Women and Islam: A Two-Front War
Liberals have always prided themselves as promoters of freedom of religion, expression, and equality. At face value, these concepts are the key ingredients to a thriving society. But as time has passed, there is an growing abyss stretching between the original ideals of the liberal movement and what it actually supports. When analyzing the goals and agenda of liberalism, one may become confounded at their faithful, unconditional support of Islamic culture. Islamic culture is the very opposite of what the liberals claim to celebrate and uphold. Instead of exposing and critiquing the components of Islamic culture that are in direct opposition to their core beliefs, liberals would quiet critics of the religion, despite facts and experiences. Muslim women are the silent majority in the matter and their experiences and voices are often dismissed. Their opinions and plight are largely met with harsh treatment and more oppression. This represents a paradox for those seeking to uphold the values of liberalism, while exposing their contradictory stance as well.
Liberals have built upon concepts such as freedom of expression, gender equality, and religious freedom. They relentlessly oppose and attack those whom they perceive as violators of these human rights. During the 2016 presidential election, there was a huge outcry against the statements that president-elect Donald Trump made about women. Many critics argued that his stance on women disqualified him from running a country that prides itself on being a progressive nation. Liberals used every media outlet they could to highlight this shortcoming, replaying sound-bites of Trump’s comments repeatedly to garner support for their position. While Trump’s indiscretion toward women may be alarming, it is not nearly as alarming as the culture of Islam that the liberals unconditionally support. More than any other major religion, Islam is closely associated with oppressive views toward women, violence and terrorism, and inequality. Even in moderate Islamic nations, such as Turkey, freedom for everyone is not necessarily thriving. Recently a Turkish girl was sentenced to two years in prison and 100 lashes for being raped by her neighbor. According to the Sharia courts, she was not accompanied by a male guardian, thus making herself more accessible to rape. Liberals largely ignore these common human rights violations and often refuse to speak out against these horrendous offenses. Instead, they attempt to separate the violence and oppression associated with Islam and label it as “Islamic extremism.” Outside of terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, Sharia law is still the predominant influence and governing standard in many Islamic countries. Despite the numerous facts and experiences that are presented to the liberals, they still align themselves with support for Islam, which is not consistent with the values they vehemently strive to defend.
Liberals attempt to promote freedom of expression, religion, and equality by ignoring or harshly condemning any valid critics of Islam. For the sake of seeming “non-discriminatory,’ they separate the very culture of Islam -- a culture that is steeped in oppressive thought and ideology -- and label those who carry out Sharia law as extremists. Liberals tell the masses that Islam is a peaceful religion and those who do not behave peacefully are not true Muslims, they are a radicalized faction of Islam. The fear of speaking out against the ills of this religion, in the name of being inclusive, is the very reason they have blindly sided with governments and ideas that support oppression and inequality.
Outspoken Muslim women often have a hard time fully supporting the liberals due to their inconsistencies. Liberals fail to capture the reality and experiences of countless Muslim women. As a Muslim woman, I am placed in the barren middle. I am in a unique position. My critique of the religion as a whole is born in a desire to see the religion flourish and thrive, where everyone can have human rights and liberties. As with all things we love, we must be able to share our grievances, expose shortcomings and persistent violators. To what group can Muslim women devote their allegiance? On one end, there is radical Islam, a sector of Muslims that regularly violates women. They persistently bully and terrorize religious minorities in Muslim-majority regions of the world. Violence is a means to garner attention, spread its influence globally, and strike fear into their opponents. Vocal opposition to this form of extremism often falls on deaf ears from members on the far right. In predominantly Muslim countries, women are met with harsh treatment or death when they criticize the shortcomings of Islam. On the opposite end, there are the liberals -- a group that has become so politically correct that they shun any constructive criticism of Islam. In the name of inclusiveness, they have muted any inkling of negative rhetoric regarding Islam. It is concerning that my experiences, along with those of myriads of other women, coupled with facts, are not enough to warrant a thorough examination of the unconditional support that liberals extend to Islamic states.
Liberalism's inability to truthfully reflect and admit that there are fundamental issues with Islam prevents it from ever thriving. The groups the liberals vow to represent are the same groups that are more vulnerable under the liberal’s agenda. As a Muslim woman, I am caught in a conundrum. Many liberals are morally and politically confused, despite their best intentions. When they align themselves with a group of individuals that practices oppressive routines on women and religious minorities, they are actively working against their fight for peace, inclusiveness, diversity, and liberty. It is a dangerous and regressive catch for those who identify as liberals, as they must fight for their voices and experiences to be heard, along with fighting radical Islamists and harsh components of the Sharia law.
Deeba Abedi is an Indian-American born to a Muslim family. Dr. Abedi wears multiple hats as a writer, a women’s rights activist and a physician entrepreneur.