The sun sets between a white woman’s thighs

Sachiko Murata

“It seems to me that feminists who have criticized various aspects of Islam or Islamic society based their positions upon a worldview radically alien to the Islamic worldview. Their critique typically takes a moral stance. They ask for reform, whether explicitly or implicitly. The reform they have in view is of the standard modern Western type. Among other things, this means that there is an abstract ideal, thought up by us or by our leader, which has to be imposed by overthrowing the old order.

 The reform is of the same lineage as the Western imperialism that originally appeared in the East as Christian missionary activity. The white man’s burden gradually expanded its horizons – or reduced them, depending on how you look at it. 

Salvation was no longer touted as present in Christianity, but in science and progress. The ‘orientalist’ perspective fits nicely, as many scholars have shown, into this blatantly triumphalistic approach to non-Western societies. Here we have the masculine impulse toward domination run wild, with catastrophic results for the world. Remember that unbridled technological expansion with its concordant ills – the rape of the earth – grew up directly out of this same impulse.
Many other reformist currents in Western thought have been infused with the same will to do good for others, even if others do not realize that good is being done for them. Certain forms of feminism seem to fit in the same line of thinking. We see new variants on the old, domineering, and negatively masculine attitude known as proselytism. In the Islamic world…its appeal has been heard only by those who have lost touch with their own intellectual and spiritual universe. The spokespeople for the movement tell us that the rest will follow, as soon as their consciousness is raised. But here we certainly cannot be blamed for asking how we can tell the difference between up and down.”

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