Black History Month – the taster article towards Illumination

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Black History month begins in February and we at Internchange are going to cover it in detail.

February is a month that reflects upon the oppression and hardship black people had to endure throughout centuries, black Muslim in particular; which is something that is generally unknown. It is documented in depth, that 11,863,000 slaves  were shipped across the Atlantic. Travesties such as the death of 10-20% of the 11,863,000 slaves during the middle passage or the fact that half of all slave babies died in the first year of life are appreciated. Out of the 11,863,000 slaves some say 30 to 60 % were Muslims.

The effects of slavery are still seen today, whether in the midst of the favelas of Rio,on the streets of Chicago or deep desert of Sudan,  the symptoms became a chronic disease. Is modern day Africa not the the most deprived continent on the face of the earth? Has Africa always been deprived? Is it just an affect of slavery?

Habeeb Akande’s Illuminating darkness tell us else. The successful book covers many forgotten traditions from the time of the Prophet SAS until colonial Africa in a succinct yet informative manner. One of the great benefits of the book is that it shows why Islam is the universal religion and how it demonstrated itself throughout times.  The key focus is on the individuals that played a big role in the times African prosperity. One of them is Mansa Musa Raheem ullah.

See link to the Book (Illuminating The Darkness )

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Let me introduce you to Mansa Musa-

Mansa Musa was the 13th century King of the Malian empire, he is known as the richest man who has ever lived; he would have been worth $400 million dollars. The tale of his pilgrimage to Hajj is well known during which he stopped off in Egypt and gave handed out so much Gold that the Egyptian economy was ruined for years to come.

Mansu Musa was  Muslim before being black, he and his empire where the richest of their era, Africa was the most wealthy continent on Earth. Africa was never deprived.The foundations of ‘black history’ are not based on oppression and slavery but must be based on Islam and its contributions.

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The Hijab Project , Filling the gaps of ignorance

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The Hijab project a new initiative that has all means to clarify and empower Muslim women in the west by using a blog that allows them to  submit their story. The blog has a submit section where stories are uploaded. Amara Majeed( may Allah       bless her)  the brain child behind the ingenious idea, will with Allah    permission fill the gap of ignorance with understanding and bring about personality behind the so-called headscarf.

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The American activist wants to give the general public an insight on why the Hijab means much more than just headscarf to many Muslim women in the west. The social Project potential to grow into an international because of the implication it contains. She encourages girls both Muslim and non Muslim to participate and try to wear the Hijab to school, the shopping center or other public places.

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Subsequently the participant can go on the blog share their own personal observations and experiment they encountered while wearing the Hijab. Amara clearly understands the growing trend of misconception in the west regarding the veil, hijab and Islam. The reason we are so optimistic about is because of the personalized implication the social experiment it offers.  We at Internchange support this idea with out most admiration and will keep reporting about, and soon launching a similar project for the UK.  So keep the eyes open for our British version of The Hijab Project.

For more information visit  http://www.thehijabproject.org/

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The Hijab Project

A social experiment:
Girls (non-Muslim and Muslim) try on the Islamic headscarf to a mall or other public place, and then share reactions, how they felt, etc.

By Amara Majeed

Rea

The great Hunger of Ireland and The help of the Muslim

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The Great Hunger or also known as the Irish Potato famine was  the mass starvation period in Ireland between 1845 and 1852. In the Irish language it is called an Gorta Mór (IPA: [ənˠ ˈɡɔɾˠtˠə ˈmˠoːɾˠ], meaning “the Great Hunger”.

The causes for the famine was the disease Phytophthora infestans, commonly known as blight and the penal laws of the year 1690. Ireland as a British colony was stricken and the weakest among the inhabitants were mainly farmers.

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The Irish Agrarian society was owning 70% of the land by the 1859, in other words the irish representatives that had 28 seats in the house of lords.

Catholics made up 80% of the population, the bulk of whom lived in conditions of poverty and insecurity despite Catholic emancipation in 1829. At the top of the “social pyramid” was the “ascendancy class“, the English and Anglo-Irish families who owned most of the land, and who had more or less limitless power over their tenants. Some of their estates were vast: the Earl of Lucan owned over 60,000 acres (240 km2). Many of these landlords lived in England and were called “absentee landlords“. The rent revenue was sent to England,[15] collected from “impoverished tenants” paid minimal wages to raise crops and livestock for export. Many historical academics  consider the famine as a form of either direct or indirect genocide. Political writer John Mitchel describes the famine as follows.”The Almighty, indeed, sent the potato blight, but the English created the Famine”

ship

The author Miss Jane Francesca Elgee  contributed  with her (later Lady Wilde),  well-known and popular poem, which was carried in The Nation:[69]

Weary men, what reap ye? Golden corn for the stranger.

What sow ye? Human corpses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, hunger-stricken, what see you in the offing
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger’s scoffing.
There’s a proud array of soldiers—what do they round your door?
They guard our master’s granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping? ‘Would to God that we were dead—
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.[70]
Speranza

emigration

In 1845, Queen Victoria and the British government were raising awareness about the situation in Ireland. Mitchel wrote in his The Last Conquest of Ireland (Perhaps), on the same subject, that no one from Ireland ever asked for charity during this period, and that it was England who sought charity on Ireland’s behalf, and, having received it, was also responsible for administering it. He suggested that it has been carefully inculcated by the British Press, “that the moment Ireland fell into distress, she became an abject beggar at England’s gate, and that she even craved alms from all mankind.

11841148 (  The infamous Cecil Wood ham-Smiths The Great Hunger)

One of the donator who became aware of the situation was Sultan Abdülmecid who declared his intention to send £10,000 to Irish farmers, but Queen Victoria requested that the Sultan send only £1,000, because she herself had sent only £2,000. The Sultan is supposed to have sent the £1,000 along with three ships full of food. According to Abdullah Aymaz in an article in The Fountain magazine, the British administration tried to block the ships, but the food arrived secretly at Drogheda harbour and was left there by Ottoman sailors. Shipping records relating to the port appear not to have survived. Newspaper reports suggest that ships from Thessaloniki in the Ottoman Empire sailed up the River Boyne in May 1847,[79] although it has also been claimed that the river was dry at the time. A letter in the Ottoman archives of Turkey, written by Irish notables explicitly thanks the Sultan for his help

These of course are the stories that are not talked about in history lesson at least not the full credit this great Muslim leader, who was concerned with the people of Ireland.

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Ifthekar Jaman, A hero ( Raheem Ullah)

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Ifthekar Jaman  is a young British national that decided to travel miles to protect civilians in the Levant. In November he appeared on Newsnight explaining why he joined the war in Syria. Ifthekar Jaman has left this world and was martyred earlier this week. He was described as gentle and reasonable whilst dealing with customer at sky. One of his colleague says ” He was exemplary in his manner, in how he listened and then gave a calmly considered response, never rude or dismissive” The coworker also states” He gave his life to protect people who could not protect themselves.

1477939_1395948237319212_462478749_n (Ifhekar Jaman)
We have seen a news flash reporting about Dr Abbas Khan( Raheem Ullah) and how he was a hero helping civilians. We are do not shy away to consider ifthekar Jaman ( may Allah swt bless him with the highest ranks) as Hero who left his family behind to help where help was needed. 
We  reject the narrative a few British tabloid press are going to use just to sell a story. The outplayed extremist clichés we all heard before.The so called insurgent and Islamist ( whatever that word means) who went to fight a war that does not really concerned him. Just the way the conventional news outlets are reporting about Dr Abbas Khan ( Raheem Ullah) We must anticipate these senseless rhetoric. However by examining the social media it does not matter what they will produce in case it happens. We don’t depend on Big news outlets to pay tribute. A close friend describes the reaction of those who knew him as a lost and mourning a man they considered a friend. The social media is now filled with tributes and remembrance of ifhekar Jaman.

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The Khadeejah “The wise backbone” ( Four Great Women Series Part 3.1)

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 Recently a series of studies at the University of Iowa  suggests that “supportive” has almost as many interpretations as ”commitment” or “love.”  For instance, a five year study of 103 newly married husbands and wives identified four kinds of support: Physical comfort and Emotional support (listening and empathising, taking your spouse’s hand, giving your spouse a hug), Esteem support (expressing confidence in your partner, providing encouragement), Informational support (giving advice, gathering information), and Tangible support (taking on responsibilities so your spouse can deal with a problem, helping to brainstorm solutions to a problem).

holding-hands( women and men equal completeness)

It is common that couples in though economical times have to support each other. However Britain’s divorce rate is the highest in Europe. The number of divorces throughout the EU is on the increase, with an average of 1.8 divorces for every 1,000 people. But in Britain and in Finland the rate is 2.8 divorces per 1,000, compared with just 0.6 per 1,000 in Luxembourg.

Britain is well above the 26% EU average rate, at 38.8%. The 500-page survey, compiled by the EU’s Eurostar statistical office in Luxembourg, reveals that total health spending by governments in the EU is on average less than half the rate in America – and the rate in Britain lower than anywhere in the EU apart from Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Greece. These findings reflect the environment we live in.

These are the conditions society has to deal with. Couples are faced with new sets of problems, and Muslim are not exempt from it. In a society where people wont hesitate to divorce, corruption is pre-destined. There are distinct forces that instigate conflicts between married couples. There are external morals and internal ones that have been installed to the belief system of the women and men. It is all manipulation. The media plays a huge role, Beyoncé’s “We run the world”  attitude  or philosophy of a “Bad Bitch“. As far as man’s role in society ,he changed the role of being a provider and caretaker.
holding-hands(Men and Women  equal completeness)
He, the man instead choose to prey on victims before he is preyed on. Government institutions create a safety nets for women with a double agenda.  They encourage women to crush their own families by stripping away  the conservative family structure. The male is only needed to procreate and real fatherhood is becoming a thing of the past. In 2001 a study on Psychological Effects of Partner Abuse Against Men, Denise A. Hines and Kathleen Malley- Morrison outline abusive relationship between men and women. The paper consisted of statics or previous research and interviews. One statement supports the notion, that indeed the way society is structured women are clearly indoctrinated by these exaggerated feminist ideas.
She is being taught to get married and to divorce for financial reason. Most of these women are the ones who are the lowest in society.  And the biggest losers become the emotionally broken children throughout the process.. The following text is taking from a male interviewee

She ran off with another man, but after a short time returned home. I was told, principally by lawyers, that I must take her back. For if I pressed a divorce action, she would be seen as a poor, aggrieved, helpless woman, and she would literally clean me out. She could get eighty-five percent of my income and have our five children entrusted in her care. (Langley & Levy, 1977, p. 191)

One of the Four great women was the exact opposite. She belonged to noblest of the society, she was really wealthy and well-known. ” The pure and Chaste One”, the nobles among the Quraish addressed her in that manner. Considering that Islam had not even arrived on the Arabian peninsula and girls were still buried alive. Who was this women that could reject all chieftain of Quraish and uphold such a strong position ? even as widow.
9162852-male-body-backbone-scan( Without a backbone you could not stand up at all.
They also protect your spinal cord and nerves from damage and are a direct path to the brain)
 Khadeejah bint Khuwailid( may Allah be pleased with her) the woman who climbed  high levels. She was the woman who realized that there could only be one man in her life. A man who possessed a wonderful character, nobility, trustworthiness and truthfulness. She as strong business woman
was looking for someone she could trust, someone of a good character.
The Prophet Muhammad PBUH,  was at that time the only man available with these traits. However why is she (RA) included to be one of the best women in entire History, and where can we all learn from her?

The first lesson here is that she appreciated what she had and showed gratitude. When she heard about The Prophet SAAS she managed to get him  ( SAAS) to work for her ( R.A) to do some business in asham upon the journey.

Maisarah a servant of Khadeejah reports about the extraordinary things he experienced whilst being  with the not -yet -Prophet Muhammad at that time . The incident with the monk described the Prophet Muhammad  PBUH, as the coming Prophet. The Angels that gave shade to The Prophet SAAS, and his noble Character all these things compelled Khadeejah to propose.

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The Khadeejah R.A the woman we know, love and admire was born out the struggle the early Muslim were going through. She became the  best among them because she was the immediate person that the Prophet PBUH,  would fall back after an unsuccessful day of preaching to his own people. She did not discard her affection towards her husband and stayed true to herself. At times when everyone declared her husband as  a liar, mad man or just deluded her love almost doubled untenable.

The direct respond was that she bear him six children and continued to be wife and friend any male or female would wish for.  Nothing seemed to deter her from being the wife of the most hated man in the town. Again a distinct trend must become clear to all of us. While discussing the third Great women one characteristic becomes evident.

If we were to summarise one attribute without contemplating too profound about it would outstandingly be standing against the social norm. She would be considered anarchist during the  French renaissance. Communist or capitalist during the cold war depending from which viewpoint you see it . In modern terms unwilling to integrate into customs and practices.

Khadeejah indeed was one of the best human that walked on this earth because of her support that she developed at times most of us would abandon the idea being with someone like the Prophet PBUH, . Historically speaking there are two major examples  that i am aware of and two different times of her (R.A) life.

Fifteen years into the marriage, something strange happened. Little did Khadeejah R.A and The Prophet PBUH  knew, their life would turn tables 360 degree. The Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam came to her with his heart trembling  in the middle of the night apprehensive and disturbed after seeing things from a world unknown to him  at that time. The first Revelation as we know it.  He informed her of the happening and said to her, “O Khadijah what has happened to me? I fear for myself?….
Let us take pause here and truly appreciate why she has to be one of the greatest. The following sentences will reveal why. Remember people may say well it is about her, and not helping others like Mother Teresa. We don’t deny that she is notably the women of our century that dedicated her life for humanitarian causes. However MotherTeresa had Crisis of faith for over a decade and felt empty from inside, which leads us to the powerful respond of Khadeejah which was filled with conviction that would explode mountains.
Cave Hira
He informed her of the happening and said to her, “O Khadijah what has happened to me? I fear for myself?.She replied: “It can’t be. Be happy. I swear by Allah that he will never humiliate you. By Allah, you join ties of relationship, you speak the truth, you bear people’s burdens, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you help the vicissitudes which affect the people.” 
Imam an-Nawawi, who wrote the commentary on Sahih Muslim said that the scholars have explained Khadijah’s statement by saying that she knew that Allah would never allow one who had been given such a generous character and noble manners by Him, to be affected by madness, since good manners is itself such a blessing from Allah.
 So if we add it all up she was his greatest source of comfort, the first to offer security. She was the first to believe in him, and who could have known him better? After all, she had been married to him for fifteen years. A moment of epiphany. This means that the first Muslim after the advent of the Prophet SAS was a women. How paradox it sounds consider the connotations for a Muslim women.
For the skeptics  you may  think “we keep hearing her being supportive and over generous”. “She was only a subservient women like you Muslim men prefer it”. Well not this time if you assume so. These were the prerequisite to attained real greatness that reached until the times of Jane Austen. The noble Quran tells us
O you who wraps himself [in clothing],Arise [to pray] the night, except for a little Half of it – or subtract from it a little. Or add to it, and recite the Qur’an with measured recitation. Indeed, We will cast upon you a heavy word.Indeed, the hours of the night are more effective for concurrence [of heart and tongue] and more suitable for words[ 73: 1-6]
O you who covers himself [with a garment]Arise and warn, And your Lord glorify,And uncleanliness avoid, And do not confer favor to acquire more, But for your Lord be patient. [ 74:1-7]
The  Holy Prophet PBUH, is addressed in this verse with reference to a particular style of wrapping himself in his clothes. The first revelation in the cave of hira  being his first  experience , he felt it very hard , and was caught by a shivery cold  once he reached home , he asked his blessed wife Khadeejah to wrap him in a blanket which she did. Some narrations have reported another event:When the holy Prophet ( PBUH) was accused by the pagans of Mecca , of being magician who separated between friends, he felt aggrieved, and wrapped himself in his clothes out of grief. Addressing him with reference to these events is loving style adopted by Allah ( سبحانه و تعالى) to console him.
( Muhammad Taqi Usmani)
Many scholars consider these above mentioned verse one of the first verses ever revealed to mankind.The revelation would come at specific times and occasion. Some of the revelation would always have a context. looking into the context we something striking. When Allah  سبحانه و تعالى addressees the Prophet ” O you who wraps himself [in clothing],Arise [to pray]. Khadeejah becomes a witness and is the first human being after the Prophet to have the knowledge. When we look at the verse we see instruction. So Allah سبحانه و تعالى choose to reveal the verse whilst the  Noble Prophet was with his wife. This magnifies the position Khadeejah had. She also had been entrusted with the sacred knowledge. Islam was about male and female from the beginning. If we compare a similar situation occurred between Adam and Huwwa (MPBUT).
However, why do we claim that the first feminist literature movement was a result of the first revelation above mentioned. To be continued in part 2  of Khadeejah R.A , the wise backbone 3.2

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Amina from “Femen Tunisia” quits the movement, too Islamophobic

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“I do not want my name to be associated with an Islamophobic organisation,” These are the words of a highly controversial personality. Amina Sboui ( may Allah  سبحانه و تعالى have mercy on her)  a Tunisian activist quits Femen after realising the real agenda behind the movement. Amina Sboui ignited an online splash earlier this year by posting naked pictures of herself with a painted slogan on her body saying ” My body belongs to me, and not a source of anyone’s honour”. She told the Maghreb edition of the Huffington Post that she won’t  be part of the organisation any longer. She also adds “I did not appreciate the action taken by the girls shouting ‘Amina Akbar, Femen Akbar’ in front of the Tunisian embassy in Paris.

She disapproves the blasphemous chants of Allahu akbar ( God is Greater) and the burning of the black Tawheed Flag and ,says that she has friends and family that were deeply affected by it.  “We must respect everyone’s religion,” she added.

65730_325297964240018_21084959_n(Burning of the Tawheed Flag)

It is pure financial greed and ignorance that drives these young females into self-destruction. It is like a ship on the pacific ocean with only the captain knowing what direction they heading to. This became clear when Amina asked Femen leader Inna Shevchenko where and how the organisation is financed. She says ““I don’t know how the movement is financed. I asked (Femen leader Inna Shevchenko) several times, but I didn’t get a clear answer. I don’t want to be in a movement supported by suspect money. What if it is financed by Israel? I want to know.”

Femen  founded in Ukraine in 2008 and shifted  later to Paris  and received more exposure in central Europe. The movement has been fallen  under suspicion  for a while due to  the mysterious figures behind the movement. Victor Svyatski is considered as the mastermind behind the group. Mr Syvatski is known as a “consultant” to the movement yet there are reports of abuse within the organisation that from him. According  to Ms Green’s documentary she says “He can be really horrible but he is fiercely intelligent,”  she adds he sought to justify his role within the organisation and  acknowledged the paradox of being a “patriarch” running a feminist protest group. “These girls are weak,” he says in the film.

The question arises is all what these women believe may just be another version of how to control a group of individuals. Is Femen just another cult that disregards the well-being of women ? Is Nudity really Freedom ?

“Nudity is Freedom”

Outrage pays well, whether its Islam ignorant bigoted Pamela Geller, or Brigitte Gabriel, the dollars dictate. Femen is not exempt from this humanistic voracity. Radiosvoboda.org reports citing the Italian edition Il Foglio.

“Each protester in Kiev gets a thousand euros a month, and its activists here are paid 2,500 euros (with the average salary in Kiev of 500 euros),” Il Foglio writes.

According to a Kiev source with the Italian edition, in Paris, the girls from Femen earn much more – they can get about 1000 euros a day.

Il Foglio says the female movement is sponsored by an American entrepreneur and German businessmen.

“Femen activists are allegedly paid by American Jed Sanden, a business person who runs a business in Kiev, as well as two rich men from Germany,” the article reads.

Thus, the publication concludes that Femen is a well-funded structure.

Well no wonder why, The organization plans to become the biggest and the most influential movement in Europe. Why is Femen not tackling the real issues. They merely jumping on  the badawagon and think it is justified to react ignorantly. Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance.

 

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Early Islam & Intersectional Feminism: A Comparative Analysis

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“I believe in a man who used to be so full of love and harmony. He fought for peace and liberty and never would he hurt anything. He was a mercy for mankind. A teacher till the end of time. No creature could be compared with him.So full of light and blessings. You’re always in our hearts and minds. Your name is mentioned every day. I’ll follow you no matter what If God wills we’ll meet one day.”- Maher Zain

First-wave feminists were criticized of being overly concerned with the issues of white middle-class women, while ignoring the plight of black women[1]. This led to the creation of black feminism, which was created by Aurde Lorde and bell hooks, among others. Black feminists see the patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism as oppressive social systems that must be combated via an “intersectional” approach. This involved addressing all of these systems simultaneously, rather than attempting to dismantle one at a time.

As Audre Lorde said, “There is no thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives[2].”Black feminists are not the only group to use this intersectional approach to fighting oppression. In seventh-century Arabia, there lived a man who we now call the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam. When Muhammad proclaimed his prophethood, his teachers were associated with social justice. Because of this, many weak and oppressed members of society were attracted to his teachings. In his struggles against sexism, racism, and class-based oppression, he used an intersectional approach.

While the works of Audre Lorde, bell hooks, and other feminists were magnificent, they are largely confined to an ivory tower academy; in contrast, the Prophet Muhammad led an actual revolution that changed Arabia’s paradigm of social structure and roles forever.In Muhammad’s day, it was common practice to bury female infants alive—which, sadly, is still an issue in China and India today. At the time, females were not valued at all by society and most people desired to have a son. Muhammad spoke out against these injustices and eventually outlawed the practice of infanticide. The Qu’ran called upon men participating in such activities to contemplate the magnitude of their actions in terms of judgment day: “When the female (infant), buried alive, is questioned, for what crime she was killed.”[3]

In addition, Muhammad said, “Anyone who brings up two daughters properly will be very close to me on the day of Judgment.”In this manner, Muhammad gave the people spiritual motivation to take good care of their daughters. This promotion of women’s rights served as a direct threat to the Pagan ideology of the elite in Arabia; many began persecuting Muslims due to this social advancement. Yet, women still converted to Islam rapidly because the Prophet Muhammad was working to improve their place in society and protect them.The first martyr in Islam was Sumayyah bint Khayyat a woman. Arab polytheists spoke with Sumayyah and her family, saying,

“We have heard that you swore allegiance to Muhammad.”

Sumayyah said, “Yes, we did.”“Don’t you know that he insults our idols, degrades our beliefs, and criticizes our ancestors?” they asked.“

We know,” said Sumayyah.

The Arab polytheists then grabbed Sumayyah and dragged her to the desert before whipping, kicking, and torturing her. They gave her the opportunity to denounce her beliefs in exchange for the torture to cease, but she refused, as she was willing to die for the things that Muhammad had taught. Sumayyah was consequently killed, becoming a martyr for Islam.[4] As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remarked, “A man [or woman] who does not have something for which he [or she] is willing to die is not fit to live.”[5]Sumayyah’s willingness to sacrifice her life demonstrates that Islam is not as oppressive to women as Femen claims; if it were, Sumayyah would not have given up her life for its teachings. Islam was associated with liberating women from the shackles of the cultural misogyny allowed by the Pagan Arabs, and as a result, women were willing to die for the ideals that Muhammad taught.

Muhammad was devoted to furthering women’s rights; one author writes this about his social efforts: “The right to vote, to inheritance, education, a role in politics and civic society were controversial and groundbreaking ideas that Muhammad promoted for women in a seventh century society that regarded them as mere possessions. Considering women in Britain received the right to vote, inherit and own property thirteen centuries later, Muhammad’s campaigns were both radical and revolutionary.”In this way, Muhammad challenged sexism and encouraged positive social change. In contrast, first-wave feminism, which also challenged sexism, did so in a racist, negative manner.[6]

What some Black feminists sought to do, however, was challenge racism and sexism, the action that the Prophet Muhammad took, did just this. Umm Ayman, also known as Barakah, was a black Muslim who was the first person to hold Muhammad in her arms when he was born, and the only person who knew him throughout the course of his entire life. She was one of the few Muslims who the Prophet had assured of a place in Paradise. He considered her to be a mother figure in his life, and spoke highly of her. In “A Notable Muslim African Woman,” the author writes this about Umm Ayman:“If you’re looking for an important Muslim African woman to talk about during Black History month, look no further than the Seerah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), and the woman he described as his ‘mother after my own mother.’ She is the rest of my family.”God’s last prophet was raised, fed, and taken care of by a black woman. This illustrates the fact that, unlike early feminists, Muhammad was not racist towards black people. [7]

One hadith in Sahih Bukhari reads:“A black woman used to sweep the mosque and she died. The Prophet asked about her. He was told that she had died. He said, ‘Why did you not inform me? Show me her grave.’ So he went to her grave and offered her funeral prayer.”The Prophet Muhammad was the head of state, and his duty was to manage the daily affairs of an entire nation. Yet, he took the time to pray for a black woman who had had the simple task of sweeping the mosque; he had been deeply troubled by her death and wished to pray for her. This is in sharp contrast to the first-wave feminists, who would not even allow black women to attend their meetings.Many events in the Prophet Muhammad’s life display his belief in racial tolerance and equality. He elected a former black slave Bilal who had been emancipated by the Muslims to perform the call of prayers, which is a prestigious position in Islam. There was also another slave named Zayd whom Muhammad freed and adopted as a son. Zayd’s son, Usama, would then be chosen by Muhammad as a military general at the age of 19.

In a biography about Muhammad, the author Tariq Ramadan writes:“In the presence of God, nothing could justify discrimination, social injustice, or racism. In the Muslim community, a black man called the believers to prayer, and a slave’s son commanded the army; faith had freed the believers from judgments based on deceptive appearance linked to origins and social status that simulate unwise passions and dehumanize them.”[8] Early feminists, including Josephine Daskam Bacon, did not share this view of openness towards black people. In response to whether women should be given the ability to choose who they will marry, Josephine Daskam Bacon wrote in one of her publications the derogatory rhetorical question, “Do you want your daughter to marry a nigger?”[9] In contrast, the Prophet Muhammad encouraged Zayd ibn Haritha a black man who was an ex-slave, to marry Zaynab bint Jahsh, who was an Arab woman of high noble lineage. Marriages such as these were part of the Prophet Muhammad’s plan to eliminate bigotry and bring people together.

Though she claimed to be promoting women’s rights, Josephine Daskam Bacon believed that unlike gender differences, racial differences demanded their own political rights. She fought for feminism using racist language, writing things such as, “African is a separate race from the Caucasian, with its own ambitions and tradition.” In ‘Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape,” a white feminist by the name of Susan Brown Miller portrays black men as violent rapists.The Prophet Muhammad, in contrast, made it clear in his final farewell speech before dying that: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

Because of the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings, long before Audre Lorde and bell hooks, a black woman named Nana Asma’u led an educational campaign for black women in Nigeria. When her father first formalized the Sokoto Calphiate, there were many non-Muslim pagans in rural areas who had no exposure to reading or writing. Her mission was to integrate these people into society and educate them. She formed female study groups and was successful in her mission. In addition, she formalized mnemonic devices to memorize surahs in the Qu’ran.

Posthumously labeled a feminist by modern historians, Nana Asma’u was motivated the ideology of Islam. She wrote this poem about the Prophet Muhammad:“As for bravery, no warrior has ever matched the courage shown by Ahmada

The perfume emitted by the body of Muhammad.

As for his beauty and physique, he surpassed all

For nowhere is there the like of Muhammad.” [10]

Nana Asma’u is the perfect example of a Muslim inspired by the Prophet Muhammad and his legacy of furthering women’s rights. No matter how much religion is criticized by feminists, the fact remains that a religious leader spurred the most progressive revolution for women’s rights in all of human history.

Islam also addresses classism. When discussing the ideal society, the Qu’ran poses the rhetorical question,” And what will make you comprehend what the uphill road is?’   It goes on to say,”It is to free the slaves…. or giving food on a day of hunger the poverty-stricken destitute who is completely rundown.”  In today’s society, poor people are  harassed and mistreated. The overwhelming amounts of poor people in America are African-Americans, Native-Americans and other minority populations. Observing the privilege among white middle-class feminists, LaRue observed “Is there any logical comparison between the oppression of the black woman on welfare who has difficulty feeding her children and the discontent of the suburban mother who has the luxury to protest the washing of the dishes on which her family full meal was consumed.” [[11] In this society, wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a few elite. The Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a believer, he who eats to his fill, whilst his neighbor besides him goes hungry.” [Saheeh al-Bukharee (112]  He frequently gave to the poor and instituted a wealth distribution system known as zakat to ensure they were fed.

The Prophet Muhammad addressed issues of classism, racism and sexism. First-wave feminists were unable to tackle so many social issues simultaneously, and feminism has evolved throughout various eras as a way to compensate. It is clear that Femen is undergoing an intellectual famine. Eco-feminism, socialist feminism, and other brands of feminism are egalitarian ideologies formulated as academic theories. However, what the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam accomplished was much more than just an academic theory: his revolutionary ideas were practical, and the magnitude of his accomplishments in Arabia—as well as the rate at which his reforms improved women’s status in society—is unparalleled in the whole of human history.

 

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Hakeem Muhammad is public speaker, researcher, aspiring public intellectual, activist, and writer. Visit his blog at HakeemMuhammad.com

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1) A History of Black Feminism, http://www.mit.edu/~thistle/v9/9.01/6blackf.html

2)

Audre Lorde, http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/181970-there-is-no-thing-as-a-single-issue-struggle-because-we

3)Islam and Female Infantcide, http://www.islamawareness.net/FamilyPlanning/Infanticide/fit_article001.html

4) Islam’s First Martyrs, http://www.islambasics.com/view.php?bkID=176&chapter=16

5)http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth101378.html,

6) Inspired by Muhammad, http://www.inspiredbymuhammad.com/womens_rights.php

7) http://www.soundvision.com/info/history/bkayman.asp, A notable African Woman

8) In the Footsteps of the Prophet by Tariq Ramadan

9)White Women’s Rights : The Racial Origins of Feminism in the United States …

10)One Woman’s Jihad, By Beverly Blow Mack, Jean Boy

11) http://library.duke.edu/rubenstein/scriptorium/wlm/blkmanif/, Third World Alliance