the Qur’an does not prohibit women’s marriage to people of the book – and other facts about interfaith marriage in Islam

Pre-post: This is for those who believe that Muslim men are allowed to marry People of the Book while women are prohibited; because that means that the whole “shirk” of the People of the Book becomes relevant only when we’re talking about women but not when we’re talking about men (I address this below). If you believe it’s prohibited for BOTH genders, this isn’t for you. 

According to most (Sunni) Muslims, and to the historical Islamic tradition, Muslim men are allowed to marry Christians and Jews, and according to all Muslim sects and schools, Muslim women are prohibited from marrying any non-Muslim. The Qur’an has a few verses that prohibit marriage to the mushrikeen (polytheists, generally), and since there’s little disagreement on this and since this prohibition applies to both genders, I’m not concerned with it. I’m interested in the claim that it’s “haram” for women to marry Christians and Jews.

Muslims popularly believe—and Muslim scholars/teachers of Islam falsely promote the claim—that the Qur’an explicitly prohibits women’s marriage to People of the Book. So I’ve been doing some research on this, and it turns out that the Qur’an actually does not prohibit women’s marriage to People of the Book at all.  It merely allows men explicitly to marry them. So here’s some interesting stuff that I think people should know, especially Muslim women who are shamed and guilted for marrying People of the Book.

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Posted in being human, Death to patriarchy, feminism, forbidden things, I can't believe this needs to be said out loud, Islamic feminism, let's talk privilege, Muslim things, why we need feminism, your face is haraam | Tagged | 19 Comments

the liberating difference between sharia and fiqh

Okay, so, too many people–Muslim and non-Muslim–use the words “sharia” like everyone knows what it is, like it’s some piece of literature confined to some bound book that anyone (or at least the “scholars”) can consult about different issues. A Muslim dude once even asked me, in a conversation where we disagreed on some topic, “Have you even read the Sharia???” I told him yes. He believed me ❤

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why the reluctance to engage and acknowledge Islamic feminism?

I’ve been thinking a lot about why non-feminist scholars (including male academics, even otherwise feminist-friendly ones! – see here, for example) and popular mainstream “traditionalist” scholars of Islam don’t engage Islamic feminist works. Sure, a part of it may have to do with the academicy language of much Islamic feminist scholarship, but I believe it’s more than that. Because male academic scholarship produced by men who aren’t very pro gender egalitarianism is still read and cited and promoted by traditionalist folks, especially if they’re white, male, and are anti-LGBTQ.

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“Stopping Male Violence” (bell hooks)

bell hooks on relationships with men, patriarchy, men committing violence against women they supposedly love, and keeping men’s secret of the violence they commit within relationships.
I’ve been reading Ch. 5 of bell hooks’s The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love on repeat the last couple months. The chapter is titled “Stopping Male Violence.” I beg everyone to read it. Everyone of all genders. I’ll scan the chapter if you can’t access it otherwise.
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Minority youth leadership training opportunities

In a matter of one week,  I was informed about three excellent opportunities for young folks interested in leadership. They all focus on Asian American youth or South Asian American youth. Sharing here in order of their deadline. The italicized parts are copied from their respective websites.

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how to hold men accountable for their violence against women

Sharks and men

(Clearly one of my favorite reminders about the incompetent way we choose to respond to domestic violence.)

All sorts of trigger warnings because this is about violence against women. Also, I’m talking here exclusively about violence committed against women by their male partners. I know that women alone aren’t the victims of violence, I know men can be victims too, I know it’s “not all men” (this is such BS) – I’m not talking about “all men” (go to hell with this nonsense); I’m talking about the men who do commit violence, and chances are, you know at least one man in your life who does it, but you either don’t see it or choose not to see it or aren’t aware of it. Yet.  This post is about violence against women. Emotional, physical, psychological, verbal, financial, sexual, and so on. That’s to say, don’t derail this conversation. Any comments that mansplain violence to me will be deleted. I’m highly suspicious of individuals, especially men, who choose to talk about violence against men *only* and *especially* when a conversation on violence against women is taking place. For those people, here’s an excellent and enlightening read – because domestic violence against men committed by women isn’t nearly the same, and it certainly doesn’t have the same consequences, as violence against women committed by men. Another essential article you need to read, like yesterday, is this one called Not all men commit abuse against women. But all must condemn it.

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when an intellectually stifled nation murders its future: why Mashal Khan of Mardan was lynched

Readers’ discretion advised. This is about violence and the dangers of ignorance, arrogance, irresponsibility, and hypocrisy.

What happened?

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The Genocide Pakistan Committed against Bangladesh (Mar.-Dec. 1971)

In commemoration of the Bangladeshi genocide that began (sort of) on March 25, 1971.

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Posted in Death to patriarchy, genocides, human rights, Pakistan, social justice, violence in this world | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

re the myth that male sex drive is uncontrollable and stronger than female sex drive

This may get a little … vulgar? uncomfortable? immodest? etc. And very long.  But here’s the idea: 1) there’s a popular myth going around that male sexuality is uncontrollable, and that’s why they get to do the things they wanna do (i.e., “nature” is exploited just to validate male  irresponsibility), 2) this myth has powerful and destructive consequences for women and society at large, 3) this myth is linked to the way we study science, humans, nature, etc., and – and this is very important – 4) if a woman doesn’t wanna have sex with you, it’s most likely because you’re not doing it right (because discomfort doesn’t just come out of nowhere) – but, yes, yes it might also be because she isn’t ready to or interested in having sex with anyone right now. Or ever.

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Posted in being human, Death to patriarchy, feminism, forbidden things, gender, human rights, I can't believe this needs to be said out loud, let's talk privilege, society, why we need feminism, your face is haraam | Tagged | 23 Comments

on being deprived of women’s recitations of the Qur’an


Your face is ‘awrah. Iiii mean it.

I’ve been listening to a lot of female recitations of the Qur’an lately. They bring me so, so much joy and peace that it angers me that we’ve been deprived of their voice – literally of their voice – for so long. What a tragedy, what a horror, what a loss, what a fucking violence to God’s word that our male scholars decided our voice is awrah (literally genitals, y’all!) and based on that premise alone denied the entire universe of the miracle that is women’s recitation of God’s word.

This is why I trust no one, I trust no scholar (for anything, not just for gender-related interpretations of the Qur’an/sunnah) – and I forgive no one – who ever, ever has uttered, at any point in time, that a woman cannot recite the Qur’an publicly. Perverted ideas translating into law. I can’t believe anyone ever took you seriously. I hope you’re burning in hell, all of you. #deathto #allmalepanels #allmaleijmaa’ #manels #youdon’tspeakformyCreator

When I get up there, I’m going to tell on all these men. I’m going to tell my Creator about all the ways in which they manipulated God’s word to justify their own perverted ideas about women. Some of them tell us women have no sexual urges, that men’s sexual urges are higher than women’s, while others contradict those guys and tell us that women’s sexual urges are much stronger than men’s and that’s why women are “naturally” shy, modest, etc.

I can’t even. People ask me why I’m so “angry” all the time. Really? How are you NOT angry? I can’t trust people who’re not angry. I can’t trust people who see no reason to be angry about all the ways women have been violated. dismissed. ignored. deprived.

Resist. Defy tradition when it hurts.

In my classes, I have made it a point to always, always show my students a recitation by a woman whenever we’re talking about Qur’anic verses. I’ll show a male recitation only when I can’t find a woman’s one (which was often until I learned that Maria Ulfa’s complete recitation of the Qur’an is available online!). And since looking for specific verses of women’s recitations is a lot of work – but looking up men’s recitations of those same verses and surahs is no work at all, just a youtube click away – I physically hurt and I apologize to my students that I’m showing them a verse that’s paradoxically about women and a woman’s concern being addressed by God in the Qur’an and we can’t hear that through a woman’s voice. Something feels so profoundly wrong and unacceptable and obviously very ironic about that.

Anyway, here are some recitations by women. Please. Listen to them. Resist the patriarchal nonsense than women’s voice is for their husbands and immediate male family members only while men’s voice is just the default, natural public thing, undesirable, etc. Really? Anyone who thinks men’s voice isn’t attractive clearly hasn’t yet heard Mishary al-Afasi. That guy is ultimate #MaleAwrah.

Maria Ulfa’s compelte recitation of the Qur’an
Faridah Mat Saman
Sharifa Khasif
Sumayya Eddeeb
Mazna Awang
Awa Diop
Maghfirah Hussain
Not sure who this one is, but it’s gorgeous too
Tahera Ahmed‘s recitation at ISNA (first public female recitation at ISNA!)
Hajar Boosuq
Aicha Diallo
Nor Azra Ayub
Farihah Zulkifili
Not sure about her name, but here’s another one

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