Snake in the Grass

It seems the women’s-only mosque in LA has brought out quite a bit of male panic—and brought out the white knights alike. Most of you have undoubtedly seen what Yasir Qadhi, Abu Eesa’s BFF, has had to say about it:

When our sisters are deprived from the right to come to the mosques, or given sub-standard accommodations and treated disrespectfully, it is only natural that some of them will take matters into their own hands and counter-react.

Some of that counter-reaction will be legitimate, and some illegitimate.

Oh please, Yasir. Do let us know that some of our “counter-reactions” are illegitimate. I presume that you, of course, are the one who gets to decide which “counter-reactions” (because that’s all this mosque is–just a bunch of women throwing a tantrum) are illegitimate? Unsurprisingly enough, Yasir Qadhi and his like don’t seem to believe that rape jokes are illegitimate.

But it gets better.

Rather than worry about what various counter-reactions have been and how legal they are, I believe we need to concentrate on the root cause of the problem.

What interesting timing to be struck by this enlightenment.

You see, men are incapable of addressing the “root of the problem” until women take a drastic “illegitimate counter-reactions”—like creating a mosque for themselves in which men are neither expected, nor made explicitly welcome. And then, suddenly confronted with the possibility of a complementary space in which they do not control women (just wait, that’s coming up next in his little speech) and in which women in fact govern themselves from positions of leadership in their religious practices, without giving a toss about what men think or have to say, well—come on now, girls—maybe we can work something out after all.

In a day and age where our sisters are going everywhere, visible everywhere, active everywhere, the BEST place for them to be is in the masjid, praying to Allah, and being with fellow Muslims, and learning about their faith. Rather than believe that they should stay home, we need to contextualize our environment and ENCOURAGE our sisters to come to the most blessed places in their cities: their mosques.

Visible everywhere? Visible everywhere? It’s bad enough that we’re “going everywhere” and are—gasp!—“active everywhere,” but to top it off we’re visible everywhere! Can you believe us? Can you believe the nerve of us?

Obviously this is why we need masjids so much. For taming purposes and such.

We need to make sister’s facilities as neat and clean and well-lit and accessible as the brothers. We either put them in the same hall as the men (as was the case in the time of the Prophet (SAW), behind the men), or provide state of the art AV access to the lectures/khutbah. We need separate rooms (also with AV) for sisters with young infants so that others can also pray and listen in peace. And most importantly, we need to tell our men that it is not THEIR business (unless a family man is dealing with his own wife/daughter) how other women dress. Let the people in charge of the masjid deal with dress codes.

We need to “put” them. Because it’s we and them and my audience is still we—the men—even while I’m supposedly discussing inclusiveness. This is what every single one of my khutbas is like, so no need to go see them from the other side of the barrier. Also, it’s totally okay to bully your own wife and daughter, because you own them. And by no means are we getting rid of the dress code police in the masjid.

Frankly, in this day and age, if a sister actually comes to the masjid (rather than going shopping or watching a movie or doing any other activity), we should WELCOME her, have the sisters get to know her, and make her feel special. Her priority is not the scarf on her head but her attachment to Allah. Once she feels that attachment, the rest will follow.

Oh no. Not shopping. Not women and shopping.

Unless they’re shopping for the headscarfs after feeling The Attachment Only I Can Judge to Be Sufficient. (TM)

Our sisters in faith are our mothers, wives, and daughters.

Sure, just not their own individual people. But what else can you expect from someone who defended Abu Eesa and his atrocious sexism and racism?

These men are in positions of power and yet they’re so easily threatened by any kind of criticism, or any woman separating herself from their holy sheikhness to form her own mosque. They cannot stand to hear about it, or to be confronted about their problematic views.

He blocked me after that.
He blocked me after that.

Amusing isn’t it? For someone who wasn’t fired, he sure is still on the edge of his seat. Of course, the reason he isn’t fired–safe in his patriarchal ulema, where he is protected by men who refuse to hold him accountable and he never has to confront criticism against him, ever–is the very reason he felt smug enough to securely rub salt into the wound in the creepiest possible way.

It’s telling that oppressive, patriarchal men will stoop down to backpedal as hard as they can without losing their main oppressive, patriarchal audience as soon as a woman makes any successful attempt of forming a place without them. Luckily, they fail so transparently that it’s clear where their real interests lie: in celebrity status, catering to malestream mediocrity on matters of justice. With a touch of casual sexism masquerading as benevolence.

[click to enlarge] Did I say rape apologist? I meant rape enabler. In fact, I might have even meant rapist.
[click to enlarge] Did I say rape apologist? I meant rape enabler. In fact, I might have even meant rapist.

DID I HURT YOUR FEELINGS?

19 thoughts on “Snake in the Grass

  1. Pingback: Yasir Qadhi’s Statement on the Women’s Mosque Is Condescending to Women. | Freedom from the Forbidden

  2. Actual Anonymous

    Ukh. I bet these ‘sheikhs’ will also state how “women r much more emoshunal and less intelligenz” and its going to be an excuse to bring down the women’s only mosque.

  3. Shybiker

    You are so right. Men with traditional minds truly panic at the idea of women slipping out of their control. We see this not only in your religion but everywhere else. The phenomenon tells me: (1) how deeply sexist most men are, (2) how anxious those men are about maintaining their (perceived) control over women, and (3) how disingenuous they will be to protect their core need. Great post.

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  6. rosalindawijks

    My comments on some “gems” by mr. Qadhi:

    “And most importantly, we need to tell our men that it is not THEIR business (unless a family man is dealing with his own wife/daughter) how other women dress. Let the people in charge of the masjid deal with dress codes.

    What he basically is saying is that there is nothing wrong with judging & lecturing women about the way they dress in principle, except that it must be done by the pertinent “authority”. So it’s ok if a “family man” tells “his” daughters and wives what to wear, and that the board of the masjid lectures women about their clothes. Right.

    “Frankly, in this day and age, if a sister actually comes to the masjid (rather than going shopping or watching a movie or doing any other activity………..”

    And there comes the binary again……..as though a woman can’t enjoy shopping and going to the movies AND visiting the masjid. Because these activities are mutually exclusive. And of course, women are basically only interested in shopping, so if a woman visits the masjid, that makes her SO special……….

    And the sad & tricky thing is, if one would read this text by Qadhi, it would seem quite reasonable & positive.

    But, like my dear dad always as, there’s the text, and the subtext. The friendly-seeming words & the implications.

    The condescending tone, the way he talks about women in the third pronoun, defining women only as sisters, daughters, wives from MEN.

  7. rosalindawijks

    “Rather than worry about what various counter-reactions have been and how legal they are, I believe we need to concentrate on the root cause of the problem.”

    And here he implies that the women’s mosque isn’t “legal” and is “a problem”.

    But there is an even more troubling aspect to his rhetorics. His real problem doesn’t seem to be the fact that women are treated badly in mosques, but the “counter-reactions”, and that is why women should be treated better, and not just BECAUSE women deserve respect & equal rights in the masajid.

    “WE either put THEM……..”

    This is so condescending, so degrading that I can’t even begin to state all that is wrong with it. Something similar happened to me just today.

    I’m black and Afro-Carribean; the grandmother of my grandfather was a slave when she was a child.

    Today, I went to a homework-institute to be tutored for European Law.

    Before class started, there were a bunch of white middle-class students talking at a table, and I sat there while waiting. One of these students, a man, talked about slavery and said that in 1830, “people” (white people, ofcourse) realized that “THEY” (the enslaved Africans) “were people”.

    I sat there feeling angry and hurt, but not knowing how to express that feeling. Because by his words, I, a descendent of enslaved Africans, was relegated to the ‘THEY”.

    As though I didn’t exist, sitting there with him (and them) on that very same table. While he made his remark, he also glanced at me, swiftly, as though he was searching for some kind of validation from me. I returned his glance, but didn’t say a word.

    This is what a micro-agression is like, in this case, a racist one, and Qadhi does the very same thing in his article.

  8. rosalindawijks

    Come to think of it, I would have had more respect for Qadhi if he simply stated wether he thinks that the women’s mosque is “(il)legal’, and why.

    But instead, he pussyfoots arround it, refuses to answer that central question, so that he will still be respected by both the conservative male crowd and also by the women who are not a proponent for a women’s mosque and female leadership, but do think that the patriarchal practises should be relaxed somewha

  9. rosalindawijks

    Oh yes, at the risk of becoming too personal, insulting and you not approving this post (Which I could understand): I hate Abu Eesas and Qadhis guts. Period.

    And it saddens me even more to see reasonable people liking & sharing their pages & posts.

  10. rosalindawijks

    Just yesterday, the 20th of April, I experienced up close & personal what happens when a woman fights gender discrimination in the masajid.

    Here is an English piece I wrote about it:

    Today, I have been bullied, threatened and intimidated by the chair man of the board of the Djame Masdjied Taibah – Moskee Taibah in Amsterdam.
    I prayed in the back in the musalla/main hall, which is also the men’s hall. I do that regularly. One of my reasons for doing that is that the womens room is dirty, dusty and that the loudspeaker doesn’t work.
    They told me not to do that before, and I have told them for years to improve the womens room. I also always greated them cortously and politely explained them why I did that, complete with ahadith from the Prophet, may Allahs blessing & forgiveness be upon him.
    Today, I started praying and one of the men there starting talking to me while I was praying. I ignored him and went further with my prayers. Then, some of them fetched the board chairman, who told me to go away. When I refused, whilst explaining him why, he started to yell “go away!” at me, while pointing at the door. When I told him I wouldn’t, he yelled at me: “You’ll see how you will be dragged away!” He even had the audacity to call the police, so I had to leave.
    But I did tell him : “You threatened me today and I’ll leave it at that, but if you touch me or ever threaten me again, I’ll file an official complaint against you.”
    The police officer sided with them immediately. Yes, he did let me and the chairman clairify our points of view, but took their side.
    Even though I know a lot about the patriarchy reigning in most mosques, and I also know about police abuses and their often siding with the status quo, I never thought they’d go this far. They chair man also told me that I wasn’t welcome in the masjid anymore.
    This is exactly the way that women are bullied out of the masjid and out of the Ummah.
    It’s bizarre actually, that a woman is removed from the mosque, because she performs prayer, the main reason for any mosque to exist anyway. But they haven’t heard the last of me, and I’m going to either file a complaint or expose them publicly, so help me God. This patriarchy and misogyny has GOT to end!

  11. rosalindawijks

    The link doesn’t work anymore, so I’ll post the full text.

    “AN OPEN LETTER ABOUT RAPE CULTURE TOLERANCE AND COMMUNITY PRIORITIES
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    Dear Absolutely Everyone in the Muslim Community:
    What does it take for our scholars, thought leaders, and community shepherds to understand that gender-based violence is a form of institutionalized oppression – one that belongs on the list of every Imam’s duas at the end of every communal prayer?
    How long does it take to get an institutional response to “jokes” made by a public scholar that perpetuate rape culture? Does the adab (Islamic etiquette) of not humiliating one man in a position of authority who has publicly made oppressive, mean-spirited statements supersede the infliction of debilitating psychological triggers and post traumatic stress (PTSD) on countless others? Does tiptoeing around an individual teacher and the institutions that he is affiliated with rise above the psychological health and safety of our communities and those who follow his guidance as his students?
    And, what does it take to stop silencing women and men who take on the necessary burden of broadening the scope of our communal priorities?
    Unfortunately, the most recent incident of a public scholar making jokes about gender based violence as an attack on International Women’s Day (the Abu Eesa incident) and the aftermath of responses and non-responses has demonstrated that a lot of work is yet to be done in order for our communities to prioritize the everyday oppression of gender-based violence and rape culture. Since this is a teachable moment, let’s get some statistics out of the way. Do not skip over this section. If we were ready to skip over the numbers, this letter would not be necessary today.
    Gender-based violence affects people of all cultures, religions and ethnic backgrounds. A survey of 801 American Muslims found that 31% reported experiencing abuse within an intimate partner relationship and 53% reported experiencing some form of domestic violence during their lifetime. (Peaceful Families & Project Sakinah 2011 DV Survey)
    Ready for some more? Every 2 minutes another American is sexually assaulted. Over 400,000 women are sexual assaulted each year in the UK. Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.*
    Here is some information on PTSD that you should probably know too. The terminology of ‘triggers’ is based on research and studies on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Behaviors and situations (including jokes about violence against women) can ‘trigger’ flashbacks to traumatic events, and other unwanted symptoms like panic attacks and the compulsion to self-harm. Research has demonstrated that these triggers can lead to people becoming incredibly socially isolated, as they attempt to protect themselves from distressing situations, experiences and behaviors. It can also lead to the voices of survivors being silenced, as taking part in discussions can be too distressing. So a single “joke” or off-color comment, can devastate a survivor or co-survivor’s ability to get through the day, to focus on their studies, to excel at work, to be engaged parents, to fulfill their roles in society. Trigger effects are not due to being overly sensitive and they are not the result of people being weak. Just like soldiers of war, survivors of rape and other forms of gender-based violence can suffer long-term neurological impacts after traumatic incidents. So in the least, joking about oppression of any sort is and should be intolerable in any professional or personal capacity.
    I would be happy to continue this teachable moment, but I’ll leave some of the fun for another day.
    **
    Now that we are all on the same page about why this is no laughing matter or the case of a bunch of overly liberal people being overly sensitive, why does this happen? What in our broader culture allows men in positions of leadership to get away with this behavior? What in our institutional structures makes our leaders prioritize institutional branding and the adab of dealing with a public individual over oppressive humor that inflicts real harm upon our own people?
    I’m happy to stand corrected, but my two cents are that so much of our institutional culture caters to giving men in positions of power what they want. At times, this is prioritized even higher than the prophetic goal of pursuing individual and societal excellence as a means of worship.
    “He was just joking. He makes other off-color jokes too. He’s normally not like that. They are just feminists. These are just words.” These were all reactions seen and heard in the aftermath of the Abu Eesa incident. Pretty quickly, one can see how the insidiousness nature of a base level tolerance gives permission to move to the next level of societal harm, one in which a woman’s worth is consistently diminished and utterly ignored. In other words, what we see here is a cultural spectrum of actions in which a fun-times-let’s-keep-it-real-for-the-young-people scholar can spew misogynist feces at thousands of followers on one end and we have the deafening apologetic silence of many of our religious and community leaders on the other end. What worries me the most is the latter end. It is the silence of our scholars and institutional leaders that implicitly encourages this entire spectrum of sickening actions to thrive and never die off.
    Chicken or the egg, either way you slice it, this is cultural sickness.
    **
    So while I don’t have enough space or energy at the moment to fully discuss how to address this cultural malaise, I can begin to address what I think are a few key points. I hope that the conversations that have been started by so many others continue to build on this very initial list of how to move forward.
    1. Community accountability and institutional responses not only matter – they are necessary.
    Community accountability has the potential to create real change. Stop using silencing words to mute critics of those who deserve admonishment. The responsibility to stand up for a community-wide harm far supersedes the public admonishment of one who made public actions. Scholars: there is an urgency to speak up and stand up. As you continue to shepherd our flocks, note that the moment is today, not tomorrow. Students and community members: demand that those that we look up to and those that we turn to for guidance educate themselves on this subject that silently impacts so many in our communities. Demand that our leaders stop being silent. As a reminder, at least 1 in 4 women that you come across today are survivors of sexual violence.
    It would be unwise of me to speak about community accountability without at least flagging a few guiding principles (note, this isn’t an exhaustive list) to keep in mind while doing this important work:
    • Women’s voices and experiences must be central to this work and to informing this work.
    • The issue of race and intersectionality matters both as co-forms of oppression and due to the fact that marginalized peoples are disproportionately affected by gender based violence.
    2. Stop joking about oppression against women.
    Making “jokes” about rape and gendered violence is a choice. Civily admonishing someone about a terrible choice made in public is not bad adab. What is bad adab is making space for the sensitivity of the one who makes rape jokes somehow equally sacred alongside women’s actual humanity and physical sanctity.
    3. Stop attacking those who are brave enough to speak up about this disgusting behavior.
    So while we’re at it, I have more experience with complex institutional strategy and organizational responses, than you have being a woman. So stop silencing me and stop silencing my esteemed sisters, who have every right to share their perspective and expect an appropriate institutional and community-based response.
    A general rule of thumb my parents taught me: if you throw vomit and feces at people, expect to receive a response. When people, particularly women, speak up in civil formats (i.e., articles, blogs, social media campaigns), they’re met with dismissal, condescension, and the sometimes implicit/sometimes explicit, message that these women are entering territory that they should keep out of. “You, evil, maniacal feminists, you’re starting an east/west fight.” “You silly bloggers, you don’t even realize the mess you’re making!” “You-Trix-are-for-kids-ladies, why are you ruining the brand of the XYZ Institute?!”. All that to say, women, you are not welcome here. That’s messed up and ridiculous. I’m not a scholar of Islam by any means, but even I know that’s not prophetic in nature and it is not the example of some of the most important women in Islamic history.
    4. More on community accountability: support grassroots campaigns that are working towards change.
    Historically speaking and currently, our broader American community has been able to effectively use grassroots social justice campaigns to make change. From the participation of Muslims in America’s civil rights struggles to more recent efforts to combat institutionalized Islamophobia, I can think of numerous instances where boycotts, social media campaigns, and other forms of grassroots actions have impacted change on a number of fronts. Similarly, we need to be willing to support more of the same strategic actions as a means to address rape culture and gender based violence.
    With all due respect, I for one, can not and will not participate in supporting an institution, other scholars, or conferences that continue to affiliate themselves with an individual who has relentlessly caused trauma and pain. Putting pressure on our own institutions and community leadership is a mechanism to shake up our communal priorities and we should not be afraid to use it.
    **
    So, my people, what does it take to shame our community into action? What keeps me hopeful is the knowledge that there are a lot of wise people out there who will keep at the struggle to address this complicated question. What I also know is, as my dear scholar sister, Yasmin Mogahed, once eloquently pointed out in a webinar on domestic violence, “Sabr (patience) is not suffering in silence.”
    * See more at rainn.org

    Samar Kaukab Ahmad is the Director of Research Strategy and Operations at the University of Chicago (Arete, Office of the Vice President for Research and National Laboratories). She is also a board member at Heart Women and Girls and the former Executive Director of Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence.”

  12. Mantaqaa

    Kinda irrelevant but just curious do you have any male scholars you do like because I do like to listen to yasir qadhi”s lectures although I don’t agree with everything

  13. Pingback: Beyonce, Sexuality, and Non-Black Muslim Women ‹ Muslimah Media Watch

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