By: Sohel Ahmed Bahjat
There are many awesome, Arab Feminist ladies and girls on Clubhouse App who represent the Feminist Movement in the Arab world, in general, and Iraq in specific. On Clubhouse and social media, one finds easily a struggle going on between the forces of Enlightenment, secularist groups, and women’s rights, versus the forces of Tradition, blind obedience, and the worship of Islamic symbols, all trying to get the support of society, which is, unfortunately, soaked in the Islamic myths, and belief system.
What motivated me to the writing of this article was an accusation I, and some other “male” secular colleagues, faced from some other female activists, stating, and I’m paraphrasing it, that: “Male Atheists adopt ‘women’s rights’ to reach our own agendas – as atheists – in defeating and weakening “Islam” – as if Islam is a ‘person’ we hate - or the religious elites behind it.” The accusation, which went on, was adopted, partially, by some ladies who claimed themselves to be “Muslim Reformists” who requested from us – male atheists – to differentiate between Islam and women’s rights.
I, and my male friends, argued for the following points:
1- It is impossible – and I emphasize the word “impossible” – for a woman, living in Islamic countries, to obtain even her most basic rights such as choosing her life partner, equality in inheritance – as a female receives half of the male’s portion and her testimony in courts considered less than the male’s testimony, and the freedom to decide how to live, which is not possible under the patriarchal system of Islam that establishes inequality in Qur’anic texts and the authenticated hadith [the sayings and the deeds of Muhammad]. Rather, females are killed under justifications such as honor with the most ridiculous justifications for crimes that are “protected” by a law derived from the Islamic religion.
2- The quest and the struggle over women’s liberation is linked to the struggle against Islamic fascism, and any attempt to separate between the two – women’s rights and the expulsion of religious authority from political power – is an absurd attempt, could be like turning the trial of a male rapist into a matter of “distorted culture” and nothing more. This separation serves the (Arab-Kurdish-Turkish) Nationalist Islamic trend embracing the dress of religion, which is constantly waging campaigns to undermine and demonize secular feminists, in general, (such campaigns include insults that reflect the baseness and fall of religious education.)
3- One of the feminist ladies, kindly stated that “there are also ‘masculine’ atheists and secularists, which means that the feminist struggle is not limited to Islamists and nationalists.” This is, of course, a major fallacy because these “atheist patriarchs” do not rely on scientific theories to marginalize and undermine women, but rather benefit from the same privileges of masculinity that Islam provided for them for centuries.
4- The scene where we find veiled, religious women and some bearded, religious men claim the adoption of feminism is one of two possibilities: either the Islamic movements are trying hard to absorb the audience of the feminist movement – who are accused of atheism and being atheists for the mere demands for the most basic rights of females - or these Muslim women, adopting the emancipation of women will reach a crossroad, where they must choose between (Islam) or their freedom and dignity.
5- Let us remember the lessons of history: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, in Turkey consolidated women’s rights by marginalizing the role of religion and clergymen - notice that the management of religion is carried out by males - and so did Muhammad Reza and his son, the Shah of Iran, marginalizing religion in Iran, and Habib Bourguiba did the same in Tunisia. When did women's rights decline in the same countries? When Islam returned to the aforementioned countries.
6- It is possible to see some, wearing Hijab, feminists, such as Malala Yousefzai, but they remain to be considered “heretics”, and apostates by the majority of the religious establishment, thus, the struggle against the Islamic tradition is essential.
In conclusion: It is our right as human beings, and in our interest as males, to get the best life partner for us through the emancipation of women. We, males, should remember that it is our duty, as rational beings, to support women without showing even the slightest sign that such a contribution is an endowment of any kind. When females are freed from the Islamic, social, sales of girls in male-made deals of marriages, only then, such countries will improve.