Minute with a Muslim #260 – Righteous Representation – Can Men Represent Women

Tom Facchine


Channel: Tom Facchine


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representation is a hot topic. For anybody who is a minority or for anybody who feels like they're being not represented in a class in a proper way, or they're not being treated fairly well, we have to be very, very careful about a couple things. One thing is that not all representation is good representation, right? We should be very, very concerned about the quality of representation, not just the quantity. So what good does it do us, for example, if we have Muslim characters in movies and books on TV, but they are, you know, they are very disdainful and contemptible towards the religion and they are disrespectful to their parents, and they are poor mannered, and they're just

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really like everybody else. They just, you know, have a Muslim name and have a little cult, a few cultural things. They're not really morally different or morally better than anybody else is that the kind of representation we want. And there's always this kind of narrative like, well, that's real, okay. But representation is not just about being real. And actually, I think we've seen in, in media, and especially in Hollywood, over the past several decades, that an over fixation on representing what is real, robs us of the opportunity to be better, because representation also needs to be aspirational, not just descriptive, we need to have heroes, we need to have role models.

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So we don't want to see just people who are as bad as us, or worse, when we are sort of consuming media and that media has representations of Muslims, we want to see people who are better than us, so that we can see ourselves in that person, identify with that person, and then want to become that person or like that person if that person is a role model. So that's one aspect when it comes to representation. Another thing that we have to be really careful about is assuming that nobody can speak for anybody except themselves and the group that they kind of belong to. Okay, so this is actually so so people come along, and they say, Okay, look at all this group of men, scholars,

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they're talking about this issue. Well, they can't possibly represent the rights and interests of women. Now, before critiquing that idea, I am all for women's participation and women's leadership, especially in the message you'd like there's different sorts of, we have to understand there's there's two extremes, okay. And representation is important in this sort of way that we need to have mechanisms, whether they're formal or informal, for understanding the experiences and the needs of everybody in our community. 100%. But we have to be very, very careful. This isn't absolute. We can't just say that well, because there were only men talking about it that they can't possibly have

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anything to say about representing the interests of women. If that were true, then we would say what about the Prophet Mohammed said a lot of these, are you telling me that the Prophet alayhi salatu salam was not able to represent the interests of women? What about the full effect of Rossi Dean? What about the Four Rightly Guided caliphs, were they not able to represent the interests of women or the slaves or anybody in society just because of their positionality? Or their identities, right. And even sometimes with the aroma, which Alhamdulillah within a matter of scholarly class, there are both male and female. But if you're in a place where there are mostly male scholars, are you telling

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me that it's impossible that they can, it's impossible for them to represent the interests of women or anybody else who's not like them. This is not sound thinking at all. Because it assumes a certain definition of power, it assumes a definition of power, where power is only evil, it only corrupts, and if someone has power, then they necessarily have to use it to advance the interests of their group. And therefore if that's the idea of power that we have, then the only way to put checks and balances on that is to get representation every single time all the time. So that we also are able to have a little bit about that power and also pursue ourselves interests. In our tradition, there

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is righteous power, the Prophet alayhi salatu, Salam had righteous power and a righteous use of power and the rightly guided Khilafat had righteous power, they were able because of their Taqwa because of their god consciousness, and their fear of Allah and fear of doing the right thing and fear of falling into something bad, they were able to surpass and transcend their own interests of themselves, their own interests of their narrow group or whatever group they happen to belong to, and represent the best interest of everybody that is possible. And so we need to be very, very careful to not just, you know, have knee jerk reactions, that thing and say, well, where's the

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representation here? Where's the representation that yeah, representation can be very, very important, but but individuals are not simply constricted or restricted to representing the interests of the groups that they happen to belong to. Now, it's possible that people can represent the interests of a larger group of people without necessarily being part of that group.