Q01: "I don't feel like women are treated very well in the religion of Islam. Why is that?"
Classic.I get so many variations of this question--with varying level of politeness, of course--and I suppose it's about time to roll up my sleeves and answer this one, given that I'm already about a week behind schedule (the Iranian is late? Surprise, surprise...) getting to the questions you've left me via emails, blog comments, twitter, etc, since agreeing to answer your questions everyday during Ramadan 2015.
I was initially planning on doing a video series but 5 attempts and a lot of poor lighting later, I finally gave up on that endeavor--at least until I move to Iran for the summer (T-2 weeks!)--I've concluded that Oklahoma isn't the best place for
So, for now these will be in text format. (your eyes will forgive me).
Let's get right into it, shall we?
Part of the idea that women are treated poorly in Islam is purely perception. But, unfortunately, there is a degree of reality to this conception. The reality is that there is this thing called the patriarchy (that needs to be dismantled--asap) and unfortunately it is pretty hella strong and it is strongly rooted in the Middle East, as it is throughout the USA, Europe and the rest of the world. This same patriarchy that is oppressing women in the "West" is also alive and doing well in the "East," but because Western media does not like to represent the East and the West in a similar manner (Edward Said's Orientalism has a few words to say here--a great read by the way and highly recommended) so it seems as if this issue of women's subjugation is purely an "Eastern" thing when it is in fact, unfortunately, a global issue.
Another source of this misconception I think I can attribute to the extremism of Saudi Arabia and ISIS, and many onlookers ignorant of Islam conflating their actions with Islam, when, it is clearly nothing farther from it. Doing so is comparable to using the crusades of early Christianity or the Westboro Baptist Church to understand Christianity or Zionism and the terror of Israel as a manifestation of Judaism--in all examples faith is being used as a tool to grow power and publicity, rather than acting as a product of faith itself, and therefore I think it would be rather unfair to conflate the two.
In fact, Islam actually promotes the status of women. When the religion was brought down to the Arab tribes in the 7th century, it ended the cultural practice of killing female children and gave women the right to marry and divorce whoever they want, own and sell property, and even the right to vote. So that was like, major, given that women in the USA weren't even allowed to vote until the 1920 (and you're saying Islam oppresses women?! ha!). Not to mention that throughout the Qur'an women and men are repeatedly described as equals.
I mean, it's difficult to get more clear than that.
TL;DR: The patriarchy sucks, it is a global institution not specific to the Middle East, and it oppresses women. Not Islam.
As a feminist I approve this message.
If you have any follow-up questions (or any other questions not related to this topic) pleeeease feel free to drop a line below (I'm fully committed to JooJoo Azad being a safe space--anything horrible will be immediately removed--trust me, I work fast (my phone is glued to my hands)) or hide away your identity and leave one anonymously and I will try to answer anything that is on your mind to the best I can!
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(& We all love love.)