Do some of the Islamic traditions highlight the differences between feminism and Islam? If so, then how can feminists deal with that fact? Can a woman be a feminist and still consider herself a practicing Muslim?
Those are some of the questions that now appear to demand answers. Those are the sort of questions that have the potential to widen the divide between feminism and Islam. Yet within one California interfaith group a female Muslim has done an admirable job of showcasing one way to narrow the divide between feminism and Islam.
That one woman, a Muslim who wanted to support the community’s interfaith efforts, had witnessed the discussion about a possible new president. The demands put on the president became rather overwhelming after one year, and so the organization held annual elections in June. In May that organization sought names of people to put on the June “ballot.”
During that discussion, someone introduced the possibility of having two members share the responsibilities of a president. That sharing of responsibilities was discussed in relation to a pairing of two female members. The Muslim member objected to that suggestion. While the reason for her objections remained rather unclear in May, by June they had become quite clear and explicit.
At the organization’s June meeting, that daring female voice spoke directly to the issue of feminism and Islam. While she did not frame her argument around mention of those two apparently conflicting entities, she did allude to that conflict. In May that Muslim had agreed to put her name on the June ballot. In June the organization members elected that female Muslim to the position of president. She would serve for the following year.
In accepting the June vote, that female Muslim offered more details about her earlier objections to the possible creation of a “two-headed” presidency. The newly elected president mentioned one Islamic tradition. She mentioned the Islamic law that gives a female heir an amount of inheritance that represents exactly one-half of the inheritance given to any male sibling.
The newly-elected president apparently felt that it was time to question the wisdom behind that tradition. She thus did not want a 21st-Century group to give women in its organization just one-half the responsibility of a male. She obviously saw acceptance of a shared presidency as a nod of agreement to what she perceived to be an out-dated Islamic tradition.
Although that female did not speak with a particularly loud voice, her actions spoke loudly about how to transform the existing divide between feminism and Islam.