My experience as a woman in Islam

I’d like to start this post by addressing the 3 most common absurd notions from Islamic apologists;
Muhammad was a feminist;
Islam gave women rights;
Islam honours women;
Anyone who claims to be a feminist and a Muslim, either is not very well versed in Islamic teachings with regard to women, or has a fairly (if not completely) skewed understanding of feminism. Feminism (at least by conventional definition) is the radical idea of equal rights between men and women. Whilst I no longer identify as a feminist, rather as a humanist, I believed myself a feminist when I was a Muslimah. I believed I could reconcile a modern movement (the movement of Mary Wollstonecraft et al) to a 7th century patriarchal cult.
I have Pakistani heritage, and I became accustomed to the male dominance in said culture. This arguably, isn’t solely because of Islam. However, it would be foolish and just plain wrong to claim Islam plays zero part in this culture’s view of the female sex.
I was bewildered to find out my deen; Islam, thought me inferior to a man. My testimony was worth half of a man, for the stated reason I was emotional and would forget my accusation in the face of pressure in the trial (sounds familiar to the reason for denying women the vote, no?). When I discovered my inheritance was half of a male’s, I looked again. This is rationalised as because women in Islam aren’t the instrumental breadwinners, rather the expressive homemakers. Men have to go out, earn a living whereas the woman’s job is to stay at home and mind children. When my prophet called women deficient in both intelligence and religion, I felt no sense of feminine injustice. That’s the worst thing. I accepted it. I internalised it. I believed I was inferior to men.
Qua’ran 4:34. Wife beating. I thought if my husband disciplines me, I would deserve it. I would plan never to make him upset with me. It’s sick, as if a wife has an obligation to be the silent bearer of her husband’s anger. I would have blamed myself for any sin I committed, any action that triggered rage and pummels of assault.
The male’s pride and sense of family honour rested on female chastity and modesty in my family. If we were kept away from males, properly covered in our hijab, there’d be no issue. Otherwise our fathers would scream and a few short slaps here and there would have to be dealt out. We embarrassed him in front of the entire family, he said. We used to share hidden makeup, do each other’s hair, and spray each other with perfume. Always, always without the men, as if they had caught us, we would have been in huge trouble… disobedient women that we were 😉
I couldn’t even wear perfume outside my bedroom as, as my dear Muhammad had said: a woman who walks past men with perfume on is in her heart; a fornicator, as she draws male attention upon herself. I couldn’t adorn myself. I wasn’t even allowed in the vicinity of males, for fear of Shaytan tempting both parties into wickedness. As soon as ‘my’ family came, I was bundled upstairs into my room. My father would tell me the day before, at what exact time.
And this is not unIslamic either. Muhammad prohibited females being in the company of unrelated men and said the devil is the third companion. I couldn’t go out of the house without my father, my precious mehram. Everything I’d do was accompanied by him. Yet again, Islamic. Muhammad said a woman shouldn’t travel without their mehram (ostensibly for our own safety).
I resented the male hold over my life. I grew to believe I was disgusting and repulsive. I loathed anything and everything feminine about myself, my breasts, my thighs etc. I couldn’t be around any unrelated male company and was forced to end my friendships. I was utterly alone in a female segregated environment. No male gaze touched me except for my father’s for a long, long time. The misogyny spewing from his mouth was filthy. That he would ‘offer’ me (a feminist religion? Bah!) to some pious Muslim boy, who would treat me well. I recoiled.
I wasn’t an object; neither was I a source of shame. I resented my brother, who had much more in the way of rights and freedoms than I. I begin to wish I could be male. I started being ‘trained up‘ as a housewife. I’d settle into a routine of cleaning, cooking, wiping, reading maghrib, sometimes on the kitchen floor. I washed up so many times my hands started to weep and bleed. My back hurt and body bruised. Yet I’d still be a faithful slave to Allah and crawl to esha (the latest of the five prayers expected each day).
It was then the topic of marriage came up recurrently. I was only a mere 15 years old, but I was betrothed to my first cousin, a mite older than me. I confess, I didn’t like him at all. I found cousin marriage repulsive, as it was a big problem, and it was *rampant*in our family. I knew it caused genetic deformities. I was betrothed to him, and when I left school at the tender age of 16, I would marry. My children’s names were already decided. I was forbidden from attending university by my father. Only by my husband’s leave would I be allowed to attend.
Are you uncomfortable, yet? Here’s a sensitive subject. The Islamic sanction of marital rape is a thing. Islam sanctions marital rape, by way of numerous ahadeeth by the prophet Muhammad himself. I refer to such poison like saying if a husband invites his wife to bed, and she refuses him and invites her husband’s fury, the angels shall curse her until the morning. I was told the only valid excuse for not consenting to sex was if the wife was on her period, which Islam deems as a curse. I was asexual then, and thought of nothing less repulsive than sex. I couldn’t risk going to hellfire. And as stupid as it sounds, I couldn’t and wouldn’t let the angels curse me. I would have let my husband force sex with me. I would tell my Muslim friends over WhatsApp regularly how scared I was. And how I’d think he’d have no compunction about raping me.
Islam made me a nothing. I was a man’s puppet, a pawn, a toy, an object, a slave, a plaything. I was purely for my husband’s amusement and pleasure to be cast aside when no longer interesting. I believed I was weak, fit only to bear children and look after my *dear, dear* husband. To claim in any way, that Islam honours women, is a mark of pure ignorant stupidity. There can be no way around this fact.
Would you let your daughter adopt Islam?

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6 thoughts on “My experience as a woman in Islam

  1. It is indeed hard to view Islam’s treatment of women in a positive light when the Qur’an permits a man to strike his wife (or wives) and to have sex with captured women. As regards humanism and feminism, my own take is that humanists are also proud feminists as we won’t tolerate the suppression of half of the human race, so why not wear the Venus symbol alongside the Happy Human!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This article should be compulsory reading for young women everywhere – Muslim and non-Muslim, lest the latter believe the apologists’ propaganda. I have often wondered why many women don’t question their subordination in Islam, your piece goes a way to explaining this, showing how fear, indoctrination of terrifying beliefs of the consequences of noncompliance, may suppress such. People of conscience must challenge the oppression of Islam.

    Like

  3. Hi I’m an atheist from South America. Where are you from? Were you able to get free? to live your country or family? I would like to know if you are safe now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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