A letter to Islam: we are women, not things: iLIVE - Times LIVE
Mon Mar 27 02:46:37 SAST 2017

A letter to Islam: we are women, not things: iLIVE

Anonymous | 2011-12-22 12:13:49.0
A woman wearing a hijab in a shop. File photo

No self-respecting woman can be Muslim. I say this as a Muslim woman who bears the scars of how man has twisted the religion to suit his own needs.

Islam is a pure faith, with the Holy text guiding us to live a good life. But that text is now lost under the thinly-veiled abuse of men who have interpreted it to what they want it to mean. Islam no longer exists in its pure form. It has been bastardised in order to wage war on others, and specifically women.

Basically, Islam does not exist anymore, except in the hearts of very few people. The ruling majority in Islamic states are not true Muslims. They are corrupt dictators who use and abuse the Holy text to get what they want, including multiple wives, sex and an excuse to abuse the women in their family.

Islamic law is on the side of men. That is a fact.

In order to fight this abuse of The Holy Q’ran, I urge women to stop practising ‘man-made Islam’ until the sin of men is purged. Not subscribing to hijab and Islamic law is a way of saying “no” to the atrocities committed by men on women.

Women who continue to subscribe to these ‘rules’ are oppressing themselves and allowing this to happen.

It is a really sad state of affairs that this has happened to a beautiful religion. My religion. But it is a horrible truth we have to accept.

The facts speak for themselves. Women are not allowed to drive in some places. Women can only go out with a chaperone. Women are forced to cover themselves just because men cannot control their penises. Women are raped and then jailed for extra-marital affairs. Women are beaten and blamed for being ‘disrespectful’. Women are stoned to death for being under suspicion of adultery. Women are forced to marry when they don’t want to. Women bear the scars of what Islam has become.

I was married to a man my family forced me to marry. On our wedding night, he beat me black and blue for not agreeing to the marriage. He beat me for being on the pill because I didn't want to have his children. The last straw was when I went to town without a chaperone and he allowed his brother to rape me.

He has threatened to kill me and my family if I press charges.

Is this Islam? No, it’s not.

I came to South Africa seeking freedom from this oppression, as I have heard South African Muslims do not share the same fate.

You South Africans are lucky. But it does not mean you are safe. Nor does it mean you can ignore the reality of Muslim women abroad. You, as free women, need to stand up for us who cannot speak.

It is a brutal reality Muslim women have to face because of what Islam has become, and women all over the world need to stand up in defiance and say: “No! We will not allow this to happen anymore!”

Discard the veil and let us prevail.

We are women, not things.

I know many will slate me for saying this, and continue to blindly practise what they have been brainwashed by, but this is a truth every Muslim woman has to acknowledge.

Wake up and smell the blood, sweat and tears of every Muslim woman who has to go through this, and then you will realise that Islam – or should I say the bastardisation of Islam – has ruined women.

I beg you.

If you would like to respond to this letter please email ilive@timeslive.co.za


As a regular, non-violent, level-headed Muslim, it's tiresome having to apologise all the time.

So, here follows my blanket apology. There will be none thereafter, ever again.

I apologise for terrorism, for violence against women and children, for halaal restaurants that don't serve alcohol, for child-marriages, for women wearing black cloaks, for women covering their hair and faces, for women not being allowed to drive, for death by adultery, for not eating Christmas gammon, for closing our stores during Friday prayer, for carrying water bottles into public toilet stalls so we can wash ourselves after we've done our business, for halaal stamps on toothpick boxes, for bad breath during Ramadaan, for being boring at office parties, for praying so goddamn often, for crazy preachers obsessed with vegetables and vaginas.

If I've left anything out, I apologise for that too.

- Saaleha Idrees Bamjee

When I read titles like ‘A letter to Islam: we are women, not things: iLIVE’ it fills me not with trepidation but as a Muslim woman, my back is automatically up.

I can't take away the experience this woman has had at the hands of the men in her life, but I fail to see how her generalisations make me want to empathise with her.

In one swift article she has insulted me, my intelligence and disrespected my choice- yes my choice to remain Muslim.

My friend Saaleha  said it perfectly. "It's tiresome we shouldn't have to apologise all the time."

I am by no standards a feminist, Islamist and detest the term moderate Muslim. Yes South African Muslims are possibly the only nation of Muslims that are allowed to practice freely, regardless of the sect they belong to.

But I refuse to have to explain that EVERYTIME. She disrespects me by saying: “No self-respecting woman can be Muslim.”

I can't fight for every Muslim in the rest of the world, I can only change perceptions when I encounter them. 

I respect her right to state her opinion, much the same as I have the right to negate her statements.

I will accept that people like her are scarred by their experiences but she doesn't speak for me.

I am more woman today because I am Muslim. It gave me rights, taught me boundaries and allowed me to find alternate means to express myself, to be educated, to be free.

My Islam taught it to me. My Father lived it and the every other man I have met and or encountered respected it.

- Aasia Fredericks

I completely understand what this woman is saying, and I agree with her – to an extent.

Women have been oppressed by men for centuries – even before the advent of Islam. It is not Islam is to blame, but men’s interpretation of it. So I think what Saaleah is saying is just a rant and totally off point and nonsensical in this regard, because Anonymous is talking about an aspect of Muslim men that are not part of the religion.

What Anonymous is saying is that men use the religion as an excuse for abuse, and the only way to fight it is by not subscribing to it.

Women are colluding to their own oppression by accepting it and not fighting.

South African Muslims are lucky. All my friends enjoy the freedom of not being forced into anything, but it doesn’t mean women who are free should ignore women who are not just because of one sentence in a letter that aggravates them.

See beyond the words to the message. It’s a strong one.

What disgusts me is the comments on social media.

People on Twitter and Facebook are saying that this is a lie, or this woman who wrote it isn’t Muslim and is just anti-Muslim, and that the ‘Anonymous’ name is “convenient”.

Have you ever thought about the fact that someone could be so sick and tired of being beaten that she could stand up for her rights and speak out? Is that so hard to believe?

The fact that she has chosen to remain anonymous could be because she will face repercussions for her words with her family or husband. Did you think about that?

I think it’s wrong to say ‘any self-respecting woman cannot be Muslim’, but I think that self-respecting Muslim women should not be offended and defensive.

In fact, they should be doing all they can to change this, and not hiding behind a misguided belief that all is well because it’s not happening to them.

And this goes for all religions that are used repressively. Faith is a beautiful thing, but the laws of religion are twisted and used by people for their own gains and to commit crimes.

This is real.

It may not be happening to you, but it easily could.

- Nikita Ramkissoon

Dear Anonymous

Thank you for voicing what countless others have been too afraid to say.

Yes, it's very difficult to practice Islam in this day and age, what with the contamination of the religion by man-made rules and the abuse of power by men who claim to know everything; men who discourage others from seeking more knowledge about Islam.

How does one defend a religion whose leaders are spineless morons with superiority complexes?

Some of these response are those of typical Muslims with persecution complexes. Perhaps if we Muslims were more vociferous regarding the crimes committed by our "brothers," we wouldn't have this problem.

In the masjids and our communities one hears nothing about the atrocities that occur on a daily basis, thanks to our dear Muslim folk in the Middle East, etc. Instead, we hear about how the "evil and corrupt West" is out to get us.

As for the the hijab and other religious "symbols," we must take into account the enormous influence that Arab and Indian culture have had on Islam. We tend to confuse the two too easily.

It's time that we studied the texts carefully, perhaps following in the footsteps of the clerics in Turkey, who had the intelligence to remove sexist laws and Hadith from their records. 

Also, do not worry about the backlash in this twisted community. You should already feel relieved after shedding the shackles that have been imposed on you.

- Roxy Omar

Let me lend you a Muslim perspective; the article was a bit over the top in its approach, but I do respect that what the author says is true.

It is a generalisation but when dealing with statistics and instances of communal afflictions, especially those founded on religious bases, we can but only generalise.

The argument isn't directed at Islam at all but rather its application and interpretation. She (the author) has an issue with Shariah Law, an interpretative construct, and it's application, equally so.

I agree. There exists a type of Muslim that espouses female denigration and subjugation and we, as Muslim men, but also as PEOPLE need to feel compassion at such abuses. Regardless of out colour or ethnicity or race. What difference does either make?

I think that taking it personally is incorrect because we will then never get anywhere. There are countless examples of such laws leading to human rights abuses in almost every Islamic nation and it is wrong.

I think that I also need to clarify that she is only asking to down Hijaab and Nikaab as a form of protest to awaken the world to what is going on; but to show them too that WE Muslims also disagree with such.

- Imran Khan

A follow-up to my initial comment. After hitting 'send', I felt incredibly selfish. As one respondent wrote, it was, indeed, a rant.

This woman was speaking from a place of pain, anger and betrayal. She'd been brutalised by men who used Islam to grind her into nothing.

I was speaking from a place of anger and annoyance. My faith had been maligned and I was tired of feeling like I had to defend it whenever a Muslim commits an atrocity.

But a Muslim had committed an atrocity.

And I'm reminded of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his teachings to command good and forbid evil.

Growing up Muslim in a pluralistic country, it's easier for us to see where culture and faith mesh or collide.

Had I been born in India, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia, would the lines be clear?

Therefore there is one more apology in order.

I apologise to those women who've had their lives bludgeoned by men who use their religion as a club to subdue and dispirit them, who've been subjected to brutality and horror and who are in dire need of our compassion and voices.

- Saaleha Idrees Bamjee


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