Rediscovering Ramadaan#5

When misogyny rears one of its many heads

Ya hear that? The sound that went ‘pop’ in your head, the neurons coming to a screeching halt, your breath held in a nanosecond longer when you read ‘misogyny’?

I’m not going to bash anyone. Don’t worry.

I bash everyone 😠😈

Just kidding 😝

One of the many things I want to unpack and acknowledge its existence is how normal it is to be disadvantaged. As a woman, it’s a no brainer that you must slave away in the kitchen from morning till afternoon. Not only must you make sure to whip up delicious meals but you have to make 3,4,5 coursers. It must be a feast for the eyes before the tastebuds.

But since there will likely be others at the table, whether it’s the occasional male guests from the masjid or work or a friend or relatives who are regulars, you will also be closely scrutinized. From the setup to the meals themselves, to the state of the kitchen.

AAND. You are berated for wasting your Ramadaan away in the kitchen!  Oh, sheikh, what do you suggest?  That my husband and sons come help me out?
What? No, no.
Do dhikr while you’re cutting the vegetables, say subhaanallaah, alxamdulillaah, Allaahu akbar. You’re not cooking with your mouth are you?
Listen to Qur’aan, listen to lectures. Cut down on your sleep so you can start and finish the cooking earlier and squeeze in an hour of Qur’aan recitation before iftaar.
Stop talking on the phone! You women are so given to gossip and idle talk. And you women crowd hell, so pay up sadaqa! Pawn your gold bracelets.

I wish this was a hyperbole. But this is the message that we receive, often implicitly, not always as obvious, but the effects are always the same: shaming and belittling.

I hear men talking about how grateful they are for their mothers or wives cooking all day. Wait, your mother?  Your grandmother?  How do you sit in the living room or your bed room knowing that your mother or even worse, grandmother is in the kitchen preparing YOUR meal?? How do you justify that? How do you live with yourself? You think an occasional fb post or tweet will suffice?

When our boys are raised with such entitlement — and many mothers are guilty in this– they become emotional cripples who don’t know how to transcend their own needs and help others.
And then we wonder why there are so many absentee fathers.

And when girls who already are emotionally mature and receptive are told to get in the kitchen whilst her brother is sleeping or gaming, and told to eat AFTER her father and brothers have eaten, what does that do to her sense of self?  It buries her. It teaches her that she must always put others before herself and she’ll probably be attracted to emotionally unavailable and neglectful guys when she grows up.

And if she doesn’t break away from that internalized patriarchy and self-hatred, then she’ll just repeat the same injustice with her kids.

Please, men, understand me: when I speak of patriarchy or misogyny I am NOT speaking about MEN in particular. I’m speaking about an oppressive societal system whereby power-hungry individuals, who happen to be men because of the biological and physical advantage of strength they have of the other sex, impose barriers and a hierarchy that advances some members of society over others.

Patriarchy is also harmful to boys and men; patriarchy shames boys for having human emotions, forces boys to ‘man up’ which is code for suppress and deny your feelings ( which usually come out in the form of violence and delinquency). Patriarchy promotes tribalism, patriarchy promotes the ruin of the environment, the endangerment of animals, police brutality.

Why? Because we are all interconnected deep down, so one form of injustice usually flows into other forms of injustices. This is because injustice is the rejection of the truth and a manifestation of arrogance.

Allaah has forbidden oppression for Himself, and has forbidden it from humanity.

So fighting patriarchy is NOT detrimental. Acknowledging misogyny will NOT emasculate you. Nor will empowering women, your sisters result in the disempowerment of men.

Quite the opposite.

Take my father for an example. He saw first hand how detrimental patriarchy and misogyny was within his family growing up. And from a very young age, he came to loathe all types of injustices.
He raised us with empowerment. He forbade my brothers from getting a free pass. My brothers prepare more of the iftar than my sisters.
If anything, he’d favour us, the girls. When asked why, he’d say I’d rather favour them because tomorrow when they grow up they will face a harsh world that hates and oppresses them.

And because he liberated me in a way only a father can, I developed a love for justice, for the truth, and a hatred for falsehood. I only aim to transcend my ego and my innate faults, not defend them. And I aim to help others do the same.

Imagine though if my father was absent or was misogynistic?  Instead of sharing my gift and my passion with the world, I’d be stuck in my internalized misogyny and believe that I couldn’t amount to much. I would stick in my lane, conform, follow the herd. That’s the case of many sisters. Many, many sisters. Outwardly they may seem fine – working, studying, married even. But in their hearts, the fire has been extinguished long ago.

Fighting injustice means not belittling it or trivializing it. It means not being passive when you come across it.

The hadeeth of the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم,  in the Arba’een was that if one sees evil, they should try to stop it personally, or verbally or at the very least hate it in the heart. But never ever allow yourself to be a passive onlooker because silence and passivity is tacit approval.

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