Belonging at the margins of society without any facilitation or channel, more visibly Muslim women are finding themselves at the receiving end of the growing Islamophobia and the perils of it. They feel unsafe both at the hands of the liberal who finds it a responsibility to rationalize them with modernity and to the far right-wing which views them as objects of fascination to be subjugated if they ever raise their voices.
I didn’t have a name for what I was going through. My trauma vocabulary didn’t include domestic violence, spiritual abuse, victim blaming, or power and control. But it sure was full of self-loathing and blaming, helplessness, and hopelessness. I had internalized every woman-hating khutba (sermon) that echoed outside of my apartment once a day, if not more, at the nearby mosques.
When people pontificate on my freedom or lack of it because of my burqa, this is the reality that none of them sees. For all the love of revolutions and disruptive activism, we forget to acknowledge a nuance where not everything is a violent disruption. There is a ‘quiet activism’ where we change things from within. It is impossible to embody values that stress a community and then expect them to reform in any way. Nobody trusts an outsider.
As the conversation about racism once again takes centre stage amongst Muslims on social media, acknowledging the existence of these issues rather than sweeping them under the carpet is the first step to tackling them. Imams, scholars and leaders of Muslim communities must be willing to be held accountable by showing a commitment to working through this beyond paying lip service, turning the tables around, playing the blame game and glossing over the pain of actual victims of racism.
In Muslim circles, it has been appalling to hear people assert that the concept of Mahr – which is a compulsory marital gift that a groom must give to a bride – makes women the object of a transactional marital relationship. In other words, the husband purchases the bride in exchange for sexual and domestic services as well as unconditional obedience to him. If this is not a deliberate distortion of the true spirit behind the Mahr to pander to misogynistic cultures, then I do not know what it is.
There is surely something to learn from the power that women can have from being free of the shackles of being an object catering to a man’s every desire. We are not walking fantasies. We are people who should be able to spend our brain cells and precious time pursuing things beyond making our shells look as shiny as possible.
In 1947, the UN decided to divide Palestine into two separate states- one for Jews, “Israel” (55% of land) and one for Arab Palestinians, “Palestine” (45%) and claimed Jerusalem to be a neutral religious zone. Arabs were furious with this proposal because they were the majority but were to be controlled by a Jewish ruling body. They saw it as another attempt of colonialism by the West and a move to eliminate the Palestinian identity.
Muslims around the world have since wondered what action to take, feeling helpless and guilty about the situation. If you’re wondering what you can do to support Palestinians, here are five ways to show your solidarity.
The current beauty game is not an individual-based problem. It’s a manifestation of a broader toxic dynamic. For someone as powerful as an influencer to state that concealing a perfectly normal feature of her face and/or body is empowering isn’t just a statement of personal empowerment, especially when their brand is catered to a specific audience which includes young women in their teens and early twenties. It no longer feels valid to hide under the umbrella of “personal choice” or claim ignorance when your contribution to toxic beauty standards hurt young Muslim women who cannot live up to these ideals.
It’s understandable that some girls are forced to wear the hijab. Assuming but not conceding that the hijab ban is to protect these girls, how is it that France bans the hijab for under-18 girls and in the same course of events, lowers the age of consent to 15? The audacity to think women can handle being 15 and have to right to consent to anything but can’t be under-18 and have the right to wear the hijab.