So, again, you, the most holy and enlightened man of the mosque have pointed your finger at me to declare, noisy and hysterical, that I am an “Enemy of Islam.” Then you, who preaches and recites best, have gone out there slandering me, “eating my flesh,” devotedly.
“Enemy of Islam.” Well, which Islam? Is there one unique Islam? Why is your Islam, THE Islam? There are so many ways to be Muslim, or, didn’t you know?
You seem to follow the principle “you believe like me or you believe against me,” especially when the discussion is about women. In your narrow view, I am an enemy of Islam because I’m a feminist, radical, progressive woman. I am engaged in interfaith dialogue and in political struggle against discrimination instead of “being at home serving [my] husband as a good Muslimah.”
I know you. I have seen you from the pulpit of your arrogance-ignorance saying you are committed to a jihad, deciding who is Muslim or not, who goes to heaven and who goes to hell, who understands the right way (your way), who has the right interpretation of the Qur’an, and who are disbelievers. You have many names. Your name is Malik, Abu Eesa, Bilal. Your name also is Furqan, Abdallah, Kareem, Muhammad or even Hussein. You call yourself Sheikh, Ayatollah or Mullah. You call yourself Scholar and you state no woman can know better than you.
You call me an ENEMY OF ISLAM? Perhaps, because:
I adhere to the Qur’an when Allah says: Read, Think, Reflect. I “dare” to question what I learn. I am not afraid to make mistakes, and I defend my right to think. I don’t ask permission to learn and teach; I do it without waiting for Qatar or Saudi bursaries. I know you respect the Qur’an, so what is the problem?
I see your racism, misogyny and homophobia as you try to hide behind the shield of religion. As a Feminist – Deal with it Abu Eesa– I do what Islam commands: Repairing, denouncing, and rejecting injustice, with my loudest voice, with all my energy and my entire heart.
Despite my so-called “heresies,” many people open their minds to Islam and put aside their prejudices when they hear my public lectures. I have not needed to disguise myself, nor to arrogate myself a special power, nor to deny my past, nor to assume a bullying tone, nor to threaten people with hell. It has been enough to speak honestly.
I have problems of CONSCIOUSNESS and CONSCIENCE. I feel disgusted to pray self-censored behind you in Mosques financed with the same money that allow Boko Haram and ISIL keep going on. I feel disgusted to be offered every Ramadan a bag of date fruits sponsored by nations where the rights of Muslim women and minority groups are bashed on a daily basis. I feel disgusted by the extravagance of Eids when the luxury of banquets or eagerness to get the biggest piece of lamb cause a massive amnesia about the real meaning of these celebrations.
Please don’t insist: I want to be a Muslim, not an Arab. I don’t want to look, act, and live as an Arab woman. I respect the right to identity, especially exercising my right to mine. I am proud of my historical and linguistic heritage. My priority is to be myself rather than fit into any mold. I want to be a fulfilled person instead of a “Perfect Muslimah.” You distort the tradition at your convenience. You claim to follow the example of Prophet Muhammad regarding women, but you’re just a sexist tyrant bully. You want women to feel ashamed for not reflecting your own opinion and image about us. Learn this: Muslim women are teachers, warriors, and leaders, with and without the veil, not to be equated with sweets, gemstones, or candy.
I refuse to accept that a man has authority over me or is dearer in the eyes of God, just because it happens he has a penis. I chose the path of self-knowledge. I have the “audacity” to consider myself EQUAL, and I believe in a merciful Divinity that has given me, as to all of us, the gift of getting to know HER. Yes, HER.
I say Allah, God, Goddess, Divine. The womb of creation is Allah. The heart of humankind is Allah.
I say that everyone has the right to be Muslim; this includes gays, lesbians, trans and intersex people.
I say that women can talk, sing, and dance in the mosque, lead communities and preach, because there is nothing that prohibits it.
I declare myself an enemy of your HIS-LAM.
I am an enemy of your hypocrisy.
I am an enemy of violence, hatred, and segregation. I am an enemy of those who instill fear to achieve obedience and call all that Islam. I am an enemy of misogyny and of everyone who justifies the persecution of Shiites, Ahmadians, Christians and Yazidis and calls that Islam. I am an enemy of those who steal, with promises of hell, spiritual freedom from us. I am the enemy of ignorance and those who promote it, because Allah ordered knowledge. I am an enemy of the oppressors, because God hates oppressors.
Your yapping won’t silence me.
You know me. My name is Vanessa. Also I have many names. My Muslim name is Nasreen. Also, it is Khadija, Asra, Zainab, Sakina. My name is Amina, Sherazhad, Fatima, Ayesha, Sarah, Hagar, Aisha, Farah, Wallada, Lubna, Shehnaz, Asma. I have all the names you want to erase from history. All the names of all the women you’ve censored, discriminated against, cornered, mocked, and abused on behalf of your His-lam. All the names of all the women raising their voices above yours to say that Islam is Peace and there’s no peace without justice; a justice that includes gender justice.
Carve this in your mind: Islam is peace only if we women are living in justice.
Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente is a Writer, Mentor and Community Educator in Capacity Building for Grass Roots Female Leaders and Advocates. A Muslim Feminist who is an Independent Researcher of Gender and Islam in Latin America on Feminist Hermeneutics, Muslim Women Representations, Queer Identities and Movement Building. She blogs in Spanish at Mezquita de Mujeres, a site dedicated to explore the links between Gender, Religion and Feminism as well to Women from the Global South as Change Makers in their communities.