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Islamic Feminism: The Feminism I Relate To

21 March 2011 6 Comments

Lana Abu Ayyash

Lana Abu Ayyash

A Jordanian woman leader reflects on her path to Islamic feminism, including how she founded Sister Power, the online social network for Muslim women.

***

I have always been interested in women’s rights. I remember reading hardcore feminist literature at 12 years old and writing about women’s rights at 17.

Why?

I cannot say it’s entirely because I was opposed to how women were treated in our society. Nor can I claim that I was brought up in a traditional Islamic household and that did it for me. This interest or passion, if you will, was always just there as part of who I am.

Early on, I rebelled against my traditions, religion, and everything else I could think of. Looking back to those years I can see that I did everything except read and educate myself about the very same tradition and religion that I declared war against.

In the year 2000, I was living in Canada and attending women’s studies classes at the University Of Western Ontario. As much as I loved it, I felt somehow foreign. The material we discussed was something I couldn’t relate to entirely – even though at the time I considered myself a secular agnostic. I felt that my roots and my traditions were calling to me.

I began a crusade to understand who I was, where I came from, what I want, what is Islam, and who was Muhammad.  I wanted to understand the issue of women in Islam—a subject that has always provoked me. I began to read the Quran—something I never did when I was advocating against the Quran.

After several years I became convinced that Islam was what I was looking for. It is who I am and it is the “type” of feminism that I understand and can relate to.

I found my calling.

I began a study of Islamic law and philosophy. I became a full time researcher on women’s rights in Islam. I started meeting with women several times a week, giving lectures at times, and writing articles. The more deeply I dug into our tradition the more I was saddened by the bad reputation the tradition has.

In 2008, I started a social network for Muslim women called SisterPower.net. It is a place where, as Muslim women, we can interact, share ideas, express our feelings, and voice our concerns.

I am a feminist, and will always be.  But now I realize that feminism, freedom, and liberty have many faces and comes in many different and rich colors.

***

To learn more about Islamic feminism, go to these sites:

www.sistersinislam.org.my

feminijtihad.com

In Search of What Islam Really Says

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6 Comments to “Islamic Feminism: The Feminism I Relate To”
  1. [...] My article on  http://www.peacexpeace.org [...]

  2. Roxanne says:

    What a phenomenal story on a topic that raises so many questions. Thank you for telling it, Lana, and thank you for bringing it to us, PeacexPeace.

  3. irit says:

    Thank you for sharing your story, Lana.
    I’ve looked onto your site and am sure to be back there it is so interesting to get knowing new points of view about subjects -especially of the ones I know so little .

  4. Sarah says:

    Thank you Lana for sharing..
    one of the biggest mistakes a one can make is to have queations-doubts- in your mind and leave them there without looking for an answer..and i admire your search

  5. Natasha Latiff says:

    Hi Lana,

    I felt so warm in my heart when I read this post. It has so much of your personality which even I feel I could relate to. The work and research you do is tied in so much with my work as well. I hope we will be able to speak just so I can learn more about your journey into feminism and what you are doing to impact its discourse.

    Love,

  6. Lana says:

    Thank you all for reading .. i am honored

    Natasha … i would like that we get in touch to share ideas and thoughts :)

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