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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Islam and Feminism

“I am of opinion that Islam is the most oppressive religion to women. So, it is just a bull shit thing to talk about feminism in Islam.”

This was what one of good friends wrote in her email some months ago. She happened to be not Muslim. While in fact, in several emails I sent her, I inserted what Fatima Mernissi—a Muslim feminist from Morocco—said: ““If the rights of Muslim women become problems for Muslim men, it is not because of Alquran or Islam itself; it is because these rights contradict with the wants of the elite Muslim men.” It is clearly stated that neither Islam nor Alquran is oppressive to women, but people—mostly men—who interpreted Alquran gender-biasedly.

One morning, Wednesday March 14, 2007 I read a rubric of consultation in one local newspaper. A man sent a letter saying that he would marry a woman again after her first wife passed away three years before. He didn’t get any kid from his first wife. He expects to have babies from his second marriage in order that he will have children to take care of him when he gets old. . (I am wondering whether there are people in the world who purely want to have babies for the babies’ sake, and not for their own egotism; such as to ask the babies to pay back for what they have done.) Unfortunately his second wife-to-be insists that they not have any baby anymore. She already has one child from her previous husband. This man is confused whether to continue his plan to marry this woman while in fact what he wants from his second marriage is to have babies (or at least a baby). In another side, if he cancels to marry that woman, he already fell in love with her.

The answer from the one who is in charge of the rubric (a woman, a professor holding a Doctorate’s Degree, working for an Islamic College, and she is also in charge of Women Bodies in the same institution) is she suggested the man to persuade his girlfriend to get babies because in Islam, having babies is one main goal of a marriage, to create pious Muslim children—that means pious Muslim next generation. She also suggested him to tell his girlfriend that having children can make a family more harmonious. The answer was ended with the statement, “if you have done all ways to convince your wife-to-be to have a baby, and it fails, you can reconsider your plan to marry her. Pray to God to ask God’s sign.”

If that suggestion is interpreted by a chauvinist Muslim, I assume he will make use of Islam to force the woman to have babies, because it is requested by God to have babies after getting married. Perhaps he will sweetly but forcefully say, “Please have another baby, darling. This is what God wants you to do after marrying me. And this is for our own future afterlife. We will go to heaven for that.” This is one thing I hate—when someone makes use of Islam and Alquran to oppress women.

I don’t have any idea why that Professor who has published a book to make Muslim women—and also men—aware that Islam is not a chauvinist religion still thinks of oppressing another woman in the name of religion. Children are not only our flesh children. When that man marries his girlfriend who already has a kid from the first husband, he can love and take care of the kid just like the kid is his own kid. When we do good to others, others will do good to us, wise people say.

As a secular Muslim feminist, I am of opinion that right to decide to have a baby belongs to women. This is fully women’s prerogative. Women know their bodies much better than men. When pregnant, omen will undergo morning sickness, get exhausted easily, undergo the pain when delivering the baby. And not the man.

Going back to the statement of my good friend in one of her emails—that Islam is the most oppressive religion to women; I am still convinced that neither Islam nor the Alquran is oppressive to women, the people who interpret the verses in the Alquran are the ones who are gender-biased.
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Anonymous said...

well here I am thinking that you marry that person with whom you share the same values/outlook/whatever.

'having babies is one main goal of a marriage' so what about those ppl that cant have children? they are not allowed to get married? wow


A Feminist Blog said...

A friend of mine told me this afternoon that her female friend who is married to an Australian didn't have any plan to have a baby because her husband didn't want to. It is okay for me to hear that, but my friend thought that it was a kind of domestic violence done by her husband. So I told her that as long as her female friend agreed with her husband, and didn't see any necessities for them to have a baby, why not? See? In Indonesia, having babies is still considered an important basic to get married. :(

Anonymous said...

If you analize the History of the three Abrahamic monotheist religions (Judaism, Chistianity and Islam) you will realize two facts:

1.The three religions have more things in common than differences. You could even say that they are the same religion, in fact.

2. Their only puspose is to settle the foundation of a patriarchal society. All the monotheistic myths, from the existence of only one God who created man, to the prohibition of adultery, have this purpose.

Most pre-historians believe that paleolithic societies were matriarchal, mostly because they didn't know that there was a relationship between sexual intercourse and reproduction. So everybody knew their mother, and nobody knew their father (the concept of "father" didn't even exist). They believed in the female goddess (Mother Earth), as the origin of life.

It was in the Neolithic and the agricultutal societies when the patriarchal family emerged as a way of transmitting land property to "legitimate" sons. In order to establish a patriarchal society they had to kill the myth of Mother Earth, and fabricat the myth of God Father.

Nana Podungge said...

the #2 anonymous
(perhaps also Triesti ya? :) )

better late than never ya I found this comment of yours. :)

yes, you are right, those three Abrahamic faiths indeed can be considered as one religion. :) they all want people to get married to produce offspring where then their generation will continue legitimizing the power of male-dominated culture as well as their patriarchal religions. :)