Skip to comments.READING THE QUR’AN AS A FEMINIST (AND A LAPSED MUSLIM)
Posted on 07/17/2017 1:41:07 PM PDT by nickcarraway
First of all, I want to be totally upfront. I was born and raised Muslim by liberal parents and stopped practicing the religion in my early twenties. I was also born and raised a feminist by the same parents and have only become more fanatical about my feminism as I grow older. My mother is a practicing Muslim feminist woman from whom I have practically no secrets.
That being said, up until about 15 years ago, I had never actually read a word of the Quran myself. Like many people who are raised Muslim, it was told to me and I blindly trusted the word of my elders. After all, Islam is all about blind faith, or so they tell you. It was my shit-disturbing father who liked to question religion who inspired me to question the religion with which I was raised; so in high school, I decided to find a new religion to followone that wasnt as oppressive to women.
But my research revealed to me that Islam was that religion. When I finally read the Quran for myself for the first time, I was surprised to learn that what I had been told wasnt at all how I interpreted what I read. Sure there were problematic partsmainly the fact that daughters were to receive a lesser inheritance than sonsbut it wasnt as suffocating as I had been raised to believe.
I decided to try it out, but by my early twenties, I decided that it was disrespectful of me to only be Muslim when convenient. One of the main tenets of religion is dedication to it and paying lip service seemed so offensive to me. So I lapsed. But, I continued my research.
A few months ago, on a whim, I decided to read the Quran again, but this time the version I read was translated by a woman. Laleh Bakhtiar is a Muslim translator, author and clinical psychologist, and her translation, The Sublime Quran, had been sitting on my shelf for years. Bakhtiars translation is notable not only because shes a woman but also because she does a straight word-for-word translation without any footnotes and without any commentary.
She explains in her preface that the Quran is not a historic text; therefore, it neednt any commentary (read: bias). It should be presented to the individual as is. She says that the Quran is meant to be long-lasting and transcend time, so it should be presented word for word and left to the readers interpretation. For years Ive believed that all holy books ought to be left to individual interpretation, but most translations take liberties with the language and allow the translators bias to seep through.
In the translation of the Quran I read as a teenager, there were references to a man having permission to beat his wife with a strap no thicker than a thumb. This always troubled me and I was at a loss at how a religion that encouraged divorce if it were necessary (regardless of which gender initiated it) could encourage spousal violence as well. In Bakhtiars translation, there is not a single mention of anything relating to a man being allowed to beat his wife.
Most versions translate section 4:34 of the chapter titled The Women as some variation of the following:
and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them
The same section in Bakhtiars translation reads,
And those (f) whose resistance you fear, then admonish them (f) and abandon them (f) in their sleeping places and go away from them (f). Then if they (f) obey you, then look not for any way against them (f).
The f in parentheses appear periodically throughout the translation to differentiate between the masculine and feminine they and the italicized words are those that are not present in Arabic, but are needed in English for the sentence to be complete and comprehensible. Its wildly telling to note that the famed passage that all anti-Islamists pull out to prove the religion is a misogynistic one actually means something completely different when translated verbatim from the Arabic. It supports the theory that many practicing Muslims have, which is that Islam itself is one of the furthest things from being misogynistic; Islamic culture, on the other hand, is rife with misogyny and excuses it by claiming to be Gods word.
Related: White Liberal Tokenization of Hijabi Women Is Putting Us In Danger
Most holy books also are happy to report that God made man first and woman was birthed from man via God. Turns out, at least in the Quran, this isnt stated anywhere. Sure Adam is mentioned by name and the first human is referred to as a he, but the only part that specifically talks about the creation of man says, your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its spouse and from them both disseminated many men and women. Theres no specification of who came first nor any indication that woman was made from man. Its almost as if men were so jealous of cisgender womens ability to give birth that they decided that theyd make it so that it was Adam who birthed the sex that would go on to birth the rest of humankind.
While there are still problematic parts in the Quranas there are in any holy bookthe idea that the holy book or the religion itself is to be blamed is rife with ignorance. Putting blame on an inanimate object for encouraging people to be assholes to each other is a childish cop-out; its the people who interpreted these words to mean awful things and lived their lives oppressing an entire gender and justifying it by saying that theyre just following orders.
Being a feminist and a Muslim is something that is totally possibleyou just have to use common sense and empathy.
Author Bio: Sarah Khan is a Toronto-based editor and writer, a Marxist of the Groucho tendency, and raging intersectional feminist killjoy. You can follow her on Twitter @sarathofkhan.
Reading the KKKoran as a feminist is like reading Mein Kampf as a Jew
Won’t survive First Contact with a sword-wielding non-Feminist radical Muslim Male.
She’s not brain washed she’s brain dry cleaned and pressed.
So, the problem isn’t Islam or the Koran, its muslims.
OK. I totally get that.
When the mind is made up, the rationalizations soon follow.
A radical feminist muslim?
I suppose like all feminists - they remain silent on the subject of Female Genital Mutilation.
As a muzzie - she’s for it. As a feminist - she remains an ignorant hypocrite. Too afraid to speak out on the violent atrocities of Islam.
No, just brain dead.
Hey lady get your nose out of satanic lying versus and look at the world around you, what you see is what you get.
Whenever I find myself thinking negatively about the Quran, I remind myself of the Sufi’s and the great writings of Rumi and Hafiz. If these individuals reached the level of understanding they reflect in their excellent writings, there must be some wisdom in the Quran’s text. While I am Christian, I find that studying the common elements found in all the world’s religions helps me to understand Christianity better.
More taqyyia for the weak-minded.
Islam is evil.
Mad Mo made it so.
Know Islam, No Peace - No Islam, Know Peace
Accurate translations have nothing to do with the sex of the translator, but the quality of the textual criticism applied. FAIL.
Muslims have told me that the Qu’ran cannot be translated. That it can only be read correctly in the original language.
The additions of (f) after words to indicate female is not something the translators due on a whim but is part of providing an accurate translation.
I started reading the article but a guy came up to me and offered to stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails so I took him up on the offer instead.
Oh, Sarah, it isn’t what’s written that gets you, it’s how it is implemented. On paper, the constitution of the Soviet Union was more liberal than the Constitution of the United States. In practice, they were two entirely different things. Words have no meaning when the people who write them do not believe them.
It never occurred to this bimbo that the woman deleted all the sexist crap in her translation everyone knows is in the Koran to fool morons like her into believing Islam does not discriminate against women?
I can lend you some lemon juice, if that helps.
She fried her brain years ago. What part of Allah robbing caravans, marrying kids and having sex with young girls (a pedophile) appeals to any real, sane, woman?
Actually, given the word order, beating doesn’t make much sense. Leave them alone and shun them makes sense; leave them alone and beat them does not.
Nevertheless, most muslims in most places and most eras, would almost invariably take the word to mean “beat.”
There is that word again!
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