A lot of my posts have been about gender-related issues, such as female circumcision, the veil, polygamy, etc. The last post, about women leading prayer, brought up a lot of interesting discussions about men & power, and how often Muslim men seem to advocate for positions that have a weak basis in actual Islamic texts but strongly back up patriarchy and the current status quo re. power relations.
I was just reading Yusuf al-Qaradawi’s views on the veil. He is currently one of the major authorities in Islam. Not only do 40 million people watch his TV show, but I often hear him quoted as a source. His view on the veil is:
- All women must veil
- It is understandable why some people wear niqab, but it is a non-Islamic custom
- Alterations in dress such as one sees nowadays are heretical and a catastrophe
- This catastrophe indicates loose morals which indicates the inability of men to control their women
He then calls on men to regain their masculinity and impose their wills over women – if not for the sake of religion then for the sake of their manhood.
FINALLY a scholar who admits the link between religion and masculinity! The fact that women are not veiling/dressing properly does not only show a decline in religion but also a decline in men imposing their wills on women and therefore a decline in manhood!
It is clear from Al-Qaradawi’s appeal, then, that manhood and religion are one and the same. Anything that indicates a woman’s choice would also indicate a loss of manhood. It would seem in this discourse that faith and masculinity are both threatened by women’s rights to independence, and that liberation or freedom for women is permissible only so long as it enhances the religion-manhood pairing.
Azza Karam Women, Islamic and the State
I will leave you all with this quote from Nabawiyah Musa, one of the founders of the Egyptian feminist movement (this was sometime in the 1920s):
Sir, you claim that men are wiser and more rational than women. If women are not seduced by your faces, and some of you are indeed handsome, how could you men who are more rational be seduced by women’s faces?
You should be veiled, and women should be unveiled.