In the spirit of solidarity with Muslim women, a Muslim man has spearheaded a petition that calls for the dismissal of a U.K based Islamic instructor from a conservative Islamic institution for his misogynist and racist comments on the International Women's Day.
Recognizing social Tawhid (oneness) that unites all of humanity, Queer Muslims, who understand the impact of hateful comments, have strongly expressed their opposition to the misogynist statements and confirmed their unstinted support for women and especially their Muslim sisters.
The instructor's comments include referring to the International Women's Day as bakwas (BS), using terms as 'femi-nazis', caricaturing women by stating 'they hate each other' and joking about rape and female genital mutilation.
Instead of distancing themselves from the comments, fellow instructors at the globally influential institution have either remained silent or downplayed the effect or nature of the comments.
This has exacerbated a rift in the British and North American Muslim communities, something that neo-conservative Muslim leaders have cautioned against especially when they view dialogues that aim to create safe spaces for Queer Muslims as unnecessarily divisive and a cause of fitna - or discord.
Many Muslim men and women, straight and LGBTIQ, have either signed this petition or raised awareness in the social media. But some of the instructor's almost cult-like followers claim that his comments should be viewed as part of his dark humour.
The instructor's response was less an apology and more an excuse to defend his backward sense of humour and his politics of misogyny, which he defended under the guise of religion.
His defiance indicates that he seeks to offend those who do not know him well enough to acknowledge his humour.
However, as an instructor should he not be bound by Islamic adab (etiquette) instead of what seems like the antics of Triumph the Insult Dog?
Queer Muslims know how humour has been used to downplay their concerns and belittle their aspirations. They recognize that the same bullying tactic that seeks to silence opposing viewpoints with charges of fisq (disobedience) and kufr (disbelief) is being used against women who reject the petty authority of neo-conservative Muslim leaders in deference to God and the Prophet.
Queer Muslim activist Mark Brustman states that humour is a risky business because of the potential of coming across as disrespectful and mean-spirited. He also asserts that one shuts down real communication especially when the objective is to draw laughs at the expense of the other.
For the instructor, the International Women's Day might be an unwelcome bidda (innovation) that originates from the "West", which neo-conservative Muslim leaders like him generally view in opposition to Islam.
If their insular approach is viewed as appropriate then what is one to do with the Prophet's statement that indicates that Muslim believers should incorporate wisdom from any source? This is part of our legacy.
The late U.K. based Shaykh Zaki Badawi was noted to have stated that there was no theological problem in Islam incorporating Western values. Indeed, the late Shaykh understood how different cultures are only enriched by a cross fertilization of ideas.
The 9th century Muslim polymath Al Kindi is referenced as stating that we should not be ashamed to acknowledge and assimilate truth even if it comes from "foreign" people.
As such, why must anyone downplay the International Women's Day as a "Western" cultural construct? Such a reaction is based on sexism that itself is informed within a specific cultural milieu!
Why should Muslims not commemorate a Day that is reserved to mark the aspirations and achievements of women? Why must anyone seek to cause fitna(discord) by belittling the sensitivities of Muslim men and women who recognize International Women's Day?
Why must anyone view the International Women's Day negatively as opposing Islam and not positively as complementing the teachings of Islam? Why must anyone seek to enact a rigid uniformity by bull dozing diversity when, in Islam, differences of opinion are viewed as a sign of Allah's rahma (grace)?
The spirit of dawa (invitation) compels Muslims to share their values with others in a mutually respectful fashion. As such, when some adopt an insular approach, do they not project closed mindedness and a supremacist attitude instead of openness and willingness to learn?
Queer Muslims understand that condescending comments have no place in Islam. The Prophet warned against the usage of ugly expressions to the extent that he cautioned his companions against referring to a slave girl as a "slut" despite any allegations.
Queer Muslims vehemently condemn the usage of ugly expressions whose sole purpose in humour or satire is merely to belittle and mock others. They stand by the many Muslim women, who feel threatened by an ugliness that was discouraged by the Prophet.
Indeed, the founding member of the Salaam Canada Queer Muslim Community and the queer affirming el Tawhid Juma Circle Unity mosques, El Farouk Khaki, has strongly voiced as follows.
That is not my Islam. We reduce God to our brutal level rather than as transcendent All Merciful. I'm not interested in an angry male desert Arab god. I'm interested in the All Merciful, all living God that is not suffocated by a tribal misogynist culture.
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