Tag Archives: oppression

Don’t Judge. Thank God.

6 Jul

You will never understand people unless you walk in their shoes. Or keep an open, observant mind when you click your heels next to theirs. We can only see a blurred full picture from a distance. But if we have not lived a life alongside theirs, we can just not hold any kind of judgement of them. We cannot be at the violet and judge that at the red of a rainbow.

We can only thank God for limiting our exposure, our experience of life and keeping us safe and our innocence intact. We can thank God for raising us where we never had to understand what pressure really looks like. We can thank God we met people who walked up a path similar to ours, so we did not have to try to empathize with who we call “rotten”, even if we had no will to sympathize with the being. We have to thank God we were not chosen to set an example or be a lesson to be learned from. We can thank him for giving us no struggles that even remotely were inflicted by society. We can thank God we had the ability to stay silent and dissolve into oppression and believe it to be a natural state of our occurence. We must thank God for giving us a life easier than majority.

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A Speech

2 Jul

And the oppressed said to the privileged:

What do you know of struggle
What do you know of hanging on to life by a thread

I would sympathize with you wanting to run away
But you were not witness to your father being gunned down on the street
I would sympathize with your self-hate
But you didn’t watch your child beheaded in front of your eyes
I would sympathize with your body image issues
But you did not see your mothers and sisters brutally raped
I would sympathize with the razor cuts on your skin
But you did not have your body beaten up with stones and sticks

Oh you – born with a mouthful of silver coins –
You created your own torture cell
You inflicted pain upon yourself
Your struggles have been self-centered
You add to your own misery
What sympathy do you yearn for
When you can care not for the truly powerless and the truly weak

Nice or Right?

26 Jun

They say if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. But I say, if you have something right to say even if it destroys more than it heals, then do not shut up till you have spoken your heart out. Screw being nice. Nothing will be achieved with silence – you will either remain silently miserable, or become even more pathetic to bear.

In The Words of Brown Women

15 May

“She’s so white – of course, she’s so pretty!”

” She’s kind of really dark, but she is really pretty!”

The “but” makes the difference. The “but” ruins the compliment. The “but” is what makes you question about the honesty in the speaker’s words.

Brown women sometimes do not even realize the things they say.

A Message From A Muslim Feminist

6 Apr

Femen. The word has become a nightmare in a matter of a couple of days. A nightmare for not just Muslims, Muslim women, but for several feminists around the world.

One of the first words I use to describe myself is none other than a feminist. I don’t have much means as of now, other than writing, to show my support for women’s rights. But I pray that in a few years, I’ll have money to put towards NGOs and organize campaigns in support for the cause.

Oppression… What does it mean these days? There seems to be a new definition for it, when it comes to the Muslim world – modestly dressed. Any woman covering her hair or face is oppressed and doing so against her freewill, because men have told her to do so, because man has created a religion with laws that make her fear the consequences of disobeying her family.

It’s a continuous battle. Fighting for what you believe in, fighting for the right to believe in what you want. The need to defend yourself against the attacks of the world, at the same time trying to not feel hurt, trying to not get angry.

See, I’m not just a feminist. I am also a Muslim. And, both go hand in hand, both cannot be separated from the other. Both together fit to make me the person I am. And, why do they go hand in hand? Islamophobes say religion only suppresses women. So, how is a Muslim feminist not an oxymoron?

So, to begin, I’ll tell you what rights are given to women in my religion. It is simple: equal to that of men. Both are human beings, both deserve respect, both are instructed to be as educated as they possibly can by whatever means available, both are also to be punished the same way for the same crime.

If you have not heard of Soraya M., she was an Iranian woman who was wrongfully accused of adultery by her abusive husband, and was stoned to death. The movie is very graphic, very horrifyingly tragic – that left me crying into the night at the injustice. So, when her story was told to the journalist, it was not to speak against stoning, but to speak against death sentences for a crime that was committed by her husband several times, but men of the village did not care about it, but only that of a rumour against a woman. It was to bring attention to the grave sin of bearing a false witness. It was, a true crime of violence against women, because the men were not being stoned to death the same way as women were, when the God they did it under the name of has ordered for the same punishment to be applied to men as well.

It is such religious hypocrisy of men that has ill-reputed Islam, that has now brought us Muslim women to fight for our religion, defend ourselves against the extremism of activists like Femen. It is when little girls in Pakistan are shot because they want to go to school that goes against a simple message of Islam to all Muslims: seek knowledge from cradle to grave.

So what does it mean to be a Muslim feminist? It means to be the voice of these oppressed women, who are abused by their men, who are not allowed to go to school, who still have to pay heavy amounts of dowry to have their hands accepted in marriage, who are killed because of false accusations and false witnesses, and who get no justice when they are subjected to rape and assault. And at the same time, doing so by strengthening their belief in God, by helping them gain back their self-respect and self-appreciation, by helping them love themselves.

Personally, I do not cover my face. I barely ever cover my head. I have revealed much skin sometimes. But, I am not going to stand some Femen tell a woman in hijab to take it off, to take off her shirt as well, to write on her breasts and run on the street. That is an absolute return to barbarianism.

Once upon a time, the more clothes a person wore, the higher his or her status was. As men evolved in intelligence, they also clothed better. So, clothes were respect. So why then is nudity not oppression? How is it freedom?

Captured girls are trafficked and spend most of their time naked and being abused, so how is nudity liberation?

Women who did not go to school, who could find no means to make money, had to resort to stripping selling their bodies for some cash. So how then, is nudity intelligent? Educated?

Why does feminism have to be distorted to such a degree than it denies all religions? Isn’t feminism about helping women and letting them have their own identities? Why does it get twisted from fighting for women to hating on religion? How can you imagine gaining support from Muslim women when you are telling them that their religion is wrong, and their bare breasts will bring them freedom?

The truth of the matter is, women are going to remain objectified. There are too many men who will pay anything to a woman to take off her shirt, which can be witnessed by the whole world, accessible to kids, which in return activates their sexuality early, and so on the cycle continues.

It’s not fair. Seeing nude women standing in front of mosques, burning flags, writing hateful things towards having morals – well, these morals also teach us tolerance and patience. If they didn’t, it would have taken no time for some radical Islamist to end the lives of these women. Honestly.

So all I have left to say to Femens that I have not already told them on twitter and facebook, is pretty simple: hate Islam all you want, fear it all you want. You cannot do anything to stop the hundreds of people who revert to Islam everyday, all around the world, especially in the West. And what you have done is nothing more than open a passage for men and women to learn about Islam. You have inspired them to be curious as to why Muslim women hate what you are doing, and when they will ask and learn from their Muslim friends, you will be left all alone how you started when born… naked and ashamed.

He Sounds Muslim: The Cancerous Spread of Ignorance

2 Aug

I understand a couple of racist and sexist jokes here and there, once in a while. No harm meant, nobody offended. But maybe it’s how I am evolving into something different, and it’s not tolerable in the eyes of some around me, the comments have become harsher.

Yesterday at work, especially, when my coworker held out his hand and went like, “Do you see this? [meaning the pale colour of his skin] Do I look like someone who would fast in Ramadan?

I was stunned at his level of ignorance. Muslims cannot be white. I just replied a “Wow” and turned away. My other coworker stood up, and lectured him on how she knows a Caucasian Muslim girl, how she knows a Hispanic Muslim girl, and how they are both fasting.

His reply: “Well I am just too pale is what I mean.

I don’t even know where to begin. His lack of knowledge of how all skin tones are found in the Middle East, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Or his ignorant belief that all Muslims are supposed to be brown skinned. Or just excuse him for being a dumb 18 year old who could care less about learning and be more concerned about wasting away his youth with alcohol and sex.

And then today, after getting a voicemail from a lawyer informing him that he is being sued for check fraud, my other coworker goes like, “He sounds Muslim!” when clearly it was one of the most obvious Southern accents.

If looks could kill, I wish they could also break a huge block of common sense on the heads of people. I was well-aware of ignorance since childhood, but the ratio of knowledgeable to ignorant surprises me. Disappoints me.

People have stopped reading. They have stopped listening. To legit information. To things that matter. To the truth. They have shut their eyes, they care about nothing, nobody, but have decided “YOLO” is the way to live till you die. It baffles me to see this is what has become of mankind. The thirst for knowledge has been replaced with the thirst of money.

Someone said it so well:

There is in ignorance a death for its people before death, and their bodies before burial are graves, and their souls are in grief on account of their bodies, and there is no resurrection for them (from death) until the Resurrection.

Is it just me taking offense to all this? I definitely don’t think so. I know how it bothered my other colleague to see me being insulted like that. I know it bothers me when I see people crack racist jokes to insult people around me, too.

So I have been saying no to going out to bars and parties with them for personal reasons that I have already explained to them once, and do not want to have to repeat. Few respect my decision, but others have literally attacked me and teased me about it. But of course, standing your own a-midst a crowd of alike people is never easy. And I have been taught well, that, the hardest thing to do is usually the right thing to do.

It’s not all them to blame. I had been too nice, too tolerant and too easy-going to easily take offense to any of their teasing when it came to my height or slight accent. It was like giving a green light to them to go ahead and dump all kinds of offensive comments on me. Yeah, I am not a serious person. That is not how I lead my life on the daily. But when it comes to things that matter, I don’t excuse. I almost physically can’t. I know I just have to survive through it till I get away. Hopefully where ignorance is close to negligible if not completely.

It’s no real surprise though, sadly. The Prophet (SAW) narrated centuries ago what we see happen everyday around us today:

Time will be shortened, the knowledge will be raised up, [so only ignorance will remain] the Fitan (trials, calamities, etc.) will appear, stinginess will be widespread and Al-Haraj will appear in abundance.” He was asked, “And what is Al-Haraj?” He said, “Murder!”

Muslim Women

6 Jun

image

This is so true. From observing all the women I grew up around, oppression barely stands true outside of Afghanistan and Iran. Yeah, I come from Saudi Arabia, one of the most conservative countries. But even there, women who did their hijab did so by choice. Oh, and you would be surprised at the increasing number of IT specialists and engineers in Saudi that are female. And those that own and run their own businesses. There is nothing in Islam that limits how much a woman can study and there is no glass ceiling suggested for her career either. Talk about chores? We got maids and houseboys that come in to clean and even cook sometimes, because technically Islam requires chores and raising kids be divided equally between a couple, or they hire help.

We All Know Men Who Hate Women

25 Dec

The most interesting movie I’ve had the chance to watch this year is no doubt The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The dark underlying theme of aggression towards women was much needed to be brought forward on big screen, especially today… Today when the world is redefining rape and trying to shun women to silence, as was done in the past.

I started off liking the male lead character, Mikhael. He seemed like a good husband and father, trying to solve the mystery of a missing girl, eager to crack the case of a serial rapist and murderer. However, he was still a douchebag – he still cheated on his wife, had sex with Lisbeth while working with her, and when they do find out who the killer is, he tries to defend him and why he could have done all the horrible things that he did.

“He had the same chances as us to choose what he wanted to be. He was no victim. He was a sadistic motherfucker who hated women.” – Lisbeth.

Of all the messages the movie conveyed, there was one that stuck out to me the most: that of trust. The trust Lisbeth found so hard to have in someone, especially the men in her life. And just when she thinks she could finally trust a male with her mind, her body, her heart, he still ends up betraying her, leaving her all alone.

The movie was a sharp reality-check. There was basically no nice man in the movie. Mikhael could have been – he could have loved the woman who put her life in danger to save his life, help finish what he started. But instead, he chose to hide his affair from his wife and continue being with her, not caring a bit about Lisbeth. Left her all alone.

As a woman who is often called a “man-hater”, the movie basically made my beliefs about the scarcity of good men even stronger. The rapists, the abusive spouses, the honor-killers, pedophiles, chauvinists, typical college douchebags – they are literally there every step I take. Everywhere I’d hear some male crack sexist jokes about how women belong in the kitchen, are horrible drivers, can’t be good leaders, calling them whores and justifying sexual assaults with “she was asking for it”.

They’d tell me to learn to take a joke. Well, I refuse to find anything funny about rape. I refuse to find anything funny about a girl who is working three jobs to support herself & her family being told she should be making sandwiches for the men in her life. I refuse to agree a girl is a whore just because she decides she could use a one-night stand to relieve whatever stress she could be having, all the while a boy is being praised as a womanizer for doing just that. To me, all these men are men who hate women.

You cannot be violent with a woman and say you did it because you care – you just left bruises all over someone like you would on someone you hate.

You cannot buy and sell women in trafficking and say you’re doing it cuz you need them – you are treating them far worse than you could treat an animal.

You cannot make sexist jokes and still say you love women – you just ridiculed them and their right to be who they choose to be.

You cannot sleep with them and forget them – you just disrespected them, refused to understand who they are, how they feel.

You cannot date them and cheat on them – you just played with their trust, you betrayed them.

None of that falls under love. It’s hate. Hate that could possibly stem from looking down on women, not thinking of them as human, or being jealous of how you’ll never be who they became, or simply envying how they fought and survived every hardship that came upon them better than you yourself could. Either way, it’s simply hate. And unfortunately for many women like me, there are not many places we can go without being attacked by men with such hate.

The most I can hope for and hopefully accomplish is to find that rare man I don’t experience this hate from, and when and if I do have a son, teach him to respect and love women for who they are, what they do… And especially to understand them before making judgemental statements about them. Basically, raise him to be a feminist.