This is a response to Yasir Qadhi’s statement on his Facebook page where he shows fake support for the women’s mosque. The saddest part is that he probably meant well; he was probably expecting a pat on the back, a nice, humble thank-you from Muslim women because he’s basically saying that “Hey, Muslim men! If y’all stop disrespecting women in the mosques, maybe they won’t go around taking matters into their hands and counter-reacting with an actual mosque of their own! So start respecting them and their space in mosques so this whole women’s mosque move can go away!” And don’t get me wrong: It’s telling that I am tempted to acknowledge what he probably thought was support for Muslim women (because Muslim men leaders rarely speak on the disrespect and humiliation that women face in mosques). But I refuse to say, “Awww, thank you so much for finally saying openly that women are treated beyond poorly in mosques!” because our leaders should be saying that anyway. Not simply in response to a women-only mosque!
Anyway, because so many Muslims are sharing his post on social media as if it’s some golden words and they’re missing the some subtle and some very obvious misogyny in almost each sentence, I figured it was time to show how basically every line of his is belittling to women. As someone said about this when we brought it up on Facebook, benevolent sexism is still sexism, Yasir Qadhi! The Fatal Feminist has already beautifully and boldly said much of what I’d want to say, and she’s shred each line of his already so I won’t repeat that (and she discusses also the problem with who his audience is – which, upon a first read, doesn’t sound problematic at all! Because it’s so natural for men to speak to other men about women, to imagine other men as in charge of women and women’s affairs, to exclude women from the conversation except to talk about them), but I’ll add some more thoughts.
I mean, c’mon, folks – this man said things like: “And most importantly, we need to tell our men that it is not THEIR business (unless a family man is dealing with his own wife/daughter) how other women dress. Let the people in charge of the masjid deal with dress codes”; and “In a day and age where our sisters are going everywhere, visible everywhere, active everywhere,…”; “Frankly, in this day and age, if a sister actually comes to the masjid (rather than going shopping or watching a movie or doing any other activity), …”; “Our sisters in faith are our mothers, wives, and daughters.” And more. See below.
But first, I need to remind our “leaders” that when you want to show support, first make sure that the way you’re doing it is actually something we women will appreciate and accept as support. You don’t get to pretend to be supportive while mocking us and our gender at the same time; that’s not support – that’s infantalization, that’s a low move to silence us, and sadly it’s done in the name of Islam. We women are smart, and we can detect misogyny. Even if you don’t mean to be misogynist, make sure that your statements won’t come off as such. Otherwise, be prepared for what you think are “counter-reactions”! Be prepared for responses like this one below where we shred each sentence of yours and tell you that we don’t appreciate it. We don’t want your support.
Second, I can imagine some Muslims, especially men and Yasir Qadhi’s students, coming and saying, “What the hell! You women are never satisfied with what we give you, even when we show support!” Well, first of all, nothing is yours to be “given” to us. Our rights and fair treatment isn’t something that you own that you choose whether and when to “give” us. Second of all, you shouldn’t be “giving” anything to us because you want a thank-you from us; it’s your moral responsibility as a Muslim to ensure that every member of the community is treated with justice and respect, and if you’re not doing it because it’s the right thing to do, don’t do it at all. Third of all, if you want us to be “satisfied” with what you “give” us, make sure it’s what we actually demand and not your wrong, egotistical idea of what we want. Consult us before going around “giving” us what you think we want! Consult us before you “show support” your way when it’s obviously the offensive way.
Now for Yasir Qadhi’s statement. See, when I first read it, it was so condescending I couldn’t read the whole thing on the first try. When it popped up on my facebook feed again, I read a comment of Yasir Qadhi’s in which he was responding to someone who had mistakenly thought YQ was being supportive of the mosque. His comment to this commenter was: “Keep in mind that I don’t say whether this is legitimate or not.” Or something like that. Why not? Just go right ahead and say it – we all know what you’re thinking: This is SO incredibly haraam, so illegitimate, so invalid, so unacceptable for Shari’a standards! But ya Rabb, there’s nothing I can do to stop it. (No, folks, he didn’t say this; but that’s what it means when he says he’s not gonna comment on whether or not it’s an Islamically legitimate effort.)
When our sisters are deprived from the right to come to the mosques, or given sub-standard accommodations and treated disrespectfully, it is only natural that some of them will take matters into their own hands and counter-react.
Yes, the women-only mosque was created more out of necessity than anything else; it’s a response to current circumstances that keep preventing women from being respected in religious spaces. BUT let’s also acknowledge that if women wanted to have this just because, that should be acceptable, too, and they can do that, too, if they want to. Isn’t it ironic that we want everything segregated until the moment that women are in control of their own affairs and prefer a segregated space, when they themselves want it by choice rather than having it imposed on them? Suddenly, it all, including segregation, becomes debatable when it’s up to women to decide it. In fact, everything women do, want, think, etc. is up for debate, rarely with women’s own voices present, but men’s affairs are rarely debatable. We never talk about the things that men do in our communities; only what women do is haraam enough for us to be talking about it. Suddenly, when Muslim women take what misogynist-minded Muslims dismiss as “drastic measures” to demand their own space where they are actually at ease during time of worship and feel like real humans communicating with God through prayer, and they (Muslim women) do not allow for men to be present, the men are offended and feel like they have to say whether or not this is Islamically acceptable. Or legitimate. Before this time, which of our men leaders stood up to remark that women’s treatment in mosques and other religious settings is illegitimate, unacceptable, haraam, wrong? That’s undebatable. Women’s spaces in mosques are humiliating, and we are constantly dehumanized. How many men leaders stood up to recognize that before women started their own mosque? How convenient that suddenly, those like Yasir Qadhi are now recognizing what we women have been saying for decades. What a validation of our experiences! Everyone knows our experiences aren’t real until a man leader stands up and say, “Hey, y’all, actually it turns out that it’s real because why else would they be creating this mosque, ai?”
Some of that counter-reaction will be legitimate, and some illegitimate.
But of course. And Yasir Qadhi won’t tell us exactly which parts are legit and which aren’t in this statement because he needs to pretend that he’s being supportive, and if he was actually explicitly saying that, hey, having a women-only mosque is Islamically illegitimate, we women would have a fit! We’d counter-react one more time! So he conveniently doesn’t point out whether it’s legit or not – or which parts of the women’s mosque are legit and which aren’t. Besides, get real – you can’t refuse to condemn misogyny where it is so obviously practiced (just because the person being misogynist is your close friend) and then think you get to decide whether what we’re doing is legitimate or not. (Obviously, I’m referring to Yasir Qadhi’s support for Abu Eesa’s rape, FGM, child bride jokes on International Women’s Day. That’s to say, we can’t really expect much from a man who finds nothing wrong with such misogynist jokes. But more on this below.)
But Yasir Qadhi goes on to say:
Rather than worry about what various counter-reactions have been and how legal they are, I believe we need to concentrate on the root cause of the problem. It is an undeniable reality that women’s prayer spaces (in those masjids that actually have them – for quite a few masjids still don’t even have such spaces) are less accessible, less clean, and less maintained than the men’s sections. Women have to deal with crying children, bad microphones, no visual access to the Imam/khatib, dank hallways to get in and out, and many other issues. Perhaps the worst issue of all: too many of our brothers comment on what they assume is inappropriate clothing when our sisters come to the masjid. This makes many sisters feel uncomfortable simply coming to the masjid.
Note that “the problem” he’s referring to in “the root cause of the problem” is the “problem” of the women’s mosque. It’s a problem.
And, yes! Finally, a man leader validates everything we women have been saying for decades! But, you know, the saddest thing here is that a lot of Muslim women were sharing this status of his left and right on Facebook and other social media as if it’s the best thing to be happening to Muslim women. Because he’s finally recognizing that we do have a problem in mosques. BUT the problem with this is that let’s face it: he wouldn’t be saying this unless he wasn’t confronted with the women’s mosque. Now with a women’s mosque, he faces a dilemma: He has to acknowledge that we’ve got a problem in general mosques, and he has to address it because it’s a part of the reason the mosque exists in the first place. God forbid our misogyny-supporting men leaders ever stand in solidarity with us Muslim women when we scream out hearts out about how our communities refuse to recognize our concerns!
In a day and age where our sisters are going everywhere, visible everywhere, active everywhere, the BEST place for them to be is in the masjid, praying to Allah, and being with fellow Muslims, and learning about their faith.
Oh my God @ the first part here. I’m going to quote The Fatal Feminist here:
Visible everywhere? Visible everywhere? It’s bad enough that we’re “going everywhere” and are—gasp!—“active everywhere,” but to top it off we’re visible everywhere! Can you believe us? Can you believe the nerve of us?
Yasir Qadhi goes on:
Rather than believe that they should stay home, we need to contextualize our environment and ENCOURAGE our sisters to come to the most blessed places in their cities: their mosques. We need to make sister’s facilities as neat and clean and well-lit and accessible as the brothers. We either put them in the same hall as the men (as was the case in the time of the Prophet (SAW), behind the men), or provide state of the art AV access to the lectures/khutbah. We need separate rooms (also with AV) for sisters with young infants so that others can also pray and listen in peace.
The Fatal Feminist responds to this quite well, too. Note the first-person and second-person uses here. Women are “they” and men are the default “we,” and the imagined audience is obviously men. There’s also a complete lack of suggestion that we work with Muslim women to address the problems they face in mosques.
I cannot emphasize enough how frustrating it is that people are addressing the dehumanization of women in mosques in response to the women-only mosques. Again, men aren’t invited, and so they’re gonna go ahead and say, “Fine, fine, FINE, ladies! We agree you have it bad in mosques. Let’s talk about whether your efforts are legit or not, though …”
And most importantly, we need to tell our men that it is not THEIR business (unless a family man is dealing with his own wife/daughter) how other women dress. Let the people in charge of the masjid deal with dress codes.
dot dot dot. “Unless a family man is dealing with his own wife/daughter” because men obviously have a natural responsibility to stop women from making their own choices, wearing whatever they are comfortable wearing and want to wear. Their fathers and daughters have every right to step in, interfere, and remind them who has the ultimate say in a woman’s life: her husband and/or father. Also, let “the people in charge of the masjid deal with dress codes” – knowing that the dress code is going to be typical, rigid, misogynist demands that we women are absolutely sick of.
Frankly, in this day and age, if a sister actually comes to the masjid (rather than going shopping or watching a movie or doing any other activity), we should WELCOME her, have the sisters get to know her, and make her feel special. Her priority is not the scarf on her head but her attachment to Allah. Once she feels that attachment, the rest will follow.
Okay. Rather than going shopping or watching a movie or doing any other activity … God forbid a man speak about women and their spirituality and closeness with God without bringing up some stereotypical image of us … .
Our sisters in faith are our mothers, wives, and daughters. How can we treat them any less than we expect to be treated ourselves in this regard? And how can we deprive them of coming to the masjid when our Prophet (SAW) explicitly forbade it in his own time, and our time requires even more spirituality and education for them?!
God forbid we be anything but some man’s mother, wife, daughter, sister. God forbid we be our own person, our own individual. God forbid we be humans with no ties to someone else, especially a man (because let’s face it: the “our” in every sentence of his in his statement refers to men).
P.S. Yasir Qadhi is one of the misogyny-supporting leaders because did y’all see him supporting Abu Eesa last year when the latter told rape jokes and refused to acknowledge that he had made a lot of harmful statements about and to women? Yasir Qadhi responded to the “controversy” by 1) claiming that Abu Eesa had never even made any jokes about rape, FGM, and other issues that are quite real and intimate to so many women around the world; 2) he implied there was a context to those jokes (!!! See Abu Eesa’s post with its “context” to the left). It hurts my fingers and eyes, but I’m gonna provide a link to that article of his: here. So, yes, when a community leader like Qadhi refuses to condemn a rape apologist like Abu Eesa, what makes us think we can expect any real support from him? Then again, Yasir Qadhi really has come an extremely long way in supporting Muslim women! I mean, his lectures from years ago are so offensive to women — and he literally says things like women are not allowed to work — but hey, whatevz; we’re all growing and learning, and few of us are the same people we were years ago. Let’s hope that he realizes his error in his statement on the Women’s Mosque, too, and in the future makes better, actual efforts in showing support and doesn’t belittle us while doing so.