Brief Notes on Islam & Islamic Feminisms
I want to start by recognizing my teachers on the subject of women and Islam: Asma Lamrabet3 , Amina Teslima Al-Yerrahi4 , Asma Barlas5 , Houria Bouteldja6 , Arzu Merali7 and Sirin Adlbi Sibai8 . It is to them to whom I owe everything I know of the subject that may be useful in this essay, and it is myself to whom I think any error or misinterpretation that may be in this essay of which I am the sole responsible.
You will wonder what a Latin American and Caribbean man does by introducing a special issue on Islamic feminism. Not only am I not a woman, but much less a Muslim woman. The general answer to this question is very clear: feminism is neither a subject nor an exclusive responsibility of women, although for obvious reasons women have been the critical thinkers of patriarchal oppression. The most specific answer to this question has everything to do with how this special issue of Tabula Rasa about Islamic feminisms arises.
As a founding member of the organization known as Decoloniality Europe,9 , organized several courses of decolonial formation in Europe annually10 . One of these courses is entitled Critical Muslim Studies: Decolonial Struggles and Theologies of Liberation (Muslim Critical Thinking: Decolonial Struggles and Liberation Theologies). In this course, Muslims and non-Muslims from all over the world converge. It is a space of conversation and inter-epistemic dialogue focused on Islam and Muslim decolonization to produce a decolonial vision within and from Islam. As part of this course and following the decolonial principle that there can be no decolonization without depatrialization or depatrialization without decolonization, I invited a group of outstanding intellectuals / activists fighting for the liberation of Muslim women. Some identify themselves as “Islamic feminists” and others are uncomfortable with the term “feminism” because of their strong association and anchoring in an Eurocentric / West-centric imperial feminism. For the time being we use the designation “Islamic feminism” for purposes of facilitating communication with a Latin American public. But before continuing it is important to make some clarifications for this audience that is unfamiliar with Islamic spirituality.
Some Clarification Points
It is essential to make some clarifications before entering fully into the theme of “Islamic feminism”. Here are some clarifications that are fundamental for a Latin American audience of culture and/or Christian spirituality:
In the first place, it would be necessary to clarify for a Latin American audience more knowledgeable of the Christian tradition than of the Islamic tradition, that contrary to the Bible, the message of the Qur’an has a more radical principle of gender equality. The Qur’an always speaks of humans and establishes equality of rights and duties for both men and women. There are very few Qur’anic verses (less than five) that have been used to justify patriarchal cultural practices and for this the patriarchal interpreters have had to distort the senses of classical Arabic quite a bit and the spirit of revelation by changing the meaning of The words and to obviate the historical and intertextual contexts in which the verses were revealed.
So for Islamic feminists the message of the Qur’an provides possibilities of critique of patriarchal domination far more radical than the Biblical (Jewish or Christian) tradition where there are endless passages of overtly patriarchal content. Let us not forget that Islam recognizes the right to divorce, property and inheritance of women for more than 1,400 years. The world of Christian culture came to recognize these rights entered the twentieth century and still institutionalized Christian religions like the Catholic Church do not recognize the right to divorce.
The second to clarify for an audience of Christian culture or spirituality in Latin America is that the Quran does not have the same textual character as the Bible. The Quran is conceived as the revelation, that is, the direct word of Allah. The most similar to the Bible in the Islamic tradition are the Hadith that constitute the testimonies of the life of the prophet by witnesses of the time. All Islam, from Islamic jurisprudence to Muslim spirituality, is based on the Quran and Hadith. The Quran was revealed to a man who was illiterate. For those who know classical Arabic, the poetry, depth and beauty of the Koran are impossible to imitate. So the translations of the Koran can not do justice to the original text. It is impossible to translate the Koran in all its dimensions. The mystics of Islam speak of seven different levels of meaning in each verse of the Quran. While in Christianity the miracle is the very birth of Jesus of a virgin, in Islam the miracle is the Koran as a word revealed directly from Allah.
The third thing to clarify is that the relation of Islam to sexuality is open and is recognized as a pleasure that whenever it is practiced in moderation and following certain ethical rules, there is nothing morally problematic. So the pleasure of material life, including sexuality, is seen as a blessing from Allah and not as a negative thing to repress.
The fourth point to clarify is that Islam recognizes all the prophets of all pre-Islamic sacred traditions. All the prophets of the Old Testament are recognized as such by the Quran. The same with Jesus who is considered in the Koran as one of the great prophets with Moses. An important difference with Christianity is that Islam does not recognize Jesus as the son of God, but as a prophet. Therefore, Islam opposes the Trinitarian dualism and emphasizes the principle of Tawheed, diversity within unity or unity with diversity. Islam opposes any version of “uniqueness without diversity” or “homogenizing uniqueness.” Islam is radically anti-dualistic and conceives the cosmos as a whole or a uniqueness with diversity, heterogeneity and difference. This diversity allows us to recognize that all other spiritualities with their prophets were created by Allah and have their reason for being. Therefore, there is no reason to eliminate the difference. There is a hadeeth that says that Allah sent 124,000 prophets to various peoples, cultures and human civilizations throughout history. What Islam emphasizes is that Mohammed is the last of the prophets, but he is not the only one and no prophet is a son of Allah.
The fifth point to note is that in Islam there is no pretension to separate the material world and the human everyday from spirituality. Spirituality is not something that is done on Sundays separate from what is done from Monday to Friday. Hence, Islam prescribes the obligation of every Muslim to do five daily prayers throughout his life. The spiritual and the material coexist and are imbricated being impossible to separate them. There is no dualism between material life and spiritual life where the former is associated with the devil and the second to Allah. Everything is imbricated and has both material and spiritual dimensions.
The sixth to emphasize is that just as Christianity has an immense diversity of sects and tendencies, Islam is also composed of diverse sects and interpretations. For a Eurocentric orientalist look, Islam would be something homogeneous without diversity. However, Islam has two large groups that are Sunnis and Shiites. But within the Sunni and within the Shiism there is a great diversity of sects, tendencies and interpretations. Despite differences in interpretation, all recognize the five pillars of Islam:
1) that there is only one God and Mohammed is his prophet (Shahada),
2) the obligation to do five daily prayers (Salat),
3) pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in life (Haj),
4) almsgiving where the donation of a portion of the resources and income to the needy (Zakat) is required and
5) fasting for a month once a year (Ramadan).
Moreover, with regard to the Quran, although there are various interpretations, no one questions the veracity of the Qur’an as it exists in its Arabic version. All Muslims in the world recognize a single Quran as the revealed word of Allah. That is, there are no different Korans with different verses and sections. There is only one Quran recognized by all Muslims. That there are no different Korans with different verses and sections. There is only one Quran recognized by all Muslims. That there are no different Korans with different verses and sections. There is only one Quran recognized by all Muslims.
The seventh thing to emphasize is that Islam does not have a Vatican. It is a decentralized spirituality without a single center of authority. This makes for more fluidity and less centralized control in the practices and legitimacy of Islam than in Christianity. No one can impose on others a single version of Islam from a position of authority.
The eighth is to say that colonialism not only affected the Muslim peoples through the destruction of their civilization, the exploitation and extraction of wealth and the mass impoverishment and illiteracy of the various colonized Muslim peoples, but also affected the narratives themselves And conceptions of Islamic theology. The following anecdote constitutes a powerful metaphor for what happened on the theological level with Islam:
In a visit to Morocco invited by the Center for Women’s Studies in Islam, led by Asma Lamrabet, I noticed that all non-Muslims are prohibited from entering the mosques. This surprised me greatly because in the rest of the Muslim world and since the Prophet’s time the mosques were always open to non-Muslims. So I wondered where this came from. To my surprise, this was institutionalized from French colonialism when a general named Louis Hubert Lyautey passed a decree prohibiting the entry of non-Muslims into mosques as part of a colonial strategy of “divide and reign” or “divide and conquer” ‘. Today this decree remains institutionalized in Morocco, prohibiting non-Muslims from entering mosques.
This colonial distortion of the Muslim tradition serves as a metaphor for understanding how many interpretations of contemporary Islam circulate today as an authentic Islam whose theological revisions are the result of British and French colonial history in the Muslim world. For example, Saudi Wahhabism is a version of Islam that adopts the literalist methods of reading the Bible from Protestant fundamentalists as methods of reading the Qur’an.
The phenomenon of Wahhabism can not be understood without the strong influence of the British Empire in that region of the world, especially the Arabian Peninsula. Wahhabism is the first sect of Islam that justifies making jihad to make war and even kill other Muslims who do not congenial with its philosophy. Its main objective is to attack other Muslims. The Wahhabist alliance with the Saudi monarchy since the eighteenth century was vital to the expansionism of Wahhabism imposed through the Arabian Peninsula by massacres against other Muslims. At a historical moment already past, when Western empires needed allies to destroy the Ottoman sultanate, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries,
Wahhabism is the version of Islam that ideologically and financially feeds Jihadism and Tafiris with organizations such as the Al-Queda network or the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Wahhabism emerged in the eighteenth century but was never recognized as a legitimate version of Islam by any of the Sunni sages and ulama of the time until the twentieth century when the development of the oil industry forged a strong alliance with empires Western countries, and with the force of bills they managed to impose their influence in many parts of the world. Taking advantage of its oil wealth and poverty in the third world, Wahhabism achieves its expansion and legitimacy by investing millions of dollars in the world for propaganda of the Wahhabist version,
Wahhabism11 is such an enormous revision of Islam that its legitimacy has been forged by petrodollars and its complicity with Western imperialist projects in the region. Jihadists such as ISIS, Al-Queda, Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalist groups are ideologically trained and funded by Saudi Wahhabis with the approval, approval and consent of the Western empires in their imperial projects in the region. The Taliban in Afghanistan are a result of the Wahhabi madrasas (Wahhabi schools) organized by the Saudis in Pakistan with the Afghan refugees, during the years of jihadism against the evil empire (the Soviets) in the The eighties of the last century. These Jihadist networks were created materially and financially by the CIA,12
Today there is an imperialist alliance between the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia operating in the Middle East as a counterrevolutionary project against the Arabian springs. The coordinated American / Zionist / Saudi imperial block is behind the invasions and chaos in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Mali, Bahrain, Iraq, Afghanistan and the recent bloody military coup d’état in Egypt. Millions of dead in the last 10 years are the result of Western imperialist adventures with the cooperation of Saudi Wahhabism.
From the “Arab spring” we move on to the “Arab winter” thanks to the successful interventionism of the American / Zionist / Saudi imperial bloc. The democratic mobilizations of peoples throughout the region against their neocolonial dictators, most imposed through coups organized by the West, were destroyed by the intervention of this imperial block. For example, in Syria the Wahhabi jihadists of Al-Queda and the Islamic State destroyed, through the mass murder of their leaders, the popular movement that rose against the Asad dictatorship. They now occupy the space of control of insurrection and political-military resistance against Asad.13
There is a very clear division of labor between this triumvirate that composes the western imperialist bloc: jihadistas with Wahhabís ideology put them the Saudis, the coordination and information of intelligence is provided mossad (Israeli intelligence agency), and the arms, publicity And moral support is provided by Western empires, especially the United States. All three work orchestrated. The resources for these operations are co-financed by the three states. This triumvirate is behind the direct and indirect counterrevolutionary interventions in the countries of the Middle East today. The jihadism sponsored by the imperial triumvirate is the same used to justify military interventions (Iraq, Afghanistan, Mali, Yemen, Somalia, etc.) To destabilize governments that are not to the liking of the West (Khaddaffi in Libya and Asad in Syria), than to make attacks on Western metropolitan territories that justify in the eyes of the metropolitan populations “the War on Terrorism” as Global / imperial design that serves to impose their agendas of domination and exploitation. This latest form of jihadist attacks within metropolitan imperial countries seeks that the populations of their countries legitimize their fascist laws by eliminating citizens’ rights and justifying their imperialist military interventions throughout Asia and the Middle East. That to make attacks on western metropolitan territories that justify in the eyes of the metropolitan populations “the War on Terrorism” as a global / imperial design that serves to impose its agendas of domination and exploitation. This latest form of jihadist attacks within metropolitan imperial countries seeks that the populations of their countries legitimize their fascist laws by eliminating citizens’ rights and justifying their imperialist military interventions throughout Asia and the Middle East. That to make attacks on western metropolitan territories that justify in the eyes of the metropolitan populations “the War on Terrorism” as a global / imperial design that serves to impose its agendas of domination and exploitation. This latest form of jihadist attacks within metropolitan imperial countries seeks that the populations of their countries legitimize their fascist laws by eliminating citizen rights and justifying their imperialist military interventions throughout Asia and the Middle East.
In short, it would be a grave error if we fall into the Islamophobic trap of: 1) seeing jihadism as inherently produced by a “violent religion” rather than as individuals and groups created and instrumented by the imperial triumvirate composed of the bloc American / Zionist / Saudi; 2) to see jihadism as being disconnected from the American / Zionist / Saudi bloc instead of seeing it as an inherent instrument in the production and legitimation of its imperial politico-military-economic objectives in the world.
The ninth to highlight is that with the fall of the Soviet empire and the end of the cold war, the US military complex was in need of a new enemy to justify maintaining and increasing the military budget of the Department of Defense of the imperial state . As these companies live off the trillions of dollars that go out of the imperial state treasury to buy their armaments, they need wars that justify the Defense Department’s budget to continue growing. Defense Department expenditures now cover more than 50% of US federal government spending. In the post-Soviet period this was justified by Samuel Huntington’s thesis on the “clash of civilizations” where Muslims became the new enemies. But the challenge is: How do we justify in the eyes of Western public opinion the thesis of the “clash of civilizations” to increase military budgets with the aim of attacking Muslim populations and countries if they have never made an attack on the West? Here is the list of jihadist attacks in the West that will justify taking action with the theses of Samuel Hungtinton: September 11, 2001 in the United States, March 11, 2004 in Spain, July 7, 2005 in London and January 7, 2015 in Paris. All are attacks by jihadists identified with the Al-Queda network that is precisely the jihadist network created by Western intelligence agencies 11 March 2004 in Spain, 7 July 2005 in London and 7 January 2015 in Paris. All are attacks by jihadists identified with the Al-Queda network that is precisely the jihadist network created by Western intelligence agencies 11 March 2004 in Spain, 7 July 2005 in London and 7 January 2015 in Paris. All are attacks by jihadists identified with the Al-Queda network that is precisely the jihadist network created by Western intelligence agencies14 . If we take into account that Al-Queda is a Jihadist network created by the CIA in collaboration with the Mossad and made up of militants formed by Saudi Wahhabism, it is very difficult to think that this network was not currently infiltrated by these same intelligence agencies of The states that created it. This network has been co-financed by these three states and is now more actionable than ever in the Middle East and in the West to justify imperial policies.
The recent attack in Paris shows that the network continues to function as the attackers identified themselves again as members of Al-Queda. The four attacks claimed by Al-Queda in metropolitan territories are somewhat suspect in analyzing who has benefited and what imperial policies have sponsored these attacks. Independent of the debate about who are the institutional, intellectual and financial authors of these attacks, whether they are produced or not by the intelligence agencies of the imperial block,
Islamophobia has thus become the dominant racism of the new world order of the twenty-first century, which feeds imperial projects and is fed by the terrorist attacks of Al-Queda. Without Al-Queda’s attacks and the Orientalist Islamophobia it generates, it would not be possible to convince Western public opinion, much less to legitimize before world public opinion its imperial projects of military interventions and coups in the Middle East today. Worse still, without these attacks it would not be possible to understand that the citizens of the metropolis voluntarily surrender their civil and democratic rights in exchange for a false “citizen security” for fear of Islam. The rise of the extreme right (not only in numbers of votes but ideologically) in the West is fueled by jihadist attacks and rampant Islamophobia. Islam and Muslims are associated with terrorism. Islam is conceived as an inherently violent religion.
The Islamophobic double standard is clear. Muslims are asked to excuse themselves and to self-establish for their religion. But not all Jews are asked to excuse themselves for the atrocities of the state of Israel in Palestine, not all Hindus are asked to excuse themselves for the massacres of Hindu fundamentalists towards the Muslims and not begged at all Christians who are excused for the crimes against humanity of Bush and Blair. But when it comes to Islam Muslims are required to be excused and explained. It is never said that the Jewish, Christian or Hindu religion is essentially violent on the basis of the criminal actions of a minority belonging to these groups. The distinction is made, correct in my opinion, between groups or individuals who commit criminal acts and religion. But when it comes to a terrorist act committed by a Muslim is the whole religion in block that is put in question. If a Negro commits a crime, he accuses his entire “race” of being violent. If a Muslim commits a terrorist act, he is accused of his whole religion. But if a “Christian western white” commits a terrorist act, it is a “mentally imbalanced” or “violent individuals due to social problems.” The crime is never extrapolated to all “whites” or to all “Christians” because that is seen as discriminatory. Essentialism causes subjects in the non-being zone to be conceived as inherently violent and those in the area of being as inherently peaceful. The racism and the Christian-centrism of the world-system inform these conceptions and the violent policies that they generate.
This does not mean that there are no young Muslims seduced by these jihadist speeches. Social marginalization, poverty, racism and Western hypocritical foreign policy are the elements of the soup that produce resentment and humiliation in thousands of young people whose only future is to become jihadists. The slums of London and Paris are the breeding ground for these young jihadists. But instead of attacking Islamophobia, racism, poverty and hypocrisy of the West in their domestic and international policy to eradicate terrorist acts in their territories, the imperial and neocolonial states resort to the elimination of citizens’ rights in the name of citizen security , The racist militarization of the slums of racialized subjects, and political-military invasions in the name of the “war on terrorism.” The youths involved in the London attack of 2005 and the attacks in Paris in 2015 were seduced by the Jihadist discourse due to the hypocrisy of the West in Palestine, the violent racist policies against slums in these cities and the privileged treatment Which give western white populations. The anti-terrorism march organized by the French imperial state in Paris on Sunday 11 January 2015 is a performative example that produces precisely the opposite: young people willing to jihad. This march against terrorism was led by Israeli war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, The president of Ukraine allied to neo-Nazi groups Petro Poroshenko, the head of the militarist and NATO imperialist Jens Stotelberg, responsible for the neoliberal criminal economic policy that hangs around southern Europe Angela Merkel, African dictators, Sarkozy, etc. The hypocrisy of exploiting the Jan. 7 attacks in favor of right-wing imperialist and neo-fascist policies is at the root of the jihadist radicalization of many racialized youths in the West, humiliated by racism and the “double standard” of the West.
It is not that we agree with terrorist acts. We are strongly opposed to jihadist violence and these terrorist attacks. But to attack the problem you have to go to the roots. And the roots of these problems lie in the racist Western imperialist policies themselves.
It was important to clarify the nine points mentioned above because otherwise it will never be understood in its specificity the movement of Muslim women committed to their liberation. If we approach Westernocentric, Christian-centric or Islamophobic prejudices against these women, we will not be able to understand their bravery and the theoretical-political magnitude of their interventions. As you can imagine and explain later, these women fight against a multiplicity of oppressive actors.
In my contact with the “Islamic feminists” the first thing that struck me was the extraordinary scholarship of these women, or rather, these wise women. Building a project for the liberation of women from the sacred sources of Islam in struggle against the Eurocentric imperial / colonial tradition and in struggle against the subalternized patriarchates of the colonized / neo-colonized peoples of the Muslim world is an intellectually complicated matter requiring scholarship and Extraordinary wisdom. Making “Islamic feminism” requires deep knowledge on several levels:
- Islamic Tradition – In order to be able to debate against the patriarchal interpretations and the internalized colonialism of the ulemas about Islamic jurisprudence and against the interpretations of the Koran by the sages of Islam, a very deep knowledge of the sacred sources of Islam is required ( Qur’an and Hadith) from the historical context of each Aya and each Sura revealed in the Qur’an, from classical Arabic in order to reinterpret the meanings of each word and from the history of the decisions made by the ulama in a tradition that has more than 1,400 years.
- Western tradition: In order to be able to debate against Orientalist and colonialist structures in the West, from the Christian-centric patriarchy that is globalized with the colonial project and Westernized feminism that disqualifies them with their secularist prejudices and epistemic racism, a deep knowledge of the tradition is required Western philosophical, Western feminism, colonial history and the history of Christianity.
This battle in the intersectionality of various oppressions and fronts of struggle against Western imperial colonialism, against the racism of occidentalocentric feminisms, against the patriarchal interpretations and practices of the imams and ulama of Islam, against neocolonial states, against the Westernized lefts, Against internal colonialities in their communities and against hegemonic racism / sexism, is what day-to-day Muslim women face both those living in the South of the North and those that are part of the South within the North. Combating these multiple oppressions requires not only a strong formation in diverse fields of knowledge but a lot of courage. It is not easy for Muslim women today to walk subtly and nuanced the various oppressive abysses. Being anti-imperialist while fighting against the hegemonic racist patriarchy of the white man and the subalternized patriarchy of men colonized in a racist, colonial and multipatriarchal world is not an easy road to travel. To argue against imperial coloniality, the Eurocentrism of occidentalocentric feminisms and to criticize both the imperial patriarchy of colonizing Western men and the oppressed patriarchy of colonized men requires a formation and courage that westernized feminists, with their imperial arrogance, racist paternalism, and Colonial ignorance can not understand much less to imagine. The “Islamic feminists” are bound by their situation of multiple oppressions, and by the multiculturality of these oppressions, To delve into various spiritual and epistemic traditions simultaneously. They can not afford to stay specialized in a single epistemic tradition. They are forced to meet several. Hence they maintain a multiple criticism against Occidentalism, against Orientalism, against occidentalocentrism internalized in the Muslim tradition itself after several centuries of colonization (which has in many ways modified Islamic theology), against the racist patriarchy of the Imperial white men and against the patriarchy of colonized men. This work of decolonization and depatrialization on several fronts at the same time places them very close to the multiple oppressions that women of color live in other parts of the world. The “Islamic feminists” have an enormous similarity with black, indigenous, mestizo, African, and Asian women. Although all these racialized women share multiple oppressions, the articulation between these oppressions is different because of the diverse local histories, colonial / imperial histories, epistemologies and patriarchates. Hence, both the cosmovision, the critical thinking that they generate, and the strategies of liberation can not be equal between these women. There is a heterogeneity of worldviews, situations and strategies of liberation. Epistemologies and patriarchates. Hence, both the cosmovision, the critical thinking that they generate, and the strategies of liberation can not be equal between these women. There is a heterogeneity of worldviews, situations and strategies of liberation. Epistemologies and patriarchates. Hence, both the cosmovision, the critical thinking that they generate, and the strategies of liberation can not be equal between these women. There is a heterogeneity of worldviews, situations and strategies of liberation.
But Islamic feminists do not stay in the “anti” but produce a renewing thought within Islam that generates utopian horizons of pluriversal liberation and decolonization. The Islam that they produce after a deep work of hermeneutics of the sacred texts and extract the Koranic ethic that constitutes the essence of Islam, allows them to think of new civilizational logics that contemplate pluriversos of justice and equality beyond the current western civilization. Their deep Islamic spirituality leads them to emphasize values such as love, compassion, mercy and a deep commitment to justice towards the oppressed, regardless of the racial, ethnic or religious identity of the victims.
This does not mean that there is such a thing as Islamic feminism in the singular. What exists are multiple strategies of liberation of Muslim women some using the term “feminism” and others refusing the use of the term. So if we use the term we should speak of Islamic feminisms in the plural as a space of struggle, contestation and differences. It is not a homogeneous space or consensus. Hence there are important debates between them. Following are several issues that constitute differences within the Islamic feminisms:
- The use of the veil The figure of the “woman with veil” has been used by colonial empires for several centuries to assume a discourse of salvation where imperial white men assume a colonial, racist and paternalistic discourse of the salvation of the colonized woman From the hands of the colonized men. Western men who have been oppressively patriarchal in their countries, speak as quasi-feminists when it comes to colonizing Third World peoples. It is the same speech used by George W. Bush to invade Afghanistan and by François Holland to invade Mali. This obsession of the West with compulsively revealing Muslim women in the veil is not new, as one of the world’s best-known Islamic feminists, Asma Lamrabet, explains in her article in this magazine. It has been used by Western empires as part of their colonization strategies. The compulsive prohibition of the veil or its description as a symbol of barbarism is one of the Orientalist strategies of classical colonization used by Western imperial men to this day. Similarly, Asma Lamrabet tells us that this has created an opposite reaction on the part of the colonized patriarchs who have reaffirmed and imposed the compulsive use of the veil by Muslim women. Between the compulsory prohibition and the compulsive use of the veil the two patriarchies in struggle are debated: that of the imperial white men and that of the colonized Muslim men. The proposition of many Islamic feminists is that this is a matter that every Muslim woman must decide and not that men should decide for them. The exegesis of the Koran that accompanies his arguments will be seen in some of the articles of this publication. However, as Houria Bouteldja explains, many Muslim women, faced with Western hegemonic racism, opt to negotiate with the colonized man against the patriarchate of the colonizing man to precisely empower and that the colonizing man does not use them as an imperialist strategy of Divide the colonized groups to conquer them better.The French case is emblematic at this level. The French state has banned the wearing of the veil by Muslim women in schools and in the spaces of the republican public administration. A woman can not work in the public administration of the republican state and wear the veil, a woman can not study in public schools and wear the veil, a Muslim mother can not enter the grounds of a school to find her children and use the veil. The use of the veil is bans compulsively, obviating the right of every French Muslim woman to decide from her own conscience how to dress. The principle of secularism is violated daily in the name of a false secular neutrality.15 . This difference constitutes not merely a “colonial difference” but a “colonial domination” where Western feminists are accomplices to their patriarchal / imperial states of the oppression of Third World women within the First World. These kinds of differences and debates are also reproduced in Latin America among Western white-mestizo feminists and indigenous women when the former attempt to impose on their theories, life forms and strategies of liberation.One of the best responses to the veil theme was seen by the Iranian Islamic feminist, Nobel Prize for human rights, Shirin Ebadi. Arriving in France amidst the veil law debate, the French press thought that she would ally herself with the French state in the struggle to impose the law against the veil. Her response was more radical than the positions taken by the Parisian “feminists of difference.” He said that in Iran to remove the veil is the challenge to power, but in France is to put it because no state can regulate by state decree how a woman dresses. Vindicated the right of women to dress according to their conscience and autonomous decision. Hence some “Islamic feminists” wear the veil daily in the public space as part of a social / spiritual / identity conviction and others use it only at times when they practice their prayers. That openness to respect the differences in whether to wear the veil continuously or to use it only at special moments is something that “Islamic feminists” respect each other. There are no “Islamic feminists” who tell the other Western Islamic feminists or feminists how they should dress.Why can not feminists of difference vindicate this position? This is a long theme, but at the heart of the matter is the reproduction of the Eurocentric patriarchal universalism of Western men where the superiority of thought, Western life and existence over other ways of thinking, being and being in the world . This racist / sexist epistemic universalism is reproduced by many Western feminists, lowering the thinking and the forms of existence of women of “non-Western” cultures. Hence the “feminists of difference” impose the imperial / colonial design of “think as I think” and “liberate yourself as I am free” as the only possible form of liberation for all women in the world or “you are not truly feminist ‘.But what I have said about “feminists of difference” applies equally to many “feminists of equality.” The case of the Spanish Celia amorós is paradigmatic16 . For amorós, feminism is an illustration or not. That is, feminism has to be anchored in the patriarchal and occidentalist thinking of the men of illustration in order to be feminist and vindicate the abstract universalism of equality. Amoros militates actively and openly against other feminisms including Islamic feminism. The response of many “Islamic feminists” is to emphasize that the concept of equality in the Islamic tradition precedes the concept of equality of eighteenth-century illustration for more than 1,000 years. Therefore, they do not need Kant or Rousseau to vindicate the concept of equality. Moreover, equality for Islamic feminism has to start from the recognition of epistemic, cosmogonic and spiritual difference,
- The use of the term feminism – there is a debate among Islamic feminists in the use of the term. There are some who do not use the term “feminism” and others who do. The term “feminism” is so closely associated with a Western imperial project that some prefer to speak of the liberation movement of Muslim women. There are several points in favor of this position that is frequently used by them:
- The liberation movement of Muslim women does not have to be justified by the term “feminism” because the idea of women’s liberation from patriarchal structures exists in the tradition of Islam autonomously from Western feminism. The liberation struggles of women in “the West” and out of “the West,” occurred in history simultaneously. A struggle for the liberation of women does not precede the other.
- The international cooperation agencies of the western imperial states impose the use of the term “feminism” through the blackmail of the cooperation funds. Behind this is the imposition of an imperial / colonial agenda that does not correspond to the needs of Muslim women in neo-colonized countries. The term “feminism” is not autochthonous to Muslim women’s movements.
- The use of the term raises an ambiguity with respect to the West. There are women who identify themselves as “Islamic feminists” more in response to the Eurocentric Orientalist accusations that Islam is inherent and essentially patriarchal than an own agenda of de-patriarchal and decolonial liberation. These “Islamic feminists” live trying to prove to the West that Islam is modern because it is feminist, because it has a concept of equality, because it has the same concepts as the West. It is a question of showing that Muslims are ‘good’, ‘modern’ and ‘civilized’. Here we have a form of Islamic feminist coloniality that would be better characterized as a Western feminist disguised as Islamic or a colonial feminism. Those who oppose the use of the term, Radically criticize this form of colonized imitation of the West from feminism or from Western women from Islam. It is a colonized Islam.
Others recognize all the above-mentioned points of the term “feminism” but equally choose to use the term “Islamic feminism” to affiliate their projects with the liberation movements of women in other parts of the world where they do use the term. Regardless of whether or not the term “feminism” is used, for the decolonial view of women’s liberation movements, what matters is the epistemic and organizational autonomy of the liberation movement of Muslim, black, indigenous women. Who live the complex interweaving of patriarchal, racial, colonial, and imperial oppressions and which constitute very different realities from Western feminists who respond to other contexts, needs and visions.
- How to understand modernity – As has been illustrated in the previous point, not all “Islamic feminisms” are decolonial. There are “Islamic feminisms” who try to embrace the project of modernity in an uncritical way by accepting the discourse that Islam has to catch up with the “advances” and “progress” of the West and modernity. This type of “Islamic feminism” conceives modernity as an emancipatory project and, therefore, seeks to assimilate its “feminism” to “Western feminisms.” Meanwhile, other “Islamic feminists” understand modernity as a colonial civilization project and thus vindicate a radical critique of Eurocentred modernity by generating an epistemic and organizational autonomy of Western feminist projects. The crucial issue for a decolonial project is what questions are being answered. Is it being answered from Islam to the questions that are asked from the imperial west or are they asking themselves questions based on the particular problems and challenges of Muslim women and their worldviews from patriarchal oppression in a context of colonial / racial? The answer to this question divides Islamic feminism into colonial proposals of subordination, assimilation, and imitation of the West. Decolonial proposals to go beyond occidentalocentrism to a world where multiversity / pluriversity within feminism is possible. Is it being answered from Islam to the questions that are asked from the imperial west or are they asking themselves questions based on the particular problems and challenges of Muslim women and their worldviews from patriarchal oppression in a context of colonial / racial? The answer to this question divides Islamic feminism into colonial proposals of subordination, assimilation, and imitation of the West. Decolonial proposals to go beyond occidentalocentrism to a world where multiversity / pluriversity within feminism is possible. Is it being answered from Islam to the questions that are asked from the imperial west or are they asking themselves questions based on the particular problems and challenges of Muslim women and their worldviews from patriarchal oppression in a context of colonial / racial? The answer to this question divides Islamic feminism into colonial proposals of subordination, assimilation, and imitation of the West. Decolonial proposals to go beyond occidentalocentrism to a world where multiversity / pluriversity within feminism is possible.
It is important to say here that it is not equivalent to being decolonial to be anti-Western. Many of the fundamentalist Islamic, Indigenist or Afrocentric movements that identify themselves as anti-Western and anti-colonial are as colonial and occidentalocentric as the tradition of western Eurocentric fundamentalism. What distinguishes these Third World fundamentalisms is that they end up investing the binaries of Eurocentric fundamentalism. If Western-centric fundamentalism says that ‘democracy’, ‘liberation of women’, ‘freedom’, ‘civilization’, ‘citizen rights’, etc. They are naturally and inherently “Western” and that “authoritarianism”, “patriarchy”, “barbarism” and “despotism” are naturally and inherently belonging to “non-Western” The Third World fundamentalists instead of questioning the Eurocentric binary and displace what they do is accept it, normalize it, confirm it and reverse it. To invest what it does is leave intact the Eurocentric fundamentalist binary, accepting it as natural but reversing it: what was formerly set as superior now becomes inferior and what was formerly set as inferior now becomes superior. If the Eurocentric binary says that “democracy” is “Western” and “authoritarianism” is “non-Western”, the fundamentalist accepts Eurocentric binary but reverses it by saying that democracy is inferior and that its authoritarian states are superior forms of Political authority. This is the case of the despotic caliphate (not all caliphates were despotic) of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq (ISIS). Equally, If the Eurocentric fundamentalist binary says that the “liberation of women” is inherent in “Western culture” and “patriarchy” inherent in “non-Western culture,” fundamentalists accept the eurocentric binary by invoking it to say that ” Liberation of women “is inherently Western and inferior to systems of patriarchal domination. In this sense, Third World fundamentalists are, epistemically speaking, variations of Eurocentric fundamentalism. Third-world fundamentalists, including Islamic fundamentalism, are creations of Eurocentric fundamentalism, not only because most were created financially and militarily by the West, but because epistemically speaking they reproduce inverted Eurocentric binaries. The Third World fundamentalists are variations of Eurocentric fundamentalism, that is, they are Eurocentric. They do not make a binary shift to show that there is “Islamic feminism” or “conceptions of liberation of women from Islam”, that there are concepts and practices that produce “Islamic democracy” and that it is possible to think of an “Islamic economy” At this moment does not exist as a hegemonic form in the world. Decolonial feminists (Islamic or other traditions) displace Eurocentric binaries conceiving a struggle against the patriarchal oppression of women always relating it as a principle to anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-racism. They do not make a binary shift to show that there is “Islamic feminism” or “conceptions of liberation of women from Islam”, that there are concepts and practices that produce “Islamic democracy” and that it is possible to think of an “Islamic economy” At this moment does not exist as a hegemonic form in the world. Decolonial feminists (Islamic or other traditions) displaced the Eurocentric binaries conceiving a struggle against the patriarchal oppression of women always relating it as a principle to anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-racism. They do not make a binary shift to show that there is “Islamic feminism” or “conceptions of liberation of women from Islam”, that there are concepts and practices that produce “Islamic democracy” and that it is possible to think of an “Islamic economy” At this moment does not exist as a hegemonic form in the world. Decolonial feminists (Islamic or other traditions) displaced the Eurocentric binaries conceiving a struggle against the patriarchal oppression of women always relating it as a principle to anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and anti-racism.
“Equality vs. Justice” this is one of the great debates between the “Islamic feminists”. Although the Qur’an has a concept of equality some 1,000 years before the imperial male patriarchal thinkers of 18th century western illustration, the debate consists of the articulation between the two categories. This is related to the debate about the above mentioned modernity. The debate is about which concept to privilege between both. For most colonial Islamic feminists, the concept of equality is the most important concept. Hence they say that the most important concept of the Qur’an is the concept of equality reproducing an occidentalocentric concept of abstract equality. On the other hand, the most decolonial “Islamic feminists” emphasize the concept of justice. Hence they emphasize that the most important concept of the Qur’anic revelation is the concept of justice. But if we leave it that way, it would seem a gross simplification of the debate. The debate is more complex because most Islamic feminists emphasize both concepts and the debate consists in their articulation. For the Islamic feminists most critical of the colonial imitation of Western feminism, equality must be subordinated to justice. It must be said that one of the Koranic prescriptions for every Muslim is to do justice to all oppressed regardless of the victim’s spirituality, race, gender or culture. For someone like Asma Lamrabet, Sirian Adlbi Sibai, Arzy Merali or Houria Bouteldja can not absolutize or universalize the concept of equality by leaving out the context of imperial / colonial / patriarchal power relations and the Koranic ethical concept of justice. For example, for Asma Lamrabet, there are unjust social relations of equality, inequitable social relations of inequality, fair social relations of equality, and social relations of inequality and equality that are unjust. So we must always think about equality and its relations in relation to what is just, in relation to justice. It is not possible to make an abstract universalism of the concept of equality, as some Western feminists do, dissociating it from the concept of justice because in the name of abstract equality many injustices can be committed. This is the case of some French “feminists of difference” who, in the name of a notion of absolutist equality, consent to the imposition of an unjust law that regulates how a Muslim woman should dress by forbidding the use of the veil. Here equality is reduced to uniformity and assimilation to a western-centric cultural imperialist model. Equality is not conceived by assuming differences and from there thinking about what would be fair. Equality is conceived as an abstract principle that is absolutized without taking into account the contexts of colonial domination and cultural differences. Here equality is reduced to uniformity and assimilation to a western-centric cultural imperialist model. Equality is not conceived by assuming differences and from there thinking about what would be fair. Equality is conceived as an abstract principle that is absolutized without taking into account the contexts of colonial domination and cultural differences. Here equality is reduced to uniformity and assimilation to a western-centric cultural imperialist model. Equality is not conceived by assuming the differences and from there thinking about what would be fair. Equality is conceived as an abstract principle that is absolutized without taking into account the contexts of colonial domination and cultural differences.
In short, the issue of “Islamic feminism” is complex. There are many points of contention and debate that this introduction does not cover all, but that the authors that appear in this special issue of Tabula Rasa develop in their work. The struggles of the “Islamic feminists” constitute one of the most important liberation movements in the world today. The closest parallels to “Islamic feminists” in Latin America are black feminists and indigenous feminists. Latin Americans have much to learn from them.
1 Ph.D., Temple University.
2 Department of Ethnic Studies.
3 For more information on Asma Lamrabet see: http://www.asma-Lamrabet.com and https://www.facebook.com/asma.Lamrabet .
4 For more information on Amina Telima Al-Yerráhi see: http://foroliterariodesufismo.org and https://www.facebook.com/aminateslima .
5 For more information about Asma Barlas see: http://www.asmabarlas.com .
6 For more information on Houria Bouteldja see: in Spanish: http://www.decolonialtranslation.com/espanol/ in French: http: // indigenes-republique. Fr /? S = houria + bouteldja and https://www.facebook.com/houria.bouteldja.9?fref=ts .
7 For more information on Arzu Merali see: http://www.ihrc.org.uk/publications/reports https://www.facebook.com/arzu.merali?fref=ts .
8 For more information on Sirin Adelbi Sibai see: https://uam.academia.edu/SAdlbiSibai and https://www.facebook.com/sirinAdlbiSibai?fref=ts .
9 Decoloniality Europe is an organization made up of decolonial organizations from several European countries. The organization is composed mainly, but not solely, by colonial subjects of the various European empires currently residing within the metropolis. The ultimate goal of this organization is the decolonization of Europe as part of the world movement for the decolonization of the world and the construction of a new planetary civilization in accordance with the principles of social justice, decolonial democracy and other economies. The latter involves the destruction of imperial Europe and the construction of a Europe of peoples committed to the liberation of the North and South within the North. Decolonial Europe sees the relationship between these two struggles as complementary in their objectives but different in their emphasis on recognition of multiversalism / planetary epistemic pluriversalism. This is their website: http://www.decolonialityeurope.org/ http://decolonialityeurope.wix.com/decoloniality .
10 There are three summer courses organized by Decoloniality Europe from the Global Dialogue Institute: 1) Black Europe Summer School (Amsterdam), 2) Decolonizing Knowledge and Power Summer School (Barcelona) and 3) Critical Muslim Studies (Granada). The courses seek the formation of cadres and the production of knowledge in three subjects of vital importance for the decolonial political project known as Decoloniality Europe: Black Europe, Muslim Europe and the decolonization of power and knowledge. For more information you can see this page: http://www.dialogoglobal.com .
11 On Wahhabism see Hamid Algar’s book (2002) Wahhabism: A Critical Essay (New York: Islamic Publications International).
12 See Toby Malthiesen (2013) Sectarian Gulf: Bahrain, Saudi Araba and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press); Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (2002) War on Freedom (United Kingdom: Progressive Press); Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (2003) Behind the War on Terror: Western Secret Strategy and the Struggle for Iraq (United Kingdom: New Society Publishers); Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed (2005) War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Oliver Northampton, Massachusetts: Branch Press); David Gray Griffin (2004) The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Northampton, Massachusetts: Oliver Branch Press); David Gray Griffin (2008) The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-up, and the Exposé (Northampton, Massachusetts: Oliver Branch Press); David Gray Griffin (2011) 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed (Northampton, Massachusetts Oliver Branch Press); Peter Dale Scott (2008) The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire and the Future of America (Berkeley, University of California Press); Peter Dale Scott (2014) The American Deep State: Wall Street, Big Oil and the Attack on US Democracy (United Kingdom: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers).
13 See the book by Reese Erlich (2014) Inside Syria; The Backstory of Civil War and What the World Can Expect (New York: Prometheus Books).
14 See references in note 12.
15 Example of “feminists of difference” who stood in favor of the law of the veil are Helene Cixous and Julia Kristeva.
16 There are several books in which she has developed the theme of making feminism and Islam mutually exclusive. One of them is: Celia Amorós (2009) Veins of Illustration: reflections on feminism and Islam (Criticism: Madrid). 16There are several books in which she has developed the theme of making feminism and Islam mutually exclusive. One of them is: Celia Amorós (2009) Veins of Illustration: reflections on feminism and Islam (Criticism: Madrid). 16 There are several books in which she has developed the theme of making feminism and Islam mutually exclusive. One of them is: Celia Amorós (2009) Veins of Illustration: reflections on feminism and Islam (Criticism: Madrid).