Don’t you just love it when imams start their sermons with “ayyuha al ikhwa”? (O,thou/you brothers) As if there are only male Muslims & he’s only speaking to male Muslims. But hey, a Muslim is ofcourse male by default. I experienced this more then once in Dutch-Moroccan mosques in Amsterdam. I now visit a Surinamese mosque where the imam always says “brothers and sisters”. So much better!
To be honest, I’m not really interested what male Muslim scholars/leaders/imams have to say about Islam anymore.
They had a virtual monopoly position in defining, interpreting, studying and teaching Islam for 1400 years (especially from the formative period untill the 18/19th Century).
Their definition(s) of Islam were & are almost never inclusive of the experience(s) of Muslim women, LGBTQIA Muslims, black Muslims , disabled Muslims and so on.
Their interpretation(s) of Islam weren’t “Islam” per se, but more like the patriarchal, scholared elite cisgendered heterosexual male medieval INTERPRETATION of Islam.
It is not to say that the scholars from the classical period or classically trained scholars of this day & age didn’t have/had much wisdom to share with us.
There were & are male scholars from then&now who certainly had/have interesting and beautiful things to say, like, for instance, Rumi, Ibn Arabi, Baba Bulleh Shah, Bawa Muhayiedeeen, etc.
But they were&are children of their day and age, and they (unsurprisingly, since their historical, social etc. context) weren’t, and aren’t mostly not big on more inclusive defintions of Islam. (The exception being many Sufi scholars, some of which I listed and modern progressive scholars like Khaled Abou el Fadl, Omid Safi, Scott Kugle )
I don’t blame these medieavel scholars for every little thing they wrote: Their world was radically different from ours. But just as we need to think critically about everthing, we need to consider them as humans, some very spiritual, some very wise but humans first and foremost. They are not infallible – and neither are their interpretations. Many modern Muslims act & think as if they are.
As women and other marginalized groups, we need to think for ourselves, interpret for ourselves and find interpretations that are fit for a human-rights, progressive, inclusive framework. So let’s do it, then! 🙂 😉