Sunday, April 21, 2013

Review of "Muslim Women's Quest for Equality" - Patyn Gillam

A few days ago, as I’m shuffling through the endless list of freebies in the Kindle store looking for a new book to catch my interest, I spy a book by the name Muslim Women's Quest for Equality (Stories for Change) and so I downloaded it, because why not, it’s free. Not knowing what to expect from this book, I was surprised when I opened it to see that it was essentially a compilation of structured interview responses from Muslim women from around the world. Thinking the concept was cool, I read through quite a few of them, trying to solidify the main ideas for each category (these include: clothing, education and work, participation in society, friendship between men and women, dating, sex, marriage, polygamy, abortion, the household, children, female circumcision, and violence). The main message I gleaned was this: the biggest challenge of Islam is that it is so stereotyped by others as violent and oppressive, when that is not what Islam really is; the clothing is typically not forced, but chosen by the women, and is not viewed as oppressive, but often the opposite; education and work equality between men and women is highly valued; women participate in society largely the same as men (sports, politics, etc.); men and women can maintain friendships without problems, especially if they are co-workers, etc.; dating often occurs before marriage; sex before marriage is frowned upon; marriage is a mutual decision, and some may choose not to get married altogether; polygamy is only acceptable if the first wife gives the green light; abortion is a mixed topic, some support it, some do not; men and women should share household and childcare responsibilities, although some choose to follow the traditional roles of stay-at-home mothers if that best suits their family; female circumcision and violence is unjustifiable and unacceptable. The responses above sound much like what you or I would say, so why do we think Muslims are so different than us? It’s because we have conflated Islam with terrorism and oppression, when really Islam is a religion of peace and equality. I thought this book was a good representation of what we had discussed in class about cultural relativism and how they, not us, should be the judge of what they want for themselves. If hijabs, burqas, nihabs, etc. aren’t viewed by the women wearing them as oppressive, then they aren’t. It’s just that simple.

No comments:

Post a Comment