From the Archives: Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud

Moderator’s note: This marvelous FAR site has been running for 10 years and has had more than 3,600 posts in that time. There are so many treasures that have been posted in this decade. They tend to get lost in the archives. We are beginning this column so that we can revisit some of these gems. Today’s blogpost was originally posted January 28, 2014. You can visit it here to see the original comments.

Well the Golden Globe awards have been handed out.  I don’t have a television, so I didn’t actually watch, but a quick google search gives the results.  Highest honors go to a movie about blacks as slaves and whites as criminals.  That’s appropriate. 

But this is feminism and religion, so let me get to the point.  It’s about a chance discussion on social media about the “merciful god” and historical institutions like slavery (holocaust, or oppressions like misogyny, homophobia, Islamaphobia and others…).

My view of the divine, the cosmos and of the world is shaped by my slave ancestry.  Recent area studies about Islam in America estimate that one third of the Africans forced to the Americas were Muslim.   My first African relative on US soil identified as Moor (another term used for “Muslim”).  But Islam did not survive slavery.

Continue reading “From the Archives: Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud”

Fasting During Covid-19 by Jamilah Ali

My beautiful mask was made by my sister-in-law, Gloria

“O you who believe, fasting is prescribed for you as it was to those before you, that you may (learn) self-restraint.” Quran 2:183“

This month of Ramadan 2020 is auspicious for me as it is my 30th year of fasting after I converted to Islam in late 1989. For those who do not know, Ramadan is a month of fasting which Muslims are instructed by God to observe unless sick, pregnant or traveling. We are allowed breakfast before dawn and then no food, drink or sexual intercourse during the daylight hours.  Fasting includes your speech; not to lie, argue or backbite.

The fasting hours in my locale this year are from 5 am to 8 pm.  The evening meal after the fast is called iftar and is usually a time to gather at the mosque or friends’ houses to eat together. During Ramadan there are extra evening prayers and the whole Quran is recited. Ramadan is based on the lunar calendar, so the date moves up by 11 days each year. At the end of the month we have community prayer, a sermon and a three-day celebration called Eid.

2020 is like no other Ramadan in memory. The irony is not lost on many of us fasting this year that God timed it this way. During the pandemic, quite surprisingly I am more connected than ever. Normally, as a Progressive Muslim the month is a little lonely for me. Usually my girlfriend is supportive, but not to the point of fasting with me. We had a group who met together to read Quran, but we never completed the effort in full measure due to logistics. We would meet for an iftar every year at a member’s home.  I may go at least once to break my fast at the traditional mosque. Usually Eid was the celebration we would look forward to, meeting with the whole community for prayer and then out to breakfast wearing our best outfits.

Continue reading “Fasting During Covid-19 by Jamilah Ali”

“If All Knowledge Must be Reinterpreted, Why Not Religion?” Says Islamic Feminist


Vanessa Rivera de La Fuente is Muslim, feminist, and a human rights activist
Photo: Personal archive

Background: Journal O ‘Globo, one of the most important newspapers in Brazil, belonging to the transnational media group of the same name, published this interview with Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente on Islamic Feminism. Given its relevance to the discussion on the subject, it was translated by prominent Islamic feminist and scholar Keci Ali to share it with English-speaking readers.

The Muslim women’s movement has different agendas in accordance with the reality of each country. In Latin America, the Muslim Vanessa Rivera fights against prejudice about Islam.

by Isabela Aleixo*

Vanessa Rivera de La Fuente is Chilean and Muslim. Besides being an academic researcher, she’s also an Islamic feminist engaged with questions of gender, human rights, and social development. Vanessa has wide experience in social projects in Latin American countries.

In an interview with CELINA, she discusses the prejudices that Muslim women face in Latin America, explains the movement’s demands, destroys stereotypes, and declares: “I’m a woman and I demand to be treated as a person.”

Do you consider yourself an Islamic feminist? Why?

I consider myself a feminist woman, who lives feminism in all the distinct facets of her life: I’m Muslim; I’m a single mother; I’m a professional woman, an academic; and I’m a women’s rights activist. I’m feminist with all my life experiences. I think being a woman in male-dominated society is itself a political fact, so everything that I am as a woman can be resignified by feminism, including being Muslim. Islam is integrated into my life and my political struggle, which is intersectional. It’s based on the radical idea that all women are people and we deserve equal rights and a world free of violence.

Continue reading ““If All Knowledge Must be Reinterpreted, Why Not Religion?” Says Islamic Feminist”

Religious Practice and Epistemic Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente


One of the topics that has captured my deep interest during the last year is Epistemic Justice – and its absence, epistemic injustice – a concept which I reflect on often, since it has become a backbone idea in the approach of my work, my activism, my diagnosis of the situation of women in the global south and my vision of the world in which I would like to live. These reflections that I share with you do not intend to articulate a strictly academic presentation. They are my “thinking aloud” and don´t pretend to be completely right nor to establish a truth; rather they express the progress of a personal searching.

I speak as a Muslim feminist who loves to read and write about Feminism and Islam, but is not an academic nor aspires to be recognized as such in this field, although she writes papers and offers lectures in her own capacity on that matters. I speak as a community educator and social entrepreneur, who believes in feminism and spirituality as liberation tools. Since I accepted Islam, I took the experience gained in my work for the political empowerment of grass roots women to nourish an activism in the field of religion and gender justice. Continue reading “Religious Practice and Epistemic Justice by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Shariah is not a Law by Esther Nelson

I will never forget the day Nasr Abu Zaid (1943-2010), an Islamic Studies scholar and teacher extraordinaire, told me, “Shariah is not a law.”  In spite of his assertion, many people—both Muslims and non-Muslims—are convinced that Shariah is synonymous with archaic legal rulings that are at odds with democracy and modernity.


What is Shariah, then, if not a law?  When we see or hear the word Shariah, the word “Law” almost always follows.  Shariah literally means a path—a well-trodden path such as animals use on their way to a watering hole.  Shariah, then, can be understood as something that when embraced has potential to give life and sustenance.


Muslims believe that the Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad by the angel Gabriel circa 600 C.E.  That revelation—Muslims believe it to be God’s actual speech—took place over a period of approximately twenty-one years. The Qur’an contains Shariah (path) in the form of information, narrative, and poetry.  Since Shariah is essentially a path that leads to life, the critical question centers on how Shariah can be appropriated, leading us to the water that sustains.

Continue reading “Shariah is not a Law by Esther Nelson”

Earth-Spirituality in the Qur’an and Green Muslims by Elisabeth Schilling

green pathThere is some very helpful guidance in the Qur’an for how we should and should not treat the earth. In my exploration of Qur’anic verses on the environment, I have found a great deal of Earth-love that I want to share.

The first idea is that the earth is not ours to trash and misuse recklessly or indulgently. Sura 2:284 says, “Whatever is in the heavens and in the earth belongs to God.” This sentiment is found throughout the scriptures. Individual wealth and the practice of financial profit and salary as reward has given us the illusion that, if we’ve earned the cash, we can do with it whatever we like. We can buy anything we want, show it off, hoard it, and then trash it. How often do we quell our suffering or attachments through consumerism as if there were no consequences? But we need to begin to shift to the perspective of honoring the earth as not something we are entitled to or even deserve. If we are supposed to be stewards of the earth, then fine. But it seems that selfishness and personal gain have distracted us, making us neglect our duty. The idea that the earth is a bestowed gift is embedded into the Qur’anic “golden rule”: “You who believe, give charitably from the good things you have acquired and that We have produced for you from the earth. Do not seek to give bad things that you yourself would only accept with your eyes closed” (2:267). Yes, we work the land to produce food, but not everything is within our jurisdiction. Continue reading “Earth-Spirituality in the Qur’an and Green Muslims by Elisabeth Schilling”

Offering My First Khutba: On Imaan & The Divine Presence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera First KhutbaFor the last 6 weeks, I’ve been living in Cape Town, South Africa. This has been a blessed opportunity to grow, to gain more knowledge, and to reach outcomes that are beneficial both for my work as an activist and for my life as individual. One of the challenges I took up, on Friday, July 24th, was to offer my first Khutba ever: the text of which I share with you:


I thank God for this day. I praise Allah for the paths I had to walk that led me to its light and the present day. I ask the protection of the Divine that lives in the essence of everything. and I invite my female ancestors to walk with me in this journey.

On Imaan and The Divine Presence

Allah speaks about Imaan (Faith) in the Holy Qur’an in Surat number 2 verses 1 to 5, which some scholars call “The verses of faith and belief.” I like especially ayat 2 that says:

“That is the book. There is NO DOUBT in it, a guidance to those who are truly conscious.” Another translation says, “Sure, without doubt, a guidance for those who are God-fearing.”

Let’s think a moment about this:

1.- Allah tells us that the Holy Qur’an is, without doubt, surely, with complete certainty, a guide. There Is No Doubt, that we can put our faith and trust in it, and we won’t be deceived. That’s a beautiful aspect of Faith. We can trust in the promise of Allah that the Qur’an is… without doubt… a guide, a path of spiritual growth and happiness in this world and in the hereafter.

2.- A guide to whom? Allah says in the Qur’an “For those who are truly conscious and God-fearing.” Reflect on this. What kind of Imaan is that? Being “truly conscious” is being aware, and this is to be awakened, alert, attentive,and  in possession of knowledge with our senses and reasoning functioning properly. Then, this is not a blind Faith, but a conscious Faith, an Imaan over which we have direct and personal accountability. Then, the Qur’an is certainly a guide to those who are God-fearing, meaning those who are aware and accountable for their faith; for those who have come to certainty after an effort of conscious reflection, because, as God says in the Qur’an: “Truly in that there are signs for a folk who reflect” (45:13). There is no Imaan without a personal Jihad in matters of belief. Continue reading “Offering My First Khutba: On Imaan & The Divine Presence by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Islam, Ali, and Reformation by Kile Jones

Kile JonesDoes Islam need a reformation? The ever-controversial Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now argues that it does. Do you agree with her? Or do you find problems with the way Ayaan Ali frames the discussion?

I ask these questions a few weeks after the first all-women’s mosque was opened. It has also only been a short time since Muslims for Progressive Values (MPV), headed by Ani Zonneveld, sent an open letter to Salman bin Abdul Aziz, King of Saudi Arabia. These, and the innumerable condemnations of the Charlie Hedbo shootings, remind us that this “reformation” Ali is looking for is not entirely absent. Continue reading “Islam, Ali, and Reformation by Kile Jones”

Queer in Islam and a Theology of Dissent by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Queer and IslamMost of the time, when we talk about being “Queer in Islam,” we identify the term with a hermeneutics developed by or on behalf of LGTBQI Muslims in order to allow their inclusion in religious spaces and recognize their agency in matters of faith.

Is not my intention to appropriate the voice of LGTBQI Muslims in this issue, just to share my reflections about a topic that deserves a larger and deeper treatment. Continue reading “Queer in Islam and a Theology of Dissent by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

“Dear Terrorist: Keep Up the Good Work” Said NO ONE by Valentina Khan

Valentina KhanHow much longer do I as a Muslim American female, have to deal with the “gang-buster,” terrorizing, “Satan” worshipers high-jacking my faith for the sake of trying to supposedly ‘preserve’ it? Who are these wackos and why do they seem to represent my faith in mainstream media? Where did they all come from? Which terrorist schools have they all graduated from and what truly is their agenda?

I don’t know how else to say it- I’m so disgusted and fed up by the heinous acts of the terrorist mentality coming from what appear to be Muslim males– who really knows? ISIS, for example, with their masked individuals carrying out barbaric crimes could actually be another race or religion for all I know. Regardless, as a female, I want nothing to do with them. As an American, I want to go to war with them. As a Westerner, I want to hide in my Orange County bubble and only watch Bravo TV- just to get dumb and numb to the problems- and turn a deaf ear and blind eye to world events on the news.

However, as a Muslim my heart aches. My body trembles and my mind is terribly puzzled. How can all these awful events happening around the world come from people who claim to be Muslim, as I am? Didn’t they grow up reading the Prophet’s Last Sermon, as I did? Did they miss something? Did I miss something? Why are murder, beheading, and stoning things to be prideful about on social media? Why are they playing God and taking the lives of others in the name of a higher power? Why are they casting judgment on cultures and people when really they should start healthy dialogues in order to resolve differences of ideologies from one socio-cultural context to the next? Unfortunately, lunatic terrorists with apparently nothing positive going on their lives feel that their suicidal guerrilla warfare style of killing to avenge their faith is the ticket to authentic belief and entrance into heaven! Continue reading ““Dear Terrorist: Keep Up the Good Work” Said NO ONE by Valentina Khan”

ISIS and the Larger Muslim Crisis by Hanadi Riyad

Hanadi Riyad croppedIt is heartening to hear the many condemnations Muslim scholars have issued of ISIS and its methods and actions. One of the latest attempts comes in the form of an open letter addressed by a coalition of one hundred and twenty six Muslim “scholars” from across the world to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and ISIS followers and supporters. The seventeen page letter is one of the most detailed responses to ISIS I have read. However, just like other responses, it fell short of my expectations as a Muslim woman. I checked the list of the signatories and I could not find any women amongst them.

I am saddened to note that the authors of the letter fall into the same mistake they accuse ISIS of: they quote some Quraanic verses and Hadiths selectively, out of context, and portray them as sufficient rebuttal against ISIS actions, never mind the sources, verses, and Hadiths ISIS has been quoting just as selectively to justify its crimes. The letter explains about the methodology of Islamic legal theory (usul al-fiqh) that it stipulates “to consider everything that has been revealed relating to a particular question in its entirety, without depending on only parts of it, and then to judge if one is qualified based on all available scriptural sources.” There’s no explicit logical explanation for why the parts of the scripture and interpretations quoted by the writers of the letter should be given precedence over the ones quoted by ISIS.

The implicit reason, however, resides in the authors’ assertion of their authority as Sunni “scholars”  and their opinion as “a scholarly opinion.” We should take their word because they have the authority that ISIS does not. The assumption that ISIS cannot count amongst its ranks scholars is neither explained nor defended. The doctrinal connection between ISIS and Wahhabi ideology upheld by many Saudi scholars – like ibn Baz and his disciples— goes unacknowledged. Continue reading “ISIS and the Larger Muslim Crisis by Hanadi Riyad”

Women at the Secular Student Alliance Conference by Kile Jones

KileA few days ago I had the pleasure of giving a talk at the Secular Student Alliance Conference on how non-believing persons can work with Churches.  Amidst the chaos of conferences–managing your time, deciding which talks to attend, and making sure you have enough water (it was a Burning Ring of Fire outside in Tempe, AZ)–I got to meet some pretty incredible secular women.

One of them was Heina Dadabhoy.

Heina speaking at SSA
Heina speaking at SSA.

Former Muslim, blogger at Freethought Blogs, and overall bad-ass, Heina spoke about ways in which secular groups can create a more welcoming environment for ex-Muslims and Muslims beginning to doubt.  Her talk, “Of Murtids and Muslims,” (a “murtid” is a public apostate) was not only about her experiences coming out as a secular humanist, but considered some of the absurd questions people ask her (and other ex-Muslims) about leaving Islam.  “So did your parents try to honor kill you?”  “Have you gone through FGM?”  It was disturbingly humorous.

What I considered to be Heina’s main point, was that we should respect each others’ individual differences and not generalize and caricature all Muslims with the depictions of some.  “Just because you read Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book,” Heina notes, “does not make you an expert on Islam.”  Heina made sure to emphasize the radical diversity that exists in Islam.  She also spoke of the some of the issues that people go through when they leave Islam: How do I create a new identity when my old one was intricately tied up in my Muslim community, family, and culture?  How do I navigate popular culture when I have missed a bunch of it?  How do I find myself in this new secular world?  Heina’s answers were refreshingly honest and insightful.

P.S. Aisha (one of Muhammed’s wives) should not simply be reduced to the young person Muhammed married; she was also a war leader, influential Muslim thinker, and someone who contributed greatly to early Islam.  This is, of course, Heina’s insight.

Me and Heina at SSA
Me and Heina at SSA

Another awesome secular woman I met, was Sarah Morehead.

Sarah. Photo from Apostacon.
Sarah. Photo from Apostacon.

Sarah is a former evangelical Southern Baptist, Executive Director of the “Recovering From Religion” project, and another overall bad-ass.  She spoke on how to start up a Recovering From Religion group on your campus.  Here is a blurb about Recovering From Religion,

“If you are one of the many people who have determined that religion no longer has a place in their life, but are still dealing with the after-effects in some way or another, Recovering From Religion (RR) may be just the right spot for you. Many people come to a point that they no longer accept the supernatural explanations for the world around them, or they realize just how much conflict religious belief creates. It can be difficult to leave religion because family and culture put so much pressure on us to stay and pretend to believe the unbelievable. If this is you, we want to help you find your way out. Don’t let people convince you that you just didn’t have ‘enough’ faith, or that you just haven’t found the “right” religion.”

Sarah and I chatted (and often laughed) about our old experiences as conservative Christians.  We discussed some of the funny language (Christian-eze) we used to use, the various levels of guilt and shame that were cast upon us, and how science helps explain some of the interesting displays of piety often seen at Pentecostal services.  Sarah’s jovial and welcoming demeanor was calming, and as an Executive Director for a project aimed at helping people “recover” from religion, I cannot think of a better person for the job.

Lyz.  Photo by SSA.
Lyz. Photo by SSA.

The last woman I have in mind is Lyz Liddell.

Lyz is the Director of Campus Organizing for the Secular Student Alliance.  I have an interview I did with her a while back, on this very blog!  Besides running around with her headset on, standing on chairs for announcements, and generally keeping the world of SSA from not crumbling into oblivion, Lyz is a great motivation and example.  If you are ever interested in starting a SSA group on your campus, talk to her.

To all those who attended this years SSA West, or who are involved with helping secular students: Unite!

Kile Jones holds a Bachelors of Theology (B.Th.) from Faith Seminary, a Masters of Theological Studies (M.T.S.) and a Masters of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) from Boston University, and is a current Ph.D. in Religion student at Claremont Lincoln University.  He also holds a Certificate in Science and Religion from the Boston Theological Institute.  Mr. Jones has been published in Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Philosophy Now, Free Inquiry, World Futures, Human Affairs, and the Secular Web.  He is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of Claremont Journal of Religion (, and is the Founder/Director of Interview an Atheist at Church Day (

“Papa Don’t Preach”: TED-like Talks at Malmo Nordic Women’s Forum May 2014

amina 2014 - croppedWhen I was a little girl, I used to be afraid. I was afraid of the dark. I was afraid of thunderstorms. I remember once cowering on the floor in the back seat of the car waiting for my dad to come take us home. My dad, who was a Methodist Minister, was too busy talking about God to really notice my reaction to being there in the back seat of the car during that terrible storm. Instead, he just kept busy, talking about God to other grown ups—talking in a way I did not understand, or found incredibly boring and long winded, sometimes even just a little frightening.

But Thunderstorms filled in a gap I did not know I had. A gap between my tiny self and the awesome Reality I have since come to know in a very different way. So when I would hear thunder, I thought of it as coming from God. I would begin this conversation with the Awesomeness of It asking moral questions: you know about good and bad. The thunder would seem to provide direct answers. Was that the voice of God?

Isn’t that how so many people think of God: an awesome and overwhelming omnipotent presence—with a voice that roars?

One dark night, during another storm, maybe my father heard me crying. He sat me on his lap and told me, in his quiet voice, how God had promised He would never again destroy the world by water. The sign of this promise, he said to me, was the Rainbow… the place where water, light and power combine to show color and beauty. That was my first experience of transcendence. From that time forward I would seek that loving nurturing experience of the Ultimate. Continue reading ““Papa Don’t Preach”: TED-like Talks at Malmo Nordic Women’s Forum May 2014″

Pride: Honoring the Immigrants and the Helpers by Laury Silvers

578543_102588929933471_2064577910_nIt is World Pride in Toronto this year. The city is filled with people from everywhere celebrating the gorgeous spectrum of humanity and the right of all human beings to live with dignity.  In honor of World Pride and happy coincidence of the beginning of Ramadan, I would like to share one of the earliest sermons I gave at Toronto Unity Mosque reflecting on the struggles of our LGBTQ refugee congregants. I share this to honor those refugees, as well as our other congregants whose journey is no less significant, and also to honor my friends and co-founders of the Toronto Unity Mosque, El-Farouk Khaki and Troy Jackson, as well as Adnan Hussein who was with us from the early days.

Continue reading “Pride: Honoring the Immigrants and the Helpers by Laury Silvers”

My Afternoon with Amina Wadud: Some Pearls of Wisdom for a Warm Autumn in Santiago by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Amina WadudAlbert Einstein said that there are two ways for understanding life: One, to believe nothing is a miracle; the other, to believe everything is a miracle. I think life is a bit of both. There are experiences that result from a chain of events we can easily recognize. Others are just a gift. My meeting with Amina Wadud was of the second kind – a beautiful gift from life in the beginning of the autumn in Santiago of Chile.

Meeting The Lady

Since I converted to Islam, around 5 years ago, and started my path now as a feminist Muslim, it is not possible to explain one without the other in my life history- the presence, words and activities of Amina Wadud have been a source of inspiration for me.

Her book, Quran and Woman, was the first approach to and basis for an Islamic Feminism that stands with strong feet against misogyny and fundamentalism in the name of religion. Her courage when she dared to preach a jutba (sermon) and lead a mix prayer – something still forbidden officially for women in Islam – led us to question our  physical place and its symbolic meaning in the mosque. Her vocation as a globetrotter, talking, meeting, and encouraging people in the world to build new meanings and communities based in freedom of spirit, made me understand that the message of Islam and its different reading on gender, is not only on behalf of Muslim women or Muslims in general, but is on behalf of all humankind, like a whole family looking for social justice and freedom, passengers in this big mosque and madrassa that is Allah’s creation.

Continue reading “My Afternoon with Amina Wadud: Some Pearls of Wisdom for a Warm Autumn in Santiago by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

A Not So Ideal Deal: Perspectives On Sexism In “Islamic Marriage” by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente

Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente. Marriage in IslamOne topic that emerges from the discussions I have with other Muslims and people in general relates to marriage. Starting with, I don’t agree with marriage. Not because I think married life is negative but because, under the prevailing patriarchal logic, marriage is not conducive to full relationships. Patriarchy has also polluted Islam and, therefore, the way in which gender relations are understood as part of a Muslim’s life including the concept of marriage.

Since I converted to Islam, I have received 11 marriage proposals. I have refused them all. Many people have seen in my attitude a sign of pride and rebellion. They are wrong. I do not rebel against married life, but against the terms in which it is presented to me and the role I am supposed to have because I am a woman in it. Manly-man-male ideas about women, prejudices related to the fact that I am not “pure Muslim, but converted,” “not Arab,” and stereotypes about Hispanic-Latina women, have all played a major role in the deep indignation and disgust with which I have rejected each prospect. Continue reading “A Not So Ideal Deal: Perspectives On Sexism In “Islamic Marriage” by Vanessa Rivera de la Fuente”

Why I Don’t Believe in Female Pastors by Andreea Nica

Andreea Nica, pentecostalismIt may come as a surprise to those who identify as both feminists and religious practitioners that I don’t believe women should be pastors of any dominant religious congregation. This includes most religions which, I assert, are rooted in and structured by the tenets of patriarchy. Does that mean I think women should be congregants of a patriarchal-originated religious system? You guessed it – no. While this may seem like a radical notion to some, it took me quite some time to come to terms with my own conflict in being both feminist and a believer.

My transition from the Pentecostal sect was a long, intricate process that involved life-altering decisions. The notion of leaving the church was driven by my immersion in women’s studies during my undergraduate degree. There were many difficult questions I simply didn’t have an answer for, as the church didn’t provide me with them.

One of them being: Can women instruct an entire congregation of believers?

For those who are female pastors, I’m sure you’ve heard this one a million times, but somehow it never fades from religious and secular discourse. Whether it’s the Islamic, Jewish, Christian, or Mormon faith, women have had to constantly fight for their right to preach religious doctrine. In the beginning of my transition, I was on the side of: Preach it ladies! Continue reading “Why I Don’t Believe in Female Pastors by Andreea Nica”

Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud

amina 2014 - croppedWell the Golden Globe awards have been handed out.  I don’t have a television, so I didn’t actually watch, but a quick google search gives the results.  Highest honors go to a movie about blacks as slaves and whites as criminals.  That’s appropriate. 

But this is feminism and religion, so let me get to the point.  It’s about a chance discussion on social media about the “merciful god” and historical institutions like slavery (holocaust, or oppressions like misogyny, homophobia, Islamaphobia and others…).

My view of the divine, the cosmos and of the world is shaped by my slave ancestry.  Recent area studies about Islam in America estimate that one third of the Africans forced to the Americas were Muslim.   My first African relative on US soil identified as Moor (another term used for “Muslim”).  But Islam did not survive slavery. Continue reading “Slavery and God/dess by amina wadud”

Muslim Feminism: On Finding Meaning in the Struggle by Jennifer Zobair

painted hands, Jennifer Zobair
Photo Credit: Brian Ziska

I threw Catholics under the bus at a book reading.

I didn’t mean to and, as a former Catholic, I felt awful about it. I was promoting my novel, Painted Hands, about dynamic, successful Muslim women in Boston. During the Q&A, someone asked why I’d converted to Islam. Pressed for time, I explained that I’d tried hard to be a Catholic feminist, referenced the fact that there was no Original Sin imputed to Eve in Islam, and admitted I’d struggled with the Trinity and welcomed a religion where Jesus was revered but not divine.

Afterwards, I fretted about the comparisons. “That was bad, wasn’t it?” I asked my husband. “Maybe,” he said gently, “stop at the fact that there are feminist interpretations of Islam. Maybe don’t say anything about other religions.”

When you’ve left one religion for another, the implication is that you did find something better.  Continue reading “Muslim Feminism: On Finding Meaning in the Struggle by Jennifer Zobair”

Why I am an Islamic Feminist by Shehnaz Haqqani

FAR - SHWhile Islam has undoubtedly granted women many rights—some of which were radical for much of the world in the 7th century, such as the rights to divorce, consent in marriage, education, and financial independence—many Muslim women around the world are denied those rights in practice. That these rights were “radical” for the 7th century is significant: one would think that this is an indication that our rights should be “radical” in all times. What Islamic feminism does is to help us deal with this tension of the existence of women’s rights in theory but their denial in practice.

I understand Islamic feminism to be a response to the mistreatment of Muslim women, whose rights have been marginalized, or completely denied, because of interpretations of Islam that do not acknowledge their full humanity and view them as inferior to men; Islamic feminism therefore requires re-visiting the Qur’an to re-interpret it from a standpoint that does not favor any one gender over another and sees all as equally valuable. Needless to say, Islamic feminism, or any other form of feminism, does not claim that women and men are “the same”; men and women need not be the same in order to be viewed as and treated equally and fairly. Continue reading “Why I am an Islamic Feminist by Shehnaz Haqqani”

%d bloggers like this: