I would like to thank the WMAP team for organising the event they hosted last Saturday, and all those who participated in the gathering. There were many Muslim women in attendance from various walks of life: activists, homemakers, PhDs, doctoral students, professionals, civil servants, and so on. The two things that remained constant was intelligent thinking and a concern with what God wants, and as a result, all of our discussions were centred around the Qur’an and understanding what God has revealed.
The conversations were mature and enlightening, and rather than becoming an echo chamber in which grievances are simply listed, there was a keen and sincere desire to get to the core of God’s expectations and problem-solve real life challenges. We spoke of God, scriptural understanding, cognitive dissonance from religious misguidance, a shari’ah that reflects divine wisdom and resonates with our God given intellects, how we might challenge illegitimate reactions to modernity that heavily bare down on women, ethno-cultural communities, cultural hegemony in a multicultural community, doing faith from first-principles, and identifying one’s community and the need to form one for like-minded individuals.
Pertinent to the engagement is the fact that “The hypocrites, both men and women, are from the same ilk” (Q 9:67) yet “the believers, both men and women, support each other.” The hypocrites “order what is wrong and forbid what is right; they are tight-fisted. They have ignored God, so He has ignored them” but the believers “order what is right and forbid what is wrong; they keep up the prayer and pay the prescribed alms; they obey God and His Messenger. God will give His mercy to such people: God is almighty and wise.” (Q 9:71)
One attendee (who has memorised more than a third of the Qur’an) wrote:
“I thought the event was great. I feel that us muslim women have been so bruised and attacked by the media, patriarchy, culture, you name it – we have constantly had to fold ourselves, disappear, end up being reactionary or do whatever to survive. Also women policing women has hurt us. You recognised this, shed light on all this and called a spade a spade which kind of helped us put our guard down. Rarely has Islamic scholarship been truly empowering in its language, stances and consideration to the needs of women. Though we women know intuitively that our deen is so empowering and transformative for us as female believers specifically- but haven’t come across a version so far that enables this. Women haven’t been spoken to respectfully and have been infantilised by scholars so even being spoken to properly was huge. Sitting and talking with you about God was very refreshing for this reason. You were giving us the tools e.g recognise that ayaat are linked, learn the bigger picture/full story not just see the 20 secs clip and automatically make a judgement, know that there is deeper meaning behind the ayaat gained from asbab unnoozool, linguistic analysis, using logic, supporting hadith. By analysing ayaat that some considered “problematic” we managed to see how to go about analysing the ayaat and decode the Words of God. Adding the social science bits enhanced the conversation ten fold. More questions were created than answered at some points. Sometimes it felt like you didn’t have an opinion on a topic or didn’t want to share it with us, but that’s because we’ve been so used to black/white fatawa that someone discussing nuance and emphasising context is triggering. Loved that the conversation on “hijab” was that it is a whole attitude/mode of carrying yourself. Lol at equating hijab with classiness 🙂 who doesn’t want to be classy? Your definition allowed for all types of women to have space in Islam/community.”
I ask God to guide us to what is upright and true.