The waves of religion based on terrorism in the 1990s are based on the tormented response of a mutilated Muslim society whose progressive forces have been savagely emasculated. Why on earth is the Arab world so hostile to women? Why can it not see women as a force for development?
To understand the fanatic rejection of women’s liberation in the Muslim world, one has to take into account the time factor. Most of us educated women have illiterate mothers. The conservative wave against women in the Muslim world is a defense mechanism against profound changes in both sex roles and the touchy subject of sexual identity.
But the weakness comes from these Westernised co-opted Muslim leaders who just want to look good in the eyes of the West and Western media.
People’s identities as Indians, as Asians, or as members of the human race, seemed to give way – quite suddenly – to sectarian identification with Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh communities.
I found that a whole series of people opposed me simply on the grounds that I was a woman. The clerics took to the mosque saying that Pakistan had thrown itself outside the Muslim world and the Muslim umar by voting for a woman, that a woman had usurped a man’s place in the Islamic society.
America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, even eaten with people who in America would have been considered ‘white,’ but the ‘white’ attitude had been removed from their minds by the religion of Islam.
The first responsibility of the Muslim is as teacher. That is his job, to teach. His first school, his first classroom is within the household. His first student is himself. He masters himself and then he begins to convey the knowledge that he has acquired to the family. The people who are closest to him.
The man who buried Malcolm X – my Muslim imam, priest – he, after I got beat up by police… came to me, and he said, ‘You don’t need this American name.’ And I was susceptible to it at the time because, God knows, I had just gotten whipped near to death. So he gave me an Arab name; he gave me the name Amir Barakat.
If women’s rights are a problem for some modern Muslim men, it is neither because of the Quran nor the Prophet, nor the Islamic tradition, but simply because those rights conflict with the interests of a male elite.
Americans should be wary of the Muslim Brothers in Egypt but not scared of them.