Religion & Masculinity

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.

Amen sister.

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17 thoughts on “Religion & Masculinity

  1. I was just having a chat with my non-Muslim friend about this the other day.

    I think too much emphasis is being placed on what women should do to preserve their modesty and self-respect. There’s a double standard and that’s really clear. A lot of Muslim men walk around thinking that they are more superior to women when that’s not what Islam is preaching. They think they can get away with it but in truth, Allah swt says all humans are accountable for their actions regardless of your gender and sexuality.

    In Islam…
    If women are expected to lower their gaze, so are the men.
    If women preserve their chastity and innocence, so are the men.

    This is where equality comes in. It’s not just about the physical appearance (e.g. women wear the headscarf, men don’t) because in Islam the role and responsibilities of men and women are equal. They may not be relative all the time but if one really thinks about it they are definitely equal. All people need to do in order to see this is to look beyond the physical.

  2. I think, if one wants to see what a man truly feels about religion, no matter what he may claim he feels, push the boundary and see his reaction. Many times it may surprise. We then find how much control they really do possess over us. And then we should question everything. I say get free, be who your supposed to be. And if you enjoy complete freedom to choose for yourself and you dread the stereotypical gender role you WILL adopt after marriage, either marry a feminist, or don’t get married at all. lol

  3. “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.” – I dont see any basis in Islam encouraging this!

  4. Wow, this is proof that it’s about power. How could a respected Islamic scholar SAY SOMETHING LIKE THAT (and still be respected)?! It’s mind-boggling that so many people don’t see what is right in our faces! That the true Islam is not the Islam being practiced and taught!

  5. Lots of people would never say a bad word about this guy, try to speak out against what he said and people will be like ‘Don’t say something bad about Qaradawi! You must respect him!”. While I personally find what he has said, if I understand correctly, insulting to me as a woman.

  6. This is all because the human race is cursed with intelligence. We are the smartest creatures around, and we have come a long way from the stone age where people wore animal coats for the sole purpose of protecting themselves from the environment, and probably nothing to do with fashion and modesty whatsoever!

    We have since developed a sense of beauty and fashion. We put on makeups; we train to beautify our bodies; we do the plastic surgery thing to make our noses straight or lips fuller; we cut open the breasts and then stuff some silicone bags into them; we pluck all the eyebrows and then draw them back on with pencils etc.

    And then somewhere between those ages God wanted us to be decent in what we wear and how we look to other people. And decency and modesty eventually became a religious thing.

    We all came into this world naked, and we will all go back to God, if He really exists, naked also. What’s in our hearts and minds are not really reflected in what we wear. But of course some men have trouble controlling their libido when seeing a bit more flesh in women. So the simplest solution is to tell the women to cover up. Unfortunately, the simplest solutions are not always the correct solutions.

  7. “But of course some men have trouble controlling their libido when seeing a bit more flesh in women. So the simplest solution is to tell the women to cover up. Unfortunately, the simplest solutions are not always the correct solutions.”

    Very well said!

    I think this is the crux of the matter. I just can’t accept that I have to cover up because a man can’t control himself. To me, that’s patriarchy at its worst. And I also can’t imagine, as a Muslim, that God would want something like that.

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