The Shaykh and the F Word

March 11, 2014 8:53 am45 commentsViews: 17589

What Bakwaas is this?

Muslim [American] Twitter is currently ablaze with condemnations, support and whatever else in between over sexist comments made by UK-based Shaykh Abu Eesa Niamatullah, affiliated with the Al Maghrib Institute. On his public “personal” page, Niamatullah decided to commemorate International Women’s Day (March 8th) by denigrating it as a “bakwaas day” (bakwaas means ‘bullshit’ more or less in Urdu). He didn’t stop there though; he continued to post insulting and sexist status updates, ending with an image of himself with text imposed reading “Don’t try to understand women, women understand women and they hate each other.” Niamatullah (who prefers to refer to himself as a teacher, not Shaykh or anything else) proudly boasts of his dark sense of humor. In fact, for those who follow his Facebook page (myself included), there’s nothing surprising about his penchant for sardonic perspectives and pushing the comfort parameters of those following him. His Facebook page is often filled with insightful commentaries on socially and politically relevant and poignant topics that offer spiritual frameworks – a approach that is often a refreshing departure from ideological and essentialist discussions (i.e. his recent commentary on activism and silence of scholars on political issues). Niamatullah often has received flack for his sense of humor which is often, in his own words, “subtle, dark, dry British”. At the same time, he’s been a bit irresponsible of his social media, seemingly unaware of the stature he’s been given through his work and his affiliations. After all, the Al Maghrib institute is a reputable organization and Niamatullah’s expertise is Adab and Siyasaa.

His “jokes” on International Women’s Day, however, took the self-labelled teacher’s “humor” too far. The comments came across as promoting and enabling the hateful attitudes towards women that are prevalent throughout our societies and within our communities – Muslim and non-Muslim. Responses to his comments were split -many of his Facebook followers applauded his commentary, adding fuel to the incendiary comments by making further grossly misogynist statements. Others, primarily in the US as well as several of his Facebook followers and Al Maghrib enthusiasts, condemned the comments and attacked the Shaykh with several even demanding, on Twitter, that the Al Maghrib institute fire him immediately to distance itself from him and his comments. Worst of all, Niamatullah responded to criticisms on Facebook by condescendingly admonishing many critics as though all cut from the same cloth of Kufr. He then later further responded by continuing to attack Feminists and Feminism as antithetical to Islam and paramount to, again, Kufr.  Such accusations, made without any qualifications of definitions of terms used, are especially grave for someone who, by his own account, specializes in Adab.

Instead of taking this opportunity to get in line and bash the Shaykh- who I do respect otherwise and who actually has done great work in his community – I want to take this opportunity to navigate the underlying, insidious problem that makes it okay for Niamatullah to get away with saying what he said about Feminists, in the eyes of many.

The F-Word: Defining Feminism and Navigating Your Discomfort

slider_saba

Painting by Saba Barnard

Shaykh Niamatullah’s greatest issue with International Women’s Day was that it was and is a Feminist project. In his own words, Niamatullah says that he absolutely believes that Feminists “with all the nuances of that title…are the enemies of Islamic orthodoxy and to refute them is a rewarded act.” He continues that the reason for this is because they have a “corrupt and insincere approach with other people.”

For Niamatullah Feminism is a problem because it is an intellectual and methodological framework that uses non-Islamic (defined strictly in terms of Shariah, Qur’an, fiqh) tools to redress gender-based social, economic, political and physical violence — violence that, according to Niamatullah, can be redressed by Islam itself. What he and so many others in our community who adhere to this perspective completely miss, however, is the inherent contradiction that exists in the belief that Islam is an “in and of itself” framework of thought, expression and justice.

Nothing is ever in and of itself, to quote Chuck Klostermann. There is Islam in terms of Aqeedah (creed) and fundamental belief and then there is the Islam that Muslims live day to day, that Muslims – lay Muslims and scholars – create and evolve day to day. It’s a bit disingenuous to consider that any and all interpretations (key word) of Islam as a political, social and economic framework are created within a vacuum of human interpretation devoid of, well, humans. The way you and I envision Islam to help us confront issues of poverty, abuse, destitution and other social justice ills is not an approach to Islamic ethics, law and history that is divorced from any modern conditioning, any modern frameworks of intellectual, social and political thoughts. We are not separate from history and from our contexts – and, even if we wanted to be, could we ever be?

So what is Feminism? Or feminism?

Journalist Rebecca West put it perhaps in the most bare-faced way:

I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat.

Doormats aside, how can we talk about Feminism beyond witticisms? Well, for starters, Feminism is (take a deep breath) a sociological framework focusing on the hows and whys of gendered private and public spheres and is rooted in post-Enlightenment European intellectualism on the nature of the individual and his/her relationship to the state. You okay? In other words, it is the child of a European intellectual era that elevated the individual above the group and sequestered God to Churches and out of the public space (more or less). The interest was no longer on the community, per se, but more so on the individual and his or her rights and liberties.

The most fundamental argument of Feminism is that men and women are inherently equally rational. Just as Adam has the ability to come to a conclusion by way of using his own thought processes, so do I.  Mary Wollstonecraft, considered the mother of Feminism, argued in the Vindication of Women’s Rights that there was actually nothing to suggest that women were in any way inferior to men. Rather, she argued, the lack of access to education was the primary reason that women were not considered equal to men. While the social and political context of the intellectual inception of Feminism was different from that of other societies – Muslim and non-Muslim – the practical core of Feminism in the premise of equality through access is something we can find in our own tradition. If we understand Islamic equality to be through equity (rights distributed by virtue of needs and functions), then we understand the importance of access – to knowledge, education, work, health, leadership, worship. The Prophet (pbuh) was able to radically change the situation of women in his community by granting them, through Divine Ordinance, unprecedented access to certain financial, marital and social rights and liberties that increased their standing, in relation to their male counter-parts, in the immediate post-Jahilillya (ignorance) era.

Barnard02

Painting by Saba Barnard

Over the course of a couple of hundred years, Feminism – like any academic and social discipline – has evolved into different schools of thought and practice. It has been fundamental in ensuring women in Euro-American societies (while the rest of the world tried to make sense of a post-colonial period, yay) have access to women worker’s rights (genesis of IWD, in fact), voting rights, marital rights, legal recourse for domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment, reproductive assistance and health; access to safe work environments, to running for public office and to owning property. None of this is ultimately different from the very same access Islam provided to the women of the Hejaz over 1400 years ago.

None of this is to say that Feminist frameworks – be they Liberal, Radical, Sex-Positive, Difference, Intersectional, Islamic, whatever  – are without problems. I, personally, do not self-identify as a Feminist or feminist because of epistemic issues I have with contemporary Feminism. That does not mean, however, that they do not carry legitimate tools and that I do not take the good knowledge and ideas produced within the discipline of Feminism into my own life and practice. After all, it were Feminist analyses that showed me how capitalist and statist mechanisms strip me of my stature as an equal in my society, how my body is used to promote grand scale consumption and how I am taught to expect little of myself and my gender from a young age. Can I not use Feminism as a description and Islam as a prescription?

Not all Feminism is secular, anti-religion, antithetical to being a person of faith. And faith is not rigid, immovable and archaic; it is, after all, more of an experience that evolves with us. There is a lot in the discipline and social movement of Feminism, like in anything, that certainly challenges orthodox practices and orthopraxy as well as vice versa – but they’re not completely incommensurable and they do not have to exist at the prerogative of the other.

Onwards and Upwards: Re-Discovering the Productive Middle Way

As deplorable as the jokes made by Shaykh Abu Eesa Niamatullah were, much of the response (both from supporters and critics) was also unfortunate. Many supporters of the Shaykh came out with even harsher comments about Feminism and women, pushing misogynist tropes under the guise of defense of the faith. Many, if not most, social media critics of the Shaykh (many who discovered him through his comments) immediately jumped to Niamatullah’s throat, calling for Al Maghrib to dismiss him immediately and issuing ad hominem attacks. So much effort was put into so little of consequence. Public shaming, Twitter arguments, defending Niamatullah, attacking him and pontificating on just how ‘bad’ of a person he is (or how awesome he is for his comments) didn’t really achieve anything. At all. Very few, at least in my own interactions and observations on social media, seemed interested in seizing the opportunity to address the core, underlying issues that were bubbling up because of the Shaykh’s comments.

We have a real problem of sexism and misogyny within and outside our communities – social media chants can be cathartic (and I do love them) and yes we have a right to be angry, but we have an even greater responsibility to be productive in finding the solutions to our ailments.

And to our Shayukh – especially those who have lessened the seriousness of the impact of Shaykh Niamatullah’s ‘jokes’: you have a responsibility to promote that which is good and forbid that which is evil. When you have a segment of your community, of this Ummah, which is constantly under a barrage of hatred and suspicion, constantly have their bodies used as cultural warfare fronts – those jokes that you may see as misunderstood playful banter become daggers in the back.

Tags:
  • Moaz Ahmadmoa

    Thank you for this well written commentary on the bigger issues. Tackling one misguided ‘teacher’ may make people feel good but it will do less to solve the bigger problems underlying his thinking.

    That said, Al-Maghrib should terminate their connection to this person because he is now a liability. Inshallah they will do this in a professional and Islamic way, such that he understands his errors and eventually apologizes to Allah, the women around him, and the broader Muslim community. That way two problems are resolved rather than escalated.

    • Gibran Mahmud

      No, he’s not a liability. you are merely a part of the vocal minority seeking to take advantage of the situation. He will come out unscathed inshaa Allah while feminists will have the full brunt of their efforts thrown back at them inshaa Allah.

      • Moaz Ahmadmoa

        Thank you for your reply but I completely disagree with your assertion that I am part of a “vocal minority” or that there is some feminist agenda at play here.

        Muslims do not hate women. Therefore Muslim men do not make hateful comments about women … whether intended as sarcasm or jokingly or not or not. Any Muslim man who does so is not acting in an Islamic way and one who acts in this way cannot claim to be a teacher of Islam.

        This is why he is a liability to Al-Maghrib and will continue to be until he leaves or is removed.

        Wallahualam

        • Rin

          I am wondering how many people will need to protest before his apologists realize it’s not a “minority” outraged by comments like his.

  • Anees

    Thanks for the great piece Sana, as always. Actually hadn’t heard about this at all until this morning – and was off Twitter all day on Monday as well – so missed the #MuslimMaleAllies response. While I don’t follow ABN regularly, I have come across his words before and it’s sad that someone with such a large audience spoke the way he did, as you alluded to.

  • Samirabilis

    Brilliant! Thank you so much for your informed and balanced article. I
    really hope that it gets through to Abu Eesa (literally and
    figuratively).

  • jtabiade

    “Can I not use Feminism as a description and Islam as a prescription?” This quote from your article is similar to the approach proposed by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah in his lecture series on famous Muslim women. He suggested giving attention to feminist discourse but rejecting feminist ideology.

    • Sana

      I have not seen this, but will check his lectures out! Thank you.

  • FlyingNazgul

    Dear Sana,

    You’re focusing on the wrong thing.

    AE’s claim is that feminism is unnecessary because Islam gives every right to a woman and a Muslimah shouldn’t need anything more. Her religion gives her every protection necessary – she doesn’t have to go looking elsewhere for it.

    This is entirely correct. The chasm between real Islamic teachings and Muslim practices can be terrifying, but AE’s point still stands: we can condemn and fight to change bad practices in Muslim countries while remaining within the deen’s framework. If women are mistreated, abused, not allowed to study, own property, marry by choice and seen as being of less importance and lower intellect – then we can use Islam to fight all these battles, can we not? Why do we have to go outside of the deen?

    What people should be focusing on is not this theoretical/academic point, but AE’s supposed jokish misogyny. The tone of his comments was denigratory and his response has been anything but mature.

    Hence, the problem is most likely a much smaller one – one of a lack of understand of how his comments can be taken, his responsibility as a respected public figure and his lack of self-evaluation. He clearly cannot see that if he was joking, many others will take these things seriously and actually mistreat women due to the fact that they actually hold these beliefs. However, these are all smaller sins than hating women – surely we do not believe that he really does think that women are so evil that they hate each other?

    Best,

    FN

    • Wabzi

      “Her religion gives her every protection necessary – she doesn’t have to go looking elsewhere for it”

      And who is enforcing this protection? Whether we like it or not, misogyny is rife in Muslim communities and with no one enforcing these rights and all this protection Imaams keep emphasising that we have, why would women not look elsewhere?

      • her

        Agreed. If Muslims didn’t conglomerate culture with Islam, we wouldn’t need feminist discourse and women’s rights. Unfortunately too many Muslims follow cultural norms that debilitate women and cause oppression. Whether or not you believe that, it’s a reality!

  • hijabman

    This website is feminist shill and has nothing to do with Islam.

    You write as if you are reporting on CNN about a Syrian massacre, but you clearly were involved in feeding the flames of this little controversy weren’t you? Is the only way for Muslim women to get famous by putting down her own community? What a pitiful existence to live in the shadow of other’s mistakes. A long time ago Muslim women respected their scholars rather than trying to shame them and step all over them.

    • Sana

      Oh dear, you are an angry person.

      • Javed ‘Hijabman’ Memon

        I hope you didnt think this was me. Thank you for a lovely article. Go canada ;-)

        • Sana

          Never.

    • Javed ‘Hijabman’ Memon

      Dear idiot pretending to be hijabman. This is the real hijabman, and i proudly call myself a Muslim feminist. And i don t think highly of people like ‘shaykh’ abu eesa or any other half wit who so easily displays disrespect towards women. Nor do i find it amusing that you would impersonate me and make it seem as though i applaud this dudes behavior.

      • Jekyll

        Pride not proud.

    • Javed ‘Hijabman’ Memon

      Go do something productive and apologize to your mother. Give her a sunflower while you’re at it.

    • Muslim Comments

      Well, Abu Easa is a deplorable man, so there is nothing to respect.

      • Moaz Ahmadmoa

        It’s always better to focus on things/actions, rather than the person or their intentions. Those are for Allah to know and respond to.

  • Rabia Khurram

    Take a chill pill guys… it was obvious he was just joking! Do we Muslims have nothing better to do than bring each other down? So his one joke went too far for some… And so what…He never put ‘Saint’ or ‘Angel’ in front of his name! Lets move on…

    • Amina

      Sister Rabia,

      He is a “shaykh.” That says A LOT. He is an instructor of Almaghrib Institute. That says a lot. 40,000+ people follow him on Twitter/Facebook. THAT says a lot.
      Jokes about “rape” and “domestic abuse” is not a “JOKE.” Thats offensive and immature.
      Enough said.

    • Muslim Comments

      Rape is not a matter to joke about. This hate shaykh has to go

      • Rabia Khurram

        Did he really say that? that is really a very lame joke! I must agree…but he has apologised…so lets be a little tolerant…give him a second chance?

        • Bagel

          I didn’t see a an apology or sincere regret in his comments posted publicly. If you can find it…let me know

          • Rabia Khurram

            Abu Eesa
            11 March
            It’s a copy paste:

            Apologies for not being on here earlier but I have been busy responding to those who have privately messaged and emailed me explaining why they have been genuinely upset by my humour and satire. And I have apologised sincerely to every single one from over a hundred of them as I did yesterday publicly. It was not difficult for me to do because I seek refuge with Allah from intentionally hurting my brothers and sisters who I love and care for and spend most of my time serving as best as I can.

            I never joked about rape. I never joked about FGM. Anyone who believes otherwise is quoting me completely out of context. You fully well know that I don’t personally believe I have done anything wrong. But there is a difference in not believing you’re wrong, and between not apologising to someone who has been hurt for their own personal reasons due to my brand of satire. Everyone has an ego and mine is probably bigger than most, but not bigger than wanting to avoid harm to those who really love Allah and His Messenger and have dedicated their lives to following their way to the death. I am so sorry if I said something which hurt you, and I want you to know that I am here to make it up to you any way that I am able to achieve iA.

            Please continue to contact me on the message button if you would like to discuss this further and are looking for an apology and understanding. I firmly believe in respecting women as they have been guaranteed in our perfect religion, even if I may be imperfect in expressing that. And Allah knows my intention.

            As for those corrupt people running the #FireAbuEesa campaign with their secular-driven feminist agenda – from demanding retractions, deletions and me grovelling, all the way to the Crown Jewels themselves – then let me make this crystal clear: do you honestly think I am owned by anyone, or accountable in this dunya to anyone, or chose this way of life worrying about losers like you? Seriously? I am a free man, free of organisations, free of institutions, free of political affiliation, free of any cult, free of any madh-hab, free of group-think, free of movements, representing no-one but myself. I don’t represent scholars. I don’t represent students of knowledge. I don’t represent Salafiyyah. I don’t represent orthodoxy. I don’t represent AlMaghrib Institute. I don’t represent anyone but myself. I answer to Allah alone. You can believe to the contrary all you want. You can claim the opposite until the cows come home.

            If I saw someone in the public eye forced into pandering to cyber-warriors and their slander and smearing, I would dismiss their “apology” as something fake, forced and for the baying feminists. Likewise, the one thing I will never be is hypocritical, fake and a liar. You heroes will not be getting anything in public. So, all the best with that. Cheers.

          • Rin

            This is “sorry you got offended.” It’s a non-apology. Also, he is -and I’m embarrassed to have to say this- lying, or stubborn, if you prefer. He did make light of FGM, etc. He mentioned all these things and then he said, go for it, guys, I’m giving you a fatwa! It was sarcasm, but it was juvenile and offensive. It seems he’s more concerned about being a comedian than a good influence.

  • Dr. Kenneth Sammond

    Sana,

    Solid treatment of this dilemma.

    Indeed, rather than wasting time in judgment on the twitter-sphere, which
    by nature of the tech, is apt to be shallow and non-constructive,
    we should address the issues and causes that perpetuate similar attitudes
    and practices in our community, seeking solutions that remedy this and
    other dilemmas relating to the subordination of women and/or perceptions
    of subordinate status.

    On twitter (@FDUMuslimJour), my key comment related to challenging the
    status quo by altering the way Islamic institutions are run so that they
    comprehend better the roles and needs of all people (women and men).

    All labels aside, it is incumbent on us to improve the often singled-out,
    second-hand, or third class relationship/experience that so many women
    seem to have at their masjids or Muslim centers (discussed in the
    oft-cited report from the Hartford Institute: http://bit.ly/OfszHO; and the recent reflection
    on women’s roles in Islam: http://bit.ly/1g64AB0).
    To provoke or convene such change, there should be changes in the rules of
    governance that will allow, enable and encourage greater participation of
    women on Boards of Trustees and Boards of Overseers at these institutions
    (some of which refuse such participation in toto). Moreover, there has to
    be a change in the mindset of many of the old guard at these institutions,
    so they accept women’s voices as a legitimate part of the debate, engage
    women’s role in decision-making, and encourage women’s contributions to
    ideas and governance, including all aspects of programming, events and
    community-relations.

    Hopefully, women are also included in AE’s vision of justice, progress and
    process…

    KS

  • Amina

    Dear Sana,

    Whatever the case may be…whether people were for or against him…fact of the matter is, Abu Eesa caused great fitnah in our society.
    When addressing relevant issues…be it cultural or religious…everything shouldn’t be a joke. Jokes are OKAY as long as it doesn’t cause…well…THIS!
    Shaykh Kemal al-Mekki (also an almaghrib Instructor)..and others like him, joke in their classes a lot, but it never got to THIS point. That is what I am trying to address. The fact that the issue caused an uproar proves that whatever Abu Eesa said, indeed, caused a fitnah.

    Besides, Islam is a peaceful religion. Deep down we all know that he could’ve addressed the issue in a more mature way. Inferences to rape and domestic abuse is not the way to do that.

    On a lighter note, it’s never too late to publicly apologize…if he is, indeed, a man of “Adab” and character..

    • EmpatheticGirl

      Which he did already Amina – to every single person; please, do check his page.

      • her

        His apology was a non apology. Apologies do not include continued bashing of feminists, condescension, and most importantly, EGO.

        • EmpatheticGirl

          Maybe if you check his updates, you’ll find that he apologised sincerely to every single person who requested one. If you need one, don’t let ‘ego’ stop you. May Allah forgive us. x

  • Rahat Kurd

    Dear Sana Saeed, Your definition here of feminism as “rooted in post-Enlightenment European intellectualism” is really extraordinary. Muslim women have a long, embattled and clearly neglected history of feminist struggle and scholarship. Fatima Mernissi’s “The Veil and the Male Elite: A Feminist Interpretation of Women’s Rights in Islam” and Leila Ahmed’s “Women and Gender in Islam” are widely acknowledged classics of contemporary Muslim feminist scholarship that explore our histories in depth. As for Amina Wadud’s “Quran and Woman”, I think we are lucky to be alive on the planet at the same time as this fiercely principled feminist Muslim intellectual. Is her work to be dismissed and disqualified as that of a mere “westerner”, as so many Muslim men in positions of privilege claim whenever a Muslim woman speaks out about patriarchy and sexism? In 1999, when I was part of organizing “From the Islamic Hinterlands: Critical Muslim Debates”, a first-of-its-kind conference in Toronto, Dr. Wadud was our keynote speaker. When she arrived, she described her interaction with the Canada Customs official who asked her if she had a green card. “Honey, my ancestors were brought over here on slave ships,” she had replied. “I don’t need a green card.”

    • Sana

      Salaam Rahat – thank you for the comment. I am well aware of the works of women like Ahmed, Wadud and Mernissi – they have been fundamental in challenging long standing beliefs about Muslim women. But they do not discuss ‘Muslim Feminist history’ — rather, Muslim women’s history and rights. There’s a difference.

      My discussion was not an exhaustive history (or anything remotely close), but a contextualization of the term capital F Feminism, which does have its roots (wherever the branches may be now) in the post-Enlightenment intellectual period.

      Thank you, again, for your comment.

      Sana

    • Jekyll

      Quite a plethora of the same feminist disgust that I am assuming the Shaykh was honing on, Merissi the “She Devil”, Ahmed and now Wudud and Taylor…I would even include Manji and Kugle.

  • ChuckaMan

    Sana, you wrote a balanced article here. You aired your disagreements with the Sheikh in a respectful manner, unlike those who called for the Sheikh’s immediate dismissal, some even swore at him and I saw one tweet from a male threatening violence against him.

    I respect you more than the feminists who reacted in such a manner, mainly because you presented your argument in a clear way and I was able to understand your concerns.

  • amadshk

    Thank you for the post. I am glad that you have tried to cover many angles and it wasn’t an angry rant as some others unfortunately resorted to.

    I have also written a post that I hope will move the discussion forward, rather than paralyze it.

    http://muslimmatters.org/2014/03/11/abu-eesa-humor-overload-and-apologies/

  • Faatimah Dulull

    Regarding the recent controversy about Sheikh Abu Eesa post regarding International Women’s Day, read his status update on 22 June 2013 and form your own opinion on his position towards women. May Allaah Help us to develop good thoughts on our Muslim brothers and sisters; particularly someone striving to propagate the Deen of Allaah

    [How much do we males hate on the sisters? It's amazing just how much they put up with, what with our incessant teasing and joking and sexism and whatever else we can say or do whenever gifted an opportunity. Naturally I personally rarely miss a chance to stick it to the girls wherever possible being the King of all things sexist but the true reality of course is that we only do what we do because we realise just how awesome they are.

    Remember back in the days in Primary school when we'd pick on and bully the girls we fancied? It was our way of expressing our inability to handle the love and respect we held the greater sex in. Nowadays it's not all that different either. Men especially Muslims often realise just how lame and pathetic we are with respect to our responsibilities and duties and just how outdone we are by our women. And it hurts I guess. We feel even more insecure than we are!

    I want to give a massive shout out to all of our dear sisters who just keep pushing it higher and higher and raising the standards in Deen and ihsan. They are busy running the homes, raising the next generation, doing the da'wah on the streets, educating themselves and others, and just being all round superstars.

    Today my cousin sister graduated after finishing her 'Aalimah studies at Jaamiatul Imaam Zakaria in Bradford after 7 years of boarding away. Today I was teaching a class where the sisters outnumbered the men 3:1 in what is a deep, intense study of difficult aspects of fiqh. And they smashed it out of the park with their intelligence and insight into detailed masa'il bismillah ma sha Allah. Today I was considering exam questions for our Logical Progression class where sisters make up the mass majority of thousands of students, and their hard work and sacrifice and all-round quality is stunning. Today a sister in Algeria will be making the decision on the direction of our syllabus and study because she has proven herself to be beyond awesome in her understanding and she is a true leader and the one I seek advice from even though others may not see her that way because she's a woman. Today I realised what kind of unexpected stresses my wife has to deal with all and only because she decided to sacrifice a good and free life to become my everything *in* every thing. Today I realised that we men and this Ummah are more dependent upon its women than ever before if that was even considered possible.

    Today, to all my sisters out there I say respect. You are our present and you are our future and we know we're finished without you. May Allah bless you all, continue to guide you, give you even more patience and increase you in awesomeness which you all have so clearly made your own. Ameen. :-) ]

    • Rin

      So he subjects women to jokes like these regularly and praises their long-suffering forbearance, just as women are always expected to “take it.” New day, old story. They probably keep their objections to themselves, since again, he is a figure of power in most of his relationships and in the community. It means nothing at all that he can talk his way out of taking any responsibility for anything at all that comes out of his mouth.

  • cld

    He joked about FGM, rape and domestic abuse too, which I found frankly disturbing. His whole meltdown caused by the backlash from people who found his original jokes innapropriate and offensive was rather telling. Apparently there are those “brothers” who would rather invent a complex theory about feminism, kufr and Islam rather than say sorry for disrespecting women and to me the whole thing is rather worrying. If this is what our ‘teachers’ do when confronted with their misogyny, what on earth are we teaching our sons about respecting women?

    • Bagel

      exactly. To deny the domestic violence and issues exist in our communities (albeit they exist in every community) is ignorant. I am sure it would be beneficial to many women to have discussions on such topics rather than to be shunned by a place that is supposed to welcome, not demean, its people

    • iah

      I don’t think that’s fair. He made juvenile comments sexist comments. Those who responded to him claimed his comments empowered rape, FGM, etc. He facetiously agreed. I’m not saying he’s blameless but accusing him of joking about rape is disingenuous and doesn’t further education or progress on women’s rights issues.

  • Rin

    This article is disappointing. Notice most of the comments praising it as “balanced” are men because women will notice you spent most of the article tone-policing his detractors -indulging his dismissal of women as emotional- much as racists police activists of color, to give you perspective, and criticizing feminism -indulging derailments when we know the people railing at feminists have never participated in activism for women a day in their lives. You didn’t point out the sexism that permeates his comments (which sexism, ironically, smacks of Western influence, specifically MRA resentments), you just indulged in garden-variety derailment by pointing at feminism. It doesn’t matter what you call it, women need justice.

    Why was the shaykh so threatened by Women’s Day, a day for remembering women’s struggles around the world, serious issues like domestic violence? What would have happened had a professor at any respectable institution made the comments that he had? Why do we think misogyny is bad, but not _that_ bad, as you insist when you say ‘but don’t fire him though!’? How else to make a statement about what kind of behavior is expected of imams, teachers, community members if there are no consequences to anything? What is he responsible for, if not the words coming out of his mouth? How is he not influential, though he shrugs off responsibility and repeatedly insists anyone who takes him seriously is silly, when he has tens of thousands of followers and he’s a _teacher_?

  • Jekyll

    Many times “sister” Sanaa comes across as someone who I would have disagreements with but in this case the article did come of as well balanced and defending the dissertation of the her point; the definition the word feminism.

    Sorry to see some quite unruly and philistine comments made by Westernized men and women who are usually waiting to highlight and exacerbate some peccadillo to show their concern…of their own ego.

  • Fares Fares

    I read half of this article and learnt the feminism is not bakwas, its European bakwas :) this is the second article im reading on here and im beginning to see a pattern