Feminism in Islam

Gloria Steinem describes feminism as seeking the “full humanity of women.” Presented in such a way, it seems to be a cause that no one would hesitate to support. Yet few ideologies are so fiercely criticized. Janet Bloomfield says it “encourages breathless levels of narcissism, solipsism and just plain delusion”. Ella Whelen says feminists are “cliquey,” and are “the kind of group you’d encounter at school who would shun you if you weren’t wearing the right kind of hairband.”

In recent years, however, feminism has taken large strides towards mainstream acceptance. High profile politicians like President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau have attempted to normalize feminism, largely succeeding. Naturally, this has resulted in the argument about feminism entering Muslim communities.

In the Quran, we are told to “refer to God and His Messenger concerning matters in which you differ” (4:59). As a result, arguments among Muslims about feminism inevitably lead to arguments about “Islam’s” position on such a controversial issue.

This is what McMaster MSA seeks to address this Monday, with a lecture titled “Feminism in Islam”. The talk, by McMaster student Sr. Sarah Hussain, will aim to answer one of the most popular questions asked in the West — whether Muslims can be feminists. Sarah is a third year student at McMaster, completing a double major in Communication Studies and Religious Studies.

She says the “growing questions as to whether [feminism] is Islamic or not” pushed her to learn more about the movement and its potential integration within an Islamic worldview. This in turn motivated her to organize this talk, to better educate fellow students on a relevant and frequently raised issue.

For more information about the event, check out https://www.facebook.com/events/156944324790865/

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