Nov 30, 2006

Muslim Dialogues

My last post brought this comment.....

"When you say that it's their karma ( for oppressed women) you sound like a religious person that tells the poor that if he/she suffers that's only because of his/her faith. Or you want to say that the only solution/choice for these women is to be "saved" by westerners? And yet, it's the religion. A religion exists only through practice. Islam today is defined by what some people' are doing. You would laugh at that, but I think women are oppressed everywhere in the world. The difference is that Arab/muslim women know that they're in chains and western women don't which is absurd. I'm not talking about men because I realize day after day that they're fragile creatures. The ones in the Atlas mountains understood it, they've left earth for women."

I agree.... And I did not mean to suggest that we can only wait for Islamic women to be "saved by westerners." I misspoke. It has nothing to do with East or West. It has to do with a basic sense of humanity, which is certainly inherent in Islam but has been lost on the pyre of fundamentalism. Many, many imams are not voicing that humanity or teaching it. And moderates, whoever they are, whereever they are, will not or cannot make themselves heard.

I would also argue that women in the West do know their captivity. They feel their chains all too well. But it's not the same captivity as women in many Islamic particularly Arab countries experience. The real captivity in the West is less unequal pay, the overbearing myth of superwoman and super mom, the stigma of motherhood, the relentless debate over 'women's rights' or the contradictory motioning of 'come closer / get back' that you find in bedrooms and boardrooms. Not those things so much; it's the malady of a fast moving, materialistic society in which women and men have little time for each other or themselves. Or their children. And so they drift. Depression is the commonest cold.

But these are all ailments of the mind. And in the end there is an underlying humanity, there is refuge in the West, there are spiritual resources and municipal resources — and there are friends, lovers, even family to which one can turn and find relief. Whatever is missing and suicide rates notwithstanding, there is nothing to compare — nothing — with the fear and desperation of women who choose the horror of burning themselves to death to avoid their plight.

And you wonder where is the outrage in the Islamic world? The response is always muted, and too often defensive, and linked to America and Israel....

On the other hand, women in the Atlas Mountains are different and I myself have met Kahena, the Veiled Queen of Jerawa, that most feared and fabled of Berber warriors.


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