Muslims definitely need to stop being on the defensive all of the time.
There are reasons behind Muslim stereotypes, albeit not as strong or
consistent ones as one might wish to believe. We must not deny that
atrocities are commited in the name of Islam. Ignoring them is not going to
help the Islamic cause. Fatima Mernissi skillfully addresses the problems
Muslim women face by challenging the misogynist hadiths and the treatment
of women in practice. We can either try to be like Mernissi and try to
solve the problems our communities face, by finding their roots or we can
just build on the stagnation that has developed in regard to womens' rights
and violence within the Islamic context. You and I might believe that might
believe that Islam is egalitarian, that it does support women's rights,
just as Mernissi does... but as long as abuses of polygamy, divorce etc.
persist among Muslims. Mernissi's books did not receive half of the
enthusiastic appraisal from Muslims they ought to have. We need to break
down this barrier which prevents us from engaging in discussion about the
plight of many Muslim women. We can certainly argue that Islam is
egalitarian and that Muslim women are not far worse off than other women in
similar situations, but we do need to address issues in practice as well. I
personally believe that this can be used by fighting the pseudo - Islam of
misogynists and other equally discreditable "Muslims" with ethical Islam,
which Mernissi advocates. Rather than blindly support misogynist Hadiths
and the like, we should challenge their authenticity as does Mernissi.
Islam is fair, but if a religion is judged by ALL of its followers, we
really need to be realistic and try to make the Islamic ideal a reality.
Islam encourages us to question, to seek knowledge to increase our faith.
We must not get caught into the trap of supporting injustices which are
neither part of Islam nor of any humane morality. We cannot indirectly
support domestic violence by claiming that it does not exist and thus cause
a "freak syndrome." A Muslim home is the last place unrestricted domestic
violence should be tolerated.
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