Here are the hard-won lessons that I’ve learned Alhamdulillah through my journey into and out of feminism:
I’m no longer uncomfortable with the concept of femininity. Femininity is the natural mode that a woman is in when her fitra is sound and healthy, just as masculinity is men’s. A healthy woman operates from her feminine frame, neither fighting nor suppressing it nor trying to warp herself to become more masculine in search of “power.”
- Modesty/ Haya:
Contrary to what secular feminists push, modesty is not weakness and brazenness is not strength. A modest woman isn’t some quaint, old-world throwback who is a pushover or a doormat. A modest woman is fully alive.
Ibnul Qayyim, رحمه الله , says that haya’ ( حياء, modesty) and hayah (حياة, life) are directly related, and the degree to which a person has modesty is the degree to which that person is alive.
I’ve learned what it looks like to be a Muslimah who is both feminine and modest. I don’t have to resort to being a tomboy like in high school. I don’t have to choose between being a scantily-clad feminine girl on the one hand, and a modest but masculine girl on the other. It’s possible to be a modest feminine Muslim woman. In fact, one of the core aspects of true femininity *is* modesty, حياء. Not just in dress alone–but in thoughts, mannerisms, dress, gaze, speech, and actions. Moreover, حياء is the single most defining feature of Islam as a whole.
I don’t have to prove my independence or my competence. I don’t have to force myself to do and be everything. I don’t have to go out of my way to show the world that I’m free and not in need of anyone else and definitely NOT in need of a man to help me do things. I don’t need to make sure I have a good, high-paying job because that denotes my worth and showcases my unfettered freedom and also is a safety net in case my marriage goes south since most marriages end in divorce these days, am I right?
- Reliance on the Husband:
I’m all right with letting my husband work and provide for me. That is his job. I have my own job. I don’t want to compete with him.
I have no interest in trying to outdo him, or trying to hide my “weakness” from him, or to pretend that I don’t need him. I have no problem acknowledging his authority or his role as my wali and the leader of this family–in fact, his authority and leadership are things that I look to him for and lean on whenever I am tired or unsure. I need him to be a leader, an authority, so I can rest in my own role and rely on him doing his.
I’m allowed to be tired. It feels peaceful and right to relinquish control and to show vulnerability when I feel it instead of trying to hide it like a dirty secret. I’m thankful for his solidity, his reliability, his steadiness. He is my support, my rock, my love. I don’t distrust him or anticipate the imminent doom of my marriage. He isn’t my enemy or the representation of everything I need to become–rather, he is my helpmate and I am his.
- Gender Wars & Marriage:
Men and women, husband and wife, do not have to be locked in battle with each other. It’s not a fight or a competition. There are no “sides.” There IS no war.
A husband and a wife are a team. We are working together to create something real, something beautiful, something that requires effort and toil and teamwork: a Muslim family.
If he and I are pitted against each other, if we’re constantly competing or fighting with each other, the entire project will fail. But thankfully, there’s no need for a clash. We need each other, and we each have a specific role for which we are already equipped and hard-wired for optimal performance. The trick is to surrender and let yourself accept your role and your natural ability to do it, with the grace of Allah. Fighting it, and trying to re-write your role and rewire your own nature, will only result in tension and heartache and futility.
Feminism, like Shaytan, tries to mangle the natural harmonious relationship between men and women. It teaches women to pit themselves against the men in their lives and deny their own natures, which leads to misery for all involved.
- Torn Between Career and Motherhood:
We need to dissolve this tension that has been artificially manufactured and implanted within the hearts of modern women. To stay home with family or to go out for a career in search of “greatness”?
Motherhood is not prison. Your home is not a jail cell. You still can pursue hobbies, nurture your talents, learn new things, explore your creativity– all as a mom. Motherhood is not stifling or suffocating, as it’s often painted.
But motherhood is also “enough.” If you are “just a mom,” you don’t lack “ambition.” You are doing quite a lot. If we had more stay-at-home dedicated, attentive Muslim mothers, society would look incredibly different. We are in desperate need of women who are “just moms!”
As a mother at home, I feel that I am right where I need to be, doing the work that I most need to do, for which I am irreplaceable and for which I am the most qualified candidate. The work of raising and nurturing and educating my children as Muslims and to run my household and to support my husband.
There is nothing else in this world that is more important to me than this.
To leave these responsibilities to others less qualified than myself in order to search for different responsibilities less important would be utter folly. Silliness. Now *that* would be a waste of a Harvard seat.
- Femininity & Strength:
Femininity does not mean weakness. It doesn’t mean fragility, helplessness, or stupidity. Femininity and strength are not opposites or mutually exclusive traits. Femininity *includes* strength.
The strength that is part of femininity does not look exactly like the strength that is part of masculinity. There is feminine strength and there is masculine strength. I’d spent most of my adolescence chasing “strength,” which was just a poorly-constructed version of masculine strength, which is what I’d assumed all strength could ever be or look like.
I had naively tried be as physically strong as I could be and tried not to talk too much about my feelings or wear anything pink or sparkly or ever express need or dependence on men in any way. There you go. “Strength.”
But now, decades later, I know that strength is a different thing entirely. Feminine strength is in nurturing love, practiced patience, enduring stamina, open communication, emotional intelligence, empathy, and yes, even physical strength. Do you have any idea how much physical and mental and emotional strength is required to undergo labour and delivery of a human baby un-medicated? That is physical strength that is inaccessible to men. Women have it naturally. Women have always had it, given by Allah.
Not that it’s a competition. It isn’t.
- Is Islam Anti-Woman?
No. Islam isn’t anti-women, any more than its anti-men. This is just a baseless accusation hurled at Islam by low-IQ insecure feminists.
Allah is perfectly just, far, far exalted is He from even an iota of injustice to any of His creation.
Men have their own type of strength. Women have theirs. These two genders are different creations of Allah. They both need one another in some way. Each side has something that the other lacks.
Needing or lacking something is not equal to being weak or defunct. It is simply how Allah, in His infinite wisdom, has created us. It’s not wrong or bad. It is simple reality. We have different natures, suited for different roles at which we respectively excel.
Railing at reality or rebelling against our own nature only makes us depressed.
- No Fear, Only Tawakkul:
Feminism instills a sense of mistrust and fear into the hearts and minds of modern women. Fear of uncertainty, mistrust of men, suspicions about the future. So many what ifs:
What if my husband leaves me? What if he cheats on me? What if he turns out to be an abusive monster? What if he dies? What if he gets into a car accident and becomes paralyzed and can’t work anymore? Will I become homeless or starve?
The answer to all these questions is: tawakkul, (reliance upon Allah)
Life is full of uncertainties, a certain degree of inherent risk, no guarantees. This is the dunya by design.
But if we trust Allah and know that we will win through obedience to Him no matter what happens, He will take care of all our affairs regardless of how our life plays out.
Don’t allow the feminist fear-mongering to work on you.
- Honour through Islam:
We are Muslims. We aren’t feminists. We don’t need to be saved from our own ‘backwardness or barbarity’ by some atheistic, secular feminists who will “enlighten” us. We have Islam, a perfect, complete, comprehensive system made by the Creator, and therein lies all our عزة, honour/ pride/ dignity. Feminism has nothing good to offer us that we don’t already have in Islam.
Now that I’ve moved away from the feminist influences I’d been under, I have internally relaxed. I don’t have to deny my nature or fight myself or others. All I have to do is let go of my irrational feminist notions, and just be myself as Allah has created me. A woman, a female slave of Allah, a wife, a mother, a nurturer, an educator. These things are enough. My worth is not measured in material terms or dunyawi metrics. It’s all about Akhira.
Umm Khalid Haqiqatjou