Post 10- Sharia, Fundamentalists, and Islamic Feminism

The current fundamentalist ‘jihadi’ movement really has no historic precedence. They struggle to accommodate Islam with bida, or innovation, fundamentalists do not want any change in how Islam was perceived and practiced in medieval times.  This is a concocted, modern dogma. Fundamentalists confuse believing in the truth of Islam with possessing the Truth, meaning that their interpretation becomes the only true and valid interpretation. Those that follow innovation are not true Muslims. Everything must be rejected and everything must be based on the sharia. Fundamentalists engage with the world in terms of stark dichotomies.  ‘Islamic law’ makes and Islamic state Islamic. Sharia law originally consists of the Qur’an, the traditions of the Prophet, legal consensus, and fiqh. Puritan fundamentalists are mainly concerned with crime and punishment. They want to go back to the 8th and 9th centuries where an ‘eye for an eye’ type of punishment existed; if someone stole, their hands would be cut off. They feel that this type of punishment enforces the whole of Islam.

isis puritans.jpgI do not think that Islamic law has always been consumed with “punishments”, only recent forms of extreme Islam has been concerned with punishing  the non-believers of their extremist version. As stated in the ‘No-Nonsense Guide to Islam’, only Puritan fundamentalists are concerned about punishment and crime laws. Originally the Prophet Muhammad discourages punishment, saying that in a just and perfect society where there is no need to punish because everyone is equal socially and economically. Puritan fundamentalists interpret sharia as how it was in the 8th century when thieves would get their hands cut off for stealing. Punishments, to them, mean that the state is enforcing the whole of Islam, not the parameters that define it. What changed between then and now is that Islamists are afraid of modernity and want to return to a time that is ‘pure’. Laws and civilizations are meant to change, but the advancement of Western influences on Islam and the Middle East scare traditionalists.

Islamic Feminism is a religiously framed discourse of gender equality and women’s rights. The term ‘Islamic feminism’ came about because important figures like anthropologist Ziba Mir-Hosseini re-read the Shari’a and Islamic texts. Islamic feminism includes the domain of religious professions and ritual.  The difference between secular and Islamic feminism is that secular feminism emerged in the form of a social movement, while Islamic feminism started out as discourse of women’s rights and gender equality going directly to the Qur’an and other religious texts, which exercised their own independent critical examination. Secular feminists focused on building new institutions of state and society inclusive of women using constitutional, democratic, and humanitarian arguments. They argued for equality in the public sphere. Islamic feminism also has concerns about gender roles regarding the family laws. Islamic feminism has been a useful tool in countries like Turkey, Morocco, Tunisia, and south Yemen in progressing toward (not fully) egalitarian family laws. In these cases, intense feminist activism was needed, and only after two decades were changes made. Collaboration between secular and Islamic feminisms will need to continue in order to see more change and take on the emergence of communalism, which affects internal cohesion within nations and cooperation between Muslims, and non-Muslims. The problem of Islam, the West, and feminism seems to be a problem that will forever exist in this lifetime. With the recent emergence of ISIS and other extremist groups, these problems can only get worse. ISIS resembles the Puritan fundamentalists mentioned above in terms of wanting a purely Islamic state. Those who do not follow their strict version of Islam they are killed (majority are other Muslims), or are forced to convert to their version.

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