Sunday, March 27, 2005

Say What?


Clearly confused

I should be the last person to refer to when it comes to religion. It is not like I don't believe in it, because in my heart, I am a proud Muslim. But it is because I never really had the opportunity to have an extensive and formal education on my faith. I was never lucky enough to go to sekolah agama, because Beijing did not have one. Athens, Ohio did have one not too. Even when I was in KL, the extra after-school hours were spent in the music room or on stage.

However, when I heard that a Muslim lady in the US decided to head the Friday prayers, it just did not feel right. Her defence was that Islam preaches gender equality, and that her choice is in line with these teachings. She also felt that there was absolutely nothing wrong for a man and a woman (who are not blood-tied) to pray next to each other.

Is she nuts?

Even with my lack of Islamic teachings, I understand that a man and woman can pray together, but in seperate areas. The reason being is that the air sembahyang can batal, and then the prayers is not sah. But to me, it is because the fine line of being horny by sitting next to a hot lady can occur, resulting with unfocused prayers. So God did us a favor by asking us to pray seperately, but together. Doesn't she know this?

And yes, Islam teaches us on gender equality. We are indeed brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith. But there are somethings we follow. Like tradition and how imam for Friday prayers are men. Not women.

I have never considered myself old-fashioned. But when it comes with this issue, bizarrely I am...

11 Comments:

Blogger random-girl said...

it's not about being old-fashioned. it's about respect. and she, and the men who followed her lead in prayer, crossed the line.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Muddy said...

random-girl :

i recently had a discussion about this with my colleague (yes, with Shi! hehehe) according to her, all-girl schools in malaysia have female imams leading an all-women friday prayers. wow, i never would have known...

10:53 PM  
Blogger aeyya said...

yesh amad obviously if its all WOMAN than woman will be the IMAN,but no such thing as MIX [man&woman] pray,Woman be the Iman.It is how Islam is rules,i mean Man have speacial higher position in some way,no offend..it is a way of respect tho'

12:34 AM  
Blogger Muddy said...

aeyya :

hehehe...yeah, i can be naive sometimes. and yeah, i agree, there is an unsaid rule that a man should be the imam of friday prayers. it is completely patriacherial (if there is even such a word...) and faithfully understood.

12:40 AM  
Blogger Idlan said...

Erm, why would there be all-women's Friday prayers in schools in Malaysia? Wow, things have changed!

On another note, having a female imam lead an all-female makmum is permissible and practiced widely; the issue is having a female imam lead a mixed makmum - which noted scholars agree, is not a practice that has been conducted nor endorsed.

But I won't go on and on abt this :) I could give you links though, if you fancy.

1:52 AM  
Blogger Kebede said...

its like the new IT thing to talkabout lately when this issue was brought up. as for my personal opinion, i believe that what she intended to say was good..to have women equaly treated.

however, she did something that goes beyond other people's comprehension...and now she is famous. :)

4:06 AM  
Blogger Elina said...

I have a lot of respect for Amina Wadud but when I read about her leading the prayer congregation, I had mixed thoughts and mixed feelings about it. I think I come down on the side of orthodoxy on this. I don't feel that men and women are equal in every literal sense of the word.

6:53 AM  
Blogger Muddy said...

idlan :

hey, thanks for dropping by! :) so scholars do agree? that's good (whoo...I thought I was on this on my own...hehehe).

ash_ruff :

true, her intention that women should be treated equally should be praised. however, in my opinion, there are somethings which should remain as special rights for certain genders.

elina :

thanks for the comment! :) and yeah, i guess when it comes to this issue, being orthodox is the way to go...

9:34 PM  
Blogger lolipicka said...

Name Sarah - United States
Topic Culture & Society
Title Female-Led Prayers: A Step Forward for Women?
Question On March 18, 2005 Amina Wadud led the first female-led Jumu`ah Prayer. On that day, women took a huge step towards being more like men. But, did we come closer to actualizing our God-given liberation?
Date 2005/3/28

Name of Consultant AAI Editorial Staff
Content of Reply

This answer was kindly provided by Sister Yasmin Mogahed, a member of Ask About Islam Editorial Staff. Yasmin is an Egyptian-American journalist based in Wisconsin, USA. She is currently studying for a Master's degree in Journalism.


Salam, Sarah.

Thank you for your inspiring question!

Well, answering your question, I can say that I don’t think so.

What we so often forget is that God has honored women by giving them value in relation to God—not in relation to men. But as Western feminism erases God from the scene, there is no standard left but men. As a result, the Western feminist is forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing, she has accepted a faulty assumption. She has accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man—the standard.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army, and so on. She wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had it.

What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness, not their sameness. And on March 18, Muslim women made the very same mistake.

For 1,400 years, there has been a consensus of scholars that men are to lead Prayer. As a Muslim woman, why does this matter? The one who leads Prayer is not spiritually superior in any way. Something is not better just because a man does it. And leading Prayer is not better just because it is leading. Had it been the role of women or had it been more divine, why wouldn’t the Prophet have asked Lady `A’ishah or Lady Khadijah, or Lady Fatimah—the greatest women of all time—to lead? These women were promised heaven and yet they never led Prayer.

But now, for the first time in 1,400 years, we look at a man leading Prayer and we think, “That’s not fair.” We think so, although God has given no special privilege to the one who leads. The imam is no higher in the eyes of God than the one who prays behind. On the other hand, only a woman can be a mother. And the Creator has given special privilege to a mother. The Prophet taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter what a man does, he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair?

When asked who is most deserving of our kind treatment? The Prophet replied "your mother" three times before saying "your father" only once. Isn’t that sexist? No matter what a man does, he will never be able to have the status of a mother.

And yet even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men, to value it or even notice it. We too have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely feminine is, by definition, inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a mother is a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigns supreme.

As soon as we accept that everything a man has and does is better, all that follows is just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it, we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead Prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead Prayer too. Somewhere along the line, we’ve accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.

A Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as a standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man here.

In fact, in our crusade to follow men, we, as women, never even stopped to examine the possibility that what we have is better for us. In some cases, we even gave up what was higher only to be like men.

Fifty years ago, we saw men leaving the home to work in factories. We were mothers. And yet, we saw men doing it, so we wanted to do it too. Somehow, we considered it women’s liberation to abandon the raising of another human being in order to work on a machine. We accepted that working in a factory was superior to raising the foundation of society—just because a man did it.

Then after working, we were expected to be superhuman—the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, and have the perfect career. And while there is nothing wrong, by definition, with a woman having a career, we soon came to realize what we had sacrificed by blindly mimicking men. We watched as our children became strangers, and soon recognized the privilege we’d given up.

And so only now—given the choice—women in the West are choosing to stay home to raise their children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 31 percent of mothers with babies, and 18 percent of mothers with two or more children, are working fulltime. And of those working mothers, a survey conducted by Parenting Magazine in 2000, found that 93 percent of them say they would rather be home with their kids, but are compelled to work due to “financial obligations.” These “obligations” are imposed on women by the gender sameness of the modern West and removed from women by the gender distinctiveness of Islam.

It took women in the West almost a century of experimentation to realize a privilege given to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Given my privilege as a woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I’m not, and in all honesty, don’t want to be—a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men and value the beauty in our own God given distinctiveness.

If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose compassion. And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet, I choose heaven.

I hope my words answer your question. In case you have any comment or you need more about the topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us again. Thank you and please keep in touch.

Salam.

5:48 PM  
Blogger lolipicka said...

Hi ahmad, received an email, and thoguht i'd like to share it with you. i even had to open a blogger account just to post this :p
It's a clear explanation to support your instinct :)

Name Sarah - United States
Topic Culture & Society
Title Female-Led Prayers: A Step Forward for Women?
Question On March 18, 2005 Amina Wadud led the first female-led Jumu`ah Prayer. On that day, women took a huge step towards being more like men. But, did we come closer to actualizing our God-given liberation?
Date 2005/3/28

Name of Consultant AAI Editorial Staff
Content of Reply

This answer was kindly provided by Sister Yasmin Mogahed, a member of Ask About Islam Editorial Staff. Yasmin is an Egyptian-American journalist based in Wisconsin, USA. She is currently studying for a Master's degree in Journalism.


Salam, Sarah.

Thank you for your inspiring question!

Well, answering your question, I can say that I don’t think so.

What we so often forget is that God has honored women by giving them value in relation to God—not in relation to men. But as Western feminism erases God from the scene, there is no standard left but men. As a result, the Western feminist is forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing, she has accepted a faulty assumption. She has accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man—the standard.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army, and so on. She wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had it.

What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness, not their sameness. And on March 18, Muslim women made the very same mistake.

For 1,400 years, there has been a consensus of scholars that men are to lead Prayer. As a Muslim woman, why does this matter? The one who leads Prayer is not spiritually superior in any way. Something is not better just because a man does it. And leading Prayer is not better just because it is leading. Had it been the role of women or had it been more divine, why wouldn’t the Prophet have asked Lady `A’ishah or Lady Khadijah, or Lady Fatimah—the greatest women of all time—to lead? These women were promised heaven and yet they never led Prayer.

But now, for the first time in 1,400 years, we look at a man leading Prayer and we think, “That’s not fair.” We think so, although God has given no special privilege to the one who leads. The imam is no higher in the eyes of God than the one who prays behind. On the other hand, only a woman can be a mother. And the Creator has given special privilege to a mother. The Prophet taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter what a man does, he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair?

When asked who is most deserving of our kind treatment? The Prophet replied "your mother" three times before saying "your father" only once. Isn’t that sexist? No matter what a man does, he will never be able to have the status of a mother.

And yet even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men, to value it or even notice it. We too have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely feminine is, by definition, inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a mother is a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigns supreme.

As soon as we accept that everything a man has and does is better, all that follows is just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it, we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead Prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead Prayer too. Somewhere along the line, we’ve accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.

A Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as a standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man here.

In fact, in our crusade to follow men, we, as women, never even stopped to examine the possibility that what we have is better for us. In some cases, we even gave up what was higher only to be like men.

Fifty years ago, we saw men leaving the home to work in factories. We were mothers. And yet, we saw men doing it, so we wanted to do it too. Somehow, we considered it women’s liberation to abandon the raising of another human being in order to work on a machine. We accepted that working in a factory was superior to raising the foundation of society—just because a man did it.

Then after working, we were expected to be superhuman—the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect homemaker, and have the perfect career. And while there is nothing wrong, by definition, with a woman having a career, we soon came to realize what we had sacrificed by blindly mimicking men. We watched as our children became strangers, and soon recognized the privilege we’d given up.

And so only now—given the choice—women in the West are choosing to stay home to raise their children. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, only 31 percent of mothers with babies, and 18 percent of mothers with two or more children, are working fulltime. And of those working mothers, a survey conducted by Parenting Magazine in 2000, found that 93 percent of them say they would rather be home with their kids, but are compelled to work due to “financial obligations.” These “obligations” are imposed on women by the gender sameness of the modern West and removed from women by the gender distinctiveness of Islam.

It took women in the West almost a century of experimentation to realize a privilege given to Muslim women 1,400 years ago. Given my privilege as a woman, I only degrade myself by trying to be something I’m not, and in all honesty, don’t want to be—a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men and value the beauty in our own God given distinctiveness.

If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose compassion. And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet, I choose heaven.

I hope my words answer your question. In case you have any comment or you need more about the topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us again. Thank you and please keep in touch.

Salam.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Muddy said...

assya :

wow, this is a really good explanation. As to Sister Yasmin's argument, it is clear that there are things which are women's own, and that they should be proud of it. The women's/mother's right to have heaven by their feet is a great privilege, and men accept it without questions.

10:38 PM  

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