Muslim women don’t need your approval, but you can make yourself useful in our cause

What do you have against sheperds?
What do you have against sheperds?

Time to confess something to you: I’m more than a little disturbed by some of the responses to my post on the Pakistani Taliban’s threats to maim women with acid.

Talk about missing the point! I’ve received emails from seething white supremacists who want to annihilate all Muslims, angry feminists demanding that I remove my headscarf (funny, shouldn’t feminists be fighting for choice?! As a feminist, I fight for theirs!), not to mention verbose comments about “sheparding cultures breeding terrorists” – (wait, wasn’t Jesus “the good sheperd”?), etc etc etc. I even got a message from someone who felt the need to let me know how hideous he thinks I am. Thanks for the pointers, buddy. Now stop looking through my album before you get sick.

I’ll tell you right now – my gut reaction is not just shock at how people can completely overlook the point of something like this – not to mention how anyone can feel absolutely no mercy when it comes to the suffering of others. I’m also choking down a desire to tell individuals to quit wasting our collective time, save their herding commentaries and hit-lists for their own diaries and get back to us when they’ve decided how to help the world in a constructive way. A good many of us have work to do – take your hate and get out of our way. (And a tip for the would-be lynchers: your emails are traceable. D’OH!)

At the same time, I encourage open dialogue. So, other than some downright undigestable hate language, I let most comments go up over the weekend. I’m glad I did, because some positivity did come of it: I received notes from several of you looking for more ways to help Pakistan’s women. I also heard from contacts at the International Campaign Against Honour Killings that they experienced an increase in requests to join their mailing list. This is great news. I encourage more of you to support the work of the ICAHK. This is not a partisan issue. This is something all people of conscience must address.

Some contributors made excellent points:

* A writer from Malaysia reminded readers that Muslims are not the monolithic entity many would have us be;

* Several men decried violence against women, including one who wrote:

I, RJ as a man, personally condemn these horrible/terrible attacks on women for whatever purpose they have been done for, for whatever period of time these crimes will be carried out or have been carried out, whereever in this planet/realm they have been carried out, are being carried out or are being planned for the future. I respect the rights of women and their dignity not to conform to violent views of their sexual practices, morality ( including outlawing and punishing having sexual intercourse before marriage, having multiple partners and etc..), or other manufactured perceptions of their clothing, style and ethics. I personally use all my power and will to stop violence and lack of understanding that is used as a sword against women and their rights. And I from all of my hearts do call upon those in the know, those who lead the banks who support religious terrorism and extremism of whatever kind and also my very distant bloodline relatives, who like to think of themselves as in the minority to do something to stop this – since my example might not be enough. I was not picked by the Divine before I was even born to rule over others and to say to them what to do, but clearly I am not a peasant who will stand by the sidelines and watch one of the few pure sources of joy in my personal life be abused. Since harming women is harming me as a man.”

* Someone named Daoud brought a meaningful defense of Islam to the table – while also calling on Muslim leaders to take action. What do I mean? He didn’t just cite Qur’an and hadith, then stomp away indignantly. He also said:

“It is the role and responsibility of imams, shaykhs, scholars, and political and government figures to lead and give relevant advice to those they are responsible for for the time and situations we are living in. If they will not do this, then they are betrayers of their trust the consequences of which we see meted out to such as these poor women.

If people are genuinely concerned about these atrocities then they should be demanding that the appropriate authorities take appropriate action against the perpetrators – they often know which of the birarderi elders sanctioned these attacks. How about putting them in prison? How about putting the person who actually threw the acid in prison for a very long time? This would be quite acceptable under the Shariah, although the classical punishment would have been even more severe.

There is no tribalism in Islam (”la ‘asabiyyah fi-l Islam” ;) is a well-known hadith. “The best of you are the best of you to your womenfolk…” (akhyarukum akhyarukum li nisa’ikum… ;) is another.

* When confronted with hate, a Muslim woman wrote:

“Well, here’s the thing: there are 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. If we were all terrorists, the world would have imploded years ago. The truth is that the majority of us are kind, normal people. The radicals, like the Taliban, Hamas, Al-Qaida etc etc are the ones doing all of the speaking through their actions.

I have said for a long time that it is time for moderate, peaceful believers in Islam to *speak up for ourselves* and say NOT in the name of Allah, of OUR God do you do these heinous things.”

Music to my ears.

* The post has been picked up by Impunity Watch. See their mention of it here, in an article by Managing Editor Lindsey Brady. The mission of Impunity Watch – housed at Syracuse University College of Law – is to “monitor and address horrific human rights abuses.”

* Someone else provided this link, to Pakistan’s Acid Survivor’s Foundation. They help survivors and work to end acid attacks. Their site also contains a list of actual ways you can help. Now that’s a useful contribution to the conversation. 

Finally, I received an email containing the story of Imrana, a survivor of sexual assault in India. When local authorities failed to produce a humane verdict in her case, Imrana, a Muslim, took her story elsewhere. Women’s groups mobilized to assist in her cause, and she’s inspired the formation of the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement. Spread over 13 states in India, with over 2,000 members, these women don’t need the approval of clerics (or racist wingnuts on the internet) to go after their God-given rights. They know that Islam gives them these freedoms. You go, sisters.


 “The most perfect man of religion is he who excels in character. The best among you is he who gives the best treatment to his womenfolk.”

The Prophet Muhammad, as narrated by Al-Tirmidhi

13 thoughts on “Muslim women don’t need your approval, but you can make yourself useful in our cause

  1. It’s crazy that so many people miss the point so bad. They should be proud of (muslim) women adressing such problems. The issue is not even about Islam, such attacks happen all over the world. And about feminists trying to get you to remove your veil, what are they really fighting for????

    Keep up the good work, and never mind the ignorant.

  2. Since Jihadwatch got hold of my blog, I too, have been astounded at the amount of time certain people (who claim to be fighting against the ‘oppression’ of Muslim women), have to waste making stupid, mindless comments that are of benefit to no one. If they truly cared about ‘liberating’ us don’t tell us to take of our hijabs – that is not oppression. Oppression is the elderly widow in Lebanon who cannot afford her Hepatitis medication, the young girl whose family cannot afford to send her to school, the mother who has to give birth in filthy, unsafe conditions because there are no healthcare facilities in her village, the child in Bosnia whose parents were massacared. THAT is oppression, not a piece of cloth on one’s head. It’s time for people to look at the real issues, and stop bleating on about how Islam is supposedly responsible for these atrocities, when really, it is down to human beings, of any religion or none, who have no mercy in their hearts.

  3. I’m not surprised over the over-reactions…

    Some people just enjoy and still choose to be oblivious, ignorant, judgemental, one-dimensional and hateful about Islam and muslims.

    But always keep in mind with every situation Allah is testing us-on how we re/act in that particular situation with the choices we make, of which you will be held accountable for on the Day of Judgement.

    Everyone will be held accountable.

    It doesn’t make any sense for someone to enter Paradise when they’re torturing, oppressing and terrorising people. The Prophet s.a.w never did this so how could they be even doing this to their own fellow muslims?!?

    Just like the Taliban are trying to take the humanity out of Islam, its time we can’t let them or anyone else tarnish what the real Islam is all about =full of HUMANITY.

  4. I’m so amazed by how much protection Muslim women are given in the Qu’ran. It’s such a shame that certain powers-that-be in various countries ignore this and legally abuse women!!

    I’m not what you would call a Bible Scholar but still, I don’t recall nearly as much “women’s rights” in the Scriptures. However, Jesus sure had no problem treating women with dignity and respect!!

  5. P.S. Heh! Feminists crack me up. They hoot and howl and carry on about “choice” ~ and then attack the “freedom to choose” of anyone they disagree with! And I mean… they try and go through the courts and stuff to legislate against other women who are not doing the Feminist thing… Their claims of desiring freedom of “choice” are such a farce. If YOU said to THEM, “Remove your miniskirt and put on an abaya” they’d say you were an oppressive control-freak. But somehow it’s ok to go around telling you to remove your headscarf… the hypocracy is always so rife! I finally removed comments from my own blog because I got so sick and tired of the Feminists launching personal attacks but never actually engaging in mature dialog. What ever happened to adult argument?!

  6. Right! I’m a feminist, and hijab is my feminist statement against cosmopolitan society. It’s also my statement against the Talibs and everyone else because I know what Islam is to me. I love it because it is equality of all people without race or region or gender. To the believing men and women.

    It’s often tiresome to argue with anyone, especially here in the cyber world. Folks like jihadwatch et al will not debate, they hate, fear and judge. These are such base emotions that we are unfair to expect higher understanding or deep respectful debate.

    That said, keep up the good work. Many of us ARE listening.

    Erica Aisha

  7. All of the negativity that was sent to you via email is extremely disturbing but what bothers me most, what really grinds my gears, what really hurts my heart and makes me almost lose my belief in humanity is that some dude is trying to say that Raquel is hideous.

    Come on now bro, are you blind? “Can’t you see she is sexy?!?” LOL. Girl, I know you had to have a laugh at that one. You, and I, know you are very BEAUTIFUL. I always say to each his/her own but this guy is just plain stupid. You are stunning, gorgeous, you make me want to slap my grandma, yes you are that beautiful. You had me at Salaam girl. LOL

    Anyway, I’ve unfortunately learned at a young age, I’m the same age as you Raquel that in this world there are a lot of evil people. Not mean not cold hearted, just plain evil. Someone here mentioned that sometimes God tests us to see how we’ll react. In a way, like Job and at various levels and many ways he does. How we respond determines how we will be blessed. And sometimes other forces are just trying to get us off track and throw stumbling blocks in your way.

    Raquel all you can do is continue to be a light in this world. “That which does not kill you makes you stronger”. You’re an Iron Woman! You pick yourself up, dust yourself off and continue to fight the good fight babe. There just aren’t enough people like you in this world. I cannot stress that enough. We NEED you! Let them hate. Know that I’ve got your back all the way. You just keep doing what you’re doing because it needs to get done.

    If there is anyway I can help you help others, let me know. I’m not sure I have enough courage the way you do to take on these folks quite the way you do but baby, I’m willing to start taking baby steps. Hit me up and keep me posted. I’m on your side  God Bless.

  8. Another terrific article, and great responses from your supporters Raquel.Keep up the good fight!, Yours in solidarity, JMD

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