Muslims are obliged to understand and practice Islam as per the understanding of the Salafs (Qur’an, 2:137). The Sahabas are learnt Qur’an directly from the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam). Their understanding is therefore the purest and perfect. The prime cause of liberalisation of western Muslims is apathy towards the doctrines of Islam based on this understanding of Sahabas.
Abandoning this methodology has led to confusions and misconceptions; which eventually led to deviating from Sirat al-Mustaqeem. The expansion of misinterpretation of Islam led to seeping in of many Modernist trends all over the globe. We started seeing ‘Muslim reformers’ demanding ‘progressive’ interpretation of Islamic values. This led to inflow of various ideologies in Islam such as “gender friendly Islam”, “humane Islam”, “liberal Islam” etc. Soon these reformers were discussing liberalisation of individuals that reflected an apathy for Islam and Muslims, oppression of Muslim women, human rights for deprived Muslims and the need for good-governance in Muslim nations. The reformers were self-acclaimed champions to liberate everyone who felt oppressed by the “aggressive” interpretation of Islam. (Kayum, S.A)
With this begun the journey of liberalisation of Muslims in the West. The first things that contributed to this, was the straying from the path of salaf-us-saliheen. Every reason that follows actually branches out from this root. The shortage of people of knowledge as the Last Day approaches was prophesized by Our Prophet (salallahu alayhi wasallam). The people will then take the ignorant as their leaders. [Bukhari & Muslim]. Holding on to the deen has gradually progressed to be like holding hot coal and this too was prophesized.[Tirmidhi] Especially in the west, where we see such “liberal” outlook amongst the Kuffar, practising Islam on the correct methodology is possible only in whose heart lies the strong backup of imaan billah and knowledge of religion.
One such major wave that has swept the Muslims is the wave of Feminism. The rights and honour given to a mominah has been mocked over and over. Honoring a woman’s modesty by way of hijab, injunctions regarding mosque and her responsibilities of home have been demeaned by tagging them oppressive. (Kayum). The call of feminists calling women to intermixing of sexes, zina, and all other forms of corruption is actually what oppresses women. Not only is her modesty compromised, this has caused the weakening of a Islamic family structure where division of responsibility along with respect to mutual rights and duties is promoted. It puts her under the burden of equal responsibilities as males whereas Allah has allotted different responsibility upon men and women and has commanded us to not covet what He has given to some in preference over others. (Qur’an, 4:32-34). Never has the primary duty of guarding the household been considered a hindrance if she wants to earn wealth, educate herself and hold public offices as per shar’ia limitations. In fact, even men have been appreciated to uphold sunnah of helping in household chores. (Bukhari).
The modernists, including feminists, consider Aql and desires over revelation (Naql). The roots of feminism originate from patriarchy where the male was given supremacy over women and children. There was control of men over a disproportionately large share of power. In this system men used their authority largely to oppress and exploit them which is clearly indicated in verses 58 to 59 of Surah An-Nahl. Women were placed as objects instead of subjects and were not given any decision making power. There was male violence, sexual assaults and wife battering to keep women subservient in home and public. (Maggie, 1995)
Feminism was a reactionary movement which rose in the west against patriarchy. It aimed at achieving social, economic, personal and political equality of sexes. The modern feminist movement was spread across the 19th and 20th century comprising of women’s suffrage movements. In the 1960s begun the women’s liberation movement to gain legal and social equality. (Hakesworth, 2006) (Chris, 1999)
From the above we realise that when in the patriarchal structure women were deprived of basic human rights such as right to inherit, right of guardianship, right to education etc., feminism was a movement that rose to grant them these. It aimed at a structuring a society of women independent from he control of the oppressive man. This in itself is a loud reason for Muslims to understand that feminism does not liberate women. Rather, Islam has always advocated and protected a woman’s right to be honored and her dignity to be protected.
This movement started making women feel liberated as women started delaying marriage to retain their identities- a right ensured to Muslim women much earlier emphasizing their right to keep their maiden name always. It undermines the value of ethical child rearing causing an epidemic of bad kids. We see a rise in zina, abortions as well as illegitimate children. It can be owed to the patriarchal culture, especially in Asian nations, due to which feminism found quick acceptability in Muslimahs who saw it as a key to attain freedom, respect and appreciation.
Allah has made women the twin halves of men. (Abu Dawud, 216). The purpose of creating different genders is to perpetuating human race and to create love and mercy and stability in homes. (Qur’an) Men and women are perfect creations of Allah. They derive their mutual rights and duties from His commands. They are meant to mutually live with each other as garments to each other. (Qur’an 2:187).
Allah has set up basic crux of family and commands us to give the due right to every person- male or female. Severing relationships is equated with mischief. (Qur’an 47:22, 17:26). It is obvious that Islamic Feminists, lack knowledge and faith on these commandments.
Feminism defies the covenant of marriage by bringing in some unproductive and unnatural arrangements that we witness these days. There is no scope to make good arrangements for children that come in this scenario, nor is there any consideration for old parents which Islam provides.(Qur’an 17:23). We see the Modernist scholars addressing the freedom of the young woman but it skips the nurturing of female children and old women. These protectors of Muslimahs have used all means to misinterpret verses of Qur’an, use weak ahadeeths and even reject hadiths to develop an islam that suits their need.
Safeguarding the institution of family and maintaining the legitimacy of offspring is most important for morally upright and corruption free society in Islam. A husband is shepherd (guardian) of his flock (family); and a woman of her husband’s home and is responsible for it. (Bukharee, 853). The allocation of intergender rights and duties in islam is based on principle of justice and pragmatism (Qur’an, 16:90, 2:228). Man is placed as protector and maintainer wherein woman’s primary responsibility is placed as motherhood. (Qur’an) Sisters need to understand that in the name of equality, feminism expects unnatural responsibilities from men and women. Whereas Islam truly presents the workable gender justice.
http://www.Sunnah.com for Saheeh Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi
Hawkesworth, Mary E. (2006), Globalisation and Feminist Activism, Rowman & Litllefield. pp. 25-27.
Chris (1999), What is Feminism?, New York: Sage, pp. 3-11
Humm, Maggie (1995), The Dictionary of Feminist Theory, Columbus: Ohio State University Press, p.251
Walker, Rebecca (January -February 1992), Becoming the Third Wave, Ms.: 39-41
Kayum. Sajid A., (2011), A Critical Analysis of Modernists and Hajith Rejectors, QSEP Publishers