An Open Letter To Islamophobic Sexists

Who gives you the right to assume Muslim women are oppressed by the tenants of our faith and the words of the Holy Qur’an?
05/30/2017 02:41 pm ET Updated May 30, 2017

Written by Tasbeeh Muhamed & Tahira Ayub

Dear Islamophobic sexists,

I understand that it might seem strange to see the word “sexist” coming right after “Islamophobic.” In fact, to you, it might even seem strange to see the word sexist written by a Muslim woman. I understand you are of the opinion that Muslim women are submissive ― that our religion provokes and encourages the very misogyny you believe you are free of yourself. But here’s the thing - us Muslim women have to put up with not only the irrational and cowardly Islamophobia you project, but also the sexism and oppression towards Muslim women by bigots like you. Having that much hatred and ignorance inside of you must be exhausting.

I understand you are of the opinion that Muslim women are submissive -- that our religion provokes and encourages the very misogyny you believe you are free of yourself.

First, I would like to start off by addressing the many ways you undermine and insult Muslim women. Words and phrases like “oppressed by Islam”, “weak”, “uneducated”, “slaves”, “voiceless”, or “submissive” are only a few of the sexist things that Muslim women have to hear from you. You take the stereotypical portrayals of Muslim women seen in movies and TV shows and you embrace them. You take those portrayals and you use them to fuel a misinterpreted understanding of what it means to be a Muslim women ― when in reality heaven lies under a mother’s feet. When in reality, women were given equal status before the West colonized every land that still is not their own. When in reality, education of a woman in reading, writing, and self-defense is considered a virtue. Do you even know who Khadijah bint Khuwaylid is? Do you even have an ounce of honor compared to Aisha bint Abu Bakr?

When you use these terms to insult Muslim women, not only are you targeting us because of our religion, but you are also undermining us because of our gender. What kind of feminism is that?

Now, let’s talk about oppression. Who gives you the right to assume Muslim women are oppressed by the tenants of our faith and the words of the Holy Qur’an? Have you ever seen a Qur’an? Have you even tried to read it in it’s entirety, and not by your own use of context, and see how the Arabic word for Man and Woman are mentioned an equal amount of times? Did you read about accurate Islamic history and learn about powerful Muslim women, including Umm Umara, the Muslim woman Warrior who fought alongside the Prophet (pbuh) to protect the Muslims, and Maryam Al-Ijliya Al-Asturlabi, who was a successful Muslim woman engineer and astronomer? In fact, did you know that if it weren’t for a Muslim woman, Fatima Al-Fihri, there would be no University for you to get your degree from? Or do you simply educate yourselves from hate websites, Hollywood movies, and biased, Islamophobic, anti-non-Western media?

I would also like to ask why you think the choice to wear a veil such as the Hijab, Niqab, or Burka is oppressive?

I would also like to ask why you think the choice to wear a veil such as the Hijab, Niqab, or Burka is oppressive? Is it because women who wear them don’t follow your Eurocentric standards? Or is it because you feel like you lack control over what you can see of them? According to you, women in general must be physically attractive in order to be powerful, right? When it comes down to it, you would rank a woman based on her appearance and clothing rather than the strength of her her character, her intelligence, and her personality. If you really believe that women deserve to make their own choices, then who are you to tell Muslim women that their Hijabs aren’t allowed? Who are you to rip off a Muslim woman’s Hijab or tell her she’s wrong? This just makes you as equally as oppressive as a someone who forces a woman to wear the Hijab. There’s something that you seem to always forget - it is our bodies, and therefore our choice.

Do you believe that your fixation of the female body’s shape and size, restrictions on our health care, and limited assumptions of our mental and emotional abilities are liberation compared to what Islam gifts us? That we would prefer the likes of reality TV stars half-clothed on billboards or magazines to the modest strength of the women who came before us - like Hajar who ran between mountains or Asiyah who endured a tyrant’s grip on her life? Do you believe that your version of equality has not warped you into turning away from the purest example of feminism to ever find its way to Earth?

Your feminism is fake. Attacking the people who organized and participated in the Women’s March is not supporting women’s rights. Staying silent when Brock Turner raped an unconscious woman and only served half of his too-short sentence in jail for “good behavior” is not supporting women’s rights. Voting for a sexist demagogue who constantly derides women and thinks he can “grab them by the p***y” is not supporting women’s rights. You say you care about women and their safety, yet you have no problem with them being injured, murdered, and raped in Western military intervention and colonialism - simply because they are Muslim and it therefore must be their fault. You call yourselves “anti-abortion” activists, but have absolutely no problem with abusing pregnant women of Color, like Marwa El-Sherbini, who was murdered when she was three months pregnant, and the unnamed mother-to-be, who lost her twins when she was kicked in the stomach by David Gallacher as she walked close to a mosque. You call yourselves “pro-life” but you reject refugee children who are at high risk of getting killed. You being anti-abortion and “pro-life” has nothing to do with you caring about the fetus as much as it has to do with wanting to have control over women’s bodies.

Following Islam means valuing education and modesty in the way that you feel comfortable.

Following Islam means valuing education and modesty in the way that you feel comfortable. It means giving a choice and respecting the choices of others. Following Islam ― true Islam - means you are a feminist of the purest kind. That you believe in and respect the rights and choices of all women because being a feminist means caring about the freedom of all women, whether it’s how they dress, what they do, or what they believe in. It also includes actually learning about Muslim women and Islam from the Qur’an and actual Muslims, not the stereotypical propaganda seen in the news. Once you can understand that, then you’ll realize that us Muslim women - we’ve been doing just fine without you, and we will continue to flourish whether you accept it or not.

Sincerely,

Your fake feminism is not needed.

CONVERSATIONS