CAIRO – A growing number of British Muslim women have been engaging themselves recently in defending women issues, correcting a misconception about Islam’s contradiction with feminism.
“An awful lot of Muslim women have felt excluded from the debate about women's rights and this project really focuses on bringing ordinary women into a debate about Islamic feminism that has so far only really been heard in academic circles,” Latifa Akay of social enterprise Maslaha told The Observer.
“This is really taking off. Islamic feminism is not a new thing, which will probably surprise most people, but Muslim women have the same core concerns as white, secular, British women: the workplace, discrimination, childcare,” Akay said.
“There has been a dire lack of spaces for women within Islam to have these kinds of conversations and they have felt very much that their religious beliefs exclude them because religion is seen as patriarchal.”
Akay is one of the members of social enterprise Maslaha which was established recently by the Young Foundation to work on improving social conditions in Muslim and minority communities.
It reflects a rising trend of feminism in various Islamic countries around the world, including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran.
The increase intensified after the publication of new books on Islam and feminism around the world in recent years.
One of these books was published last years by Dr Sariya Cheruvallil-Contractor, a University of Derby lecturer, under the title, “Muslim Women in Britain: De-mystifying the Muslimah”.
According to the writer, the book corrects misconceptions around Islam.
For participants in Maslaha, the new project corrected a widespread misconception by many feminists putting hijab, or Islamic headscarf, as a symbol of male oppression in Islam.
“The media portray Muslim women as oppressed and subjugated and Islam is often presented as misogynist and patriarchal,” Akay said.
“The internet will help Muslim women find each other, just as it has for young secular women in Britain, and start a real conversation,” she added.
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
Islam, as a divine religion, sets down rules that strike a balance between men's responsibilities and women's rights.
Woman is recognized by Islam as the full and equal partner of the man in the procreation of humankind.
By this partnership, she has an equal share in every aspect.
She is entitled to equal rights, she undertakes equal responsibilities, and she has as many qualities and as much humanity as her partner.
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