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About The SitealtMuslimah (altM) is a web magazine wholly dedicated to commentary and stories about gender-and-Islam. Left to right: Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Jihad Saafir, Imam Sohaib Sultan (moderator), Professor Atiya Aftab, Ustada Tammy Elmansoury. On Saturday, November 14, 2015, altMuslimah (“altM”) and the Princeton Muslim Life Program co-hosted the symposium, Muslim Masculinity in an Age of Feminism. Oftentimes, when Muslims, and others of other faiths, read the Qur’an, especially in translation, they will constantly come across God as being referred to as “He.” Oftentimes, there are passages in the Qur’an that are very male-driven, or they might seem to be addressing men in particular, and maybe even sometimes, to the exclusion of women. Quite simply, God has no gender, according to the understanding of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Because the Arabic language does not have a gender-neutral pronoun, what winds up happening is that there are some words that actually use ?? [hiwa], which is for female, like ??? [ardh], which is earth, becomes ??.
When you say ??, it is nothing other than a marker that points to the divine essence and speaking of God as creator.
What I mean by that is that in order to truly understand the fabric of reality, the true nature of creation for a Muslim, that you have to understand something about both the majestic and the beautiful names of God.
Archetypally speaking, the majestic attributes of God are gendered as male, and the beautiful attributes of God are gendered as female. You could refer to things as being gendered in creation, such as the rain, in relation to the earth.
If you look at The Father, for instance, The Father is active in relation to his own children, but he is passive in relation to his parents.
If we understand [this] then, we also understand in a teleological sense that the creation of the human being, and what is the whole purpose? If we approach it from this, I think it gives us a very nice framework that we can understand that it’s not as simple as people might think it to be, then to just write it off as being misogynistic. The means of this revelation was that there was actually a number of men who had made a covenant with the Prophet, that they would fight with him in battle. Finally, the last nuance, which I think is really important to recognize in this regard, is that when we understand the human being itself, and this is why you really have to unpack [this topic]. What is feminism? Even beyond all of that, how does the spirit, from a religious perspective, relate to gender? The spirit is really, this is the quest that is informed how we get here in this world, which relates to that pre-earthly realm of all spirits being the presence of God. Then, I came across a survey that was done by Huffington Post which surveyed 5,000 men in a particular younger age demographic. I think the issue that we will have in this day and time is really translating a healthy formation of masculinity that is viable for this particular day and time. When I think about the masculinity of the Prophet [peace be upon him], things that come to mind, the narrative when the bedoin were surprised to see the Prophet [peace be upon him] that he kissed the boys. To even talk about this, we would have to have a conference, perhaps, to make a paradigm shift in my culture. I think the Prophet [peace be upon him], in his example, is teaching me that yes, I can hug my son. I can have affection and hug the boys in the community without being placed in this box as being attracted to little boys.
Another example that stands out is when the Prophet [peace be upon him], his son was passing away, and he began to cry. The Prophet [peace be upon him], when I think about his masculinity, I think about Aisha, who she describes the Prophet [peace be upon him] [as such]: His wife drunk water from a cup, and in grabbing the cup, he deliberately found the place, the location in which she drunk, and he drunk from that same location. When I think about the example of the Prophet [peace be upon him], first of all, it’s rescuing this interpretation from systems of oppression, from oppressive interpretations, and bringing it into a more practical means of masculinity. When we talk about masculinity, or any discussions in gender, we try to emphasize spiritual maturity over physical maturity. So many different examples that I could give you, we could be here all day talking about them. In these moments, we see that Prophet [peace be upon him], he is not ashamed, or feel it is beneath him, to express emotions, to express weakness. We know from the very first minutes of revelation, the Prophet [peace be upon him], he depended on the comfort of his wife, Khadijah. Even before we get to that, we can look at even the Prophet [peace be upon him], he was the best teacher.
Imam Sohaib: We talk about the Prophet, peace be upon him, and how he conceived of masculinity. When you look at the tradition, the intimate portraits of the Prophet, peace be upon him, there’s an entire chapter about the modesty of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
Oftentimes, we think of modesty as something for women. In reality, modesty is just as important for men. One of the descriptions that just completely blows my mind, is that the Prophet, peace be upon him, was more modest than a virgin woman in her tent. Professor Atiya, I wanted to ask you that when you think about the Prophet, peace be upon him, and you think about the Prophetic community, did the Prophet insist that men and women should be of one type? I can’t begin without really acknowledging the crisis of the Islamic civilization right now. There is a distinction between my role as a woman, my role as a mom, as a daughter, as a wife. At the same time, for every man in the room, as it states in the Qur’an, Maryam was sent as a sign and a role model for everybody in humanity, not just for women. I think we forget that. This was radical, 1,400 years ago, for the word of God to say: your example is a woman for the patriarchal culture of the Arab community of that time. We had women who took the roles of being warriors, we had women who took the roles of taking in asylum, like a political position. Shaykh Yahya: I believe that we have a very serious problem within the Muslim community in that joining between what we would term within the ranks of Islam is the outward dimension of religion, as opposed to the inward dimension of religion. That’s the beauty of what we believe about the Prophet Muhammad is that he is a universal prophet.
What we need to promote is a very balanced understanding of how the outward relates to the inward, and to reiterate that most beautiful point that was mentioned is that there is not a monolithic way of being a Muslim; there are multiple expressions. This is the strength and the beauty of the teachings of the Prophet that [it] allows for that.
Imam Sohaib: Atiya, you had talked about this idea that undoubtedly, the Prophet, peace be upon him, and the Qur’anic revelation came in a time of patriarchy. Professor Atiya: As Muslims, we are carriers of Islam in this country, and all over the world. About four weeks ago Aziz Ansari in one of his sold out shows in Houston, broached the topic of our social etiquette in modern-day social media obsessed world. Social media, while giving us a glamorous snapshot of someone’s life through a string of bubbly status updates and photo-shopped albums, discredits our own feelings of self-worth and belonging– if we let it.
But let me rewind to 2008. That year my new husband and I moved across the country to Houston. Between my husband taking on yet another Master’s degree and me diving into work,the first few months of married life were a blur. I tried networking through various sites such as Muppies and local Meetup groups and came upon a few Pakistani American women who introduced me to their circle of friends.
Fast forward six years and two kids later– those initial conversations about developing our careers, raising kids and belonging to a community all remain relevant. Sadia Khan is a marketer, writer and mother who resides in Houston by way of New York and Washington, D.C. Whosoever has spared the life of a soul, it is as though he has spared the life of all people. O well.the right to judge is definitely not mine but neither is it her right to simply justify something that she has done which is clearly WRONG.
The day-long symposium explored how Muslim men of various backgrounds are defining manhood and responding to pushes for gender equality and dismantling of patriarchy. Viewers and audience members could follow the conversation on Twitter with #MuslimMasculinity. Left to right: Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Imam Jihad Saafir, Imam Sohaib Sultan (moderator), Professor Atiya Aftab, Tammy Elmansoury. The Sunnah of the Prophet had an objective reality to it, but every Muslim will have a subjective relationship to it. What does it say about what we value as community when women can access so many other things but not mosque? Traditional ideas of masculinity do not include characteristics that build relationships: empathy, vulnerability, etc. In media, men are depicted as another child that women have to deal with: incompetent fathers, incapable partners.
As many of our panelists have stated, there isn’t one Muslim masculinity, there are many Muslim masculinities.
I am an outspoken writer, Muslim American immigrant, activist and entrepreneur, the eldest of eight, unabashed feminist, jeweler, community organizer and reluctant pop culture maven living in my dream city, Washington, DC.
I work as a social media associate at a media production company and write on a number of women’s rights, culture and Muslim American issues for a variety  of news outlets, and every time a piece is published, I experience a rush of life and courage.
I was born in Denmark to Syrian and Danish parents, and spent the first six  years of my life  in Japan. I attended Wellesley College, an all-women’s college, which was one of the best decisions I made in my life, and one of the most difficult journeys I undertook. I used to think I was destined for psychology academia, but realized that my passion for the Muslim American community was not something I would be happy relegating to weekend Saturday Schools and weeknight halaqas. I am younger than most of my peers, although I have never lived life looking at potential friendships and collaborations by way of binary age. I stand up for the voiceless, and am fierce to defend those and that which I believe in, without regard for personal cost. I tend to laugh at anything remotely humorous, and have a habit of laughing hysterically at my own jokes, even if everyone around me is straightfaced.
I enjoy collecting quotes and bits of poetry that speak to me, to  keep on colorful post it notes around my home.
I struggle with letting go of control, and that is especially difficult when I am in a new or uncomfortable situation. In writing, there can come a constriction and pressure to be “better,” but this betterment can be internalized as the struggle to compare yourself to another writer you deem on a higher level. It is so easy to feel as though we are overburdened beyond our capacity, particularly in working for the betterment of the community. I’m constantly finding new people that inspire and push me, but my original role models were the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and Aisha (RA). She taught me to be unapologetically myself, and to go after what I want, regardless of how afraid or uncomfortable I might be. I would tell her to love all her quirks and imperfections, and to keep shining bright regardless of what those around her said, because the future was not as far away as she felt and childhood only happens once.
My biggest hope for my future children is that they never stop questioning and trying to understand the world around them, and that they are gifted with the joy of life and the ability to see happiness amidst the world’s roughness.
We all go through varieties and magnitudes of struggles throughout our lives that change us in ways we did not expect or, at the time, want.
I have also struggled with depression for a number of years, and that ongoing trial, complete with its ebbs and flows, has imbued in me the understanding that empathy is perhaps one of the greatest characteristics we can have as individuals, and that with every hardship, truly comes ease. Although there are some instances in my life I believe I could have done or been more than I was, I don’t believe in attaching regret to memories or decisions. I always make sure to carve out time in my schedule to reflect, whether that be while listening to music on the way home from work or in the early morning. I recognize I have a long way to go before I can truly affect real change, but right now, I work to create understanding and questions where none were before through my articles and public outreach work.
When talking about the Muslim woman’s obligation to cover, I have heard community leaders stress that a Muslim woman should think of herself as an ambassador of our community.
Now, if we lived in a society like 19th century Victorian America, a Muslim woman covering her head would have hardly raised an eyebrow. Without stressing that our men begin dressing in a way that does identify them as members of our community, the burden that our women carry is way too heavy. Without sharing this burden with our women, we are making our women’s lives outside the home very difficult.
When our women are out there in their scarves, it becomes easy to wonder if this is a community of hidden males.

When a Muslim woman in a scarf is coming out into public and she is totally exposed, the man is now in hijab.
Getting the men into the dress issue is extremely important; we should have items of dress that we want our men to wear too. This is something that the men should be blamed for because we are physiologically and psychologically different. And in acknowledging the fact that men and women are different and have different strengths, it is important to remember that men and women are equal in rights, men and women are equal in nobility, men and women are equal in spiritual capacity but we are very different.
The Catholic Church in France has warned against government plans to ban full veils on Muslim women in the country, urging mutual respect between faiths.
He said very few women in France wore full veils and Muslim leaders agreed it was not obligatory in Islam, according to the Mail.
A parliamentary commission last week urged the National Assembly to pass a non-binding resolution condemning full veils and then work out a law banning them.
If Paris passed a law, Santier said, “the result could be the opposite of what is desired and lead to a reaction that increases the number of women wearing this garment.
So a woman is no longer in a state of hijab when she goes out in public wearing the head scarf? This item of clothing almost seems, according to the interviewee, to pull one away from the state of privacy prescribed by Allah…could the writer please clarify? What is clear from the interview is that the purpose of the head scarf is NOT to put a woman in harm’s way, but to protect her.
Several non-Muslim religious men sport beards-examples would be Orthodox Jews or Amish Christians among many others. Obviously, if we are ordered to draw our head coverings over our breasts we have to be wearing a head cover in order to fulfill the command. Middle-Schooler Accused of Threatening Muslim Student and Calling Him "Son of ISIS"The student will be writing a letter of apology to his classmate and may face expulsion from the school.
I want to ask, in a provocative way, without wanting to be disrespectful, but I think this is an important conversation, many people have asked me this. When you say ?? [huwa], which is the Arabic word for “he,” it is a non-gender-specific noun.
Everything, in a sense, that is either a manifestation of a beautiful name of God, or a majestic name of God.
If we get beyond what we normally take, in a secular sense, as markers of our identity, to a religious realm of the spirit. Even though we believe in that physical bliss in the natural world as well, but ultimately, the greatest pleasure of all is the pleasure of the spirit. That’s the masculinity that I see portrayed by the Prophet [peace be upon him], which, in turn, it teaches me how to be romantic in my relationship.
I had to transition from being a product of that into a Muslim masculinity, which was a difficult transition.
Ustada Tammy, I wanted to follow up on this by asking you what are some of the ways in which, from your study of hadith, that the Prophet [peace be upon him] challenged notions of masculinity in his time? Thank you to Imam Sohaib, and also to Asma for putting together this important conversation. We look at those he taught, look at the companions and see what kinds of lessons we get from that. Or, did he have the capacity to embrace different types of femininities and different types of masculinities in his midst? If any of you have any connection with the news, you know what I’m talking about specifically. We know that Umar ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be at peace with him, was also somebody who we knew who was very strong, stood for justice. How he can simultaneously be sent to a patriarchal society that, geographically, at least in the minds of people at the time, is an insignificant place, but at the same time, be a universal prophet.
What’s important is to always focus on those two aspects, the outward and the inward. I think that’s very frustrating for dialectical Western thinkers who are thinking in very strict ways of thesis, anti-thesis, and synthesis. At the same time, it caters to the natural disposition, which might be the majority, but it allows for multiple expressions that can then, even at a particular juncture or geographical place in history, it allows for a very different expression at a very different juncture in history and geographical place. Now, when we think about masculinity, gender dynamics, and the understanding and implementation of the Sharia in our own personal lives and communal formations, how do we think about these things, given that those were patriarchal times?
I couldn’t help but uproariously laugh at some of the scenarios Ansari threw out, but his jokes also left me thinking seriously about  how the way in which we create and maintainfriendships has changed.
On our days off, he tried to arrange lunches and dinner with his friends, most of whom were perfectly nice, but I couldn’t necessarily envision a lifelong relationship with them. The heady days of social media sites were before us and they only exacerbated my wistful frame of mind.
Through these ladies, I did meet some of the women and families I still keep in touch with today, but even these friendships didn’t blossom the way I had hoped.  I was expecting these relationships to be free from any judgment- the kind of bonds you make when you’re in college or settling down in your first job with no strings of commitment to space, time or family. Although my son’s arrival added another wrinkle to making and sustaining friendships, it also forced me to enjoy the moments with him instead of pining for the lives other were leading.
Our social circle, while not as plentiful as I once envisioned for two extroverts, is one that is blessed and beautiful. The other felt that Ates should fall back on more than just her personal experiences when trying to persuade the reader of the imminence and importance of a sexual revolution.
The event brought together a diverse array of men and women intellectuals, religious leaders, community organizers, and social justice advocates speaking on three panels: Spirituality and Religious Authority, Relationships and Family, and Politics and Activism. Perez poses question, does it matter that the jurisprudential schools were established by men? I graduated a year earlier than my peers, but this came about after I had  skipped a few grades (third and seventh) and held myself back a year in the eleventh grade because I had not performed as well as I would have liked in math. I am the founder and president of Coming of Faith, a social enterprise dedicated to redefining the faith narrative of Muslim American women.  Fostering a community of support, stories and celebration of the good, the bad, and the in-between has been the greatest blessing and responsibility I have been given the chance to pursue, and I am excited to see what will unfold. Yet I’ve found that it’s in the moments you embrace your insecurities and uncertainties that you become a new person, one of chances and opportunities and growth.
This only reminds me that the uniqueness of our individual experiences means that we can do more justice to our own writing as our own persons instead of attempting to emulate another being’s reality. This verse reminds me, time and again, that we are given only as much as God knows we can handle. Regardless of who I am speaking with at the moment, if there is a chance for me to sneak this into my advice-giving, I jump at the chance.
So if you go looking for me in the library, you’ll usually find me in the Young Adult section – and I still adore getting lost in the world of Harry Potter.
The Prophet was a man of his word, a true leader, and willing to speak out regardless of how the community regarded him. She fostered in me my own unique fashion sense, and pushed me out into the real world when I might have wanted to hide behind her skirt.
I would also tell her to place more value in struggling with her languages, because it will become a point of regret for her in the future. However, they all happen with a purpose in mind, although we might not recognize that purpose in the moment that everything takes place. I believe everything happened for a reason, and that my growth and life journey could only continue forward if I made a few wrong decisions along the way. I spend time cuddling with my two guinea pigs and my cat, Mishi, and take breaks from the computer to create jewelry or continue my latest knitting project.
I believe in listening to what is being said, regardless of however much hatred the person is spewing, and seeking to understand where they are coming from, rather than attack them for where they seem to be. As someone who brought comfort and relief to those in need, and worked for the betterment of the Muslim American and greater American communities.
Umar Faruq Abd-Allah, Chairman of the Board & Scholar-in-Residence at the Nawawi Foundation, a non-profit educational foundation based in Chicago, Illinois. Especially at a time like this when Islam is so suspect and when ignorance about Islam and fear about Islam permeates many Western societies.
This is dangerous because we should be active in society, we need to be out there, we need to be at the table so to speak, because if we are not at the table then we are on the menu.
And what is really interesting about this point is that because some of our men are concealing their Muslim identity in public and many of our women are exposing their identity by wearing a scarf, this becomes a violation of the basic principle of hijab because the woman is very private.
When the duty of public representation of Islam is placed on our women, we are forced to deal with pressures and stresses that are often too difficult for us to bear.
We [men] are people who God created to be able to confront difficulty and to alleviate the public pressure off of our women and I think the reason this is so difficult for women is because they are out there by themselves. There are women who are not broken by this pressure, and I think that this makes for women who are very strong.
Santier regretted that the parliamentary commission did not invite Christian or Jewish leaders to give their views during the six-month-long hearings, which ended in December. By adopting someone *else’s* cultural dress, just because those clothes are from a so-called Muslim-majority ethnicity?? Also, covering the hair is found in Judaism and Christianity, so it’s not like the concept is alien to Islam. But the order specifically says to pull our head coverings so that they also cover our bosoms.
Quite clearly, there is no gender in relation to God, and what we understand from that is the principle [of the] uniqueness and the solitariness of God. He has no pair. If we are going to say, archetypally speaking, and what we mean by that is, that not absolutely, because only God is absolute.
Everything is believed that, in the realm of relativity, to have a passive-active relationship.
From this standpoint, if we approach gender and relationships on this basis, at the realm of the archetypes, and then the realm of teleology that is, is that what is the purpose of why we’re here, and what is the end result of everything what we do here in the world? The last thing that I will say on this, and hopefully provoke more conversation, is that there are certain verses in the Qur’an that refer to ???? (men), “For amongst the believers are men,” that they have been truthful to the covenant that they’ve taken with God. If there is extrinsic proof that is actually referring to all genders, then it would also apply to them specifically, but then there would be a general application as well, which indeed, in this verse, it is the case.
It really nuances the conversation gives us plenty to really look at engage, hopefully, meaningfully.
Imam Jihad, in preparation for this conversation, I was looking up the term masculinity in the dictionary.
I want to ask you that if we think of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, as being a role model for humanity and as being the master of men, are these qualities that you would associate with him?
I learned how to be a man from the example of the Prophet [peace be upon him], a man who strives to serve the community.
Also, the scholars who came after, some of the classical scholars who came after, how did they challenge some of the notions of masculinity during their time? I want to echo a few things that Imam Jihad said, just to encourage us all to root our conversation today in connecting young men and women to knowledge of Allah and the Prophet [peace be upon him], in all matters. When I think about his balance, when I think about his perfection, I think about the day he received word of the death of Zayd was killed at the Battle of Mut’ah. Think about that image, and think about the fact that when people were saying this about the Prophet [peace be upon him], they were praising him. If masculinity is defined by dominance, power, strong, alpha, control, the Muslim civilization, from many levels, is in a disastrous state. In the Qur’an, it says she’s an example for everybody in humanity, not just for women.
When we look at the community of the Prophet, and the character of the Prophet, going back to the word character, that’s what we have to look at. When it looked like the Prophet had died, when it looked like things were going sour for the Muslims, they abandoned their post. Who stood there, who’s the person who stood there with her sword and defended the Prophet? Many of us know the stories how he remembered his whole life, when he buried his daughter alive, how she touched his beard, and how he got a shovel and he killed his daughter. However, as we know, the community in Medina, there were men and women who took different roles and had different personalities, and that was considered acceptable by our Prophet. What is the role of an education of heart in developing men, and also women, who are able to embody a greater resemblance to the virtues of the Prophetic path? One of the things that you could very convincingly prove is that to the degree that we neglect what is known as the spiritual realities of the religion, there tends to be, along with that, a diminishing respect for women. How those teachings could simultaneously treat and radically, and even in a revolutionary way, reform that society, but at the same time, be a template to then also, wherever Islam spreads, which it did very quickly within 110 years, into southern France and hitting onto the borders of western China.

If we are challenging some aspects of patriarchy, at least if not the entire notion of patriarchy, then how do we relate to the Sharia in our times?
His one quip on the type of flaky people we’ve become when we wait for the next best thing to hit our inbox or social feed while ditching what is in front of us hit  close to home. I’m not suggesting that the solution lies in removing social media from your life altogether, but it is worth evaluating how much of our time Facebook, Twitter and all the rest should take up on a daily basis. I thought it would be fluid transition for me since this area was where I grew up, attended  college and where most of my friends lived. This group didn’t satisfy mydesire to find women who shared my family values and interest in spiritual and religious knowledge. As you get older and your responsibilities and outlook change because of life circumstances, you understand the importance of the quality and flexibility of your friendships over the quantity.
It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides.
Knowing that my well-being is in the hands of the One that Created me soothes me more than I can explain, even amidst the stress, struggle and frustration that bogs us down on a daily basis.
There’s something beautifully empowering about the certainty with which we can live our lives, knowing that ultimately, we put in whatever we’ve got, but there’s a Power that has the final say. There’s something about the fight for what’s right that has always pulled me in, and it’s a series I still draw on today. Aisha was an unabashed spitfire, and she didn’t let imposed societal constraints rule the decisions she made – if they were in keeping with the faith and her personal opinion, she went after them. I am blessed and grateful that throughout my struggles, I have had a close family and strong friendships. Being spiritually grounded happens in the moments of prayer, being surrounded by people who push me to be a better self, and the times of stillness in early morning or late night when I can sit and speak with God.
I stand for finding common values and experiences where none might be thought to have been before. Muslim women are often feared to be Jihadis and to be terrorists just because they have on an item of dress. The rules of hijab that divide our living space into public and private reflect that the woman, the baby and the child are the primary elements of that private sector. But to the degree that any type of distinctive dress is a mark of identity in society, whether we intend it to be or not, then men have to also carry that mark.
I know myself that I really admire any sister who wears the scarf in public and dresses in the proper dress according to Islamic Law. Umar advocates for Muslim men to begin identifying as Muslim in their dress to provide support for the women.
I sympathize with women who jog in a scarf in the summer, but she CHOSE to do it; nothing more I can do there.
The order is not just to cover our heads, nor is it to cover our bosoms, but to do both at the same time with the same article of clothing. It was the custom and convention (urf wa aadat) of that place and time, just as it is many places.
Below is part one of the video recording (linked) and transcript of the first panel, Spirituality and Religious Authority. Everything that is in that realm of creation, according to most belief, is various degrees of being relative. At the realm of the name and the attributes of God, you could archetypally say that there are some attributes that are more male-like in that sense, and there are other attributes that are more female-like in that sense.
From here, we can start to scratch the surface of understanding what masculinity is and how it relates to some of the questions that people have in the legal dimension of why are these rules for men, and these rules are for women? Once we understand what I previously mentioned, that men and women are the same in that regard, is that for everyone, it’s all about that trait of being truthful, in relation to a holy and divine covenant, both for men and women. Or, when you think about the Prophet, peace be upon him, are there qualities very different from these that you think are [associated with him]? To translate this to this particular day and time, when it’s really taboo, especially in my culture, to talk about kissing boys. I think this is important that men, in this day and time, and I’m speaking from the standpoint of being an imam, an imam in south Los Angeles, I need a space in which I can present some of my emotions.
Year three, got better, and got better, and got better to the point now where I’m able to translate these things that the Prophet [peace be upon him] did in his life, and make this transition into a healthy masculinity. As you can see from what we’ve discussed so far, the urgency of connecting them to that knowledge, because of the crises we are experiencing in this subject.
I feel that we have accepted violence as a standard in our culture, and that has to go with masculinity, unfortunately … I just want to acknowledge that because we are in a state of crisis.
We see that they were men and women who took what we would consider traditional roles and nontraditional roles. Balancing the outward and inward, to me, is what is really key as to how me move forward, leading to … the trickle-down effect, producing practical effect in dealing with these issues. How does that work with how we conceive of the mosque, the space of women and men in the mosque, in relationship to that idea of reform? Funny how the friendships that sustained you while you were single sometimes don’t prime past that point if your significant other doesn’t warm up to your friends. I stalked their profiles to see what kind of fun they were having so I could give myself further permission to sulk. And while they may not be as spontaneous and glamorous as relationships past, they sustain you for the road ahead.
It’s easy enough to cop out and wait for God’s Hand to move things along, but we aren’t given the permission simply to do that – we have to go out and get what we want in life. She also gave back to the community through the best kind of story-telling: Prophetic tradition.
Abd-Allah offered me his insights into the growing phenomenon of Muslim women taking off their headscarves.
But today because of the fact that in modern society women are often very much exposed physically in the way that they dress, when a Muslim woman begins to cover her body and put on a scarf she does stand out. Let me be clear, of course she can come out in the public sector but she comes out wearing a scarf. She’s wearing a scarf yes, but if we know what hijab really is, the man is in hijab because he’s hidden. But I also know of girls and women who developed big psychological issues because of the fact that they feel so out of place wearing the scarf. Didn’t Dr Jackson who spoke alongside Umar at the RIS last month also assert that converts should not have to commit cultural suicide just to be considered good Muslims? Personal choice is personal choice, not the burden of someone else, let alone a stranger who happens to be the same religion as her, but not connected in any other way.
Not being mean is a pretty common sense inference, but its mentioned explicitly over and over again in both the Quran and the sunnah.
I think that we’re all in agreement that there are multiple ways of seeing the world, and, if you will, that there are multiple ways of perceiving the same truth. Everything in creation … there is a dyad-like relationship where there are opposites, there are pairs. The tablet is passive in relation to the pen, active in relation to the way that that divine decree appears in creation. A space where I don’t have to always fit into this box of what it means to be a man, being all macho and everything else. Learning how to be a good father, showing emotions, being able to develop platforms in which other men can gather and show emotions without always having to enact this machoism.
Some of the highlights that Imam Jihad mentioned are just the beginning point, the tip of the iceberg in describing the many facets to his being, his self, his life. We get this example if we look at the tradition, the beautiful tradition of our classical scholars.
We almost merge all of this, and I think we’ll talk about that a little bit later one.
The hadith is that Prophet Muhammad, peace be on him, said, “Every where I looked, I saw Umm ‘Umarah. Even though he was known to be violent, there are stories of his violence, but he embodied different characteristics as well. If we really understand the word, what it means from an Islamic legal perspective, from a literal translation perspective, we understand that “sharia” means the path to happiness in this world, felicity in this world, and salvation in the hereafter. My husband did his best to integrate me into his social circle, but I walked away feeling somewhat disconcerted.  Wasn’t the South supposed to be friendly and welcoming? They were enjoying promotions, vacations and babies, all chronicled on Facebook for me to see.
She had fostered me with the passion to learn and give back to my community since I was very little, and I felt that I had lost the last shreds of my childhood the morning I heard of her passing away. If she’s a little girl in school, the other children don’t really know how to associate with her.
She becomes a symbol for the community and that being the case, men should also do something comparable so that you can see this is the Muslim man and it is not just the woman who stands out.
And our men can come out in the public sector but they come out also dressing in a particular way. You can’t see him, you don’t know if he’s a Muslim or Hindu, you don’t know if he’s an Arab Muslim, an Arab Jew, an Arab Christian or just white.
I think that if we do that then over 50% of the problem is solved; maybe the whole problem is solved because then it becomes much easier on the women. So when a jurist, a legist, in Islam, comes to talk about this issue, he is nothing if he does not look at these problems that are associated with it and the lived experiences of these women. I see this as merely yet another attempt at foreign Muslim cultures trying to imperialize and colonize us. What you will find [in] the various degrees and dimensions of existence, is that every dimension has a passive-active-like relationship with the dimension that’s considered to be higher, not in a spatial sense, but compared to what is considered to be lower. It also, again, we have to root this back into the nature of the Qur’an and the nature of interpretation of the Qur’an. The best example that we have is the Prophet [peace be upon him] as our job to really rescue the interpretation from the systems of oppression. When Zayd died … the Prophet [peace be upon him], he didn’t just cry, the word is like he sobbed … The Prophet, he said, [this] is the yearning of the lover for the beloved. It was not that it was unusual, but taking something we would think is a nontraditional women’s role at that time. Then, the outward dimension is it is some we’ll take into consideration, the fitra, the natural disposition of the human being. People who I was meeting had lived here for a long time and had no compelling reason to include me in tight-knit group.
I use it to keep me abreast of helpful articles, trending topics and endless quizzes about what kind of TV character I relate to best. So when only our women come out dressed a particular way, then they are suddenly forced to become very public and the men who are not dressed a particular way can remain private. I’m assuming that the rationality of the head covering stems from the desire to maintain adab and humility amongst the sexes. This passive-active relationship is really key for us to understand gender because, again, this is archetypally speaking, everything is God’s creation will have a passive-active-like nature to it.
There are many verses in the Qur’an that have what is known as an occasion of revelation, a means of revelation. Beyond that I have chosen to consciously uncouple myself from social media and instead use my time to be with the friends and family who I sought so much a few years ago. BTW, I love almost everything Umar says and writes, but the responses to this specific suggestion simply irritates me. She is the one who is absolutely out there, everybody knows it, so that’s hard for her to bear. I just want to encourage that as a reflection in our discussions of gender and what it means to be a man.

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