“Feminism … sigh — feeling annoyed” I posted

What is so annoying about Feminism? 🙂

Please elaborate

Commenting so I get notice of your (much awaited) clarification.

These are a few comments I got when I posted on Facebook. I then elaborated more on why I feel annoyed by feminism. In a few points I said:

  • Advocating for women’s rights is an Islamic value. There is no question about that. As a matter of fact, the long surah in the Quran that talks–almost entirely–about “justice” is called “Women”, and in which you can see a lot of advocacy for women’s rights. I also acknowledge that women throughout history have been deprived from so many of their rights. That is actually one of the reasons Islam “appears” to be advocating for women’s rights more than men’s.
  • However, feminism as being practiced is a little different. Whether intentionally or not, it depicted a picture of two fighting parties: men and women. The former is trying to abuse the latter while the latter is fighting (the former) for their rights. Men subscribed to this battle as well. So instead of men and women working together to better themselves, their families, and the society; they partook in a life-long fight.
  • Instead of men and women being partners in this life, they became, kind of, enemies. This enmity penetrated the family. As a consequence, you find a husband and wife fighting on irrelevant issues JUST because of this created enmity.
  • It became a legacy to inherit. So, instead of moms and teachers educating the girl how to be good to their husbands, they teach them how to NOT TO LOSE THE BATTLE to their husbands.
  • Many virtues were lost in the process. While liberating women from the abuse they were going through, feminism liberated–or attempted to liberate–them from every quality they had, even if vitreous. So in the process of giving women their rights to learn and advance their career, building the family and taking care of children have been put down. In the process of giving women their full personality they took away their attachment to the husband, something very needed to the wellbeing of the family. In the process of instilling good qualities like confidence and dignity, other good qualities like humility and softness have been taken away.
  • In many cases, educated and smart women are told they are given opportunities JUST to fill diversity vacuum even though they deserve the position based on their mere qualifications.
  • Abusive men became more abusive. Feminism never stopped them. It only created another kind called abusive women. We may soon see another movement called “masculism”.
  • It has become very silly when you ask about your boss’ new assistant who has always been a female by saying “What is her name?” and you get a silly comment like “why are you saying ‘her’?” At the same time, we are OK with the bellman. Just silly …
  •  And as an outcome, women have been loaded with more responsibilities; as a price of being treated as a man, she must take care of her own affairs, make living, struggle to raise her kids. The concept of men taking care of their daughters, sisters, wives and moms has begun to disappear.

The intent of this post is to explain why I am annoyed, no more no less.

Upset from your brother?

Often times, when we work together, conflict happens. The more we work, the more we go through conflicts. Even when the work is the kind of work that we do to please Allah, convey His Message, or serve His creation. Even though we only seek His pleasure and follow His orders, conflicts happen. These conflicts, sometimes tense, cause damage to our brotherhood, our unity, and our ability to achieve goals. These conflicts serve as a black hole sucking all our energy and causing us to fail. These conflicts, when they reach that point, are the main reason of failure and being powerless as Allah mentions in the Qur’an.

Here is a story for us to reflect on.

A man that I know have two boys. They both play for the school team. Playing for the school team is serious. It is no fun. You go for practice everyday, you have to be there on time, you have to practice so hard, and you have to WIN!. These two boys got in a conflict. Although simple, it resulted in a little “don’t talk to me anymore” kind of attitude. In the morning of a practice day, one of them woke up to prepare for the practice and because they do not talk to one another, he did not wake his brother up. When it is time to leave, the boy asked his dad to give him a ride to the practice. His dad asked: “Where is your brother?” He said, “He is asleep!” “Why didn’t you wake him up?” The dad asked. The boy answered, “It is not my responsibility. He should take care of himself.” The dad went to his other kid, who was fast asleep, and woke him up. It took the kids some time to get ready and finally they both went to the practice, well, late for 15 minutes.

My reflection on the story is what would the kids tell their coach when he asks them, “Why are you late?” They are BOTH late. They are BOTH in trouble. They BOTH failed to come on time. They may be very well excluded, BOTH, from the next game.

Similarly, what are we going to tell Allah when he asks us about our effort? “Why did not you make progress on this issue? Why did you fail to deliver on this project? Why did this work fail after it was very successful? Why were you so powerless? Why were you so weak?”

The answer, “We were in conflict,” is not an acceptable answer.


I had a meeting with myself …

I had a meeting with myself, I examined it, I looked into its attributes and description, I found it as follows*,**:

  1. It likes to rest, it is lazy, and it hates to put effort. It misses a lot on doing good deeds, it pays less or no attention to praying in the masjid, or reading Qur’an, or doing optional deeds
  2. It always finds excuses to quit doing good things. It always convinces me to relax and procrastinate
  3. It has tons of wishes, hopes, and dreams; I examined those dreams and found them related to this life and what is in it
  4. It does not feel content with what Allah destined for it and it always looks to what is in the hands of other people
  5. It fears to proclaim the truth, and stays away from the trouble of enjoining the good and forbidding the evil
  6. It gets bored very quickly and has no stamina to bear difficulties and challenges
  7. It is very curious and likes to ask and get involved in that which does not benefit it or concern it.
  8. It really likes having fun, lots of fun, and wasting time. It laughs a lot and kids a lot.
  9. It hates to serve other people and loves it when others serve it
  10. It becomes extremely excited when people praise it and feels sad when it is criticized
  11. It gets angry when when injured by a word and gets proud when it defeats whoever hurts it
  12. It commands me to argue, it loves it when it wins the argument, and it wishes that those who argue against it make mistakes
  13. It resists me so much when I want to apologize or admit my mistakes
  14. It drives me to manipulate the discussion and speak a lot about it and its achievements
  15. It always makes me realize other people’s faults and pitfalls, and drives me to correct it ONLY to look better and higher
  16. It fears poverty so much and commands me to be miserly and discourages me a lot from spending in charitable causes
  17. It hastes to making decisions and pays no attention to consequences
  18. It follows its emotions and leaves no room for the mind to work
  19. ….

* A mock analysis presented in the MAS-NY tarbiya camp while discussing self discipline and self control.

** “Let us start by ourselves,” Majdi Al-Hilali, link here

A little thing I learned from the Muslim Brotherhood

The performance of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Egyptian political scene right now is one of the most controversial subjects I have personally experienced. Social media sites as well as formal newspapers and their internet sites mention the word Brotherhood more than anything else. Google trends shows a very interesting graphs when you compare words like ‘Egypt’ and ‘Brotherhood.’ You can spend 5 minutes in front of your own Facebook news feed and you will find everything: from extreme praise to frustrated criticism. But in general, the criticism is far more prominent and, intrinsically, louder.

I was thinking this morning about the feelings of those members of the Brotherhood. They have been suffering under the military rule more than anyone else. They have been attacked by not only local media but probably international media. After the revolution, nothing has changed. They may have gotten out of jail, yet, the media attacks continued to be the same, only in a much bigger magnitude. Just to make the reader focus on the main message behind this post, there may very well be a bad performance issue on behalf of the Brotherhood themselves. They may have to get better in many of what they do. They may have done severe political mistakes (and to some even moral mistakes). However, this is not the issue I want to talk about. I also do not want to talk about their critiques. They may very well have good points to make.

I was thinking this morning about the massive criticism these guys are going through especially after suffering years in jail, with their strong belief they are doing this for the sake of God, their people, their country, and the greater good. I asked myself, “What in it for these guys? Why do they have to go through all these things? Maybe people in this country do not deserve their effort? Maybe they should just retreat and go find something else to do?” I have to say that I sympathize a lot with them. I attribute most of what I know about Islam and about voluntarily work to their teachings, both from books and in person. I wouldn’t stand it if I was in their place. “I would have exploded” I said.

While in this frustrated situation, I recalled some of those Muslim Brotherhood people I interacted with when I was young. I remember, that is probably close to 20 years ago, when I was just a young graduate student making I3tikaf in one of the Masjids in my neighborhood when I met one of the well-known members of the Muslim Brotherhood (who is a member of the people’s council of Egypt). Sub7ana Allah, I asked him this question in a public lecture he was giving to the several dozens of people who were at the i3tikaf, “Why do you have to help this country? What is in it for you? This country bashed you, put you in jail, demoralized you, oppressed you, etc. etc. Why do you have to do that?”

I can’t forget his answer. It was quite obvious but it wasn’t obvious to me, at least at the time. He said, “When Youssuf (pbuh) was thrown in jail for a crime he never committed, and, when the very same people who threw him in jail came to him and asked him to help interpreting the dream of the king, he realized, by the knowledge given to him by God, that this dream foresees a huge disaster for the area, a famine that will harm not only Egypt but a whole region. [what a a long sentence!] Youssuf did not say, ‘you do not deserve my help.’ He did not say, ‘get me out of jail first and I will tell you.’ Not only did he warn them from the disaster but also suggested solutions of how to overcome it.”

It was only a little while enjoying Prophet Youssuf’s high quality character when he forgave those who committed injustice to him. It took me only a couple of seconds to say, “They, TOO, did not deserve help. It was out of Youssuf generosity to help them. I would have left them starving. They deserve it.”

The brother, with a little annoying* big brother smile on his face said, “What Youssuf did is not out of generosity. Rather, it was out of obligation towards the people, the people of Egypt and the people of the whole area.” He added, “The people of Egypt did not put Youssuf in jail. The people of Egypt did not put us in jail. Famine is going to harm innocent people who had nothing to do with harming Youssuf. We have an obligation towards our people and this obligation does not drop by an oppressive government putting us in jail. We do not do that out of generosity. We do that out of duty. Youssef had no choice but to help; and so do we.”

He finally shut me off by simply saying, “YOU had nothing to do with putting us in jail. Why shouldn’t we help you?”

Now as I see him on TV, getting the same criticism I remembered his last question, “YOU had nothing todo with putting us in jail. Why shouldn’t we help you?” I say to my self, “You sure did dear teacher! You sure did!”

* annoying to a young person who does not want to lose an argument especially by a person older than him. 🙂

Content Ever After

This article is written by Dr. Imad Bayoun. It is published on our blog by his permission. It is a must read

Those involved in family counseling (or family problems themselves) notice some recurrent complains:  “She doesn’t like to …”“he doesn’t like to talk”“he doesn’t spend enough time in…”

While some of the problems are real, sometimes these complains can be translated as “she’s not like Sr. X“he doesn’t treat me the way Br. Y treats his wife”, “she doesn’t look like Sr. Super-Z, and so on.

And one thing is certain: comparisons are the biggest killers of happiness.  One sure way to destroy your happiness is by comparing with others, who seem to have more.  Allah (S) say in Surat Taha, verse 131:

ولا تمدن عينيك الى ما متعنا به ازواجا منهم

And strain not your eyes in longing for the things We have given for enjoyment to various groups of them

What others have, always seems more appealing.  While what we have may be satisfactory, once we start comparing, we will always find someone who has it “better.”  Then what we have is not even acceptable anymore.  It becomes bad, even terrible, in comparison. We may even stop seeing the good things we have over other people, focusing on the “better” THEY have and failing to see the “better” that WE have.

We always compare because we’re always looking for the ideal in everything; in this case, the ideal spouse, the soul-super-mate (SSM).  And this is strengthened by over-exposure to so many ideal love stories and cute romantic comedies in books and movies. They show us that everyone, after some adventures, ends up finding his SSM and living happily ever after.  Thus, we reach a point where we think these ideals are indeed the norm, and anything short of that is not acceptable.  We think “the one, for me, for me, formidable” (as narrated by Aznavour), is somewhere out there, waiting for me.  She/he actually exists, and is easy to find.  Nothing less will be acceptable.

Then every time we meet someone (even if the Halal way), we hope he/she is the One.  So we project all of our heavy dreams, baggage and furniture over the poor person.  We expect them to be that which they are not.  Then we get married and discover the true person. We divorce. Then we repeat the same cycle, living miserably ever after.

While some people actually find their SSM, most people don’t (including the actors in those movies), yet still can live happily.  Omar Al-Farooq (R) said: Love is not the only component for building successful families (ليس بالحب وحدة تبنى البيوت).  Happiness can still be achieved with someone short of the ideal spouse.  The key is to accept what one has.  A beautiful Arabic proverb says: Contentment is a treasure that never perishes (القناعة كنز لا يفنى).  If a person is content with a difficult situation, he will be happy; if he’s discontent with a good situation, he will never be happy.

Here are a few things that could help:

  1. Stop watching those romantic comedies.  Most of those stories are more ‘fiction’ than Avatar.
  2. Remember, you’re not perfect yourself, even if your mother thinks you are.
  3. Get to know your wife/husband as they are, not as you wish for them to be.  Each person has his/her individuality, and if you accept them as they are, you may find someone very beautiful.  Put an effort to discover your other half, without any prior judgment.  But essential for that, is…
  4. … not to criticize them, and to make them feel uncomfortable.  When people feel they’re constantly monitored and evaluated, they act very sloppy and awkward, and could never blossom, and show their beauty.
  5. Do not define her by her shortcomings.  In a Hadeeth narrated by Abu Hurairah in Sahih Muslim, our Prophet (S) said: “لا يفرك مؤمن مؤمنة إن كره منها خلقا رضي منها آخر” “A believing man would never feel repulsed by his believing wife; if finds something about her that he dislikes, he will always find something else about her that satisfies him.”
  6. Keep in mind that Mr/Mrs-Super-Perfect DOES NOT exist.  But then what about Khadija (R), she was perfect and real, wasn’t she?  Yes, she was real, for someone like the Prophet (S).  It won’t be fair to hold that perfect woman as the minimum acceptable standard, that unless my wife is like her, she wouldn’t good enough.  Khadijah was indeed the Maximum, the best a woman can be.  The Prophet (S) said four women attained perfection.  Only Khadijah, among them was married to a prophet.  In a Hadeeth narrated in the Musnad, the Prophet (S) said Allah sent 124,000 Prophets, yet only one of the perfect women was married to a prophet.  So 123,999 prophets had less-than-perfect wives.  Some, like the great Prophets Nuh and Lut (S), even had bad wives.  Something to think about.
  7. Have Taqwa of Allah in whatever you do, and keep in mind His reward.  Omar (R) said: We found the joy of our life in the patience (Sabr).
  8. And just to make it easier on others, if you are blessed with a great husband/wife, then a million Al-Hamdulillah.  Just don’t make it difficult on the others, by continuously telling them how great, perfect, wonderful and ideal your wife/husband is.
  9. Finally, if I still feel a compulsion to compare, then I should compare with those that have less.  The Prophet (S) said to compare with those that have less, “it makes it easier for you to appriciate the blessings of your Lord.”

I ask Allah (S) to give us the clarity and strength to accept all that He decrees, and to place our happiness in it. Ameen

Imad Bayoun

December 22, 2010