Muslims, Misogyny and Parenting

It is an unfortunate fact today that the Muslim community, barring some exceptions, is misogynist. There are lots of individual Muslims who are against gender discrimination, but collectively we still have a long way to go.

As a man, I am not directly affected by such issues and I haven’t done much to change things for the better (other than may be posting about it on this blog and talking to Muslims I know about it). However, now I am the parent of a cute little girl. Hence, I’ll be confronted with this problem soon. In fact, I have encountered some mild versions even now. For example, a number of people wished or prayed for us to have a baby boy. I always had a big argument with them. I would have been equally happy with either a boy or a girl, but my heart desired a girl. Then, there are the comments about Muslim girls having it tough in this American society (as if Muslim boys are free to do whatever). Also, someone mentioned that it is a good idea to send a girl to an Islamic school since she’ll learn Islam and get into the habit of wearing hijab there. I don’t see Muslim parents as much concerned about the dress of their sons.

Discussing these thoughts of mine with Amber, it was interesting for us to discover that we were not alone. Maryam of A Dervish’s Dua has similar concerns.

while I am willing for myself to ‘deal with’ aspects of patriarchy in Muslim community life (negotiate space), I do not want that for my daughter. I do not want to raise her believing that Islam teaches she is a second class citizen.

Let me get this straight off the bat. I strongly believe that at its core Islam is an egalitarian faith which views man and woman as complimentary partners and that each person has the same fundamental duty to respond to God’s will regardless of their gender. I believe that Islam teaches that all human beings are equal and can only be distinguished by piety.

However, I also recognise that Islam has been culturally manifested in very patriarchal fashions and that these manifestations claim to be representing “true” Islam. Islamic law in particular has often codified patriarchal readings of Islam into a canon of orthodoxy that is difficult to question without challenging some fundamental ideas of who gets to speak authoritatively “for” Islam.

I think that the Qur’an and the Prophet, God love him, recognised the limitations of the societal structures of the period into which the Muhammadan expression of Islam first dawned (including notions of masculinity and femininity) but as Farid Esack has written elsewhere. But I also believe there is an underlying ethic of equity which transcends —- is more real —- than the cultural clothing which Islam wears at any one time period.

Therefore I remain a Muslim trying to seek out those egalitarian readings wherever I may find them. But now that I have had a baby – and a baby girl at that – I want more for my daughter than what is currently on offer in the Muslim community. I want her to be valued and cherished as a human being, not relegated to second class because she is female. I want her to play a vital and active role in her faith community, not stand on the side-lines as a marginalised spectator. I want her to have access to all the resources, facilities, opportunities that a brother might have. I want her to have a voice that is equal to any Muslim man who is her peer in knowledge, wisdom and piety.

Will I be able to give that to her? At the moment I think not and so I am starting to flirt with the idea of leaving the ummah so that my daughter might have more than I can give her from within it. It is not an easy decision, as one of the most fundamental ideas in Islam is the communion in community.

I know that I will not leave Islam, for my soul belongs to Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate. The Prophet Muhammad, God love him, will always be my Prophet. But the Muslim community, I am sensing, is a dangerous place to be for a sensitive soul. I want to protect my daughter’s fledgling wings, until she is strong enough to fly in the face of patriarchy. I have tried and worry that I may not be, and in failing then I fail my daughter. I so long for community, and I have good and close friends who are Muslims who I cherish. But I am starting to think that I have no place in the institutionalised religious community.

We are thinking along the same lines as Maryam. While we will still socialize with some Muslim friends, we plan stay away from the local conservative Muslim community (for example, my college MSA). Also, we have no plans of sending Michelle either to an Islamic school or to the Sunday lessons at the mosque.

RELATED: A new group weblog focusing on Islam and women.

Author: Zack

Dad, gadget guy, bookworm, political animal, global nomad, cyclist, hiker, tennis player, photographer

32 thoughts on “Muslims, Misogyny and Parenting”

  1. it’s rough being a woman in any society.
    in western society, the very existence of stockings/ panty hose and cosmetic concealers, hairlessness and the perfect pair of breasts in not too far from being as abusive as islam. ofcourse the argument is that western women “consent” to pluck and prune. well, so do islamic women.
    the difference in womens freedoms in both cultures is ofcourse nevertheless vast. but it isn’t easy being a woman in any society because of the vast disbalance of social obligations.

  2. when i said “well, so do islamic women” i meant that consent to their respective cultures is as informed for islamic women as it is for western women. we’re not talking of extremes taliban. we’re not talking of an ordiary muslim girl in US compared to her counterpart. i am sure shaving and dying and waxing is fun- and wearing a jijab isnt. those women choose to wear jijabs as much as the others choose to get plucked.
    can an american woman afford to go to office with unshaved arms? some can, just like some muslim girls dont wear veils.

  3. hairlessness and the perfect pair of breasts in not too far from being as abusive as islam

    bull. let me substitute “the culture of many muslims” for “islam” to head off any objections and assert that if a woman in the west does not adhere to the hairless & perfect brested ideal she can experience some social ostracism, but in many islamic cultures deviations from the norm can result in familial “dishonor” which has a more drastic impact than ostracism (and i speak not of just honor kills, the reductio ad absurdum, but shunning and expulsion from familial social networks so crucial in these societies). yes, women have to deal with crap in western society, but isn’t comparing the lot of american (or french, or whatever) women with that of nigerian, bangladeshi or botswanan (to use a non-muslim example in the last) trivialization?

  4. also, let me offer an example from my personal ife. i have a 14 year old sister. i’m 27, and i don’t know her real well as i left for college when she was 5. but in any case, my mother has told her that

    1) she has to live at home for college.
    2) she has to go to a community college since that would be easier to do.

    now, that is implicit sexism, but actually my mother has explicitly stated that it is because she is a girl that the living at home and community college stipulations exist. and of course, there is the standard “we’ll send you back to bangladesh if you are a slut” assertions that my younger brother & i never had to endure.

    thank you lord that i was not born a woman.

  5. Eh. I feel for you. Whatever you decide to do, I pray Insha’Allah your daughter has peace in her life. My parents did not send me to Sunday school either. They were explicitly against sending me to an Islamic school. Actually, my mother was so extreme that she preferred I not socialize with other Muslim girls (which I don’t really agree with…but whatever). All in all, things turned out okay. Although there is nothing wrong with keeping your child away from things you yourself disapprove of, one still has to keep in mind that she will one day be confronted with all those things you dislike so much. I guess the best one can hope for is that she’ll be able to deal with it with dignity and calmness.

    I think what Razib has said, unfortunately, applies to many girls I’ve met in the suburban Georgian Muslim community. Its as though your whole life you’re told to make straight A’s, work hard in school, obsess over it like there is no tommorrow…but graduation time rolls around and when your peers are applying to top tier schools…you are expected to settle for the local community college for some asinine list of desi reasons. Now of course, this situation isn’t true for all girls, but even if there is a minority out there that this applies to, we have a problem.

  6. You have my complete sympathy. I’ve had a similar experience with the “community”. I’m slowly learning to pick my friends very carefully and it took a while, but I’m also learning how to say, “Mind your own business.” to the really pushy ones who insist they know the true way to raise children.

    Congrats on having a beautiful daughter!

  7. Interesting… My bro in NY was going out with a Bengali Muslim girl (who strangely enough had a Sanskrit name) some time back. Her parents lived in the Bronx but when she went to Columbia she insisted on living in the dorms and they relented. Same thing with a Brit Asian girl I was dating a while back, who came from an extremely conservative Mirpuri, but moved to the UCL dorms when the time came for university. In fact virtually all the British Asian girls from my Urdu class lived away from home for university, surprised me even (and virtually all of them had had relationships with white men)…

    These days middle class Muslim girls, even back home in Pak., are dating and seeing boys but they’re just very good at maintaining a “decent” reputation.

    Even in the thousand or so elite and thoroughly Western families of Pakistan, who would tolerate their children in relationships, the parents still aren’t totally accepting and usually it winds up in marriage. The Pakistani “dating” scene still has some way to go since few girls are willing to engage in casual relationships, most of them have to have a future. Hopefully another generation and there’ll be enough liberalisation in this regard.

    Our society must be more liberal particularly in terms of women and sexual freedom. We’ve got to move to the Lebanese Christian model, where girls are conservative and mindful of their morality but date openly & have meaningful relationships.

  8. Shareen, you are correct that girls have it tough everywhere, but like Razib says there is a difference.

    Razib: In my case, it’s the comparison between the American Muslim community and general American society.

    Nida: one still has to keep in mind that she will one day be confronted with all those things you dislike so much.

    True, there is a fine line here between protecting one’s child and letting her experience the problems of life in general.

    Sume: Thanks.

    Zachary: I don’t think it is about dating etc. only. There are a lot of other more important issues where women and girls lag behind.

  9. My Dear Son! You have sparked a lengthy debate which may become never-ending. I will like to present my opinion slowly but, presently, let me talk of my experience.
    (1) My father was a rich international businessman. He had planned to send me for education to the most reputed institutions on earth. He wanted me to be brought up in a high class and well educated society. But, I was still in Second Standard in 1947 that we were forced by Hindus to migrate to Pakistan empty-handed and all our property was looted. Same was done by Zionists to my father’s business in Palestine. Thus, I studied in low fee schools and wore the cheapest clothes. The poorest environment neither took any good away from me nor gave me any bad thing. I progressed proportionate to my hard-work.
    (2) When I started having children 29 to 34 years back, son (Zakaria), daughter and second son, I planned to make my children the best in all respects, healthy, capable, truthful, brave, outspoken, etc. I, also, wished to take my children round the world. All this was part of my mission that, in no way, my children should feel inferior to children around. I had no resources to make my plans a practical fact but had full faith in God and that GOD HELPS THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES. My children were sent to commoners’ schools and lived in ordinary environment having all ill assumed faiths. Did all that bad environment deter you from becoming a good person ? No.
    (3) I was in Germany during 1966-67. On September 25, 1967 (my last day in Germany) when my German colleagues asked me, “So, when do we expect you to visit us again ?” I said with full confidence, “After 10 years with my wife and children.” How stupid it would have appeared. (I got married in November, 1967). I was neither so rich nor I could expect to become so rich. Getting mediocre salary having partly dependent parents with five younger siblings in schools, how could ever anybody think of that but I did. I kept working hard and God provided me the opportunity to fulfill my promise and I visited Germany, UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium and Saudi Arabia in May-June, 1978 with my wife and three children. I was late only by eight month.

    So, my first point is that “running away from the danger does not clear the danger.” Danger may become concentrated if not tackled successively as it comes across. You know the best medical therapy these days is vaccine. What is vaccine therapy ? Insertion of germs of the disease being treated.

  10. Wow. Hah. To elaborate, one has to attenuate a bacterial or viral strain and reinsert into the host cell, in order to counter future infections. So I guess, instead of excommunicating ourselves from the host, we should rather reinsert ouselves into masajid and whatnot, and bring forth reform that way. Easier said than done, right? =)

    Perhaps this is a test of character, or principles comprising that character. Perhaps there is some median one can follow insofar as engagement in the Muslim community is concerned, where you do not succumb to other folks’ ideologies without completely alienating yourself. I’m being a hypocrite here, as much as I wish one could follow such a median, it is very very VERY difficult to be around people who won’t accept your point of view, the way you accept theirs. Forget accepting, people openly shoot out words like “kafir” and “fitna-spreader”. That sticks and stones nonsense is exactly that. Words hurt dangit.

  11. Dad: Economic circumstances are a very different thing from what I am talking about. And while it is possible to become a good perosn in a bad or ordinary environment and “running away from the danger does not clear the danger,” it is also a good idea to keep good company and stay away from bad, as they say.

    Secondly, I am not that worried about my daughter becoming a bad person due to the misogyny of the Muslim community; rather I am worried about the hurt this misogyny would cause. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in an environment in which, for example, any young girl who doesn’t wear a scarf is considered a bad Muslim; an environment in which, as Nida points out, people with holier-than-thou attitudes throw epithets like “kafir” and “fitna-spreader” on everyone who doesn’t completely agree with them; an environment where my daughter does not have the freedom to be and do all she wants just because of her gender.

    Striver: Thanks.

  12. I do not know what type of community schools exist in USA but hope that they are not like most of madrassas in Pakistan. (I said most because there are some madrassas that teach religion as well as other subjects except sexology.) Going to school should have, at least, two considerations: (1) Properly qualified good tutors meaning that they should be child-friendly and knowing child psychology. (2) Healthy atmosphere compatible with children.
    These are ideal requirements but one has to make a match between these and many other considerations including distance from residence, timings, etc. This in no way means that all children who go to lower standard schools are not good. Converse, that in good schools all children become good, is also not correct. Teaching / training of the child starts, not whe she / he goes to school but 1 – 2 months after birth and, by the time a child is ready for pre-school, she / he has already passed over 3 years of training. If this initial training is good and later a guidance level is kept, there is very little chance of a child going astray. Of course blessing of God is essential in any case.

    So, my second point is that the best training centre for every child is her / his home and the best tutor / trainer is her / his mother, second in the is father and at the third position are siblings.

  13. What others say is their choice and nobody can stop them. However, for Muslims, I quote: Sura 49 (Al-Hujraat) Verses 11 & 12: O ye who believe! Let not a folk deride a folk who may be better than they (are), not let women (deride) women who may be better than they are; neither defame one another, nor insult one another by nicknames. Bad is the name of lewdness after faith. And whoso turneth not in repentance, such are evil-doers.
    O ye who believe! Shun much suspicion; for lo! some suspicion is a crime. And spy not, neither backbite one another. Would one of you love to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Ye abhor that (so abhor the other)! And keep your duty (to Allah). Lo! Allah is Relenting, Merciful.

    Non-Muslims also comment on Muslim girls but in a different way. Either the girl should satisfy their norms / culture or face fierce criticism. While abroad, I being a young man faced harsh criticism because I didn’t eat ham / pork or didn’t drink even beer which according to them was harmless. Several times I was ridiculed just because I declined to dance with a girl. At one occasion, a man used the following words “She offered to dance with you and you declined. You do not even know how to behave with a women. What society you come from ? Do you come from a jungle ? British ruled you for 800 years (actually 150 years) but you didn’t even learn manners from them. If you do not know how to dance what the hell you know of civility ?”

    The above incidences took place when Pakistanis were respected abroad (1966-67). The position after September, 2001 is that any Muslim, especially, one who has Pakistani origin is considered in USA as the lowest grade of human being and dubbed extremist, terrorist, etc . The way even federal ministers and secretaries of Pakistan are treated at US airports is food for thought for every Muslim.

    So, my third point is that, if there is chance of a girl being ridiculed in Muslim Community School for not wearing scarf, there are more chances of a Muslim girl being ridiculed in a non-Muslim society for not adopting their norms / culture which includes dancing, drinking, dating, etc.

  14. Sir,

    I appreciate your reference to the Qur’an. One needs reminders.

    I would disagree you on the notion that, as you say, “there are more chances of a Muslim girl being ridiculed in a non-Muslim society for not adopting their norms/culture […].” Certainly, growing up in the US, as one progresses through school and her child-like innocence begins to depart from her, she realizes she is in fact quite different from those around her. It is also most certainly true that many young Muslims feel peer pressure to do things that may be acceptable in their American culture, but completely in contrast to Islamic practices. But that is not to say that such pressure, anxiety, etc. is the direct result of others pointing out that you’re different. Of course people notice when you don’t go to homecoming, prom, etc, (or when you protest against Valentine’s day), but they do not openly ridicule you. However, when you go to the Masjid or a desi dinner party, most individuals are quite blunt.

    There may be a difference between what girls and boys face. In high school, from what I perceived, there was a greater pressure on guys (Muslim and otherwise) to go to parties, drink, even smoke weed. Actually, I would call it pressure/acceptance. Its not as hard for girls to avoid these things, because modesty and conservativeness is still appreciated by most Southerners.

    It is a real shame if our Muslim brothers and sisters are mistreated at airports moreso than other people. Its outright racism. But it doesn’t necessarily reflect upon the general attitudes of Americans themselves…at least insofar as their Muslim neighbors are concerned.

  15. Dad: I agree with most of your first comment (the new one), except the following:

    the best tutor / trainer is her / his mother, second in the is father and at the third position are siblings.

    I don’t think mother and father can be ranked separately. They are equally important. Also, after the first couple of years of a child, research has shown that peers and outside environment is more important than parents.

    What others say is their choice and nobody can stop them.

    True, but nobody should be forced to socialize with them either. We can stay away from them also.

    Either the girl should satisfy their norms / culture or face fierce criticism.

    Peer pressure and conformity are a general problem everywhere. I was talking about something more serious among the Muslim community in my post.

    While abroad, I being a young man faced harsh criticism

    While I have heard this happen, it is not as common now as it probably was when you went to Germany.

    The position after September, 2001 is that any Muslim, especially, one who has Pakistani origin is considered in USA as the lowest grade of human being and dubbed extremist, terrorist, etc.

    Where are you getting this information? I thought I was the in-house (err… in-family) expert on American affairs. While there have been cases of discrimination and harrasment, it is not at all as common as your comment makes it out to be. I live here and have not had any problem.

    if there is chance of a girl being ridiculed in Muslim Community School for not wearing scarf

    If that was the only thing, you would be correct but it is not. As Nida points out, Pakistanis and Muslims can be quite blunt, racist and intolerant, much more so in general than the general society here.

  16. Zack, she’s your daughter and you must raise her according to what you think is best for her. She’ll look to you as much as to her mother to teach her critical thinking to know right from wrong, to develope her principles and to gain the strength to stand up for them.

    She’s going to run into social pressure whereever she goes. I think the best thing is to arm her with what she needs to withstand such pressures and make wise decisions and to support them until they’re capable of standing on their own. The very fact that you’re thinking about these things suggests that she has a good foundation in you and your wife. She’s a lucky girl.

  17. I appreciate your concerns about up brining of your daughter, but sorry to say that I really feel sad upon the thoughts prevailing in Muslim minds about the way we specially a woman should live. U may be right in that a girl may not feel so comfortable in the American society after getting education from Muslim school or Sunday school. But it doesn’t mean that you should keep her all the way away from muslim society how can u, when she is Muslim and its her right to be brought up as a Muslim and one thing I didn’t get from your post that r u thinking to brought her totally as a girl of western society or this decision is up to education only. Coz if its education only, it’s good. But you have to teach her all Islamic values and hijab is one of them.
    I am a Muslim woman alhamdullilah. Born in Pakistan, got education from there, did job there now getting higher education in a foreign country and I am proud to say that I am a Muslim and no where I feel to be treated as a second class person. I am observing hijab. Alhamdullilah I haven’t find any problem for being a Muslim anywhere.
    Regarding “A Dervish’s Dua” I am surprised that we, we the born muslims are finding a simple things like hijab or accepting a man to be head of family so hard while a British born woman feels so comfortable with these concepts when she accepts Islam by her own will (as Yvonne Ridley). Islam has given a woman equal rights to be brought at an equal level as a man, either its education , its living style what’s so ever. It’s the fault with us who exaggerates the thing related to a girl by not even allowing her to go for higher education and ignore for boys not even telling them that having girl friends, and all such stuff is not allowed in Islam. It’s us who created these discriminations. If you think you are wise enough to do something good then my brother, of course give a really good standard of living to your daughter, good education at some really good institution but teach her Islamic values too, because she is a Muslim. And I can say it with surety that if you will be able to convey to her the real Islamic values she will do all good acts of Islam with her own will, even hijab without feeling her self to be a second-class citizen. May Allah(SWT) guide all of us to the right path(ameen)

  18. Sister sam, you picked the wrong dude to obsess over hijab with =)

    I won’t comment on whether its important or not, but as someone who was partially raised in this country, I will say that it is probably one of the minute issues a young Muslimah has to deal with.

  19. sume: Thanks.

    sam: when she is Muslim and its her right to be brought up as a Muslim

    How is my daughter Muslim? She’s too young to understand religion.

    r u thinking to brought her totally as a girl of western society

    I am not sure what you mean. My daughter is an American. She was born here and is likely to live here. If you mean whether I am going to install some morals and values in her, I think every parent tries to.

    hijab is one of them.

    Great! If only everyone started wearing hijab, all evil will disappear and peace will bloom everywhere in the world.

    we the born muslims are finding a simple things like hijab or accepting a man to be head of family so hard

    I am speechless. You are not a regular reader of my weblog, I presume. Otherwise you would have seen all these photographs and would have known that my wife, Amber, doesn’t take kindly to playing second fiddle in our household. You would probably also discover that Amber also brings the dough home.

    Islam has given a woman equal rights to be brought at an equal level as a man

    I thought you just said that a woman has to accept man as the head of her household. Aren’t you contradicting yourself?

    PS. Sorry for the snarky tone, but I have fought too many battles about the centrality of hijab in Muslim vision. Nitha anticipated that in her comment, I see.

  20. “thank you lord that i was not born a woman”

    I know this was said in jest – I want to say it that this is an orthodox Jewish prayer. Some do thank God for this.

    Nice blog, Zack. Thanks Sume for directing me to it.
    This post and the debate reminded me of something Sayyid Qazwini in Michigan said in a lecture once, which I heard online: if you give a car to your son and tell him it’s okay to stay out late, then your daughter will want a car and stay out late too, so it’s really up to the parents. I know guys are giving greater latitude for reasons we all know, but the message that this sends is that it is more “bad” for a girl to be out, and for guys it’s okay – but Islamically, if the boy sins, it is equal to the sin of the girl. And this sort of attitude reinforces the patriarchy because it tells men that they have greater rights, especially over women. A man may be qawwamun over their wives and daughters, but this does not give them free license to control women. It is a trusteeship between them and Allah that they must respect the wombs that bore them and be just and compassionate.

  21. The best learning age of a child is 2 months to 12 years. In this period a child learns with tremendous speed. This quality is in-built (kept by the Creator). During first 12 years or so, mind of a child gets molded in to a shape that more or less becomes permanent. This aspect is overlooked by many parents. General thinking is that the child will learn good things when she / he grows up. This expectation generally misfires. Muslims may be knowing that all Hafiz-e-Qur’aan became hafiz before reaching teenage.

    I never attended a so-called madrassa or mosque for learning Islam (Of course, I used to attend mosque for prayers). Arrangement of teaching Islam at my school being unsatisfactory, I would have remained ignorant of Islamic life if my mother had not been regularly injecting Islam in to my ears so masterly. I do not say that the child must be sent to madrassa or community school but there should be some satisfactory arrangement to impart Islamic traits to the child slowly and regularly.
    Also, my mother used to make my younger siblings sleep (starting few days after their birth) by singing “Allah Allah kiya karo, Khali dum na liya karo, jo doonya ka malik hai, naam oossi ka liya karo, madad tayree ya Rasool, dil say gham hatao hazur, Allah Allah Allah”. When my siblings were able to talk and understand, my mother used to tell them short stories which included teachings / manners of Islam. Same practice was followed by me and my wife for our children. The addition was that small books with character-building stories became available and I used to get those for my children. They used to keenly read those small books. I, also, arranged for their correct recitation of Qur’aan. I enriched my house library with Tafseer Qur’aan, Hadith, Seerat-un-Nabi, Kitab ul Fiqh, encyclopedia of Islam, etc. I never forced my children to read those voluminous books but as they saw me reading they studied those and my beloved son (Zakaria) studied all those before I could go through once.

    So, my 4th point is that, if a child has to become / remain a Muslim, she / he should be taught religion (Islam) right from the beginning, not using dictatorship / masterly traits but softly as in proverb, “Advice is like snow that falls slowly and dwells longer”. And it should be methodical, first in plays and stories so that child absorbs it without feeling uneasy. For this parents have to work hard, and hard work never goes waste.

  22. I have always loved children. I am not a psychologist but read many books on child psychology starting in my high school till I became a father. With that knowledge and the wisdom bestowed upon me by the Creator, I started studying child behaviour when I was still a student of high school. I claim and people around me know that any child less than 10 years, however naughty, left alone with me for 30 minutes and would start behaving. God has been kind to gift me some thing that even an infant of a few weeks age pays attention to me and likes to play with me. Being so much involved with children, I understand their wants and trends. This is what is needed of a parent. Generally, parents, in their great love of children, spoil their children and thus do harm to them. It is common that parents say ‘yes’ to their children’s all sort of demands assuming that child will forget about that and they will not have to provide every item on the demand list. This should never be done. Effort should be made to make the child understand explaining with love and affection. Also, always yes or always no, both are equally bad. When demand is genuine, it should be accepted promptly but for deciding what is genuine, parents have to take several things in to consideration.

    So, my 5th point is that parents should study books about child psychology written by persons who had also enough practical experience of their own children. Further, reasonable demands of children should be met, while for excessive demands, children should be trained to understand the reason for non-provision.

  23. Some how, not only Muslims but also Christians do not pay as much attention to religious education of their children as they pay to their education in other subjects. This is why majority of Muslims today are ignorant about the spirit and requirements of Islam. As a corollary, they remain engaged in rituals which they copy without referring to Qur’aan / Sunna.

    Strange behaviour of Muslim children / youth is an out come of their parents either ignoring the behavioral training of their children and not an effect of their religion ‘Islam’. Whatever knowledge I have about Qur’aan makes me believe that it is the most comprehensive constitution for human behaviour may it be home, family, school, office, business, market or Mosque. Instructions / guidance about every human activity are contained in Qur’aan. If we believe that the universe has been created by God and He is running it, then we must believe in what is written in Qur’aan. We can get guidance about behaviour and confidance-building of children from Qur’aan.

    My 6th point is: It is imperative that parents pay same attention to educate their children in Islam as they pay to educate them in other subjects of science, humanities, arts, etc. Only then our children will be able to face the aggressive world with success.

  24. In India too, Muslims treat their women poorly. Of course, this becomes even worse because the community itself is always under a lot of pressure and is hence completely ghettoised. In such circumstances, conservative elements easily become very influential.

    There is some positive change in the South Indian states, but overall, the situation is still pathetic; and I see no hope for any improvement in the near future. If someone’s interested, there’s been some good work done on the topic:

    1). “Unequal Citizens – A Study of Muslim Women in India” by Zoya Hasan and Ritu Menon(OUP). Prof. Hasan is Professor, Centre for Political Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delh. Ritu Menon is Publisher, Women Unlimited.
    2)”Voice of the Voiceless – Status of Muslim Women in India”, Syeda Saiyidain Hameed. Ms Hameed is Member of the (Indian) National Commission for Women.

    Here’s a couplet from an Eastern UP folk song:

    Ore Vidhaata, binti karoon paroon paiyan barambar.
    Agale janam mohe bitiya na kijo, chahe narak mein dijo daar.

    (O my creator, I plead before you; implore you time and again;
    Next incarnation dont make me a girl; in hell instead let me wane).

    Quoted by Quratulain Hyder in “Chaar Novalettes” and by Syeda Hameed in her report, [2].

    Michelle is lucky :).

  25. Is there any inscription in Quran about the headscarf or someone just started wearing I to look cool.

    I hate the idea of someone telling me what to wear or what not to. How can so many educated women following this custom. I got worried when I see girls born and bred here in the US suddenly started wearing Scarf. It happens to so many I lost count. Is this we are failing them? We keep telling them that because your religion you are different from us. So one day they back fired us by doing such things. What about the boys growing beard for religious reasons. Are they under pressure too?

    Why Muslim can not have discussion without mentioning religion? Why don’t they give this task about the religion talk to some missionaries?

    Muslim are not dumb people but if they follow this path long they are going to end up like one soon.

    I wish Michelle live a happy and successful life.

    P.S. Don’t get me wrong I do not belong to any religion as it hinders with my scientific mind.

  26. Faraz: Thanks for those book recommendations.

    Mariam: Hijab is a long and contentious topic which I can’t get into in a comment. My stance on it is simple: If a woman wants to wear it of her own choice, she should be free to do so and vice versa.

  27. Salaam,

    Even though,it is outdated discussion,i am jus posting my comments on the whole issue.

    Bro Zack , DO you believe in Allah, and his prophet(pbuh) ?! Ofcourse, i have no rights to question your beliefs. Since you are inherently soveriegn individual and i too shouldnt be judgemental.

    That question wasnt addressed with the intention of seeking reply,it was simply meant to be thought-provoking. THe issue here is not Hijab, not subservient to “patriachal” muslim societies/communities. It is about “Letting your daughter do” whatever she wants.

    Infact, the whole topic has been given a wrong color by stroking the feminist emotions among our ‘liberated’ muslim sisters. The same question can be used for muslim male as well. Not every ahmed and Muhammed has a chance to do whatever they want.

    Males get to do watever they want,not because their parents treat them better,mostly bcoz they are spoilt, pompous,rude and disobeident to their parents at their prime of their youth. So by the same equation good,obedient,god-fearing muslim doesnt have as much as right as other muslim brothers until certain period.Atleast in islamic societies if not in American societies.

    So practically the issue should be “Are you willing to teach islam to your daughter?!”

    Lets assume you belief in islamic morals emdedded within the cultural package of 7 th century tribal mecca. But still Modesty is also called Modesty in 20 th century America. You call hijab, mental oppression,over-protection,patriachal thought process, sexism,male domination and watever the name be, the whole issue revolve around “Modesty”. Yes, some over do and some over-negligent as well. Why i dont see, anybody make rash comments on negligent people?! We easily give remind our extremist brothers that how they need to be ‘Moderate”. Why not do the same thing for negligent brothers. Would we blame Islam for mistakes of unlearned man?!

    Yes, you can always reply thats why i want to keep my daughter away since muslim societies are filled with such men lately.

    Children are born in the state of Fitrah,in the state of Islam. Only their parents and environments change them to be muslim or non muslim. THis is the statement of Muhammed(pbuh). DO you believe in him?!

    You are holding on to the view that “Allah has your soul and Muhammed is your prophet” ( I am trying not to be skeptic…pls understand) but then you are not willing to bring up your daughter as a muslim.

    If you ask every 9/10 non muslim in this so called Liberal society(American society) ,how they would like to bring up their daughter,obviously they would give the name of the religion they follow. Well,if non muslim liberals in american society can bring up their children as non muslims ,why american muslim-liberal cant do this?!

    Who is actually setting standards here?! If you are going to say, it is nothign concerned about non muslims at all.It is about under educated muslims making inflatory comments which would deter my daughter from doing watever she wants. Sounds self-contradictory, Would we burn the house for the fear of bug?!

    Beside,Would you allow daughter do everything in the name fo freedom of right?! I wonder, would you allow her to take drugs?! we dont need to go near sexual aspects. How abt she gang up with school punks and rob nearby 24 hour store?! Would u sit quiet when she bring down your house?!

    Now, right of freedom will take different turn. It is harming others,certainly drugs dont…bro!

    Infact, in the name of giving her(your daughter ) as much as right, you are actually taking her ‘right of knowledge’. By keeping her away from this so called patriachal,women-oppressing,7 th century tribal society you are completly taking her ability to think and conclude her own opinions,based on her own understanding.

    Exactly, wat kind of “Right of freedom” we are talking about?!

    Or you are scared she might ask you a question about which you dont have proper answer in defense of islam. In that case, the first question resounds back ” Do you believe in allah an his prophet(pbuh) ?!” .

    Sincerly, i dont think the whole effort would be any worthwhile. You will address me as if i am one of the know-it-all misogynist, who would love to see women of my household safely kept under the chimney. I would be pleased if you dont call me names.

    It is simple effort to tell myself that ” praise be to Allah”.

    Wassalam

  28. Munthasir: I am not sure what you are talking about. I didn’t mention Islam, all I said was about keeping away from the organized Muslim community.

  29. Salaam Again bro.

    THanks for your response.

    Actually, i prefer not to make second statement in the same issue,mostly we would be arguing how each one of us is right. But you have implied that you havent understood What i have meant. So,its become obligatory on me to make my point of view clear second time.

    My Point of view is Prophet(pbuh) commended living in community,whether we like it or not.

    Ummah(i simply mean connumities,not as a whole nation. But this reasoning suits all islamic communities irrespective of nations) is in siege. Siege by rich,affluent muslims who would give the impression of muslims the way they like. It’s wrong but they think they are right.

    So, wat we do?! Run away. How much of such society you can hide to your daughter?! Well,if she is hurt of all those improper remarks ,which might give her impression that “those” are islamic values. Then wat are you for?!

    As a parent,you are going to teach her. Children are going to look up to their parents for the guidance. In common cases,until they reach 20 or above, children are invariably dependent on the thought process of their parents.So, why are you worried?!

    On the sameplane, if you take her away from the communities and doesnt allow her to mingle with such community, she is going to loose the subtely of ‘trying to live as a muslim’. Oh..it is possible they are living wrong,but nothing changes the fact,they are trying atleast.

    May be she might allow herself to be prejudiced over islam,jus like the WEST is now due to getting involved with them all day. Is this wat you want for your daughter?!

    If you go out of the communities(even though it is filled with unlearned men)i say, you are choosing the bigger of the two evils.

    if you are so concerned abt the community,you are living, listen to your father’s first comment. You better clean the community you are living,instead of spitting into it. Criticizing doesnt change anything,but application certainly do.

    Wassalam

  30. Munthasir: It does seem that we are talking past each other.

    To elaborate my point, consider this hypothetical: Should I send my child to a school where drugs and violence are common because the kids there belong to my ethnic group? I don’t think so. Similarly (though not the same), why should I make my daughter part of a community that would consider her a second-class person?

    And finally, notice the emphasis on “organized” in my previous comment. I never said that I am going to keep my daughter away from all Muslims.

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