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Muslim Feminism

Muslim Feminism is basically a type of feminism which is revolves around the role of women in Islam – including fair treatment of all Muslim people regardless of gender. These Muslim advocates of feminism fight for women’s rights, social justice and gender equality based on the grounds of Islamic beliefs. The fight of Muslim feminism has gone through so many struggles in the past years including political repression, maltreatment of women and religious and racial discrimination.

At the heart of Islamic feminism lies not only the fight for gender equality, but also the acceptance and empowerment of Muslim women who do not wish to abandon their religious beliefs for the sake of acceptance into the society. For the past years, Islamic feminism has overcome the debates of political and religious barriers, impeding the female Muslim community in joining parliamentary discussions, especially those females who remained true to their religious practices (Kavacki, 2004, p. 66).

Though most of the Muslim females have experienced grave discrimination because of wearing hijab (headscarf), the Islam feminist ideology would withstand all the harsh commentaries and racist ideals just to pursue their religious beliefs and heredity. And although other people with different religious orientations might have viewed the use of it as backward and inferior, Muslim community have looked at it as a sign of modernization and liberation from different cultural and religious hindrances (Kavacki, 2004, p. 67).

Their readiness to embrace their religious practices and hold them relative to other culture/religion without regarding them as inferior, is a sign of cultural maturity and religious openess. Moreover, the struggle of feminism has been more toughly contented in instances wherein a female Muslim lives outside a Muslim country. For example, the 9-11 attack on World Trade Center and the Pentagon instigated a number of racial and religious discrimination cases. Wherein, the protagonist and the antagonist of the situation were equated by the racial disposition and religious beliefs of a certain individual.

Hence, majority of the Muslim population living in America, especially the female professional population gone through serious cases of racial and religious doubts, as to whom they should support and what they should believe in (Afzal-Khan, 2002, pp. 5-9). In this case, the identity of a person suffered contentiously under the pressure of the non-Muslim population – that in continous adherence to one’s religious beliefs can be tagged as disloyalty to America, and support for the “Muslim” culprits of the attack.

Hence, central to the issue of the advocacy of the fight of Islamic feminism, is not alone to eliminate gender biases, but also operated on creating an equal playing ground between gender equality and the eradication of racial and religious discrimination. Relative to their struggle is to emancipate their conditions based on the Muslim grounds and denounce the ethnocentric tendency of the Westerners to look down upon those who live differently from their lifestyle and beliefs (Berger, 1998, pp. 93-119).

Creating a gender sensitive society for the Muslim women, also means harboring cultural relativism amongst different culture with different religious orientations. For Muslim females who have fought hard on reviving the dignity of the Islam beliefs, the Westerners tendency to look at their culture and religious practices as being inferior, is an indicator of the Westerners’ own cultural backwardness. Their deliberate inacceptance of other people’s culture and behavior of refute over it is a sign of being culturally ignorant and inferior.

Hence, this belief has been proven to have become central to the misunderstanding between the Muslim population and the rest of the world (Kavacki, 2004, p. 66). Though Islamic feminism has gone through so many obstacles throughout the history of their existence, nonetheless, Islamic feminism through the difficulties that gender discrimination has posted, they believe is one thing that could open up a wider array of opportunities for Muslim women. Islamic feminists have reinterpreted the Ismlamic law towards something that enhanced the rights of the women population in reasoning and religious interpretation (Moghadam, 2002, pp. 1135-1171).

Moreover, a well-knowned Islamic feminist believed that this ideology can further become an agent to bridge the gap between the secular and religious thoughts. In this way, breaking the hostility between the ideologies that separates the two entities can provide the female Muslim community a stronger hold onto their struggle of empowering their class and eliminating the gender inequality that hinders their growth. Hence, the Islamic feminist’s fight revolved on two directly related issues: the empowerment of the female population; and the religious contentions of their female advocacy.

Their fight on alleviating women’s condition and stand in the society is tied directly towards their fight on the upheaval of their religious contentions. And since most of the misfortunes and discrimations experienced by Muslim women is under the context of them as Muslims, therefore, their emancipation is directly and strongly tied on the full acceptance of Islam as a religion in the world.


Afzal-Khan, Fawzia. (2002). Where are the Muslim Feminist Voices? : A Question Asked in September 2001. TDR (1988-), Vol. 46, No. 1. pp. 5-9.

Retrieved February 23, 2007 from JSTOR. Berger, Anne-Emmanuelle. (1998). The Newly Veiled Woman: Irigaray, Specularity, and the Islamic Veil. Diacritics, Vol. 28, No. 1, Irigaray and the Political Future of Sexual Difference. pp. 93-119. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from JSTOR. Kavacki, Merve. (2004). Headscarf Heresy. Foreign Policy, No. 142, 66-67. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from JSTOR. Moghadam, Valentine. (2002). Islamic Feminism and Its Discontents: Toward a Resolution Debate. Signs, Vol. 27, No. 4. pp. 1135-1171. Retrieved February 23, 2007 from JSTOR.

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