There will come upon the people a time when holding onto the religion will be like holding onto hot coal.– Tirmidhi
For Muslim women, it is becoming increasingly difficult to hold onto Islam in a world of overwhelming misogyny. We’ve reached that period when holding onto our faith is like holding onto hot coal. Muslim communities are increasingly brimming with toxic masculinity and disregard for women. Literalists and traditional Muslims everywhere use the Qur’an and hadiths to justify their awful treatment of women, interpreting metaphorical scripture with malevolent literalism. Twisting and distorting the scripture’s meanings and contexts, what we’re left with are scriptural evidences supporting injustice. With the recent proliferation of online personalities like Andrew Tate and their vehement proselytising of toxic masculine ideologies, the women-friendly future we’ve always hoped for seems a bit more hazy. Lately, thanks to a steady increase in women’s education and literacy, Muslim women have been claiming more of their rights within Islam. However, with little access to resources, we’re seeing an increase in women leaving Islam out of despair.
It’s hard to hold onto Islam when we’re constantly told that Islam is the source of all our suffering. But how can we sail through this storm, separating the corrupted version of Islam from the truth, while holding on to the rope of Allah? Here are just a few things to keep in mind:
Seek Allah’s Guidance
O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another. O My servants, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you– Hadith Qudsi, related by Muslim (also by at-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)
Allah has told us that He has forbidden opression for Himself and has forbidden it amongst us. How then, can we in the same breath, believe that our oppression is sanctioned by Allah? He is the Most Just and anything that feels oppressive is not from Him. When Allah talks about those who are guided, He always mentions that they are few, which means that the majority is not always right. True guidance is from Allah alone, not from scholars, teachers or Imams, so it is advised that we should turn to Allah for guidance. Pour your heart out to Him and tell him, as a child tells a parent, how hard it is for you to practice the faith in a world full of faith-sanctioned oppression. Tell Allah to fill your heart with the light of the true Islam and to open your mind to the truth. When we seek the guidance of Allah, He will surely guide us.
Strive for True Knowledge
“Say, How can those who know be equal to those who do not know? Only those who have understanding will take heed.”– Noble Qur’an, 39:9
With tons of information out there in the world, it’s difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. As true Muslims, we want to follow the true guidance; to not be amongst those who twist the religion of Allah to suit our desires. To firmly hold onto Islam, we need to revisit everything we have learned about the religion and ask meaningful questions. Do we hold what we already learned to be the truth because we trusted the persons who taught them to us? Have we considered that our teachers are human too? Were we taught to accept what we already know as truth because we were told not to question them? Have we done our due diligence by conducting our own research and digging deep to uncover the truth and understand God’s intention for us?
“Tell them that this is my way which is very clear and straight. My call is based on firm conviction, reason, knowledge, and understanding – mine as well as that of my followers”– Noble Qur’an, 12:108
Every human is blessed with intellect. And we’re doing ourselves a great injustice by not putting our intellect to use. Our intellect is there to examine and analyse information in order to seek the truth. We cannot claim to have true knowledge If all we do is consume and regurgitate everything we’re told by teachers. Allah asked us to reflect, ponder and try to understand the Qur’an. We should ask ourselves why we’re afraid and unwilling to unlearn some of the things we have learned. Have we been spiritually guilt-tripped into believing that a departure from such knowledge will lead us to eternal damnation? If this is the case, we need to remember that Allah has declared that the true path is based on firm conviction, reason, knowledge, and understanding. And we cannot arrive at firm conviction without applying reason and seeking to truly understand God’s words.
“Will they not, then, try to understand this Qur’an. If it had been from anyone other than God, they would have found much inconsistency in it”– Noble Qur’an, 4:82
Remember Allah Often
I am with my slave when he thinks of me and I am with him when he mentions me. For if he mentions me to himself, I mention him to myself and if he mentions me in a gathering, I mention him in a superior gathering, If he approaches me by a hand’s width, I approach him by an arm’s length and if he approaches me by an arm’s length, I approach him by two arms’ length and if he comes to me walking, I hasten to him swiftly.– Hadith Qudsi
In a world brimming with misogyny, the secret to keeping our heads above water is to remember Allah often. Constant remebrance of Allah banishes sadness and worries, increases self-esteem and brings glow into our lives. It brings feelings of serenity, calmness and happiness, helps to filter out negativity and increases our love for Allah. Remembering Allah by heart and by tongue is one of the easiest ways to hold onto Islam in an oppressive world. It brings us reassurance that our Lord is truly on our side.
“Verily, in the commemoration(remembering) of Allah do hearts find rest.”Noble Qur’an 13:28
Strive for Justice
“O You who believe, stand firm for justice, even against your own selves”– Nobe Qur’an, 13:28
If we truly want the help of Allah against injustice, then we must be of those who strive for justice. We must not be amongst those who perpetuate injustice in other areas of our lives. We must be women of truth, integrity and high moral standing. Allah tells us;
“O you, who believe, be upright for God, and (be) bearers of witness with justice!”– Noble Qur’an, 5;8
The one and only reason why Allah sent the Prophet (PBUH) to us was to establish justice in the world and end injustice. And this includes all forms of injustice against women. Striving for justice means giving everyone their right and treating everyone with dignity. It means recognising our equality before Allah and acting upon it even against our own personal biases. We cannot decry misogyny and perpetuate racism. We cannot stand against gender-based oppression and encourage classism, tribalism or ageism. If we want Allah to stand with us, we must be ready to stand for justice. Allah guides those who are upright.
“For those who strive in Us, We surely guide them to Our paths, and verily! Allah is with the good.”– Noble Qur’an, 29:69
Find a Community
It helps to know that you’re not alone. It’s comforting to know that there are women out there, just like you, who feel frustrated by everything going on. Speak to them and pour out your mind. Finding a community of like-minded women helps to make the load lighter. You get to share resources and find ways to connect better with Allah. You get to stand up for one another against oppression. And it helps you to feel safe and secure. Communities help to offer a shoulder of support. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and let out your worries.
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