Margaret Johnson, “sociologist, writer, and business owner,” who is an acolyte of Fethulleh Gulen, recently delivered herself of an article entitled “How Islam led me to reject toxic masculinity and realize my worth.”
I’ve long been eager to reject my toxic masculinity, and there’s nothing I’d rather do than to realize my net worth. So I eagerly read the article. And now that I’ve finished it, I am convinced that no comment I might make could begin to do it justice. It cannot be improved upon. It is a perfect specimen of its type.
Here is that article:
“Several years ago, at 35 years old,
Sic for “when I was 35.”
I converted to Islam. As I began to practice the religion, I unexpectedly felt an awakening of my feminine energy. Growing up in America, I rarely received any encouragement for my femaleness: I grew up distrusting my intuition in favor of verifiable facts,
Yes, of course, why should anyone favor “verifiable facts” over one’s “intuition”?
I learned to keep the discomfort of my menstrual cycles to myself and continued on those difficult days as if they were like any other. It was widely accepted by my female colleagues that we would be penalized in the professional world in [sic] if we had kids too soon or had too many. I had little notion of what feminine energy was and I was blind to just how hyper-masculine our Western culture is.
Part of being Muslim is praying five times a day. After converting, I began to learn the prayers right away, starting with one prayer a day and working my way up until I had incorporated all five into my daily schedule. Along the way, a curious thing happened; for the very first time in my life, I began looking forward to my menstrual cycle. Women are excused from the daily prayer during this time of the month. I had been having my period for more than twenty years and, for the first time in my life, I was being told, “Rest, take it easy, you are excused from these duties.” And who was telling me? My Creator. This was a kind of care I had rarely received, and it initiated in me a gradual thawing, an uncovering of my long-suppressed female energy.
AS I BEGAN TO PRACTICE THE RELIGION, I UNEXPECTEDLY FELT AN AWAKENING OF MY FEMININE ENERGY.
Eight years after my conversion, I took a spiritual journey to Turkey with two other converts and a Turkish guide, who was a deeply spiritual man. It was Ramadan and my first time spending the holy month in a Muslim country. After years of experiencing Ramadan in the United States as a mostly solo endeavor, I had an immersive, cultural and spiritual experience with shared sahoots and iftars, strangers opening their homes, preparing feasts of food and love, exchanging gifts and peace, with so much harmony and tranquility. An unprecedented level of care and nurturing enveloped me once again.
One day, in the early pre-dawn, we visited the Eyup Sultan Mosque in Istanbul. This mosque was built next to the grave of Abu Ayyub al-Ansari (known as Eyup Sultan in Turkish), the last survivor of the close circle of companions around the Prophet Muhammad. As our group walked towards the mosque and turned the corner after our sahoor
Sic for “suhoor.”
at a nearby restaurant, I was shocked to see the street flooded with Turkish women during the very early morning hour. Dressed in silk scarves and pardesüler (long tailored, fitted overcoats) they streamed toward the courtyard where the women would pray. I joined the stream of women and I felt the physical sensation of my heart splitting open and God’s Mercy whooshing in. The ice cracked, the hardness of my heart suddenly softened.
A week later, I returned to the United States. As my spirit transformed from this experience, this new love-soaked energy, I wanted to create, serve, to be of use, nurture, love. I could not calm down. My husband asked, “What happened to you over there? Did you have brain surgery?” “No” I replied, “I had heart surgery.”
That supreme nurturing, not only by the Most Merciful, but by my Turkish hosts and their embracing culture, gave me a sense of worth tied to my own humanity. That feeling of being worthy birthed this powerful female energy.
THIS WAS A KIND OF CARE I HAD RARELY RECEIVED, AND IT INITIATED IN ME A GRADUAL THAWING, AN UNCOVERING OF MY LONG-SUPPRESSED FEMALE ENERGY.
One year ago for the first Women’s March, I metroed with my close Jewish and Muslim friends to downtown D.C., where we converged with epic, Hajj-sized crowds filling one mile of Independence Avenue and spilling over to cover our National Mall. Sister protests were organized in 550 cities and towns in the United States and in more than 100 countries in every corner of the globe in an unprecedented show of solidarity. Women and men from all orientations and human expressions converged to stand together and say, “We matter. You will not marginalize us, dehumanize us, commit violence upon our bodies. We have worth. We will occupy physical space with that worth.” We came together in crowds so huge and so peaceful, there was no denying our worthiness.
Since then, we have seen an explosion in the #MeToo movement. The #MeToo movement is many things, but at its heart is women refusing to no longer
Sic for “any” longer.
be treated as unworthy.
With our polarized identity politics in this nation, we have rushed headlong into post-modernist truisms that everyone is unique, everyone’s “truth” is equally valid. In giving highest value to living out our individualized truths, we have ignored that we are asking for this acceptance inside a system of gross inequality and a perverted patriarchy that all too often gets expressed as violence against women. In this rush to claim our personal truths, we skip over a greater truth: that such a thing as feminine energy exists, that women’s procreative and nurturing energies are vital for healthy societies. All manner of wisdom traditions, including Islam, support this greater truth.
Leaping so quickly to post-modernism, our identity politics have taken shape within the space of toxic White male supremacy that rests on a specific social hierarchy. In our society that claims to be a meritocracy, one’s place on the social hierarchy inevitably sears degrees of worthiness. In a way, our country birthed a bastardization of patriarchy, but it is not a bastardization in the traditional meaning of the word. It is a bastardization where patriarchy is born without the balance of female energy (as opposed to an unknown father) and without the notions of care, nurturing, support and appreciation that emerge from it.
“THE #METOO MOVEMENT IS MANY THINGS, BUT AT ITS HEART IS WOMEN REFUSING TO NO LONGER BE TREATED AS UNWORTHY.
Again, sic for “refusing to any longer.”
In this patriarchy, as the stories from #MeToo amply illustrate, women have been asked to squeeze themselves into a male-centric society and way of doing things. You want a seat at the table? Well, they say: we set the rules, and you must conform to our way of doing things, and you must do whatever we ask, and in the way we like it, or you cannot have access to the keys we hold, and if you try to inject your vision, to infuse your essence, then we will stamp that out, we will squash you, we will remind you that we are the top of the hierarchy, and you are lucky to have a seat at the table where a few crumbs might fall your way.
How can the resulting psychology of this be anything but women feeling a deep and abiding sense of unworthiness?
The Women’s March was a collective of women standing up and saying, in response, that we are worthy and we will be seen and heard. We will not be reduced to pussies for you to grab.
Women refuse to be considered unworthy any longer. Times
Sic for “Time’s.”
Up! If our Western culture decides to stop trying to contain and control feminine energy, what ways of understanding will replace it? How do we build a society that values the masculine and the feminine, that gives space to the grand diversity within masculinity and femininity without either seeking to minimizing or control the energy of the other? We must all claim our worth, not as a way of asserting superiority, but in [sic] a humility that acknowledges our humanity and our authentic selves.
Here I have appended, on the subject of women in Islam, Qur’anic verses, stories from the hadith, excerpts from the biographer of Muhammad, Ibn Ishaq, from the historian Al-Tabari, about women in Islam, all collected at thereligionofpeace.com (and shamelessly lifted by me). They are offered below, to gently remind Margaret Johnson of what her new faith teaches, and which she has, it seems, managed to overlook:
Quran (4:11) – (Inheritance) “The male shall have the equal of the portion of two females” (see also verse 4:176). In Islam, sexism is mathematically established.
Quran (2:282) – (Court testimony) “And call to witness, from among your men, two witnesses. And if two men be not found then a man and two women.” Muslim apologists offer creative explanations to explain why Allah felt that a man’s testimony in court should be valued twice as highly as a woman’s, but studies consistently show that women are actually less likely to tell lies than men, meaning that they make more reliable witnesses.
Quran (2:228) – “and the men are a degree above them [women]”
Quran (5:6) – “And if ye are unclean, purify yourselves. And if ye are sick or on a journey, or one of you cometh from the closet, or ye have had contact with women, and ye find not water, then go to clean, high ground and rub your faces and your hands with some of it/” Men are to rub dirt or water on their hands to purify themselves, following casual contact with a woman (such as shaking hands).
Quran (24:31) – Women are to lower their gaze around men, so they do not look them in the eye
Quran (2:223) – “Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…” A man has dominion over his wives’ bodies as he does his land. This verse is overtly sexual. There is some dispute as to whether it is referring to the practice of anal intercourse. If this is what Muhammad meant, then it would appear to contradict what he said in Muslim (8:3365).
Quran (4:3) – (Wife-to-husband ratio) “Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four” Inequality by numbers.
Quran (53:27) – “Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names.” Angels are sublime beings, and would therefore be male.
Quran (4:24) and Quran (33:50) – A man is permitted to take women as sex slaves outside of marriage. Note that the verse distinguishes wives from captives (those whom their ‘right hand possesses”).
Hadith and Sira
Sahih Bukhari (6:301) – “[Muhammad] said, ‘Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?’ They replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her intelligence.'”
Sahih Bukhari (6:301) – continued – “[Muhammad said] ‘Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?’ The women replied in the affirmative. He said, ‘This is the deficiency in her religion.'” Allah has made women deficient in the practice of their religion as well, by giving them menstrual cycles.
Sahih Bukhari (2:28) & Sahih Bukhari (54:464) – Women comprise the majority of Hell’s occupants. This is important because the only women in heaven mentioned explicitly by Muhammad are the virgins who serve the sexual desires of men. (A weak Hadith, Kanz al-`ummal, 22:10, even suggests that 99% of women go to Hell).
Sahih Bukhari (62:81) – “The Prophet said: “‘The stipulations most entitled to be abided by are those with which you are given the right to enjoy the (women’s) private parts (i.e. the stipulations of the marriage contract).'” In other words, the most important thing a woman brings to marriage is between her legs.
Sahih Bukhari (62:58) – A woman presents herself in marriage to Muhammad, but he does not find her attractive, so he “donates” her on the spot to another man.
Sahih Muslim (4:1039) – “A’isha said [to Muhammad]: ‘You have made us equal to the dogs and the asses'” These are the words of Muhammad’s favorite wife, complaining of the role assigned to women under Islam.
Abu Dawud (2:704) – “…the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: When one of you prays without a sutrah, a dog, an ass, a pig, a Jew, a Magian, and a woman cut off his prayer, but it will suffice if they pass in front of him at a distance of over a stone’s throw.”
Abu Dawud (2155) – Women are compared to slaves and camels with regard to the “evil” in them.
Ishaq 734 – “As for Ali, he said, ‘Women are plentiful, and you can easily change one for another.'” Ali was raised as a son by Muhammad. He was also the 4th caliph. This comment was made in Muhammad’s presence without a word of rebuke from him.
Ishaq 878 – “From the captives of Hunayn, Allah’s Messenger gave [his son-in-law] Ali a slave girl called Rayta and he gave [future Caliph] Uthman a slave girl called Zaynab and [future “Caliph] Umar a girl to whom Umar gave to his son.” – Even in this world, Muhammad treated women like party favors, handing out enslaved women to his cronies for sex.
Ibn Ishaq 693 – “Then the apostle sent Sa-d b. Zayd al-Ansari, brother of Abdu’l-Ashal with some of the captive women of Banu Qurayza to Najd and he sold them for horses and weapons.” Muhammad traded captured women for horses.
Al-Tirmidhi 3272 – “When Allah’s Messenger was asked which woman was best he replied, ‘The one who pleases (her husband) when he looks at her, obeys him when he gives a command, and does not go against his wishes regarding her person or property by doing anything of which he disapproves’.” (See also Abu Dawud 1664)
Tabari 8:117 – The fate of more captured farm wives, whom the Muslims distributed amongst themselves as sex slaves: “Dihyah had asked the Messenger for Safiyah when the Prophet chose her for himself… the Apostle traded for Safiyah by giving Dihyah her two cousins. The women of Khaybar were distributed among the Muslims.”
Tabari 9:137 – “Allah granted Rayhana of the Qurayza to Muhammad as booty.”
Ishaq 969 – “Lay injunctions on women kindly, for they are prisoners with you having no control of their persons.” – This same text also says that wives may be beaten for “unseemliness”.
Tabari 9:1754 – “Treat women well, for they are [like] domestic animals with you and do not possess anything for themselves.” From Muhammad’s ‘Farewell Sermon’.
Here are a few recent statements on the position and role of women in Islamic society, also found at thereligionofpeace.com:
The fourth Caliph, who was Muhammad’s son-in-law and cousin, said just a few years after the prophet’s death that “The entire woman is an evil. And what is worse is that it is a necessary evil.”
“A traditional Islamic saying is that, “A woman’s heaven is beneath her husband’s feet.” One of the world’s most respected Quran commentaries explains that, “Women are like cows, horses, and camels, for all are ridden.” (Tafsir al-Qurtubi)
‘The revered Islamic scholar, al-Ghazali, who has been called ‘the greatest Muslim after Muhammad,’ writes that the role of a Muslim woman is to “stay at home and get on with her sewing. She should not go out often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take care of her husband… and seek to satisfy him in everything… Her sole worry should be her virtue… She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs at any moment.” [Ibn Warraq]
A Yemeni cleric recently explained in a television broadcast what makes women inferior and unable, say, to serve as good witnesses: “Women are subject to menstruation, when their endurance and mental capacity for concentration are diminished. When a woman witnesses a killing or an accident, she becomes frightened, moves away, and sometimes even faints, and she cannot even watch the incident.”
During a 2012 talk show on an Egyptian television channel, a cleric slammed Christianity – in part for teaching gender equality: “the Christian religion does not differentiate between women and men, but it confirms their perfect equality: it gives them an equal share in inheritance, it bans divorce, and it bans polygamy.”
In 2014, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan emphasized that men and women are not equal: “Our religion has defined a position for women (in society): motherhood.”
“Islamic law also specifies that when a woman is murdered by a man, her family is owed only half as much “blood money” (diya) as they would be if she had been a man. (The life of a non-Muslim is generally assessed at one-third).
“Homa Darabi was a talented physician who took her own life by setting herself on fire in a public protest against the oppression of women in Islamic Iran. She did this after a 16-year-old girl was shot to death for wearing lipstick. In the book, Why We Left Islam, her sister includes a direct quote from one of the country’s leading clerics:
“The specific task of women in this society is to marry and bear children. They will be discouraged from entering legislative, judicial, or whatever careers which may require decision-making, as women lack the intellectual ability and discerning judgment required for these careers.” Ayatolllah Khomeini
“Modern day cleric Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini has called for a return of the slave markets, where Muslim men can order concubines. In this man’s ideal world, “when I want a sex-slave, I go to the market and pick whichever female I desire and buy her.”
Margaret Johnson, “sociologist, writer, and business owner,” may find what I have posted above just as enlightening as many of us found her article.
We all have so much to share, don’t we?