Muslimah Media Watch
Looking at Muslim women in the media and pop culture
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This is a comic by StudioBendib.
What are your thoughts on it, readers?
Hmmm….I find it interesting that the Islamists are front and center while the Islamophobes simply flank them. That said I do find it interesting how they’re showing the Islamophobes as hating Muslim women too. I also find it interesting that they show the US Islamophobe as being the most hateful towards Muslim women because he’s not just jailing and physically punishing them like the other three, but killing them (and their families) also.
I FORCE her to wear a hijab or I fine and or jail her.
An effort and muddying the waters.
It’s interesting. I’m glad this is critical of the ways in which Muslim countries treat women as well. I think it’s high time we recognize the gender apartheid and oppression that exists in too many Muslim majority countries, while we recognize other forms of oppression and apartheid.
There should be a sociology student saying “I write post-structuralist bullshit about her in the hope of getting tenure”
Interesting. I lived in Jogja, a small city in Indonesia. In high school, I used to have muslimah friends who told me that God wouldn’t accept my prayer because I didn’t wear a hijab. And that public school is haram. Now, I won’t let anybody tell me what to do when it comes to my faith.
I actually think his postioning of the figures speaks the worst of the US. The image reads from left to right – so you start with the ban, move to flogging and caning then end with the ultimate of acts – invading and pillaging. The cartoonist is implying that America ‘wins the contest’ so to speak.
Interesting indeed. Though I disagree with the fact – implied by this picture – that islamophobes and islamists are the same.
The oppression we face – as Muslim women, precisely – is not the same. With “so-called islamists” [the notion of islamism is misused in this context, the small bird should find a more accurate word focusing on patriarchy rather than on Islam!] it’s mere sexist oppression.
While with islamophobes, it’s BOTH sexism and blatant racism/islamophobia. It is not acceptable to let islamophobes using us against “so-called islamists”. They should be reminded that they are sexist too, and that we don’t need them to tell us what to do and who to hate (especially when the ones to hate are our brothers).
Making islamophobes and “so-called islamists” identical is not fair. In some extent, it is even dangerous.
This remark does not mean though that I would not criticize/refuse the sexist injustice if it comes from so-called islamists…
Islamism itself is a political and a philosophical thought that cannot be reduced to the nightmarish ideology launched in the mainstream media sphere.
I think this cartoon speaks a thousand words. Muslim and non Muslim countries are guilty of oppressing Muslim women! The words in bold are interesting too – “bar, cane, flog, use”
@ Princesses de Cleves,
With “so-called islamists” [the notion of islamism is misused in this context, the small bird should find a more accurate word focusing on patriarchy rather than on Islam!] it’s mere sexist oppression.
The notion of islamism is misused by many “Islamists” themselves. These so-called Islamists use Islam in a way that gives them power to further their patriarchy.
I do agree with you, ya Laila. But I keep on thinking that islamism should not be reduced to any sexist misuse of Islam.
Patriarchy and Islam are contradictory anyway. If “islamists” were truly “islamists”, they would not take the opportunity to further any power (based either on gender, race or any pointless criterion) – because all the power is to God.
agree with Princesses de Cleves – Islamists should rather be “patriarchal muslims” or something like that, Islamism does not aptly describe WHY they oppress.
@ Princesses de CLeves:
If you really don’t think that Islamists/fundamentalists (I agree the terminology sucks) don’t hate on Muslims, then that’s really sad.
Muslims are THE prime target of Islamic fundamentalist. They attack anyone and everyone who does not prescribe to their hateful and sexist brand of Islam.
Islamic fundamentalists and Islamophobes are on the flip sides of the same coin. They both mirror and ratify each other’s interpretation of what Islam is, and who Muslims are.
Great cartoon! The amount of idiots out there failing to see that imposing or banning the veil are two sides of the same coin…
“While with islamophobes, it’s BOTH sexism and blatant racism/islamophobia.”
Ah, but Islamism/fundamentalism, one could argue does have a racist angle to it as well. Many believe that the way all Muslims should live is the way Arabs in a certain region of the Middle East live/lived. Such requirements then make inferior any who do not fit into that group thus leading to oppression and discrimination against those Muslims who are not of that group.
subhanAllah can’t we Muslim women for ONCE be grateful for everything Allah (swt) has given us? It’s very difficult reading the papers, or watching the news without being constantly bombarded with western and ‘islamist’ propoganda about us Muslim women. Seriously though, do you not think we need to stop complaining so much? The Sahabiyats had it muc harder. Trust in Allah, and inshaAllah everything will be fine.
Would you stop longing for social justice because Stalin thought he was himself a champion of social justice? Would you reject Nietszche because his horrible sister Elisabeth was a nazi – using her brother’s letters to support a disgusting ideology?
I do agree – as I already said – with Laila’s criticism (about the fact that the notion of “islamism” is misused by many so-called islamists).
I do agree with Ibn Kafka’s remark: imposing or banning the veil are two sides of the same coin – though the cartoon is not great at all.
“Islamic fundamentalists” and islamophobes are DEFINITELY not the flip sides of the same coin!
I already explained my argument and Rochelle is turning it as if I was defending a sexist use of Islam.
Here is the most direct and simple expression of my argument:
1/ So-called islamists = sexists 2/ Islamophobes = sexists + hate Islam + use against Islam the fact that only so-called islamists could be really sexist
I’m not saying that so-called islamists are less sexist, I’m simply saying that sexism is shared by BOTH and in the case of islamophobes, their sexism is reinforced by the hate of Islam.
Focusing on “so-called islamists” – and saying they are the same as islamophobes is a way to conceal the fact that they are basically using feminism only when it suits their political interests – ie: invading Afghanistan. Muslim women do not need to be saved by anyone but themselves. (that’s actually why I’m happy and grateful to be a part of MMW’s super team ; )
I also noticed you were using different words to define only one category: “islamists”, “fundamentalists”, “islamic fundamentalists”…. Being unable to use one clear word for one clear category is the evidence that you are a bit confused yourself by this stuff.
Unfortunately, those unclear elements of your reflexion haven’t prevented you from judging clearly “islamism”.
That’s the real sad thing.
I’m with Princess de’ Cleves on this issue. We can’t equate Islamophobes with so-called Islamists together. First we have to be clear on who we’re talking about when we talk about Islamists. Is it just anyone who practices Islam that should be referred to as being Islamist? Or is it the way specific groups of people who practice Islam that should be be labelled this? We have to be clear and specific on this point in case we mistakenly lump all Muslims who practice Islam as being one and the same, hence the name “Islamist”. I consider myself to be a sister who is trying to practice Islam according to Quran and Sunnah yet people know me to be very involved in both my children’s education (son and daughter). In fact I have family members who jokingly claim that I shouldn’t bother educating my daughter since I’m “just” a housewife now (as if education is only for the sake of gaining employment and not for, you know actually strengthening one’s belief in the Creator as the Prophet (SAWS) stated when he encouraged us to seek knowledge). So if we wrongly assume that every Muslim who practices Islam is an “Islamist” then we wrongly believe that all practicing Muslims “oppress” Muslim women.
Islamism, from my understanding, is political Islam. Basically, those who are involved in or pursue the active implementation of some sort of conservative Islamic legal system (whatever that is in that part of the world). Usually, they tend to be more conservative. Though I dislike the word, (I also dislike political Islam) personally I use it as shorthand when speaking with Muslims for such people. Maybe my understanding of it is wrong.
Let me be clear: I believe that fundamentalism, whether Islamic, Jewish, Evangelical Christian, Hindu or other, all have a common trait that makes them fundamentalist:
They claim to represent the “authentic” or “legitimate” brand of whatever religion call themselves. By making a POLITICAL (as opposed to theological) argument for their reactionary, sexist, and, yes, RACIST ideology, they thereby SHUT OUT all other interpretations, practitioners, and believers of said religion.
This is why Islamic (and other) fundamentalist are both sexist AND racist/nationalist as well as, belligerent to other non-fundamentalist members of their religion.
I said in my original post that I agree that the terminology is ambiguous and misleading. Islamism, if one defines it as the political face of Islam, is very broad and can be read as an umbrella for term for everything from Sufi quietism to Al-Qaeda. So in this sense my grandmother can be called an “Islamist” but she is certainly not a “fundamentalist.” So yes, on that point we agree.
But I stand by argument that fundamentalism and neo-con Western imperialism are two sides of the same coin. They amplify one another’s ideologies for their own agendas: fundamenalist essentialized the ‘West” as all Islam-hating, gun-happy, naked, God-less invaders and the neo-cons essentialize “Islam” as women hating, violent suicide bombers.
We all know the reality is more complicated that this and that these agendas are only there to serve a small minority of people in this world.
The people who really lose in this dichotomy are women, because they lose from Western imperialism obviously, but if they criticize fundamentalist interpretations of shariah they are called “western” and thus illegitimate. Doing it within a religious framwork sometimes helps, but the fundamentalist can just call their religious beliefs fraudulent and inauthentic.
This is the way that Islamic fundamentalists are both sexist AND Islamaphobic: they completely reject any interpretation of Islam besides their own.
Also, I would just like to point out that Islamic fundamentalist groups have killed more Muslims in the last 30 years than all non-Muslims combined.
I completely agree, by the way, that the neo-cons are sexist — 100%. But I am also really critical of the “West/Islam” essentialized distinction that people like Hamid Dabashi, Parvin Paidar, and even Edward Said in his later years rejected. What are we getting from this dichotomy? It puts us Muslim women in a proverbial pickle so to speak.
Hamid Dabashi says it better than I do:
I’m critical too of the essentialized distinction you mentioned (West/Islam). It’s true we are getting nothing from this dichotomy, as you said. But how do you explain that some are precisely getting EVERYTHING from it (influence, power – and oil, among other benefits)?
That’s why I’m still not convinced by your argumentation.
Moreover I find really boring – and caricatural – this distinction between “good muslims” and “bad muslims”.
I also disagree with you reducing political Islam to fundamentalism: it has been (and will be inshaAllah) a platform for resistance against injustice – including the sexist, patriarchal injustice.
You refer to Hamid Dabashi, Parvin Paidar, Edward Said.
I would refer in addition to Ali Shariati, Munir Chafik, Malek Bennabi.
PS – Please mention your sources and be precise when you write serious accusations as:
“Islamic fundamentalist groups have killed more Muslims in the last 30 years than all non-Muslims combined.”
Which group of fundamentalists are you referring to?
Does it include the American and the British armies that are still occupying Iraq and Afghanistan? – And I am not even mentioning the occupation of Palestine…
Hi — just a note of clarification:
Islamic fundamentalist groups have killed more Muslims in the last 30 years than they have killed all non-Muslims combined. I do NOT mean to say that more Muslims have been killed by Islamic fundamentalists than non-Islamic fundamentlists. You’re right — that would be absurd. You can look at any non-partisan terrorism database that includes data on violence carried out by Islamic fundamentalist groups. This makes sense, intuitively, because Islamic fundamentalist groups have been most active in Muslim majority countries than in non-Muslim countries.
See more info here: http://pewglobal.org/reports/display.php?ReportID=248
And while I agree that political Islam can take a variety of forms, I am NOT “reducing” it to fundamentalism. But unfortunately, the fundamentalists (of all colors and creeds) like to hijack the movements of other religiously-motivated political groups. When was the last time you’ve heard of Catholics for Choice or one of the many many Christian Evangelical groups promoting cross-faith understanding and moderation in the news? When was the last time you’ve heard an individual using her Jewish faith and spirituality as the basis of her protest of Israeli apartheid? You don’t, because the crazy fundamentalist groups speak louder. Fundamentalists are very good at framing the debate as to shut everyone else out (and they do this by calling everyone else inauthentic and illegitimate.) That’s what makes them so dangerous.
And oh oh oh Ali Shariati how I hate that man. Fatemeh is Fatemeh makes me want to puke, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.
How about calling Islamists/Islamic fundamentalists “emotional reactionaries”. That is how I label them so that they can be distinguished from Muslims who don’t subscribe to their views. I feel that in essence their call towards terrorism/oppression is based on an emotional reaction to events impacting them that they want to change any way they can (like Al-Qaeda’s reasoning for 9/11 based on the Israeli-Palestinian problem). They don’t base their reactions upon Quran and sunnah, otherwise they would have realized that the whole time the Prophet (SAWS) was giving Dawah in Makkah he never supported armed struggle against the Quraish, even though the early Makkan Muslims faced harsh persecution in Makkah. Emotional reactionaries just base their actions on an emotional appeal to individuals who otherwise feel helpless about the many problems they witness plaguing the Ummah.
1- About your link: While reading your so-called independent report, I was wondering how the questions could be so biased against Islam and against Arabs.. Here’s the answer: “The project is co-chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, currently principal, the Albright Stonebridge Group, and by former Senator John C. Danforth, currently partner, Bryan Cave LLP.” source: http://pewglobal.org/about/ Madeleine Albright! No comment.
2- About Jewish rabbis using their faith against the Israeli apartheid in Palestine: http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/ http://www.nkusa.org/
3- Fatima Is Fatima – by Ali Shariati – is a vital reading for Muslim women. Even the title is a strongly anti-sexist profession of faith. Unlike many – Muslim or non Muslim – men writing about women, Shariati is not patronizing, he is not trying to get the best part of the patriarchal cake – you can’t find the least touch of arrogance in his text. This book is filled with love and genuine interest in truth and justice.
Readers will judge by themselves inshaAllah. Here is the full version of Shariati’s book http://playandlearn.org/eBooks/FatimaIsFatima.pdf
I agree that that survey data on the Middle East often sucks, which is why for my own PhD I refuse to work with survey data. But my point was that Islamic fundamentalism harms Muslims, and that the majority of Muslims realize this. Show me otherwise and I will gladly concede. Just look at how many people were slaughtered after the 79 revolution. This is not to defend the shah (isn’t it funny how once you criticize the Islamic revolution you are equated with supporting the Shah? hmm…) My own mother was arrested twice in Iran: once before the revolution and once after, for being an Islamic communist. She, like a lot of others, fought against the Shah just to have the gov’t slap her in the face and throw her in the home.
Which brings me to Shariati. For the sake of sticking to the topic, I’m not going to explain my critique of Shariati, so if you want to discuss more, you can email me. But in short, I don’t really care if one finds it spiritually enlightening or an empowering moral/ethical text. You’re free to do so and are entitled to that. He’s certainly not an unimportant scholar or ideologue. But I’m reading it as a political work, with a womenanist critique, with recognition of the valayet faqih, with a marxist/leninist framework, and with utter skepticism of anyone who says the worth of a nation is the worth of its women.
Thank you for sharing the testimony of your mother, Rochelle and for inviting me to contact you.
I still disagree with you – “utter skepticism of anyone who says the worth of a nation is the worth of its women” -> I am skeptic about that too. I don’t think the worth of a nation is the worth of either its women or of its men – but only of justice.
But I’d be really interested in discussing your critical grasping of Shariati.
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