Tag Archives: instislam

Do Muslim Women Feel Oppressed?

Published On Islam Faith
October 2017

 

 

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“Why not?”
“Coz I said so!”
“Good one Mom. You should be a lawyer.”

Ahhhh remember the good old teenage years when you died a little bit inside every time you heard one of your friends didn’t have curfews or chores? When they made something called ‘last minute plans’ while your parents needed the exact detailed information of the outing 10 to 12 business days before the actual date?

I distinctly remember asking my friends those same questions that night we were all chilling together. I was on a strict diet at the time, and needed a distraction from the melted chocolate oozing from the center of the giant molten lava cake they had just broken into to.

“No. I didn’t have any rules growing up. My parents let me do whatever I wanted. I’d come home at sunrise and they wouldn’t even ask where I was.” One friend replied.

“You’re so lucky!” We all said.

“Yeah, everyone envied my freedom back then, but you know what I envied them? Feeling protected and cared for. You guys should be grateful for parents who loved you enough to discipline you!”

 

While most of my friends made faces and quickly engaged in a heated debate on the different types of parenting, my mind dazed off like usual and an invisible camera blurred everyone out to zoom in on my thoughts.

Could these be the silent notions going on in Muslim women’s heads too? Do they die a little bit inside when their non-Muslim friends do what they want while they must adhere to all these Islamic rules and decrees? And most importantly, do women in Islam view themselves as being protected and cherished, or just down right oppressed?

 

The ‘Liberation’ Fixation.

We can argue about it till the cows come home, but unless we agree on what it really means to be ‘liberated’, one of us will end up really pissed.

So I looked it up and the literal meaning of ‘Liberation’ is ‘the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery or oppression’

So far so good?

Now, would you guys allow me to use the veil (hijab) as an example?
Thanks!

Let me just add that modesty isn’t just in the way you dress. It’s an attitude. It’s something pure in the heart that affects the way you dress, think and behave. So if a Muslim woman chooses through the power of free will vested in her to wear the Hijab, even though she’s constantly pressured not to, would you say she’s ‘liberated’ from the social imprisonment and the slavery to ‘popular culture’? Yeah, I think so, too.

Alright, how about a Muslim woman who’s forced by her husband or father to wear the Hijab against her will, even though the Holy Qur’an explicitly says:

“There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion” (2:256 Holy Quran)

And even though Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said,

“The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Now this ‘bitter-Hijabi’ woman is clearly suppressed, right?
Of course she is, but can we really blame Islam for it? Is this what God wants Muslims to do, to force each other to do things out of mere oppression? Things they’re probably not going to get rewarded for since it’s not from the heart?

This fixation on female liberation needs to take a more informed form. Are we angry with the Islamic Laws or are we angry with the Muslims who make Islam look bad coz they misinterpret its teachings?

We need to channel this bottled anger at someone people. Let’s make a decision and stick to it. Who’s the real culprit here, Muslims or Islam?

 

Women In The Wild West

While we could argue both sides, many might dismiss the scriptures all together and claim that western culture is the answer, for it is the essence of true liberation.

Well, it really depends on how you look at it.

Take the Hijab again. Some people will equate it with suppression, oppression, depression and all the ugly ‘essions’, while others will simply parallel its modesty with elegance, dignity and poise.

Now that I think about it, for the most part, it does seem like a natural inclination to view ‘modest clothing’ as closely integrated with being ‘classy’. Royalty, respected influencers, businesswomen, professors, educated women whose sole purpose is to make a difference in this world… You’d probably have a hard time imagining them walking down the street wearing hot shorts and cropped tight tank tops accentuating their enormous ‘boob-jobbed’ cleavage, no matter how ‘liberated’ they may feel.

There’s a difference between liberation and dissipation.
Between demanding attention and demanding respect.

And hey, if wearing the veil is viewed as ‘oppressive” then perhaps Christianity and Judaism should go on the list, too. For it’s not just Islam that preaches about the merits of modesty:

 

“For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or to be shaved, she should wear a veil. For a man ought not to have his head veiled, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man” (Corinthians 11:6, Holy Bible) 

 

…”then, that head or hair covering was law for the daughters of Israel” (Sifrei Bamidbar 11)

 

Do We Need To Be Rescued?

I once read this meme that cracked me up for a whole week. (They’re called ‘memes’ right?)

* Hijabi woman breathes *

The rest of the world goes crazy: “You are OPPRESSED, LET US SAVE YOU!”

 

We’ve been brainwashed into thinking Muslims are brainwashed. But now try forcing a proud Hijabi to take her veil off and you’ll be the one in need of saving, you know, before ending up in a wheel chair that you’ll be steering with your tongue LOL.

The truth is, despite the commotion, and the whole ‘Islam-is-violent-and-isn’t-compatible-with-modern-civilization’ shebang, people all over the globe are converting to Islam left and right. Freedom loses its meaning amidst the chaos. When you don’t have a map, some guidelines and a clear destination, you’re just lost. And that’s the point; so many of us are finally eager for logical answers, finally ready to make sense of this confusion we live in. So many of us are tired of feeling lost. We need a stable, ‘unchangeable’ solid ground to stand on; a doctrine that keeps us focused and doesn’t crumble under social pressure.

Islamic rules might seem firm, what with the dress code, the ‘no-drinking’, ‘no gambling’ and ‘no pigs on the dinner table’ thing. Yet the core of every single one of those rules is based on love, the same way devoted parents, who care about your success, will watch you like a hawk and stop you from ruining the life you’re so eager to start living. Because they love you, they won’t always give you what you think you want, but they’ll make sure you strive for what you need. And because they know you so well, and know your weaknesses, they’ll put you on straight path to try and eliminate your struggles as much as possible because they know the following is true…

“To abstain from the enjoyment which is in our power, or to seek distant rather than immediate results, are among the most painful exertions of the human will” N.W. Senior 1836

 

Take that night with my friends for example; do you know how desperately I wanted a piece of that molten cake? I was practically drooling all over it, with my eyes popping out of my head like a cartoon character in love. Do you know how difficult it was to resist the temptation? Probably just as difficult as it is for you to invest in your ‘future self’, whether it is in your health, wealth, career or physical appearance. It’s SO hard, but you do it. You exercise, eat healthy, study and pull an all-nighter to prep for a test or an important meeting. You find the stamina, perseverance and passion to stick to your plan and reach your goals. Psychologists call it ‘Grit’. It’s a choice to progress and succeed and that’s the most liberating choice anyone can make.

Again, it all boils down to how it looks from where you’re standing.

If you see life on this earth similar to the one of gold fish, ‘live, die, flush, new one’, nothing Muslims do or believe in would make sense to you or anyone else for the matter. No amount of ‘grit’ or ‘achievements’ will count as significant anyway, right? And like duh, of course they’d seem ‘oppressed’ to say the least (I’d use more colorful language but you know LOL). Except Muslims see a life beyond this life, for they believe in Allah’s promise of a huge reward. They believe in justice and let’s face it, what’s happening in this world is nothing but.

So we resist the pulls and lures of this life and keep our eyes on the goal of attaining paradise in the Hereafter. We persevere with this inner battle between our ‘present self’ and our ‘future self’. We ponder on the amazing words in the Holy Qur’an and revel in its truths no matter how many people try to distort it with lies.

 

Once you approach the Holy Qur’an with the humility to learn and understand, you won’t be able to ‘un-see’ what you see.
You’ll find the truth that will purify and free your soul.
You’ll find the answers you need to reach that ‘inner peace’ you’re yearning for.

Once you believe in something so much that it runs in your veins, you won’t really care what other people think.

You’ll stand up for what you believe in, even if you have to do it alone.

If that’s not the ultimate liberation, well….
I don’t know what is….

 

 

All my love,
Lilly S. Mohsen

Day Five: 30 Good deeds In Ramadan

DAY FIVE

4 down, 26 to go!
So which chapter of the Qur’an did you guys reach?
I’m ashamed to admit I’m a bit behind schedule. I hear about people who finish reading the whole Quran 32 times in Ramadan alone, and I’m like “HOWWWW!”

Anyways, so today I had the most amazing dessert after Iftar. My sister makes the BEST chocolate cake in the entire universe! (MashAllah). Except, the weird part is that even if you follow the recipe EXACTLY step by step, it never turns out this good! The cake she makes is a little piece of heaven; your faith in humanity is literally restored with every bite.

I talk comfortably about my chocolate addiction because I like to believe my lovely readers accept me for who I am, with my flaws and my severe ‘nochocophobia’ (which is the fear of running out of chocolate. Hey! No judging in the Holy month).

It makes me wonder about everyone else’s irrational fears, especially the ones who can’t really express it, like babies and pets, plants and/or people with special needs.

I was looking outside my window today, saw the birds on the trees and couldn’t help but feel a little bit selfish. We are sometimes so unaware of our surroundings. There are so many untold stories around us, so many neglected lives. We never really stop to think about these creatures, about what scares them, what they’re missing and what makes them twitter happily.

And so I came across a beautiful hadith where one of the companions narrates: “We were on a journey and during the prophet’s absence, we saw a bird with its two chicks; we took them. The mother bird was circling above us in the air, beating its wings in grief. When Prophet Muhammad returned he said. “Who has hurt the feelings of this bird by taking its chicks? Return them to her” (Sahih Muslim)

Ya habib albyyyyyyyy ya Rasoul Allah
(That’s me gushing and marveling at our beloved Prophet in Arabic).
He’s SO considerate and caring and loving, he doesn’t even wanna hurt a little bird’s feelings.
That’s how our hearts are supposed to be…
So here’s your Day Five’s act of kindness:
It’s doing something good for the creatures that can’t tell us their stories, but have feelings, fears and hopes just like us…

Beginners Level:
Go out of your way to feed or take care of an animal today. It could be as simple as putting breadcrumbs and a bowl of water on your window for the birds.

Advanced Level:

If you’re a pet owner, do something extra special for it today.
If not, think about adopting a pet, or help those stray animals on the street by taking them to the nearest shelter. You have NO idea how much you’ll be rewarded for taking care of a helpless, homeless animal. Remember the story about the loose woman who had all her sins forgiven and went to Jannah just because she gave water to a thirsty dog on the street? This could be you! (Not the ‘loose woman’ part of course. I meant the ‘Jannah and forgiveness’ part!)

Hope you guys have a blessed night…

See you tomorrow inshAllah

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Day Four: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY FOUR

So in the name of holding back from over-sharing ‘personal’ stories, I’m spinning today’s piece around a little bit.

Today is all about you.

We’re closing in on the forth day of Ramadan, and perhaps its time we paused all this panic about what we’re gonna cook for Iftar, how the kids will fast during final exams, how we’re already drained and why we can’t eat ‘konafa’ without gaining weight!
It’s time to direct our attention inwards
Tell me….

Are you feeling the peaceful essence of the Holy month yet?

Or are you still adjusting between what you wish to become and what you’re currently stuck at?

Do you feel like you’re involuntarily riding an emotional roller coaster, taking you up to the highest levels of spirituality and calmness and then whoooshhh down to the lowest levels of agitation, making you take your anger out on your loved ones at the slightest word?

Were you soothing everyone around you? Telling them how much you love Ramadan and how people are blinded to the immense blessings of it, only to find yourself losing your temper and defying your own theories when put in a tough situation?
It’s okay, don’t be offended. You can be honest with yourself. We all do it and we all hate to admit it.
Are you being the best you can be?
Or are you giving yourself excuses because what you’re feeling or going through?

Only you can answer this question, for this is perhaps the ONLY time of year when you need to take a closer look in the mirror. You can’t blame your faltering on the devils (Duh, they’re tied up, remember?) and you can’t blame it on the long fasting hours because hello, everyone else is fasting too.

Everyone has problems and everyone has pain and everyone is struggling in his or her own way.

It’s a hard pill to swallow; realizing how you behave in this month, is essentially the ‘best’ version of you. This is as good as it gets. And yet it’s far from what most of us aim for.
Deep down, on some level, we all know we could do better, right?

This is your task for Day Four.

Raise the bars and aim high. Try to rewire your brain and your heart to be in constant progress from this day one. And the best way to do that is to go back to basics, and relive the life of the ideal model we should all aspire to emulate, our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him). Listen to his hadith:

“Whoever revives my Sunnah then he has loved me. And whoever loved me shall be with me in Paradise” (Tirmidhi)

 

Love

Here are some Sunnahs we REALLY need to bring back to this world:

Beginners Level: Choose at least one of the following acts with the intention of showing love to our prophets.

Advanced Level: Do as many as you can and try to cmmit to them for as long as you can

  • SMILE (we know you’re cranky and fasting, but still, crack a smile every now and then for God’s sake)
  • Try using the Siwak
  • Eat only when hungry and never leave the dinner table full (yeah good luck with this one in Ramadan LOL)
  • Try Cupping (Hijama) as a healing method
  • Drink in three sips
  • Drink while seated down
  • Sleep on your right side
  • Have dates for sohoor (dates as in fruits, I gotta be specific on this one, you know, just in case LOL)
  • Always say ‘Salam’ when you enter your house, even if no one is there. The angels are, and they’d like to be acknowledged.
  • Speak good or keep silent (don’t we all need this one)
  • Use oil on your hair (I’m pretty sure its olive oil but let me get back to you on that)
  • Brush you bed sheets three times before going to sleep
  • Pray the Sunnah prayer
  • Eat with your right hand

 

I’m sure there are many more, but now the main point is that we there’s so much we can do and yet we choose not to do it.
Promise yourself this Ramadan things will change inshAllah.
You’ll do what you can, as much as you can, whenever you can.

Good luck guys

All my love

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

Day Three: 30 Good Deeds In Ramadan

 

DAY THREE

 

Raise your hand if you’ve had a ‘tougher-than-expected’ day today.

I know I’ll probably sound like a HORRIBLE mom, but for real, I have a son that can easily be nominated for the ‘Best Human Version Of A Headache’ award.

You guys remember him, right? I kinda whine about him and his autism a lot. But I shouldn’t whine in this blessed month. I should embrace his condition and accept it for what it is. I guess we tend to be short-tempered when we’re fasting, even though the whole point of this deprivation is to learn and practice ‘beautiful patience’.

Alright I’m switching to positive mode now.

He’s not that bad, he’s actually really funny when you get to know him. So today about two hours before Maghreb, and after telling him over and over how super proud I was that he’d been fasting the WHOLE day, he opens the fridge, takes out a yogurt cup and rips it open.

“Whoa, Yasseen it’s not time for Iftar yet!”
“I know”
“Ummm you’re not gonna eat that, are you?’

“Of course! How else can I continue fasting without having a snack in the middle of the day, ha?”
“Makes sense. Would you like some grapes with that?”
“What? Mom, NO! I’m FASTING! Just the yoghurt thanks”

But enough about us. How was your day?
Ready for your next challenge?
Well, here it comes…

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Family isn’t just one thing, it’s EVERYTHING!
Family is the place where you’ll love and feel loved no matter what happens. It’s the circle of trust. The warm hug shielding us from all the craziness and despair. Oh my Lord, please keep my family safe for me. I love them all so much. I wish I could praise them one by one and tell you all about their awesomeness and quirks, but it’s almost time for my daily reality show named ‘Battles of the Bedtime’ and I need all my energy to knock the kids down LOL.

Okay so your act of kindness for Day 3 is to make a ‘priceless memory’ with a beloved family member.

Beginners Level:

Ask one of your close family members this question: ‘How can I make your day better?’
And then actually DO what they ask.
Married men must choose their wives for this exercise. (Not optional)
The rest of you guys can pick whomever you want, no problem LOL.

Advanced Level:

Who doesn’t love surprises? Sometimes it feels good to get what you want without even asking for it.

So for the advanced level, make an educated guess about what would make them happy and do it without asking. It could be helping with chores, playing a game with the kids, baking a favorite dessert… Okay I should stop giving you ideas coz I’m sure you guys know your family better.

 

What did I do?

I’m still a rookie with this whole Ramadan-goals thing so I’m realistically practicing the beginners level at least for week one inshAllah.
I asked my daughter when she came back from school (cross eyed and parched after a long day of fasting) what I could do to make her day better.

“I’ve been dreaming of donuts all day. But I don’t think coffee shops even sell donuts in Ramadan. You know what, forget it”

That wasn’t the problem really. I think it was more the ‘embarrassment’ than the ‘scarcity’ that I had troubles with. We live in a Muslim country, girl! I mean imagine the awkwardness.

“Do you guys sell donuts?’
“You mean Konafa”
“No I mean donuts”

Salesperson looks me up and down with disgust like I belong to the ‘Kuffar’ group or something. You literally feel like you’ve violated the sanctity of the Holy month if you don’t constantly crave Eastern food. (I don’t know if Western Muslims have that problem though)

Anyways, I got her a dozen and she was so happy, and utterly touched by the gesture.
Was it a ‘priceless memory’? I ‘Donut’ know LOL

I just ruined the moment, didn’t I?

Oh well, I’ll go die now.

See you guys tomorrow.

 

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lilly S. Mohsen