The Indecent Silence

On September 25, 2006 Safia Hama Jan, a leading women’s rights advocate and outspoken critic of the Taliban was shot to death outside her home in Kandahar by gunmen on a motorcycle. Safia Hama Jan was provincial director of the Afghan Ministry of Women's Affairs.

The Associated Press and BBC News speculated that Safia had been killed in “retaliation for her outspoken support of women's rights and her work opening schools for women in Afghanistan.”

On February 20, 2007 Mohammad Sarwar shot and killed Pakistan’s Punjab provincial minister for social welfare, Zilla Huma Usman, 35, because according to Sarwar: "Islam did not allow women to hold positions of leadership". He also admitted to killing her for refusing to wear the veil and for campaigning for the emancipation of women. He vowed, if given the opportunity, to "kill all those women who do not follow the right path."

Fourteen hundred years ago, a prudish man who saw women as insatiable animalistic sexual provocateurs imposed a code of conduct and of dress prescribed in a book he claimed was authored by the Almighty. A code meant to restrain them and stop them from bringing chaos to an orderly world ruled by men and the Book.

For this man, and his out-of-this-world patron, the sight of a single strand of a woman’s hair, the outline of a breast, swaying hips, what Allah refers to as a woman's finery, can cause a man to experience a Pavlovian-like reaction, an uncontrollable urge to hump the owner of the "finery" then and there and commit the unforgivable sin of having sex outside the sanctity of marriage.

Fourteen hundred years later, women who live in a society where they are free to choose how to dress and how to behave insist that dressing and behaving according to the instructions of a prudish misogynous god and His equally prudish misogynous spokesman is what the new feminism is all about.

Seeing this man's and his patron's prejudices and insecurities recognized as virtues in the West has become the cause célèbre of Islamic feminists. That Muslim women are being murdered for challenging the prejudicial views of the man to whom these feminists are devoted doesn't seem to matter.

Veiled women have usurped the role of true feminists with the tacit approval of Western feminists who have bought into the spurious argument that the veil is an instrument of female empowerment not a symbol of submission; that women can be equal to men while acknowledging men's superior authority.

2:228 "... women have rights equal to what is incumbent upon them according to what is just, although men are one degree above them".

The women who have remained true to the feminist's creed that women have equal political, social, sexual, intellectual and economic rights to men are (were) women like Safia Hama Jan and Zilla Huma Usman. Women who see the veil for what it is, a symbol of oppression, and pay with their lives for challenging the male-centric view of the universe that sees them, to quote another brave advocate of women's rights Wafa Sultan, as no more than beasts.

The clash we are witnessing around the world is not a clash of religions or a clash of civilization. It is a clash between civilization and backwardness, between the civilized and the primitive, between barbarity and rationality. It is a clash between freedom and oppression, between democracy and dictatorship. It is a clash between human rights, on one hand and the violation of these rights, on the other. It is a clash between those who treat women like beasts, and those who treat them like human beings…

Wafa Sultan, from an interview on Al-Jazeera, 2006

Why would non-Muslim women favour the implementation of laws and regulations that have the potential of transforming their Muslim sisters, in the eyes of the law, into nothing more than chattel to be used, abused and disposed of at the discretion of a husband, a father, a brother or a close male relative?

According to Globe and Mail columnist Margaret Wente, Western feminists have not raised any objections to the promotion and imposition, in societies that consider them equal, of humiliating standards because of an intractable skewed ideology.

… a multicultural credo [which] holds that everyone is equal, that all cultures are equally good, that multicultural values and mainstream values do not conflict, and that the greatest moral virtues are tolerance and respect … [they] feel bound to stand in solidarity with critics of the West.

These days, that means Muslims, especially those who have explicitly rejected identity with the West. That's how we've arrived at a most peculiar moment in the history of women's liberation — a moment where Western feminists endorse the veil as an instrument of female empowerment.

Wired For Submission, November 3, 2006

Ms. Wente goes on to quote British social critic Theodore Dalrymple as to why you don't hear very many Western feminists defending the right of “Muslim women to not be slapped around by their husbands.” According to Mr. Dalrymple:

Where two pieties — feminism and multiculturalism — come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence…

Islamic feminists may be an oxymoron, but at least those who proudly carry that label are vocal and uncompromising in marketing Allah and His Messenger's vision of the world  and their place in it, unlike the Western variety who remain silent as Allah's feminists attempt to turn back the clock on women's rights.

Allah's feminists have filled the "indecent silence" with their own voice and it is their voice Canadian Courts and what Canadian writer George Jonas calls Medieval Rights Commissions (Human Rights Commissions) are listening to.

So exactly what is an Islamic feminist?

It is a feminist who believes in the Koran and the sayings and example of the Prophet Muhammad. If anything that Allah or His Messenger said pertaining to their sex and their place in a man's world is not clear, Allah's feminists will seek an interpretation that is favourable to their sex. But that's about it!

Allah chose a gifted communicator to deliver His Message which He reminds us is unambiguous.

11:1 [This is] a Book with Verses which are elaborately formulated and clearly expounded from the Wise, the All-Aware.

Allah's clear message expertly delivered does not provide much room for discussion, leaving Islamic feminists with little raison-d'être. This has not stopped them from publicly arguing Allah and His Messenger's position on women's issues, even if it does not elevate the debate in favour of equality between men and women.

Bernard Payeur

Amor Interview