Feminism

Feminism is a range of social movements, political movements, and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes. Feminism incorporates the position that societies prioritize the male point of view, and that women are treated unfairly within those societies.

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 month ago

Feminism is not a single idea which can be accepted or rejected in one go. Rather, it is a collection of ideas which have evolved and are continuing to evolve. There are also different types of feminism.

So, it is better to evaluate ideas individually and decide whether or not they are acceptable or relevant, and then take what is good or useful and leave the rest. 

Not all Muslims will agree about individual ideas since they have differing understandings of Islamic scripture, human nature, social ideals, the authenticity of certain hadith, conceptions of Islamic law, and the will of God, but at least an attempt can be made.

The same is true for almost any -ism. 

Much of the opposition to feminism has been rooted in politics, especially resistance to colonialism/post-colonialism, as it has been felt that the West used feminism/women's rights as a tool to try to dominate Muslim societies. When one looks at the mass media from certain countries, for instance, women's issues being used as a pretext to glorify invading a Muslim country, one can see there is still some truth to this. 

However, the response by Muslims has often been to celebrate or impose restrictions on women, in the name of fighting the West and preserving Islam. This doesn't benefit Muslims in the slightest.

Furthermore, one often hears "equality between men and women is a Western idea which they are trying to impose on us; therefore, we must fight against the equality of women." This, similarly, is unhelpful, since it is a statement made in a politicized context, and shuts down a possibility of a nuanced, de-politicized discussion about important social issues. One cannot develop when in a defensive posture.

There is no question that basic issues surrounding women's rights have been serious concerns in some modern Muslim-majority countries and communities, and indigenous activism by Muslim women has been crucial to fixing social wrongs. 

Today, discussions about the situation of women or attempts to fix problems, or to root out wrong ways of thinking, are sometimes shut down by calling people "feminists" as a derogatory term. (That is, the discussion is shut down by name-calling, rather than actually addressing the issues at hand.) This, too, helps no one.

So it is good to consider the underlying dynamics behind how feminism is discussed since the ideas themselves are not wholly politically neutral. 

The other main concern about feminism has been that much of it reflected a middle-class white Western European/American experience, and some ideas were exported which were not relevant globally or to all people, although there are other types of feminism that have developed in response to this. So, relevancy can also be considered when considering the merit or demerit of ideas. If an idea isn't relevant, it can also be discarded. 

Zaid Alsalami, Shaykh Dr Zaid Alsalami is an Iraqi born scholar, raised in Australia. He obtained a BA from Al-Mustafa University, Qom, and an MA from the Islamic College in London. He also obtained a PhD from... Answered 1 month ago

Bismihi ta'ala

In shaa Allah my fellow colleagues will contribute to this answer, but I wanted to share a presentation I delivered on this topic:

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Amina Inloes, Amina Inloes is originally from the US and has a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Exeter on Shi'a hadith. She is the program leader for the MA Islamic Studies program at the... Answered 1 year ago

Muslims vary in their understanding of Islam and the Qur'an, as well as in their customs (which they often support in the name of religion). 

Feminism is also a very broad concept encompassing many things, some of which might be in harmony with the ethos of the Qur'an and others which may not. (So, basically, one can't evaluate feminism as a whole; rather, one has to look at specific ideas.)

Therefore, there isn't a single answer to this. However, there are generally 3 approaches:

* A heavily patriarchal approach, which gives men a lot of dominance and a central position, and sees women primarily in terms of how they relate to men.
* The idea that women and men are spiritually equal but that in the material realm, men have dominance, leadership roles, or superiority in some ways.
* Women and men are equal, and/or that Islam liberates women from having to define their worth on the basis of how attractive or useful they are to men.

Seeing as so many people give many views on this question in this day and age, I don't think it's appropriate for me to impose my own view, but you can read the Qur'an, and consider what people say about Islam, in light of those paradigms and see which it seems to fit. There is also a lot written these days on the subject of Islam and gender which can be pondered.

However, I do think that the best way to approach this question as a believer is to view it from the angle of "what is the will of the creator of the universe?" This sometimes helps keep the subject focused and away from emotional assumptions, pseudo-science, or minutiae that sometimes creep into these discussions.

Personally, I also tend to be cautious of getting too focused on any sort of -ism, because an -ism is a human-made ideology and therefore has limitations, whereas Allah is unlimited. Of course this doesn't mean that we shouldn't discuss -isms, incudng feminism; however, in my view, the question should be "is feminism an island that can fit into the ocean of Islam" not "does Islam fit into feminism".

Happy pondering!

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Sayyed Mohammad Al-Musawi, Sayyed Mohammad al-Musawi is originally from Iraq and heads up the World Ahlul Bayt Islamic League in London. Other than being involved in various humanitarian projects, he frequently responds to... Answered 1 year ago

Islam defends the rights of women just like defending the rights of men because both of them are created by Allah (Th Glorious) with same human dignity and honor.

There is no need for feminism in real Muslim life which gives woman and man all rights with respect and dignity.

Wassalam.

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Hamid Waqar, Shaykh Hamid Waqar was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and converted to Islam at the age of sixteen. He started his Islamic studies in the year 2001 in Beirut and, a year later, moved... Answer imported 2 years ago