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The Ugly Status Quo: Muslim Women the Gatekeepers of Our Own Oppression
by Hadayai Majeed
We plan and Allah plans. Some times we say this ; however do we really
understand what we are saying. I feel collectively we don't. We often
times try to use Allah as the cover for some very unislamic actions.
"If Allah did not permit it." Well, did Allah permit it or did Allah just
step out of the way of rebellious folk who were not listening in the first
Muslim women are fighting a battle that we have already won. We have
scripture that specifically states what our role is and how we are to
maintain that role. Our prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the first and true
liberator of women commissioned by Allah. However, many of us don't get
it! We cry and whine to Imams and other leaders. We lift people up to
make them our Lord (although many will not admit to this). We make Imams
kings of the masaajid. "Well, the Imam said," if he is right by
or not. We manipulate leadership to hurt other sisters who do not fit
our criteria of Muslimahhood (whatever we have decided that is supposed to
Then we say there is no justice in the Islamic community for women. In
some cases this is true but who can we blame when we do not follow Quran
and Sunnah ourselves? How can we sit and continue to complain especially
in the West when we can come and go in most communities as we please? We
do not have to pay Zakat at any particular masaajid to please Allah. We
do not have to attend Salatul Jumuah;it is not a requirement on us.
However, if we chopse we can and we should not be prevented from doing
so by anyone. We can raise our voices on some subjects without any
One such subject is Polygyny. However when sisters are abused, neglected
and alienated we sometimes and often times join with unjust men to
literally crucify them. "They shouldn't allow themselves to get that way,"
etc. Well, if she just been a better wife maybe the brother would not
have to be so strict."
We do not support any causes in great number that call for the nurturing
and uplifting of women in general. We do not support shelters for homeless
women and children, we do not protest to our leaders in any significant
number about women being denied access to masaajid if they are ejected
from their homes or abused in anyway. We do not support most events that
are held to promote the education of women unless men are at the helm.
If we do support an event organized by a sister or sisters it better be
a party or fashion show or forget it, most of us won't be there. Then we
sit and philosophize and pretend to be so concerned about whatever. We
leave these events and it is business as usual. Then if the local
leadership shows any support or invites the sister we don't like to
speak or be a part of any activity as an equal to them for whatever
reason,we start to plot and create fitna hoping that she is not invited
again or not shown any favor or support of the men.
In some cases we will go as far as to provoke an argument or fight with
the person, then have our friends slander the person by lying and accusing
them of starting the incident and being cruel. We will make sure all in
the world knows via telephone so this sister can be pointed out as a
"Monster." This will surely keep her quiet for a while or stop her all
together we hope. We will point out all of her faults and make sure that
some leader will admonish her in ways that he would not admonish or
treat a brother. We remain silent when we know brothers mistreat sisters
and they are members of Shura Councils or Imams of communities.
However, if a sister marries a brother we feel is too young for her,
we will make her appear (to those who will listen to us) as though she is
a wanton woman. This has been used to keep sisters out of leadership
positions. We forget that Lady Khadijah was 15 years the prophet's senior;
we forget that the prophet maintained a plural household after her death.
We forget that Allah permits polygyny, divorce and whatever Allah has
chosen to permit.
If we were studying more, working in our communities more and trying to be
more just ourselves we would know this and do all we can to improve
ourselves to accept what Allah has permitted. We would be so busy serving
Allah we would not have time to maintain anything other than what Allah
has commanded us to maintain in the Quran and follow the Sunnah of prophet
Muhammad (SAW). We would be trying to emulate Lady Khadijah and
Lady Aisha more. They would be our examples of womanhood and not the movie
stars in the soap operas (with the roles they play of conniving, envious
and vicious vixens) or the fashion models on the runways (showing all
Allah has given them to keep private) or some of our female elected
officials who you never know where they truly stand or if they are truly
female in spirit and or actions.
We will blast any sister who consents to marrying a brother as his other
wife. We do not care if the family is not disturbed by the decision made
by the brother. We forget what Allah says about the practice. We just
don't care! If we don't like it, well it must be wrong! So off with all
the heads of all who do anything we don't like! Again, it is not about
Allah or the Quran. It is not about the example of our prophet Muhammad
(SAW). It is about our feelings real or imagined. Just about our pitiful
insecurities and licking real or imaginary wounds.
We must stop hurting ourselves as individuals first if we expect others
to respect us and not hurt us as a collective body. We must stop defying
Allah by causing fitna in communities over small things as sisters
speaking in public, leading organizations, positions on Shura Councils
and Committee Chairships. We must stop trying to assassinate women who
are in leadership due to we just don't like them for whatever reason.
"She does not dress modest enough for me," She was seen at the peace
rally with those kufars," she wears red or whatever color we have decided
is not holy.
We shouldn't do this to anyone. However sisters are most vulnerable to
attacks on their character, being maligned and targeted by those who have
submitted to the Shaytan out of self-righteousness, jealousy and envy.
This behavior is accepted from women by men and in many cases encouraged
by men. Why? It keeps us from being the civilizing force that Allah has
created us to be in society and challenging lazy and unjust men. It keeps
us out of their way. It keeps us from asking the embarrassing questions at
meetings. It keeps us from challenging them to be better before Allah.
It keeps us from the meetings so we can't ask the questions.
It keeps us from asking brothers why are some of the prayers at the
masaajid not made by anyone? Why do we not have a place for women and
children to go if they are in trouble and without a home? Why don't we
have a recreation center for our youth. Why don't we have any clubs or
social outlets in our communities for our elderly or anyone else? Why
don't you help raise money to education more Muslim children in our city?
Why is it that most Muslim children are in public schools or non-Muslim
private schools instead of Islamic schools? Why are we paying Jews,
Christians and others thousands of dollars to celebrate
for short periods of time in dirty, cold buildings? Why are women put
outside in tents to celebrate Eid or Iftars and the men are inside where
it is warm and dry? Why don't we have an Islamic bank or credit union?
Well, sisters how long will Muslim women collectively continue to be the
Gatekeepers and maintainers of the ugly status quo and oppression of
women. How long?
*Hadayai Majeed is a freelance writer, Community, Political, Human and
Women's Rights activist and owner of Spencer-Majeed, Ltd. a freelance
writing and first time author consultancy service located in Conley, GA a
suburb of Atlanta, GA. She is cofounder and Administrator of the Baitul
Salaam Network, Inc. a national domestic
violence awareness organization.
2003-09-24 Wed 18:50ct