Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 94

“ as we interpret our that disregard the Overcoming patriarchy in the Muslim sacred texts and tradi- text’s social-historical tions: These universal and cultural context community is not simply a matter of principles include the and that are glaring fulfilling a social or political demand; it sanctity of all human in their patriarchal is a fundamental religious obligation. life, male and female, import. Such interpre- the taking of which is tations are considered among the gravest of authoritative, indeed all sins; the right to freedom of thought, re- almost sacred, because of the character of ligion, conscience, and expression; the right those delivering them. People fail to consider to security in one’s livelihood, profession, and the human limitations of these interpreters residence; the divine diversity of all of creation; as people impacted by their time and place, the mandate to uphold human dignity; and the circumstances, upbringing, and even mental obligation to model prophetic traits in our lives disposition. Even religious geniuses and men and characters and to work for the good of our close to God are human beings not immune homeland and society, wherever that might be. from their experiences and the cultural biases All of these apply equally to men and women. of their time and place. OVERCOMING PATRIARCHY Overcoming patriarchy in religious communi- ties will probably be easier to do than it will be in non-religious communities where one may have to appeal to values that not everyone em- braces on a woman’s worth and value. In Mus- lim communities, overcoming patriarchy will require us to remember three things about our religion that mandate the equality of women and men in every respect: First, to recognize that revelation from God ap- plies to men and women equally: Everything in the foundational beliefs of Islam and in ritual practices that applies to men applies equally to women. Both men and women will be held accountable equally in the hereafter, and both are equally required to be vicegerents of God on earth and must therefore be educated and given the resources in order to practice their religion fully and manifest good works as they’re obligated to do. Second, to keep in mind that Islam’s universal principles apply equally to men and women 94 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G ” Third, and most important, to remember that God created human beings, men and women, in a state of fitra. Fitra is an Arabic word that is usually translated as “original disposition,” “natural constitution,” or “innate nature.” Islamic theology holds that fitra is the state of purity and innocence that we are all—men and women—born with; it includes an in- nate inclination towards tawhid (Oneness of God), which is encapsulated in the fitra along with compassion, intelligence, ihsan (virtu- ous behavior), and all the other attributes that embody what it is to be human. This innate na- ture belongs equally to all human beings, male and female, and thus implies a fundamental and inviolable equality. Therefore, in the vision of Islam, men and women are inherently equal in their nature and their relationship to God. Men and women share equally in the fullness of human nature and deserve equal dignity. Interpretations of the Quran and prophetic traditions should be viewed and understood in this light, and when an interpretation is found to be bound to a par- ticular time and culture, it should be relegated to its historical time and place. WINTER 2019