Monday, October 27, 2008

The 3rd International Congress on Islamic Feminism

The Third International Congress on Islamic Feminism is currently taking place in Barcelona, and the BBC has published a collection of brief essays from some of the amazing activists taking part. The views expressed by Muslim feminist leaders of different countries are diverse, as you'd expect when a group of international leaders of any movement gather together, and there are naturally some contradictions in what different women see as the most difficult challenges, their sources, and how to address them. Yet, reading through the collection of views on feminism, religion and secularism made me feel surprisingly hopeful about all of our abilities to better our communities and to challenge one another. I was particularly struck by the words of Amina Wadud:
I do not wish to sacrifice my faith for anybody's conception of feminism, nor do I sacrifice the struggle and actions for full equality of women, Muslim and non-Muslim women, for any religion. Islamic feminism is not an either/or, you can be Muslim and feminist and strive for women's rights and not call yourself a feminist.
It is true, you can strive for women's rights and not call yourself a feminist. Perhaps I've been too intent on defining the label in the past...

Oh, and this seems like an opportune time to point to Fatemeh's "Open Letter to White Non-Muslim Western Feminists." For anyone who hasn't yet read it, this post is (hopefully) an eye-opener and a good guideline on how not to be an ass, one that I'm sure I'll need from time to time.

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