Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Women Just Want to Have Fun(damental Rights)

On the topic of female scholarship, there is so much to be said that no FB post or Twitter rant could really take all factors & aspects into consideration or give it justice.
Today, though, my musing is on whether it's enough to say "where are the female scholars?" & to provide a list of names, and what deeper issues there are related to the matter.
One of the main issues we have in this Ummah is that so many of the teachings & attitudes we have propagated about women are harmful & reductive - & it's not just men who are teaching this, but women as well. In fact, most of us women have probably heard the pearls & diamonds hijab analogies from other women; had our mothers, grandmothers, or aunties tell us that women are simply inferior to men. It is 'women of knowledge' who tell us that marriage is built on subservience to husbands, that we must "be patient" with abuse, that if we speak out about the horrors we experience, we are endangering our own afterlives. It is women who perpetuate FGM and abuse their daughters-in-law; women who raise misogynistic men; women who see other women and view them as enemies rather than sisters.
So no, merely having 'women of knowledge' doesn't automatically mean that the lot of Muslim women at large will improve. Often, we are our own worst enemies.
However - we still do need female scholars, for so many reasons.
We need female scholars who *know* the reality of womanhood, who are intimately acquainted with the biological and psychological realities of living in a world where being born female automatically puts us at risk of violence and devastation.
We need women who are ready & willing to break away from the chauvinistic attitudes that have been passed off as "Islam" for so long; women who love the Qur’an & Sunnah, women who are educated in our tradition of knowledge - & women who are principled enough to call BS when they see it.
We need women scholars in the spirit of A'ishah (radhiAllahu 'anha), Umm adDardaa' asSughra, Kareema al Baghdadiyyah, A'ishah bint Tal'ha... women who never confused Islamic knowledge with personal opinions or cultural attitudes about women - women who challenged those who tried to normalize chauvinism as Islamic evidence.
We need women scholars who will support & stand up for justice, who will not allow our voices to be silenced in the name of 'piety' or 'modesty,' women who are not shy to assert their presence not only as women amongst women, but women as full-fledged members of this Ummah, whose joys & sorrows & pain & challenges & intellectual contributions are as valid & legitimate as those of men.
We do not need the permission of men to exist, to study, to teach, to be empowered and to empower other women. We are half the Ummah figuratively, but we have allowed ourselves to be treated as though we barely exist.
More than ever, it is necessary for us to remember that our own courage and determination (and tawakkul upon Allah) is all we need to take back the spaces that we have a right to in this Ummah. (Regardless of how many bros then try to accuse us of tantrumming or being SJW's when we assert ourselves...)

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