Islam and “Slut-Shaming”

There’s an incident that occurred in Islamic history that I want to share with you. But first, I would like to introduce you to a phrase. “SLUT SHAMING”

Here, we will be discussing “slut shaming” in reference to the expectations of a woman’s behavior. Particularly, how a community reacted to a woman based on her actions which were contrary to their societal norms.

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It occurred on a journey involving early Muslims. On this journey, the prophet Muhammad was accompanied by his wife ‘Aisha. The caravan would stop periodically, and those traveling would set up camp. In the morning, they would continue on their journey.

One morning, while the caravan was preparing to leave, ‘Aisha realized she couldn’t find her necklace (which was a gift from her husband). In the process of looking for this necklace, not realizing she was gone, the caravan left without her, and she, not thinking the caravan would leave without looking for her, fell asleep hoping to be awaken by a search party.
But they didn’t know she was missing.
Luckily a companion of the prophet, who had been charged with the task of making sure nothing or no one was left behind, had finished his task of checking the camp site, and was on his way to join the caravan when he noticed ‘Aisha sitting on the side of the road crying. He picked her up and they rejoined the caravan.
Whispers started to circulate among those traveling that ‘Aisha hadn’t lost her necklace, but that she conjured that story up as an excuse to cover up her secret love affair.

What happened next is profound. Islam has within it the phenomena of real-time revelation; that is, revelation of Scripture as incidents occur. In this particular instance it was revealed the 24th Chapter, 12th Verse:

“Why, when you heard it, (the rumor of ‘Aisha’s love affair) didn’t the believing men and believing women think better of themselves, and say, “this is a clear lie”?…”

The verse, clearly referring to the above incident, could have easily said “why didn’t (they) think better of ‘Aisha…” Which would have been sufficient. But this is part of the miracle of the Qur’an. It possess nuances that are meant to elevate our thinking. The wording of the verse establishes what is known as husn al zann (positive presumption) or (thinking well [of others]” it invites the idea of “treating others how you’d like to be treated.”

In this era of social media where everyone has an opinion about everyone and everything (most of the time a NEGATIVE opinion) we can learn from the wisdom of the Qur’an. The Qur’an doesn’t promote a judgmental outlook. And I would add that, at the core, no religious perspective invites us to be critical. However, the problem occurs when we assume the role of “Religious Police” who feel as if what others do (or don’t do) somehow affects our position with God, when in fact the text that we profess to believe in states unequivocally “you are only responsible for your own soul.”

We are too quick to state what is “wrong.” Maybe we should invest more in seeing what’s “right.”

Is Your Islam Intersectional? When Hoda Katebi gives you life.

How do you react when you’re in prison and call home and your wife tells you that Hoda Katebi liked your post about her on the page she (your wife) created and manages for you?

Backstory:

My wife sent me an article called Notes From A Muslim Feminist out of BUST Magazine by Hoda Katebi. the article was a breath of fresh air. in a world congested by pollution I took a deep breath. I called my wife the first chance I got, and asked her to post the following image and quote, to my Instagram:

“Meet @hodakatebi …unapologetic and wit the business!!! Read her work Joojoo Azad.com and in BUST Magazine at bust.com”

Yes, it’s JUST a “like,” and YES I’m “Fanning out.”…oh, you must have missed the part where I said I was in prison.

So as a lot of you know, I have been in prison for 15 years. And like many in my position, I was attracted to Islam. But like too many of us, I had a narrow view of Islam. I had no idea, and no in-depth understanding of Islam’s underlying principles (Maqasid). Simply said, my perspective was one dimensional; certain societal norms I took as universals. Patriarchy being one of them. That is, until I became aware of the teachings and works of religious leaders, organizers, and social activist like Suhaib Webb @suhaib.webb , Linda Sarsour @lsarsour , Yasmin Mogahed @yasminmogahed ,and most recently, Hoda Katebi @hodakatabi who inspired me to question things I took at face value.

I always knew Islam’s general outlook towards Women’s Rights in the examples of the financial independence of Lady Khadija (alayha salaam), the spirit of being outspoken in her daughter Fatima Zahra (alayha salaam). How it was the revelation of the Qur’an that prohibited Infanticide, which was common custom in the Arabian peninsula prior to the revelation of the Qur’an. But what about LGBT rights, Feminism, Intersectionality??? What is Islam’s true outlook about patriarchy or toxic masculinity, and what is our responsibility? These are topics I plan to discuss in upcoming blogs because I believe they’re extremely important.

But I would like to end with this:

Allah (ta ‘Ala) says in the 4th chapter, 75th verse of the Qur’an:

“Why do you not fight in the way of Allah on behalf of the oppressed from among the men women and children…?”

And the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alayhi wa salaam) said in a hadith recorded in the Musnad of Ahmad, on the authority of Anas ibn Malik: 

“Beware of the du’a (prayer) of the oppressed, even if he (Or she) is a unbeliever, for there is no barrier between it and Allah.”

So, as we approach this holy month of Ramadan, we should reflect on the following question:

“Is your Islam intersectional?”