cramps. mega ouch
I do identify as a Muslim feminist (depending on your definition thereof)
but I’m not sure it’s permissible
What I do know is that it is ridiculous to accuse someone of wanting “to be like a man”
What I know is permissible is for a woman to lead prayer if a male cannot do it or is unavailable
men and women can pray together though
as they did in the time of The Prophet (saw)
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