Ghazala Munir

Panel Discussion Question Responses

from an Islamic perspective


Q: What is the self evident truth that men are superior?

A: The "self evident" truth that men are superior is man made. I think it all goes back to the creation story and the presumption that Adam was a male. In the Arabic language which is the language of the Islamic scriptures or the Qura'n, the word Adam comes from 'adama' or 'from the soil' and is genderless. Muslims have for centuries taken much from the creation story of Genesis where Adam is referred to as male and Eve, a derivative, from the rib of Adam. There is no mention of the rib story in the Qura'n. Now, over centuries, the translators and commentators have been men, who have established and defended the status quo in patriarchal cultures and societies through religion. Eve is not even mentioned in the holy book; Adam and spouse are the first two human beings created by God. I think Islam was revolutionary in the sense that it addressed women and their issues specifically and God addresses women and men throughout the Qura'n. Yes, both have different roles to fulfill in order to create balance but that does not mean they cannot cross over those boundaries. Islam is flexible in the sense that it must respond to the times and its needs.

Q: When did you decide not to wear the traditional Muslim clothing and how has it affected your acceptance by others in your faith?

A: First of all, let me begin by saying that Muslim dress is ruled by the word, "Modesty." There is no such thing as traditional Muslim dress or clothing. Islam is now practiced by over a billion people, representing over 50 nations around the world. Dress and clothing is a product of the cultures Islam rooted itself in and is ruled by climate conditions, economics and lifestyles. The Qura'n talks about modesty in dress and garb for both men and women and refers to it in the following manner: O believing men, and in the following paragraph, O believing women.

Modesty is the rule. I personally never wore the head cover as an identity of faith but only covered my head as a part of the culture I grew up in, when I ventured into areas of the city or country where it was a sign of respect for women. Also, I cover my head and entire body when in prayer or entering a mosque. As for being accepted by others, I think that I would get more respect from conservative Muslims if I wore the so called traditional garb, but that would also include keeping my mouth shut and not questioning.

Q: Does feminism conflict with Islamic beliefs?

A: It depends on how we define feminism. It means equality, fairness, justice and access to the broad range of human experience. How can we deny that to one particular gender if we are truly faithful to the God of Justice and Love? So, feminism does not conflict with Islamic beliefs. In fact, it comes under the basic values of human rights as portrayed in Islam. If society had treated women with equality and justice, there would be no need for such a movement. When society fails, women, and that includes Muslim women, must react and demand the rights endowed to us as God's creation.

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