Channel: Fatima Barkatulla
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Salam Alaikum and welcome back to the podcast if you're new here, my name is Amin, I'm your host and and Hamdulillah. Today I'm speaking to sister Fatima Baraka, ALLAH SubhanA. Wa alaykum radical Islam, how are you How's one with ongoing Alhamdulillah Ramadan is busy as usual. So much like you have been very busy, you're real busy be and this is, this is why I wanted you on that I saw on Instagram that you are your fundraising for. So it was a conference and Academy and then
campaigns for women. And it really I was so intrigued when I saw this because I thought Hamdulillah this sounds so exciting. And so I thought Yeah, must get in touch with vitamin. So she can tell me and I thought the listeners would love to hear what you're doing. So before we talk about those, those three main things that you're doing
wide, you know, for Muslim women, we are always it's like they just won't. Society will not let us be Yeah. With it as in I'm thinking of for those of us who live in the West in particular, to just be a Muslim woman and practice your Islam. It just seems to be the it seems to be so difficult nowadays, even on humbler we all want to just, you know, get on with worshipping Allah. So what are the challenges that you think? I know, there are many, but if you saying thinking of one or two major challenges that you feel Muslim women face in the 21st century, what what would they be?
I'd say first of all, we do have to be aware that and put things into perspective, right? So
I cringe a little bit when we when our generation feels that or even the generation after us feel that they have it hard. You know, when I think about my mom, I think of how their generation and how my mom, she used to walk down the streets in London, and she would be the only hijabi. You know, like,
literally even all of the Muslims in our area. Hardly anyone was job in those days. Yes. And she would be faced with racism, like, to her face, right.
So I don't want to like, I don't think it's so bad and of useful for us to see ourselves as having it bad. Yeah. When we compare it to, you know, what our mom's had it, like, you know, because hamdulillah being a Muslim woman. And being a visibly Muslim woman is quite normal now, you know, like, so. So in that sense, and Hamdulillah we have a lot
of privilege in that sense, right? We've we, like Subhanallah, just to remember, even just being in secondary school, I was the only hijabi.
And you can see your school photo. It's like, everyone has short skirts. Everyone has rolled up their skirts, right? Yes, I did. And then there's my skirt, the longest
skirt girl with the white hijab, you know, so soon as you see our end of year photo, you can just spot me straightaway because, you know, and to stand out like that. And yet, a few years ago, when I was looking at secondary schools for my children, I walked into one of the secondary schools in Barnet, which is the same area where I went to secondary school. And there was a massive image on the like, on the wall of the school. It's part of the school's branding, if you like, have a hijabi girl
in a lab coat, and you know doing science. And I just found that really emotional when I walked in there because I was like, wow, how things have changed. how things change. I think Fatima. I think that is a very, I think we overlook that your way. But yes, sometimes you need to look at the past and see how, what was it like to for previous generations to them appreciate our situation now. So humbler? You're right, because I think I'm thinking back to when I again, I didn't start wearing hijab at school. I started wearing it at college. And I think I was this number is the second girl who put her put it on. And it and this but this is what's interesting is that I was in East London,
this was in a very Asian area. And you still got stared at as if what has possessed this girl? Is she she just she got mad What What is she doing?
And so you I was now you can walk if in your case? In some areas, it probably still is you stand out but as far as what does a Muslim woman look like? And yes, they wear hijab that has people know
that and don't balk at you.
So then if that and humbler so Okay, so, so then what would you then say is a challenge we face? Yeah. So I just wanted to like acknowledge that. Yeah. Good. Because I think we should you know, because it makes us grateful as well. And it makes us it. It's what stops us from having a victimhood. Oh, God. Oh, that word? Oh, yeah. Because we, it's true. We It's so lovely being a victim, we can wallow in it. It's an excuse for everything, isn't it? Yeah, that's why I'm so.
Yeah. So. So bearing all of that in mind.
There are some unique challenges. And the challenges are, I think, well, different generations will have different challenges, different age groups, I would say.
One of the challenges, especially for young people, is, you know, the challenge of social media and the constant barrage of images, the constant, especially for girls, the constant call to be
something that you're not, you know, to be an airbrushed version of yourself, and to fit a certain
doll like Barbie doll mode, you know, mold. Yeah. And,
and I think that can have can have its negative effect, you know, over time, it really damages people's self esteem, especially girls.
If we thought we had it bad just from television, and ads, and, you know, the kind of images that are used against women
to kind of make them feel inadequate, inadequate, that they need to spend money, they need to, you know, buy more they need to be consumers need to fix themselves all the time. And they never good enough, if we thought it was bad. In the 80s 90s.
Now, it's like, it's gone hide steroids on steroids, because because you literally like even even myself, like just being on Instagram, for example. I don't explore I don't browse Instagram, you know, because I don't want to be confronted with images that are not good for my spiritual heart. You know, and that's the thing, isn't it? Like, images have an effect on your heart to have an immediate effect on your brain chemistry sometimes, you know.
And so, the idea of lowering your gaze is not just for
the opposite sex, it's lowering your gaze from things that seek to stimulate use titillate to you, or make you feel jealous or make you feel anything, right anything kind of attracted to the material world in an unhealthy way. So I think the bombardment of you know, images, girls being bombarded with images. That's one of the big challenges. And even a women I think, you're right, it affects the young and the old because now everyone is now consuming this. It's global. East and west. That's what's interesting. It's, it's a global issue. And and it's and I think it's really interesting that what you said about capitalism is profit is it these unscrupulous companies they know exactly what
they're doing. They aren't they want women and and it's and it's increasing on to men and young boys as well that if we make people feel that they are again, inadequate or ugly or
not good enough in the way that others created them is not good enough, then they will consume what we then provide because then here we go. Here's the cream. Here's the clothes, yeah, plastic surgery that will make you a better person more attractive. The other day. I think it was during, during lockdown. You know, the company, Estee Lauder, they sent out I'm on their mailing list. So they sent an email with a hijabi influencer Okay.
Saying that she's going to do a tutorial. And they're so clever, like, the way they worded it. They know that Muslim women I mean, it's like they sussed us out. Like, the way they worded it was, you know, the just the right look for the school run.
And I was thinking, Oh my God, they're trying to make us feel inadequate on the school.
Everyone looks inadequate.
Like oh my god, I better get my makeup on like
I want to be seen in whereas usually everyone's like in their pajamas or
Getting out of bed sort of thing? Yeah. I just thought Subhanallah how manipulative you know, like, it was so manipulative because it was like, well, you should be doing this, you know, aren't you doing this? Everyone's doing it sort of thing, right?
And that constant and I think up till now, we've been quite protected from that relatively, you know, there was this pride when we were growing up anyway, there was this pride that, you know, as Muslim women were not part of that constant obsession, you know, like, without appearance, and, you know, anti aging, and, you know, all of that kind of obsession
become commoditization of women of womanhood? I would say, right, yeah, we used to feel proud that we're not part of that.
But now, it's almost like a lot of Muslim women have also been enticed into that. And I think what that does is it leaves ultimately leaves women feeling empty. Right? Because if all you're cultivating, and all you're thinking about is appearances, you know, that's a delusion, that's like, it's just a mirage. Yeah, and temporary. Aging, and, you know, the changes in our, in our appearance in our lives are inevitable, right?
And if you're just cultivating your looks, and you're constantly focused on that, think of all the areas that you're not cultivating, right? Yeah, the areas of your life that you should be, that will really bring you a lot of enrichment and meaning, especially as you get older, you know,
yeah, because it's an interest that if you're, I think the,
you know, again, cultivating your mind, and you're and you're thinking, and then your, your relationship with Allah, they are things that you don't mean to, but because you're putting your energy into it, it's like they're telling us, this is what you should put your energy and time into. So you're, so you start doing that, because you think that will give you happiness.
And then you end up neglecting those aspects, because I think that's, that's, you know, what you said about they've got in, they really have got into our heads, and it is, like, we do have to protect our minds and our hearts.
Because they're the two things that will they affect us so much. And so, and I think that is a challenge that
protecting, you know, like don't not absorbing ideas that are alien to Islam. So this whole idea of that, oh, you have agency, and you're free and live life on your own terms. But then guess what they're telling us the terms to live on, we think we're choosing whether it's our clothes, our makeup, our even our career choices, or what we're putting our energy into, they're telling us this is what a woman does. This is what a fierce, strong, independent woman does. They're not obedient, you know? Absolutely. And that's why like, subhanAllah, just yesterday, a sister reached out, reached out to me, and she said that, you know,
when she just embarked on motherhood,
she started having feelings of inadequacy. And gosh, yes, you know, I mean, that whole kind of, because of the devaluing of motherhood in society, and the raising up of career ism as being the ultimate thing, right?
A lot of sisters, when the reality of life comes to them, right, which is, which is actually the beauty of life, which should be it shouldn't be that we're looking at it as like, these are the things that are going to, like sustain you in your old age, you know, family,
love, relationships, that mean something that you've really worked on, that You've nurtured those things that shouldn't be valued, because they're not being valued in society, it can make sisters, especially in that very vulnerable time when they just become a mother, for example. And it is it is a shock, isn't it? It's like the shock to the system. Yeah.
It can give them immense feelings of anxiety, inadequacy, I believe depression.
And that's not natural. It's like we've been manipulated into feeling like that. Yeah. And this sister was telling me that she was listening to some of my talks over like, from the past, about motherhood in particular. And she said, she just
she realized that this was her calling, and she really wanted to make it her calling and she wanted to see it as a project and she didn't just want to see it as like, a side thing that you know, that you do while you're doing your main thing sort of thing, right that way you could come in
And then she sort of she felt she said that she felt very empowered by that message, you know, that message that you're not just a Mother Stop saying I'm just a mum, you know.
So I think that's another challenge that Muslim women because we are still quite traditional, right, like, the traditional role of women,
the valued role of a mother the valued role, as I would say matriarch of the family, right?
Muslim women still tend to tend to fulfill that that role, but because society and the culture is constantly belittling that role, and those traditional roles, I think, another challenge that Muslim women face is really sifting through the ideological messaging that they're constantly being exposed to, you know, whether it's anti men, because I think that's another problem, right? Is a lot of anti masculinity type messaging that we're exposed to.
My friend, Lima, B. Roberts, she was telling me she went to this
talk for young people. And I myself, I've been engaging with teenage girls, and one of the things you notice is that they have a very poor opinion of of men. Oh, gosh, they joke about your boys and men. Well, men are trash. That's the that's the same and men are trash thing. Yeah. And then there's this
toxic masculinity. Yeah. So thoughts might I think I think there's an elephant in the room here, isn't it? It's feminism, that feminism has now had such a massive impact on the thinking of all women. And so when I think we know when it comes to Muslim women, and I think just generally, we have all absorbed certain ideas and feminism in particular, it's interesting when you study it, the history of it, I spent as good over the past few years, I just think that's what I've been studying. And the impact has been phenomenal. It's been so subtle. And but it's been, it's been catastrophic for all women, like non Muslim or Muslim as in, it's like, you're mentioning the attitudes that
women hold about motherhood. Let's go back even more into beings the whole idea of singledom and why even why should even get married? That's even being questioned. That, you know, stay remain single. Why do you need a man? Yeah, you can get that you could get and get education, you can study, you have money. What's the need for a man who is trashed at the end of the day? And but no one's saying men are perfect. But hey, guess what? Women aren't perfect, either. That there's a lot out there that, you know,
we need to you're right, let's rather than just blindly and passively take on the ideas that it then it's ultimately it's progressive, liberal culture that's been pushed to us. And it's given us a mind. Let's question it. Let's push back and say no, hold on. You're telling me that this is the blueprint for my life? Actually, it's not why should I because the women women in not non Muslim in the West. They're not. They're not happy. And I don't say this in a triumphant way that oh, look good. us Muslims. We've got it and look at you nasty, no, no, they humanity. Islam came for all of humanity, but what they're being given, and they've taken it with the whole women's lib movement.
Well, now we're taking it and thinking that's better than what Allah has given us. But I think we have to really question it. Well, let me just make a comment about what you just said. Because, okay, I think one of the things that sisters need to know is you can care about women's rights. Without being a feminist, you know, you can care about women's rights. It's just like, you can care about poverty without being a communist, right? Yeah. You can you can care about being an entrepreneur and six financial success without being a capitalist, right? Yes. You don't have to adopt an ideology. And feminism today is an ideology, right? Yes. It's a set of ideas, which
ideologues? Usually academics, a lot of them
have come up with academics and human beings who No, not really any much in any more than we do here. I mean, like, it's very much based on trial and error. Yeah. Theories, right. One of the theories very harmful theory that gender is like, completely malleable, completely fluid, you know, fluid. The idea that it's just a construct, you know, there's nothing biological about us that yeah informs our, our gender
and it's led to a lot of harm.
In the 60s and 70s, there was this whole call anti motherhood anti marriage call, right? Which basically made promiscuity acceptable, which made, which was very harmful to women. Because
if you look at marriage, and you label it as being slavery, which is what, you know, if you see the placards of the women's rights protesters, it would say things like, you know, marriage or slavery and things like oh, well, it was Wolstencroft, who said, marriage is a form of legal prostitution. So Pamela, yeah. Can you see it taking taking something that's so pure, right, and just throwing it away? Like without a thought, and what has that done? It's meant that women are now expected. And we're talking about the wider society, women and girls and I noticed this at school, they're expected to do sexual favors for boys to,
to sleep with men, right? Without any kind of commitment.
I mean, how does that yeah, that is liberation, you are being liberated. Right? You do that? And I don't think it's any coincidence that the me to movement, if you look at a lot of the women coming forward, and the time period when they were abused, and when they were harassed. Yes, following that, 60s and 70s, you know, yeah, I continued, and it continued, yeah, yes. And continues but, but do you know what I mean, like when it was at its peak? I wouldn't say peak, but it seems like it's peak when when it's almost like everyone was turning a blind die. You know, it we may be harassed. Yeah, I know. It's, you know, you think of that movie very famous movie nine to five were Dolly
Parton gets harassed by her boss, you know, that epitomized what was happening to women? I know, it's your it's, I think it's as women, I'd say, again, all women, if we look at it's really interesting, when you look at our history, the history of women's rights, and how in the West in particular, like, we can't deny that there were some things like for example, you know, equal pay for some not everyone because it still doesn't exist in the workplace, you know, again, sexual harassment laws, there were some things that the feminist movement gained for women, so childcare whites, like the fact that they weren't given childcare, but you think they weren't seen as being
worthy enough to be given those things and a humbler through their activism. certain rights were gained. And okay. And that's fair enough. But it's the ideas that are so this is what people need to look at the idea. So this idea that somehow or both genders should be absolute equality. And we should ignore the differences and like you said about that biology is just by the by that shouldn't dictate our roles in life or, you know, our choices. And again, and it's interesting, this equality and promiscuity. So people say that getting you know, the pill, legalized abortion,
in a kind of abortion on demand, to be honest, and now with being able to change your gender. These things come these just these all sounds so good, but when you research them think they're not bringing women happiness, you know, the know, the legal suffering, disproportionately? Yeah.
Like just an example of the fact that pornography is now except that there's nothing wrong with pornography. Now, if you look at the amount of stuff love the food, that it's mainly women, but then with this, the whole sex trade and the exploitation of women and sex trafficking. Who is it affecting women? That freedom did not like, as you said, did not give women it's they like they're in slavery now.
And that's Muslim women and non Muslim men. It's all of us. Yeah. So I think like whatever's happening in society around you, it, you know, it infiltrates every community, right, to some extent. So I think those are some of the challenges. And like I said, you can care about women's rights without falling prey to a particular ideology, you know, especially an ideology that you don't really know what the results of it will be, you know,
because as Muslims, we have our own framework, right? We have our own framework for women's rights, we have our own economic system we have now those things, it doesn't mean that Muslim societies are perfect. Not at all. No. Oh my god. You know, I lived in Egypt. Oh, gosh, you know, sexual harassment in Egypt is rife. Yeah, that's not that's because people have moved away from Islam. It's because people are not being nurtured with Taqwa.
And there's all sorts of reasons for that. And sort, of course those need to be tackled, right? It's not about saying, let's ignore, you know, the negative things in our communities. No, not at all, we will deal with them. But we won't allow an ideology to dictate to us, especially one that is based on trial and error based on you know, ideologues. And based on the human mind, at the end of the day that feminism grew out of liberalism, its branch of liberalism. And John Locke, my goodness, why, you know, he's just because of his understanding that he's white, the whites, certain, you know, we have certain rights, and that's just been taken, like whites thought of by this old white man who,
and it's been taken and taken as gospel. And suddenly, you know,
it that's, that is actually quite amazing that how that is being given to us as a blueprint.
But now, going back to your your wife that we do have our
So Islam, that, you know, it's given rights to women. But I think now, this is another challenge that I'm seeing a lot that Muslim, the Muslim women that I'm speaking to you through my podcast, and I'm one of the reasons why I wrote the book about I've written a book, it's called smart, single Muslim, which looks at all the issues, that the kind of hurdles that are put in the way for Muslim women to get made, or whether that's racism, individualism, feminism, you know, things like that. The thing that I keep hearing repeatedly, is that, yeah, but look at our Muslim communities. Look how they're not following Islam, or they are being racist, or they have colorism or they have
misogyny. And it's so hard to then, like, I'm trying when I speak to you women when I'm, I'm telling them Yes, LOM is the answer. And they say, but I don't see it in the Muslim men and women or in my communities, that I think that's a challenge that we face. How do we
and I think 100 We have a lot of work to do. And
because I'm definitely not one to blame, I think
liberal society is causing problems for us. But we are then because we are not sure we are choosing to disobey Allah as it community wise, that is then causing us problems, we can't expect the fruit of you know, you know, otherwise to be answered. When we're choosing to disobey our Creator. i That's something we really have to like, internalize. Yeah, well, I think one of the like, I've been studying human rights law recently. And one of the key differences between our Muslim Islamic approach to rights and human human rights. And the western approach is individualism, isn't it? Oh, yes. So and then that comes from liberalism, right? So the whole idea that the individual and the
individual is happiness, the individual's freedom, the individuals, everything, autonomy is king, right?
For us as Muslims, the individual is important.
But God is the most important, right? Yes. So our desires, our you know, even our rationale, you know, is subservient to God. Now, and, and that means that it's much more holistic, because God as the Creator knows what's best for us.
And He doesn't ask us to only take care of the rights and the feelings of the individual. We take, we are told and our Sharia takes into account the effects on the family that affects the couple together, so men and women, we are interdependent, we're not, doesn't need to be this clash doesn't need to be this competition, this constant pitting of men and women against each other.
We should be cooperative, you know. And that's, I think, the way things have been through most of history, right?
And so, so
it's a much more holistic way of looking at the world, you know, where it's not just about the rights of the individual, no matter what happens, right? Like no matter what the effect on the unborn child is, for example, no matter what the effect on the family is, or on wider society is in the morals of society, you know,
Islam takes into account all of these things, and we have for example, oops, sorry. I'll say that again.
Get back to me. Can I just I turned my heater on. Could you hear it? If I'm just gonna turn my fan on again? Because my mom's already cold. Can you hear the fan
I can't but it might be because I haven't got the volume up very high
and put the volume up higher
Now, personally, I can't but okay, I haven't got headphones also. Okay, I'll turn it on just in case because
she got really cold if I got my, you forgotten what I was saying, but you were talking about
how liberalism it gives individual is the most is given the highest position. And whereas in Islam alone we are we are less slaves I suppose and a little Yes. You've said yeah, that will cave
it all into account the entirety of and not only does Islam take into account our dunya right? That's one thing, right? Because you, right and a lot of liberalism, etc. It's all about this world, right? It's all about Yeah, yeah.
But for us, it's beyond this world, right? This world is just a short amount of time. Right? So it's about what's good for your hair after as well. So when we've got that type of framework that's so holistic, I think
the thing that we as women, once I believe women are empowered enough and aware enough, awakened to the fact that we are the culture makers of society. You know, I know it's a cliche, but it's true, that, you know, Muslim women are half of the Ummah, and we raise the other half. What that means is, we have the ability to change the culture of the OMA, if there's something that we're seeing that's become a norm in society, in our own community. And we want to change that, we can do that.
Yes, it's not going to be overnight, you know, we have to take on view. Okay. But as the mothers as the as the culture makers, I would say, we as women have a huge amount of
influence. Yes, yeah. Look at it like that. Yeah, no, we should see that. Because if we think you know, as mothers or, or even okay, even if you're not a mother, that amongst the women, that
literally I was listed as example of racism when it comes to marriage, because this is something I feel was quite a big I see in the South Asian community, that you'll have young women who say who they can't get married, but they're told you can only marry let's say, you can only marry Pakistani, that's my background. So that's what I know about. And then therefore, it's and it's now down even more, okay, particular families, particular cast, and and then that girl can then it's like Mission Impossible to get married. Now, if the mothers let's say, for example, the mothers that aunties, the older sisters, they decided to know, you know, what we're going to accept that allow, let's have a
culture where we allow our daughters to marry, and our born African, any Muslim of any color, or any background, and they push it because you're right, they do have a lot of power there. And that that's how things can change, you know, once upon a time arranged forced marriages is what would happen a lot. But that culture has been changed, that does become unacceptable. And I do think in the home, we do underestimate the power of women in a positive. You know, when I say power, does that mean ability? You know, we You're right. I love that idea that you're saying we can define the culture in our homes.
You know, and we change society one home at a time, right? Yeah, that's right, that that oak is, again, it's in which you can you know, the Hadith about, I'm only paraphrasing that, you know, if you see an evil you can, you can change it with your hand, you can speak out against it, we can hate with your heart, within, we should look at our capability and our sphere of influence. And think, what can I change? You know, sometimes you look at the big problems and hunger, we should we do the wild, we give charity, we where we can make a big butt in our homes. Let's work on our homes. Let's work on our extended family. We can do a lot.
Absolutely. And sometimes we overlook that. And we want to do revolutionary things, you know, that we don't necessarily have influence on Yeah, but it really does start with you. It starts with you being a role model. And then it starts with your family and then it kind of
you know, it grows. Yeah, it grows. And I think the other thing is that look, don't underestimate the transformative power of Islam because you think about the time of the Prophet SAW Selim. It was a it was a society that used to bury its borders a lot
Live Right? Like, right well even my order to say let's be a hidden been Cotillard, when the little baby Allah revealed that when the little baby girl who's been buried alive will ask for what crime was she killed. And with that fire and with the Quran, within 20 years, within a decade or two, the entirety of Arabia was free of female infanticide, female infanticide wasn't part of their culture anymore. Right? So that's the transformative power of the Quran. When people
internalize it, when people accept it, they decide that they're going to, you know, follow its guidance. And today, we have societies like India, China, where female infanticide is rife. Hmm, it doesn't matter how many UN resolutions and UN treaties are kind of, yeah, they Yeah, they have
this one. Yeah. But I think I think we also have to take into account that you're right, that there's the individual there society, and then it's also when when the Quran is practiced as law, that when it is put, you know, not only was it prohibited, but you would then get punished if you if you would bury your dog, so you could no longer the people who chose the choosing, actually, I'd still like to do it, they can't do it anymore. Because that's the other thing that, you know, back then. So that all the laws relating to women that came about that gave us the rights that Allah chose for us, you now then have the power of the Sharia being implemented as well. But so any, and
this is I think I want to continue, there was exactly that they knew, Okay, if they're not going to, I still want to be a press my, my daughter, my wife, my whoever, they knew, Oh, now I'm gonna, I'm gonna get in trouble with the, with the judge with the courts, you know? And I think, unfortunately, that's the thing that we're missing. But 100, that doesn't mean we sit, we just think, oh, okay, it's not there. So we're going to leave it, we still have to do something. Yeah. And I think in particular, don't try borrowing solutions from
an Islamic cultures, they won't help us even. But then I think I think going back to this is the thing. Many women do look to whether it's campaigns or protests or activism, that,
again, is feminist feminist in nature, because I think, well, the Muslims aren't talking about domestic violence, what they you know, or they're not speaking about,
you know, you know, the mistreatment of women, or even the sexual harassment, for example, Muslims aren't, these are the concerns I have, that I'm dealing with right now. The most of them are the most just talking about it are Islamic organizations do doing anything to help me, they're not. So I'm gonna turn to non Muslims who are willing to help me. I mean, this thing, like, we are told that we should do to our right when it comes to good things. So if there are certain causes certain things that we can collaborate with, and that, that are in line with our values, and our
convictions, and of course, you know, we can get involved with that. And we should, where it becomes problematic is then when we hook line, and sinker, start adopting another ideology, right? We start allowing it to affect the way we look at things. So I guess one of the
things that we tried to do so let me just give you a bit of background about the conference. So yes,
a few years ago, we held the Seeds of Change Conference a number of years in a row. And it was the largest Muslim women's conference in Europe, we had women coming from, we were quite surprised, actually, we had to open up more seats, you know, because so many Muslim women wanted to come. And it was really a call to action to Muslim women to really own their identity as Muslim women to realize the immense privilege and, you know, gift that they had in Islam, and then to use that to affect their communities to make that our basically to their communities, right. So the organization that ran the conference was at our organization, right? They were to non Muslims in particular. So
what we found is 2000 women came,
they and this these are paid tickets, you know, so it was a big deal. Like people were coming from Indonesia and places that we didn't realize, and that's the wonder of the internet now, right? You can reach the world and the overwhelming feeling that they had. And by the way, we we crafted the conference. It wasn't for us. It wasn't just a bunch of talks, you know, like people
just, it's just get so and so big names and just get them to do a talk wasn't like that. It was a journey. We we had actually designed it, you know, so that the moment that the sisters walked in to the moment when they left, they had been taken on, I would say
they'd been taken on a journey and mental journey, spiritual journey, you know.
And so, by the end of it, we had women who were brimming full of positivity. By the way, we had a whole women mothers section as well. So others with babies were there. It wasn't very inclusive. In that sense. We obviously like because we're women, we cared about women, right. And we cared about their needs. Yeah.
And we made it a beautiful place as well, we made sure it was like a nice hotel, it was just, like nice food. Yes.
I don't remember what the food was. I remember cakes.
Yeah, there was some stalls. But the point is that it was like a day out for the system.
myself and my team, especially the sister who's like, was managing the event, we really believe in the transformative power of
a day, you know, like, because we in our own lives, I think we've had conferences or events that we've been to,
that took us on a journey and changed our life. You know, like, I know, people think, you know, I was just a new man boost, blah, blah, blah. Yeah, there are those types of conferences, but then there are conferences where you leave with a new sense of purpose, you know. And so having experienced that, and then hearing the feedback from the sisters, they were like, Yeah, we just set up a group in our community, we like, sometimes it was small things like, we set up a knitting group and our community and, you know, we've got non Muslim women coming. And we've been having conversations about Islam. It was all downhill related. Right? Yeah.
But it was sort of, like, activating sisters in in a very positive way. And, you know, I will say, I think it's a saying, I think is attributed to Gandhi, or Nelson Mandela, so is one of them, right?
It's that if you want to, kind of you want, if you want to stop having problems of your own, find a bigger problem, right? Find a bigger problem to deal with, when you have a bigger problem than your little petty issues, kind of pale into insignificance and you, you're able to focus on something greater, something more meaningful. And I think that was one of the things that the conference and the messages that we weren't trying to give sisters did. So unfortunately, the conference after a number of
runs, couldn't carry on because the organization that was basically funding it and supporting us, they, you know, change their strategy. They had a different, they wanted to go in a different direction. I see. But we were left feeling like wow, we've just tasted what sisters want, you know, we know what sisters want. And this is one of those things. They want connectedness with their fellow sisters. They want messages that are specific to them. Yeah.
Also, another catalyst I think, that really made me feel that there's a need for a Muslim women's organization was it was a
It was an event, big event. Very advertised. It happens. And I don't know if it's annual, but anyway, and I was invited as a speaker. And it's very glamorous, very nice. But when myself and some others went to it, we saw okay, this event is all about fashion. Yeah. That when we entered the bazaar, or the kind of convention area, there were plastic surgeons. Okay. Yeah. This was called Muslim. You know, Muslim women. Yeah. Yeah. So, we, we were like, okay, you know, and it was war, materialism. You know? I'm not saying there's anything wrong with fashion. I love fashion. You know.
I love jewelry. I love all of those things, right?
When an event is only about that stuff,
and only about how you can look sexy and your hijab and all that kind of thing, right? Yeah. And then you're inviting me to be the little Islamic? Yeah, you're gonna give the blessing. God bless everyone make it make him feel good and halal about this.
So you've got to start the event with a bit of Quran. Oh, yeah, yes. Okay, that will legitimize everything they did to people for napkins on their heads.
Yes, I think so. And then you have me as like the I don't know, the warm up who kind of
I'm supposed to make everyone feel like, okay, you know? Yeah.
I just realized, oh my God, I don't want to be part of legitimizing
this as the norm and, and yet there's no alternative like oh yes, that's what I mean like that's is so sisters think well this we want to do we want to meet sisters want to go to something that's tailored for Muslim women? Yeah. And this is what's on offer so let's go. Yeah, right yeah, that is this is So Fatima you have hit the nail, I was feeling this so much when I I used to do events when I used to I have business in it. And I used to do, I did every single Muslim event for 10 years ago going to the south my stall and and it was a major change in from the events used to be very Islamic and there'd be talks and Islam was very important to the last one that I went attended. And I
decided I can't do this anymore. Because slap bang in the middle was a catwalk and we were there at the setting up. And I saw them sitting up and you know, you have like the woman screaming at the models, move it, shake it. Come on, give me some of this. And I was just thinking, oh my what? This is modest fashion. This is the what has been offered to Muslim women. And you might and there was the whole thing just I thought I don't think I can be part of this anymore. Because yes, this version of Islam, this progressive liberal, kind of it was like a weird mix of okay to dismantle halal food. But you're right. There's a woman, there's what's women wearing? Guy, it's modest
fashion, I don't know what it is. And then you've got and then what I didn't like was there was like influences going around trying to get you to give me free stuff. And I'll take a photo in front of your stall and put it on Instagram. And I thought I feel like I'm being mugged.
It was the whole thing. You're and what was the cherry on the cake was one brother said I decided to do a don. And he did a done. And the organizers came and told him to stop. What? Yeah. And he said, What do you mean? And then he said, I'm doing a dance. So everyone can we can paint your mark, because was pirate area. And the the organized Muslim organization think it was because he was saying Allahu Akbar.
And he goes, and then wouldn't how would that image? Probably it didn't. And the other than just your normal Muslims are saying No, let him do the alarm because we're going to pay now. And I thought look at where we've come. And you might there's no alternative. Yeah. So anyway, these are the sorts of feelings, you know, that I realized, you know, what, there's a lack of female leadership in that sense. You know, there's a lack of, there are women who are entrepreneurial. And you know, don't get me wrong. I think Muslim women are so talented. You know, I'm so proud, like, even just hearing about you and just seeing your podcast. I feel so proud of you. I feel so proud of
our sisters, you know, I feel like there's so much good in our community. But I feel like there's a lack of attention for women towards women. So like, typically the organizations that our organizations in the Islamic organizations all run by men, that's fine. You know, I'm not criticizing that at all. And a lot of sisters work for those as well. But I think because they've got so many other concerns that they're dealing with, you know, so many other sons, their net is so wide that they can't focus on the needs of women, you know, the specific messaging for sisters. Right. So whenever there's some kind of crisis,
sisters are feeling low because some politicians are targeting them or, you know, they're being made fun of, or the media has gone after them. Right. Well, there's some law that's been passed against the hijab. Yeah, yeah. So like, yeah, never those things happen. I feel like there's a there's a response. But, you know, I really feel for the sister who's at home, who just feels really attacked and feels really like nobody's speaking for her. Nobody. Yeah, there's no group that she can turn to,
you know, to see some leadership see some,
some action and and also, to kind of rejuvenate her. Give her a sense of resilience. I think resilience is my word. You know. I want our sisters to feel risk.
zilliant Despite Islamophobia and that attacks, you know, yeah, yeah, a way to deal confidently and Islamically with what the challenges that are being thrown at them. Because it's interesting that you bet there have been books, like, written by Muslim women, like a number of different authors will get together and write about this issue that you're saying that when these things happen, there have been books that have been written and have got a lot of attention. But when you read them, and even like, again, I've, I've listened to a lot of podcasts by Muslim women, and read books by Muslims. And the way that what I find lacking is that Islam isn't at the forefront of the solution
that they're giving to Muslim women. It they seem to be either saying, Okay, any lifestyle a Muslim woman wants to choose is okay. It's, you know, whatever voice whatever Muslim woman is saying, is, okay, it's her life, it's her choice. But the thing is that it's taking away No, we are we're slaves to Allah. But even what we're the way we're going to deal with the problems we're facing. It has to be within the framework of Islam. So we don't just so whether it's the hijab ban for the aundre, you know, van de teens in France, are we going to say no, it's our freedom? Are we going to use the freedom argument and the Liberty argument to explain this? Or are we going to talk about how No,
it's an it's a matter of obedience, it's an Islamic obligation that we want to continue. It's not about freedom. It's about obligation. And like, we might have to invoke freedom, we might have to invoke it as a way to say to the west, for example, you know, Western leaders that look, your treaties, your human rights treaties that you've signed up to say that I'm allowed to express my right. Okay. Right. So we might have to invoke it in order to get our rights. Right. But that's, that's not our reason for doing it. You know what I mean? Well, you're pointing out the hypocrisy, that you can show the hypocrisy in their law that they're, they're selectively choosing when to
apply their laws. I want our sisters to know that it is out of love for them. Yeah. And out of wanting the best for them for their dunya. And after
that I am fearful, you know, yeah. Yeah. And I think that I think, into a tunnel that is ultimately going to harm them. And at the end of the day, when we say, Islam, Islam, what are we saying what we're actually saying, we're not saying, you know, what we're saying is our Creator, right?
When he has given us guidelines, or when he's prohibited something, is because there's something harmful in that. He's commanded us with something, there's something good in it, whether we can rationalize it or not, or whether we can see the good in it or not, right now, when they will. Yeah. But it's there, right. So once you realize that, you realize that, oh, I don't have to figure everything out for myself, you know,
and I shouldn't let go of my, I shouldn't give anyone else so much power that they get to dictate to me how I should live my life. Actually, my Lord has sent me guidance, right, the guidance is there. And it's so broad as well, you know, it's not, it's not a straight jacket. It's,
you know, the Sharia is so kind of flexible, it has flexibility in it, you know, a certain amount of flexibility, enough flexibility. It has the ability to span cultures to span time, you know, so, we've got this amazing gift that Islam,
Allah said, You are the best nation that has been extracted from mankind, for mankind.
Because you enjoy the good, you forbid the evil and you believe in Allah.
And so, when we were doing our conference, you know, one of our, our tagline was, be the best of womankind. Right? It was literally that we as Muslim women, we should be so we should be women of substance, you know, not women who can just be swayed by whatever the latest fad is, whatever the latest trend is, whatever the latest kind of, you know, pressure is on women
to be more critical, you know, like more critical and scrutinizing and observant of what's really going on, you know, yeah, and I think and I think so, you know, with the academy then tell me a bit more about the Academy because, one, to be able to be critical in your thinking. You need knowledge, you need access to knowledge
as well. So tell me about the academy. So I think there are three areas that we've so far identified. So we are still in the early stages of our organization, and we're going, we're trying to go through it in a very good way, you know, like, in a very strategic way.
And having a professional facilitators help us with every stage of Hamdulillah. Because we want to do things properly. And also, we've, all of us have been involved in lots of organizations, and we've seen some of the mistakes that have been made. And we don't want to have to go through all of that, right. So of course, I'm not saying we're not going to make mistakes, but we'd like to do things properly from the beginning. So the three areas I think we've really identified that we would like to serve women in is our motivation, in terms of their motivation, and, you know, commitment to the in, and that sense, right.
The other is fortification, so their sense of being strengthened from within, and resilience, you know, so whatever is being thrown at them, whether it's the tests of life, or whether it's Islamophobia, you know,
Muslim women have the spiritual resilience, to deal with that, you know, and then the third is, knowledge and education, because I think those three things are quite important, you know, in tandem.
and so with education, we feel that there's definitely got to be in any effective Muslim women's organization that tries to address the needs of, you know, Muslim women on mass, we've got to have an education aspect. And also because I think, from my own experience, you know,
since I was 60, and I've been studying Arabic, I've been studying.
And I know the transformative power of even something as simple as studying the Sierra, right, you know, from beginning to end,
it will change your life.
Because every type of character that you'll meet in life, the prophets outside of Sierra has in it right? And every pain and every difficulty, you can see something in it for you.
So, yeah, so I'm, I'm very excited about the the knowledge part that because I think this is I think this is so key that
that women can't, for various reasons, women do not have as much access to knowledge, whether through the masjid or through its classes. And we really need to start being able to live learn our deen more, that, that has to be the beginning. And then we will be more confident will be better. I think whether it's bit of individuals, better wives, better mothers, just better. I mean, everything, whatever we choose to do. But we need that logic. Like I'm thinking it took me so long to be able to find a class, a women's only class, you know, because there were certain questions you just only want to ask in front of a woman, you know, there's certain topics you don't feel
comfortable speaking about in front of a man. And so to have access to knowledgeable sisters, who, you know, so So are you saying it would be courses that you could take? And maybe would it be? I know, actually, it's just at the beginning. So I guess, I'm sure you've got. I think that details, I will say we are still working? Of course, of course. But I think I guess what I'm sharing with people now is our thinking, our thinking and we would love you to help us form your
make out what their needs are. Right. But at the very least, we need an organization that is focused on that. Right. Yeah.
You know, for example, like one of the things that I think is really needed is that you know, there are certain
there are certain points, or certain topics that are taken and misrepresented and used to beat Islam and Muslim women over the head with so to show so for example, things like the age of Ayesha melon piece with her that scene as it's thrown at us and said look at how I suffer a lot. You know, it's disgusting your religion is it allows this or
female circumcision, polygamy, again, domestic the men can beat their wives, you know, the idea of secret marriages or there's certain things you know, the the idea of the men will go to heaven and get, you know, female who reason women will get nothing. These are things that are troubling, which are not true, by the way. Sorry. Yeah, of course. Thank you for
saying that these are things that they misrepresent misquote, but they're put on YouTube videos are made about documentaries, articles written by non Muslims. And that creates doubts in the minds of Muslim women who don't have like, I've had another big challenge. You know, you know, when you asked me at the beginning of this session, like, what are the challenges? I was thinking? Where do we start?
There were so many I started with Instagram, but
in my mind, I was thinking, you have it, then there's that. But then there are
another very big thing. Yes. And I think in your knowledge section doing things that specifically addressed those things, that a woman, a young woman, or any woman, she can't go and ask she feels if I ask these things, does it sound like I'm a don't have faith? Does it seem like I'm questioning my Deen? No, you're not. You can ask the script. But who do you ask and who do you get answers from?
Absolutely. And this is why.
The reason I'm saying is because I feel like there's a mountain in front of me.
And there's so much to do. Yeah, that's why we've got to get started. Yes, you're right. We've got this campaign. Let me just mention the Oh, yes, sorry, please. Campaign, our vision, the vision that we've formulated is every woman holding firm to the rope of Allah. And there's a lot of thought that's gone into that vision. And Charlotte, I will be articulating it in the future. But
for us, it's about focusing on women. And it's not just Muslim women. We would love to non Muslim women as well. We've done like some of us. Were involved in a Dao project where we actually invited non Muslim women
to an event
with their Muslim friend, right. And we had beautiful food, you know, it was like, That was right. It was like,
dinner in a in a nice Hall. And then there was a presentation about Islam about Muslim women. And we did it in a very, it was done in a very innovative way. You know, yeah. So for example, there was an image of a woman put on the screen without her hijab. And the sister in her niqab was standing there presenting? It was right. Oh, okay. And
do you think this woman is in this room? Right?
Because she was looking beautiful, right? Because it was women's only we could do that? You know? Yeah. And then the women were, like, really shocked when they found out that this sister was, was that. And immediately there was a shift, right? There's a shift. Oh, like, there's a side of these women we don't get to see. Right. So I think the bigger aim is to reach women full stop.
So you think that although like we talked about feminism, blah, blah, blah. We care about women, you know, like, I want women to be happy. Yeah. And I feel sad when I see the type of the, the conditioning the extra time and the commodification of women. And to be honest, I would call it grooming the grooming of women, right? I call it grooming is I went to girl school.
I'll tell you the girls were groomed. Oh, yeah. 100% They were groomed. You know, the fact that they felt that they had to go behind the sheds or wherever they went and gives favors to boys. The flat they felt that they had to have a boyfriend. And if they didn't, then they will be made fun of, you know? Yeah. All of that stuff. Huh? It's a type of grooming. Yes. I mean, girls to be available for men. Yeah, absolutely. And it's happening in plain sight. Yeah, it is. And no one. No one is saying anything about it. They've packaged it in liberation and an agency. You know, I used to be a high school teacher and what you're saying, I used to see my students it was again, mixed schools. And my
I used to feel so protective of these girls that
you'd see them coming in in year seven. And then by year eight, year nine they had changed into
or they were unrecognizable. And I remember the amount of like, are they used to the way they used to get ready and break time and I'd be there a nice one to say to them. You don't have to do this. But you know, they're straightening their habits sorting out their makeup, they begin pulling their skirts up pulling their blouses down. And I just thought Subhanallah this I get You're right. So we don't have this, you know, let's get our boxing gloves out and bash the non Muslim women. We're not into that. We care about them.
I care about womanhood and women. And I believe that we as a Muslim community should be so strong as women should be so strong that we're bringing Islam as the solution to the
wider community, right? But at the moment, we're so defensive. You know, we're just always in defense mode. And it's always like we're ghettoizing ourselves even further by being like, you know, by labeling people And subhanAllah most people are just a
product of the conditioning. Right? Yeah. And society is conditioning people to think a certain way. And us as Muslims, our job is to be so enlightened, enlightened and have so much conviction in our own deal,
that we can now bring the light to others. Yes. So that's the ultimate vision, you know, that hamdulillah were strengthened to such an extent that we then forget about being in you know, introspective, and constantly just looking at ourselves and what's going on and how everyone else is Islamophobic. That's not the point. The point is, most of society I'm not Islamophobic. And I believe that I believe most of society, are human beings, looking for the right way. And they just fall into line with whatever they've been conditioned to do. Right. Yeah, I would say that's the same for the girls at school that I grew up with, you know, that it was the only way shown to them.
Yeah, that's the way that's shown to you is that way, and we as Muslims are not showing the alternative. Yeah. Right. In a in an eloquent way. And don't you feel, I think, for women, or for us in the West, where we have materially, we're okay, you don't humbler, we're not having to think about where's our food coming from? Where's our water come from? So again, I feel this
responsibility quite heavy on my shoulders that when Alhamdulillah when Allah has given me so much ease, I then I should do something for not because I'm amazing, or, you know, it's, you know, in your again, in this privileged situation, we can do something may our sisters in, in India and Yemen and China and you know, they can't do things, but we have a voice on wheat, so we should use it. You know, it's funny you say that, because I think there were two things. One, I realized how amazingly unlikely is that I'm a Londoner, and I was born in London and brought up in London. You know, when I talked to my dad and the story of how he came to London, I realized how unlikely it is that we would
like it's almost as though the universe conspired, yeah, you ended up where you are. Yeah. And then another incident that happened to me was when we went to when I went to Jerusalem, and my friends who were not British and not American, they got turned away. Right. And us Brits, and Americans didn't matter what skin color we were, you know, we got the past.
And I realized at that point, what right do I have to, to think of myself as anything but privileged? You know? Yeah, yeah. And so from that privileged position, and just think about this, the fact that we speak English, English is the lingua franca franca of the world, right? It is the language of the world now. Yes, the language.
How unlikely is it? But you know, a lot put us in that position, right? Native English speakers. So bearing all have that in mind. I definitely think we've got a huge responsibility. Yeah, definitely. huge responsibility. So I want to bring this vision to fruition.
And I believe now some people might say, Well, why just women?
Yeah. Well, my answer to that is,
I think every organization has to take it has to have a bit of focus, you know, like, you can't, yeah, right. Yeah, that's one thing. But the other thing is, I think that throughout history, we can see that even during colonialist times, the colonialists understood that the fastest way to change community and society is to focus on women. That's why when you look at the French in Algeria and ICSA, as well, I think today as well, the reason why so much pressure is put on Muslim women
in France, for example, and in the Western world, in general,
is because if the Muslim woman and her commitment to Islam can be broken, right.
And the entire society, the entire community is assimilate. Yes. That's the quickest way it's the quickest way because the attitudes of the mother the attitudes of the women.
You know, they feed into the next generation of men and right, yeah, that's why I believe that by focusing on women, and making sure that women are not neglected, their doubts, their issues, their whatever questions are not left. unanswered, right? adequately.
By doing that in sha Allah, we're going to have a generation of women who are
resilient, who are strong who are committed enough to sustain the community and to you know, to bring about positive change in the fastest way so for me that's really
that's really it and
and we hope to do that and shallow through a number of means.
But yeah, we do at this stage we're doing some fundraising during Ramadan
stage and so we have a page launch good.com/muslim women.com/muslim women and you know, we we're hoping that sisters and brothers are going to support us because they see that you know, that this is needed.
There's one other area I really want to share with you because, by the way, I'm so happy to be speaking to you like I feel like you're an old friend.
Spoken right now, definitely. So
um, another thing and I don't know if you've noticed that I didn't know that you've mashallah, you're quite you're knowledgeable person. You're, you've studied right?
At university, like being a mature student, I'm doing my MA, right. And
being back at the unit in the uni space. Oh, yes. I've
been observing certain things. Right.
And this was another catalyst, I would say, right, yeah, there's, um,
so studying women's rights, human rights and Islamic law, etc. One of the things you realize is that in the entire women's rights space,
in relation to Islam
is completely dominated with voices that are anti Islam. Right. Yes. voices that are anti normative Islam, I would say, right. Sometimes they they will say that they're Muslims, etc. Right. That's, but when you scrutinize it, they're actually trying to change Islam, or they want to reform they have a very reformist agenda. Yeah. And the reform is not good reform. You know, it's not like reforming the community or reforming the society. Sometimes it's literally ideological reform. Yeah. Well, it's interesting that again, they've taken their cues from liberal thought that, you know, Christianity except to secularism, and then the whole reformation and the enlightenment, they want
us to have go through that same process that Christianity did, and we will come out enlightened and we will leave, we will stop obeying a lawsuit. So you know, adamantly and and be more flexible, be more progressive. Why was surprised with is in other areas of Islamic law or Islamic Studies? Right? There are multiple voices, okay. Like, you know, the readings that you get,
for each area, even something like Islamic finance, for example. There are different voices, there are liberal voices, there are conservative voices and, you know, in the middle kind of why called pragmatist voices again.
But when it comes to women's rights, it's like the, in terms of the academic literature, yeah, is completely dominated with voices that are literally saying orthodoxy Islam. I mean, you know, classical, just following Quran and Sunnah. Really? Yeah.
That has got to go right. That's basically magic. That's all got to go. It's all got to be relooked at because it's because men wrote men interpreted the Quran and
feminist ideology. Men can never be just, yeah.
Is it possible because men because they trash ultimately. Right? And it's impossible for men to have ever been just towards women. Yeah. And it's all everything's been interpreted through a male lens.
Always bias and,
and women and women are no never bias. No.
And then, of course, on top of it, it's so funny in one of the lectures I was like, but all the prophets were men.
then they have a problem with that as well. Well, if they have a problem with that they have a problem with God. Exactly. And unfortunately, for some it does, you know, I'm thinking of, oh, God, I forgot her name. Well, well, it's I'm thinking there's Leila Astrid, isn't it? There's Fatima mercy. There's the other Fatima of who wrote headscarves and Hymans I forgotten the name.
You know, it's all those people who choose this very provocative Yeah, this is
They're your idea that is very you're, you're right. I think when you know, it's funny, I'm part of the thinking Muslim team as well. It's a podcast thinking Muslim podcast, and then we have a website and, again, we've critiqued Liberalist that's our main thing that we'll do, we actually, were the main thing that we're saying is, someone needs to critique liberalism. And its effects that because liberalism is being given to us as the, you know, it's the golden fleece or something, or that, you know, this was this is it, but there are so many issues with it. And because, again, you have Muslims who they're calling for the, like, the feminist voice that you said, but you've got men who
were saying it as well, that it's, you know, Islam needs to be reformed, and get in line with every other religion with the, with the Muslims, you know,
in other words, rendering the guidance of Allah, like meaningless, because that is what's happened to Christianity. Right? Absolutely. If that's what you want to happen to Islam. So Pamela, we have Christians who actually contact the Muslim community, and thank us, you know, for taking a stand. You know?
Why? Because there's so their own leadership can't take a stand, right? Yeah, yes. When you water God's revelation down to such an extent, when you make everything just mean nothing, right? You say it's all kind of, you know, mythical and whatever. I don't know, you know, the different narratives that now exist regarding Christianity and how they interpret the Bible, etc.
It renders the religion meaningless. It's there's nothing there now, right? Yeah. Ever society is doing. Yeah, we'll be all right. With that. We'll just have to somehow, right. And we as Muslims don't want to go down that way. No. So I think so anyway, with regards to the academia thing, when I was reading these, she said to the professor's
there, this is not a balanced range of voices here, right, you know? And then I realized that that's because those voices don't necessarily exist in academia. Do you know what I mean? Like?
Well, maybe they're obscure, because it feels as though maybe the types of people who go into academia and then do right on those topics, are the ones who have that, you know, leaning and that agenda.
One of the things, this is like, a bit of a dream, I don't know how we're going to bring this about, but bear with me, everyone.
I like I like your you've got big plans, Mashallah. That's what I like, I want to bring sisters, or it's not just sisters, it can be brothers or sisters, voices into academia. And I mean, academic work, right? Writing academic journals, within academic journals, and books, etc, that bring the counter narrative to all of this, you know, yes, with regard to women, because at the moment, that's the only voice. So what's happened, like, in a typical class, that's the only thing you get to hear. I mean, it's finally one of the first statements that was made in one of our classes, and it was, you know, in the literature was, yeah, classical Islam saw women as sexual objects. And the
professor just went on. And I was like,
you can't just say that you
just move on. And, and the rest of the, the problem is that university? Nobody, if you unless you have knowledge, yeah. And confidence.
Nobody challenges it. Yes. And that's another thing. I'm noticing that young Muslim women and men, like confidence when it comes to questioning a narrative will challenge Tiv Yes. And so I'm afraid that what can happen when you're in that environment? And that's like, you know, it's like the air around you, isn't it? It's like the time around you.
You will start looking at your DNA in a negative way. Because there's definitely no, you're told, yeah. How many people have gone to university and had their faith shaken? Or they didn't know that would happen? Because you're worried that when you study these topics, it's
unless you have previous knowledge, you're going to accept this PhD, my PhD teacher is saying this, it must be true. And you're right. And there are no other voices. There's no alternative. And so you might as Muslims, I think we've hit OK, humble, we dropped the ball, we need to pick it up again. And yeah, because in other areas we have gone in like, for example, when you look at
Islamic law in general, not related to women, but just in general,
and Orientalism in general. I feel like
Like, it's really been refuted. Like, I wouldn't say everything has been done yet. But we've got so many academics who've dealt with it now, you know, like, the whole kind of shafts whole thing of like how Santa Claus was all made up in the third or fourth century or whatever, whatever his theory is, all of that has kind of been obliterated, you know, because Muslim academics went in. And it's not just Muslims, actually, it's people like what Al Haluk, as well, I guess,
was an Arab, who says he's not he doesn't say he's a Muslim, but people like him who've really provided a counter narrative, right?
And refuted a lot of stuff, right? That's happening in different areas.
But when it comes to women,
it feels like sis, even sisters who go into it, they end up falling in line, you know, it's like they just fall in line with,
with the feminist narrative regarding women. Yeah, yeah. You're I don't know why that is? Is it? Because it's so kind of all encompassing, that they get drawn into that? Yeah.
You know, classical training, and so they don't Yeah, I think I think it's hard. I wonder how easy it is for them, you know, with PhDs and to get funding, if you want to come if you make it very clear in your
statement to begin with, that you're coming from an Islamic perspective, who's going to give you funding? Who's going to say, Yeah, I want, we will support you, and you can do this here, you know, you wonder then in the Muslim world is that being done more?
Only Allah knows, I don't know that. But it's interesting that you know,
through again, through the thinking Muslim, that where we are on inshallah we are going to write get this book written, it is the current counter narrative of feminist ideas. But even the thing is that it does take a lot of time to research it like we did, we got a number of writers involved. Now, the thing is 100 COVID happened, and that kind of really put a spanner in the works. But the whole topic is very, you have to really know your stuff to before, you know, you have to read a lot and understood the reality and just and then understand the Islamic perspectives. So I think sometimes, I think women can find it daunting.
So you need the time to be able to dedicate to reading, researching and making sure and checking, I think, and then that's a good thing. That like I'm just seeing, from our perspective, we want to make sure we're not going to say anything incorrect. And we're putting getting the ideas right completely, because and that was what we're going to be presenting to people.
So like a bit like you, you're saying with the organization, you're taking your time and doing the thinking, and that's a good thing. But I think also, like, it's interesting, like when I was in my podcast, I did a whole seasonal feminism. I'm trying to get guests on. I think the some people I did get on, they were happy to talk about things. But MIT. In the end, I thought I ended up doing a lot of the talking to do my reading and then doing the talking because there there are not many Muslim. Or maybe I'm going to
actually I'm thinking of Nora Golda from America, she she knew stuff. Nerdy night from us, like there were very few who could feel that. Yeah, they could confidently speak about that and constantly count and counteract the arguments behind that. I think the more of us that do it, that will give confidence to others that Yeah, I think it's also because people will literally feel bullied, you know, Oh, yeah. There too.
It's the whole thing that's happening in wider culture of political correctness, right. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's happening everywhere, right. Like, there's certain things you can't say the certain things you can't be against. There's certain things you can't speak your mind. Right.
And so people have become very, super cautious. Like, you know, they don't want to be seen as Yeah, I think I think we're self censoring too much. Yes, it's gone too far the other direction? And because what can what's going to happen to you, if you, I think the main thing is to put it in a balanced way and speak the truth in a balanced manner. You know?
Right, show the facts, you know, show your, What books did you read to get this information, they can find it out themselves? Because that's something I encourage a lot. I'll tell people, these are the books I've read. These are the websites, I would go and look yourself, don't even just take it from me. Because then you don't want to just blindly follow. I'm saying, adopt ideas with conviction. And don't you think one of the do you think one of the reasons why people lack confidence and they maybe self censor is because
nobody has given them a very compelling narrative to take and just make their own? Do you know what I mean? Like yeah, when you're when you know what to have when you know how to counteract something
In a positive and in a way that is not, you know, sometimes like, I feel like when we talk about feminism, it becomes so negative that yes, yes. Does that feeling? Yeah, but you're just ignoring all the Yeah, real issues that women are facing. Yeah. Imagine if we were if we say, no, no, we care about women's rights, we care about women and men's rights, but we care about women's rights. We don't want there to be oppression, we want to fix this stuff. How are we going to do it? Not through feminism. Because these are the harms of feminism. These are the harms that have been brought society through feminism and that are going to come your way if you follow a route. But let's find
how to address these issues. It's not that we're denying these issues, or we're saying that you see what I mean? Yeah, so that guy, but also, I feel like, we need to become skilled.
Academics, right? When it comes to academia,
articulating our argument,
in an unbiased way, with evidence, you know, it's like a game, isn't it like, academia? Game? It's like, you've got to play by these rules, play by the rules.
And speak the truth. Don't don't play by the rules, and then say what your professor wants you to say. Yeah, yeah. Like, we need people who are willing to
do that. Yeah. And the 100 that I think, and I think this is it, I think the more that we talk about this, yes, then people will do it. They'll see, okay, this is a field, I should go into that if I'm gonna I have a choice what fields I can move into, then this is an area that's been neglected. I'm going to do something about it. You know, it's, and I think, again, here comes the bit like you were saying about as women we can create a culture that rather than now, okay, becoming, there's certain professions that we just push our kids to go into. And you think, Okay, I think 100 I think we've got enough doctors now. We've got enough Muslim engineers. I know. Like, I know, I'm not criticizing
him when it goes into that, but it seems like we do. certain fields are saturated with Muslims, and others aren't. So as parents, and as older brothers and sisters, we could say to our, you know, our student student aged, you know, youth that, how about going into this, but this is much more change. Yeah, exactly. anthropology and sociology. So sociology. Yeah, all the different areas that a society needs to kind of think about, right, like in order to develop, so yeah, definitely.
So anyway, I just thought I'd share that with you. Because that was another area that I just I was just, okay, maybe I'm a bit naive, but I was a bit shocked that, like, at least, when it came to Samak Lord in general, there are different voices, like Yeah, yeah, voices get presented. And you could say, oh, okay, that's, that's a good argument from the classical perspective. And
it is, it is really true, because I was that two years ago, I was that close to enrolling in sewers, I showed up to a number of universities. And I was looking at women's studies, gender studies, feminism. And then I looked at the lectures, and I looked at the content, and I thought, if I go there, I'm just going to get their views. That's all I will not, there was no balance there. So your absolute and I thought, that'll be a waste of money and wasted time. And then I thought, Okay, I have to go down the independent route, and just, I'm gonna have to sort of do my own reading. And because all I'm gonna get is that, don't you think we that's we also need people who are willing to
go in so it was like going into the, to, you know, face the monster and quiet and like, engage with it, however, annoying it is, you know, but there's a level like one of our professors, so he's, he's excellent. John, I'm going to interview him soon. He's,
I would say he's classically trained, right? Like, he's Nigerian. He was classically trained in a madrasa and a, like, Darul Uloom type thing in Nigeria. And then he went into academia. And
one of the things he keeps saying to us, especially the students who've come from a classical Islamic Studies background is
don't be so dismissive. You know, like, he's always saying, engage. There's there is there is utility and benefit in engaging.
And initially, I was a bit skeptical of that. I must say, what he meant is and now that I've read a lot of his work, I've realized that I'm like, he's right. Like he does that himself, right.
Is instead of dismissing this argument as just so Orientalist or Islamophobic, or whatever Right? Or liberal right?