Of “-isms” And The Need To Rethink Identities

fem-muslim“Trying to be a Liberal Muslim?” a batch-mate made a passing comment as I was reading Maulana Maududi in class. This question, by itself, has the potential to suggest that the contemporary Muslim community has a lot of introspection to do. The factual incorrectness of the question, that there was hardly anything “liberal” (in the conventional sense of the term) about a man that is known for his critique of capitalism and his radical ideas about the revival of Islam, reflects a deep-seated ignorance amongst Muslims and sans exaggeration, is one of the tragedies of our times. This ignorance has left gaps in our understanding about how a Muslim identity is supposed to be a ‘complete package. It is because of these gaps, that we tend to add qualifications to the Muslim identity such as ‘Liberal Muslim’, ‘Muslim Feminist’, ‘Progressive Muslim’, etc.

A Muslim, by definition, is supposed to be ‘a complete being’ who is not on the lookout to subscribe to the newest –ism in the market.

Feminism, it is claimed, is an ideology that liberates women from the stronghold of the prevalent patriarchal mindset. If one happens to explore the think tanks and the activists in this area then one would find that they, very shrewdly, have us believe that the only relationship that exists between a man and woman is that of the oppressor and the oppressed. “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail!” To validate their quest for “equality”, they’ll fail to see beyond that dichotomy. A tried and tested method to control a population is that the oppressor first instills a certain inferiority complex in the subject of oppression so that the latter starts believing that they need “empowerment” thereby reinforcing the oppressor’s authority to reign over the oppressed. Feminism, pretty much like Liberalism, seeks to exploit the subject of oppression and is guilty of just that. Hence, the talk-shows on women empowerment constantly asserting that women are the oppressed lot. They would capitalize, say, on her ‘right’ to shun traditional clothing so they can use her body to sell products or they would make an issue out of her right to go out and work so that childcare industry flourishes or they would constantly press upon the ‘need’ for women to look fair and beautiful so that fashion industry doesn’t topple. At this point, I might sound like a conspiracy theorist but as long as I am able to hit the nail on the head, so be it. I have absolutely no qualms in saying it loud and clear that feminism, as it is in the market today, has everything to do with the prevalent ‘consumerist culture’ and how women operate in it. On the flip side, however, this is not to deny that women do not need empowerment and that crimes against women are not the harsh reality. A woman needs empowerment and strength but that which no man or society shall buy for her. It comes when she empowers herself by submitting herself to her Creator rather than falling prey to a creation.
Empowerment & much more happens when we submit to the One that created us.
This helps in the foundation of healthy families and societies where men and women are not at odds but in harmony with each other. One does not get to dictate the other because the individuals are not in charge of their own moral standards but the moral anchor is One for all- Allah the Almighty. The artificially-created image of a ‘macho man’ that has nothing but six-packs to flaunt which is the symbol of masculinity today and the contemporary beauty standards for women hold zero relevance under Allah’s laws wherein men and women are judged by their imaan. When both remind themselves and each other of their obligations and the consequences of non-compliance, families and societies at large are likely to witness less crime and more inner work.
No matter the age we live in, the Creator’s law shall always reign supreme. Imran Salha says, and rightly so, “We need to go through long phases of erasing. We need to re-examine why we think the way we think and understand that the source of all Truth is God (SWT) and His Messenger (SAAW); and His law is the starting point, the end point, and all the points in between for us. Western Civilization needs to justify to me through my Islamic framework why things are okay or not okay, and not the other way around.” Let’s not become a group of people which can be likened to a “donkey with a sack of gold on its back.” Let us understand Islam and the Ideal Muslim Identity (sans any prefix or suffix) so that we can be the proud carriers of our faith and share its beauty with others.

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