Women’s Rights in Islam? Start walking the walk

I am reblogging this in its entirety from a beautiful blog called MinaretMuse as it’s such a valuable thing for anyone, non-Muslim and Muslim, to hear – and especially to act upon. We’re all lost if we keep talking, learning, accumulating information and then neglect to act upon any of it. We’ll drown in an ocean of binary code if we don’t learn how to swim in it.

Salams and Juma’ Mubarak,


I could say a lot about this video – that I’ve been waiting for someone like him to say something like this for longer than I care to recall. That it’s an overdue wake-up call to the Ummah, especially those of us in the West…but I’ll let the Shaykh do the talking.

The video is only 13 minutes long and it starts with an appeal on behalf of a destitute woman. Shaykh Habib Ali al Jifri then reacts to what he hears, and tells it like it is.

“To the men, especially those who are religious – before looking right and left, look at yourself. How do you view women? Your night prayers, your daily fasts, your memorization of scripture, your charity, your pilgrimage, your knowledge and your teaching, your struggles for the sake of God – everything you do – won’t get you to a point where you are something before God if you don’t let all of that pass through the gateway of benevolence to women.”

May Allah grant us the tawfeeq to stop talking and walk the walk. May we establish justice within our communities before we are held to account for it on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.

If you can’t watch the video, the jist of his speech was posted online by Fareena Alam and I’ve cut and pasted it below.

“For the woman under the Sharia, it is a communal obligation to look after her. If none of us do it, then we’re all sinning. And it isn’t a favour to her; it is an obligation for us. Not because we pity her, not because we owe her something — IT IS HER RIGHT. That is not the only issue. We have to work seriously to end problems like this. We have to treat this problem. We can’t stop talking about the future of Muslim society here, and our rights, and the problems between the conservatives and this one, and so on. We’re talking about building a Muslim society…. what we’re talking about will all come to, and forgive me for saying so, worse than meaningless. A waste. All of that talk, building the community, rousing the Muslims, having a future for Islam. It is all rubbish, all a waste of time, if we’re not serious if we don’t raise awareness and do something to stop the injustices being done against the mother’s in our societies.
“To the men, especially those who are religious – before looking right and left, look at yourself. How do you view women? Your night prayers, your daily fasts, your memorization of scripture, your charity, your pilgrimage, your knowledge and your teaching, your struggles for the sake of God – everything you do – won’t get you to a point where you are something before God if you don’t let all of that pass through the gateway of benevolence to women.These aren’t the words of human rights activists – the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said that ‘the best of you of is the best to his family. And I am the best to my family.’ The Prophet made the measure of goodness in this life, tied to your goodness to women.There are people who still teach things that are falsehoods that they brought with them from their home cultures – where they treat a woman like she is just a commodity. We have to stop running away from the reality of our problems. There are Muslim women being raped inside their homes. There are Muslim women being raped by their relatives. And it looks like the mistreatment is changing from isolated cases to a phenomenon. Is this true or not?But our communities try to run away from these problems. They hide their heads in the sand. And when a woman speaks out to demand her rights, she is silenced. When the scholar in the mosque finds himself in a position where he cannot actually do anything to stop what is happening to her, she goes to the courts to get her rights – and the community looks at her like she is betraying them. Is this true or not?

…And so the victim becomes the criminal. And the person who gives the stamp of approval is a scholar of faith? Why then would we find it strange that a generation would come out that would leave the faith? Why do you find it strange when a Muslim woman goes to get her rights from other organizations? You haven’t given her any protection. You haven’t given her dignity. You haven’t given her respect. And you want her to carry on accepting this? And the biggest crime is that you justify this, saying that it is the command of God?

If the Muslim community doesn’t take serious steps – starting from the mosque before anywhere else – in executing God’s command and the advice of the Prophet, in giving women their rights – if that is neglected and overlooked, if people do not want to acknowledge it and treat this malady, people will stand in God’s presence on Judgment Day and God will judge them not just for them, but he will judge them for the generation that has lost faith because of them.

Enough of this talk about Islam giving women their rights and freeing women – yes, Islam did that, but the question is not whether Islam did that or not, the question is why we are not implementing faith in that regard. Why is it just left to sermons or as a means of self-defence in the media, against those who criticize us from rights organizations?

Oh scholar, put yourself in the shoes of the girl who is abused. When she comes running to you, you only speak in defence of Islam and what it says about the rights of women. But when she goes to the rights organizations, she finds that they are defending her. So who do you think she’ll turn to?

I’m sorry for the long sermon, but after what I heard from the sister, I cannot be quiet about this. The wound has become septic, and it needs to be opened and cleaned. And we want you, the women, to start with that.

I want to see women’s rights activists who are Islamic jurists, and who understand the law. They’ll stand and they’ll take their rights, with the command of God and of His Prophet.”

(Apologies for not knowing how to embed the video – anyone who can advise I would be very grateful to learn – and act on it!)

The Barricades of Fear


  It’s only been a few hours into the news, but for once I am going to jump in and comment. This time it has just gone too far.

  A man claiming to be Muslim attacks three other men in the street in Woolwich with a machete, kills one and seriously wounds the other two, and then comes to someone filming the event (accidentally, I assume) and explains, the machete still in his bloodied hands, that he (and his accomplice) did this as payback for Muslims killed in Muslim countries, and that citizens of the UK will never be safe until those Muslims cease to be killed by UK forces. The victim seems to have been wearing a ‘Help for Heroes’ T-shirt, an organisation that supports veteran soldiers.

  This is something out of a horror film, not out of a holy book.

  I have recently written an extensive article for a friend’s website detailed precisely why violence against civilians is absolutely forbidden in any circumstances by Islam, but it will be three weeks before that article goes online.

  I didn’t want to write before about the Boston attacks as I have still been reeling from those, in utter shock and incomprehension, and in sympathy for the families who had lost their loved ones to mindless murder. I am also afraid for everyone who might be marked out by far-right neo-Nazi Muslim-haters who have already attacked a mosque in Essex in retribution. Egged on by phony political parties like the EDF, pathetic excuses for racism and xenophobia, there will also be another reaction to every action. It seems like the cycle of hatred and revenge just never ends.

  Anyway, very briefly, this is what my article says:

  1) The term ‘civilian’ in Arabic is ‘man la yuqatil’, i.e. ‘he or she who is not/cannot be killed.’ That alone should be enough to indicate that it just shouldn’t ever happen.

  2) Conflict can ONLY be carried out in a legally valid war, between one nation-state that has openly declared war on another. A splinter group, small militia, or any other band of psychos masquerading as ideologues do not have the authority to declare war or anyone, and therefore can never be legitimately involved in combat. This means that by Islamic law, the Woolwich killer is a murderer and should be tried as one.

  3) Even in a legally valid war, a civilian can only resort to lethal violence in the extreme case that a man’s country is invaded suddenly, without having had a chance to prepare for the attack, their army has been totally overwhelmed, the enemy is literally knocking on their door, and he will still be killed and his wife raped if he surrenders. This is, needless to say, and inordinately rare situation.

  5) Anyone living in any country that is not their country of origin, if they are living there with a valid visa, has effectively entered into a pact with that nation and is obliged to live by their laws. As the Qur’an says, “Allah’s earth is vast”; i.e., if you are not happy with the laws in the country you live in, go somewhere else. The Prophetic example of Hijra, or migration, to escape persecution, is so important to Muslims that it defines the birth of our own calendar.

  6) The principles of futuwwa, or spiritual chivalry, are such that even in a valid war, combat must be between people who are both armed, no treachery must take place, or bodies mutilated; fruit trees must not be cut down, or wells poisoned, or crops ruined, or any other act that will prevent the enemy’s civilians from maintaining their livelihood. Pleas for mercy must be listened to. Killing must never be done out of anger. While the Qur’an allows for the continuation of the Mosaic Law of ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’, this phrase is always followed by ‘But forgiveness is better for you.’ Forgiveness is always the preferred course of action, and the overall sense you get from the laws regarding warfare is that the minimum harm should be done in order to effect the maximum amount of peace.

UPDATE: 7) Any war, in order to be legal, may only be defensive, and never offensive.

  Apart from all the legal technicalities, which are amply known to any Muslim teacher worth his salt, there is this sinking, curdling, brooding feeling that attacks like this engender among Muslims (and, in this case, among Blacks too). It’s this: no matter how much we might despise acts like this, reject the hateful ideology that accompanies them, and wish that there might be change, none of us have ever really spent any time with one of these nut-jobs. How can we hope to access the source of this bile, or encourage it to take a more peaceful tack, without venturing into very shaky territory ourselves? We shrink away from people like this – so how can they be helped to change their minds?

  It gives an unsettling, hopeless feeling that we must barricade ourselves inside our faiths, our homes, our cultures. All of which will only lead to more of the same. Each side only seems to be retaliating against the other. No-one knows when the original offence took place, or by whom. The British division of the Middle East? Did it go back even further than that? Are these resentments that have rumbling way back into the era of the slave trade, African colonialism, the Raj? Are we still hunting the past for reasons to blame someone other than ourselves for our current problems?

  It also makes it even more difficult to have the opinion that European and American forces should indeed pull out of Afghanistan, for instance, lest we find ourselves on the same ‘side’ as the thugs.

  My heart goes out to Woolwich right now. And if anyone has any suggestions on how to cut this cycle of revenge short, the world is listening…