For the liberation of women in Islam

It seems hard to believe that women would naturally choose to curtail their freedom, wear the burqa and adopt sharia law. I suggest a liberal Islam for women.

How can I speak out against Islam when I am not a Muslim? It is politically incorrect and possibly offensive and for that, I apologize. But I support women’s rights and I want freedom for women. I am against the burqa and Sharia because I feel that it represses women.

I have heard stories of women being repressed by Muslim men and I don’t like it. Gang rapes of women in Pakistan? Is that a result of Islam? What about acid attacks on women because of the shame following rape by men.

I want the world to be different, but it is the same type of nutters who commit acid attacks and who spray bullets into gay clubs. Indeed, I could even say I hate Islam when it comes from ISIS. But I cannot be against Islam if it is a religion of choice and freedom.

Choice or imposition

Women don’t choose repression, and I wonder if some are Muslim only because their families, culture and country are Muslim. I tell myself, therefore, that women would choose freedom and liberty – that does not mean bearing all – even if it is to be modest and retiring.

Many women speak out – see Mary Winehouse, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Hilary Clinton. These are however, examples of white women protected in western society. Society accepts them and embraces or criticises them for their views – not because they are women.

Women do not need Islam just to be reserved and demure. In Iran in the eighties, women felt liberated. It seems unlikely that these women asked for draconian laws to limit their freedom. Some say that Islamic law is there because men could not control themselves. What truth is there in that? This seems to be for another age, like outdated kosher laws, but kosher laws are not harmful to people.

If the Qur’an enslaves women, what can we do about it? And who are we to expect such change? Society? Christians? Jews? The United Nations? Why are there not men fighting for an Islamic movement for the freedom of women and overturning these laws? Anyone outspoken is perhaps frightened of reprisals or social pressure.

A liberal Islam for women

Are we suggesting a complete change of the Islamic world? There seem to be many supporters of it. Who am I to ask for change? Perhaps it is just a question of women grouping together. Can we equate this to the women’s suffragette movement in the 1920s? How was that won? By women taking risks, demonstrating, putting themselves in danger. Is that what we are asking of Muslim women to get religious laws changed? Like bating the dog from outside the ring?

Who in the Muslim world, men and women alike, dare to speak up for women, for the secularisation of Islam. How does society move forward? And how do we in the west come to terms with women dressed in what we see as symbols of repression? The logical conclusion is – as in Germany and in France – to ban the burqa.

What about a women’s lib for Islam? Today I think such women would fear for their safety. And what is the world doing about those who threaten and attack such liberation?

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