“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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