The Morocco World News recently interviewed Zainah Anwar (F86) on what it means to be feminist within Muslim communities. Anwar is prominent Malaysian Muslim feminist and the executive director of Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family. She addressed several questions regarding the struggle for gender equality. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
"What do you think about the idea that women cannot be both feminists and Muslims?"
"This is actually a common problem in many Muslim countries, where they will indeed tell you that you cannot be both, a Muslim and a feminist. For Sisters in Islam (SIS) the organization that I co-founded years ago in Malaysia, polygamy was one of the first issues we had to deal with. As Muslim women, we have been forced to believe that Islam allows men to marry 4 wives. But we have known for a fact how much unhappiness and injustice polygamy brings, and it made sense to us that this could not be what God, the Just, intended for women. It was then that we have decided to go and read what the noble Quran is saying about polygamy. And for the first time we realized that the same verse that allows men to marry four, states clearly that “if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many wives) then one is enough.”
Thus, how come marrying two, three or four women is universally acknowledged as a man’s right, while the command to marry only one wife if the man is not able to be fair, is not? Who decided that marrying two, three, or four is the law of Islam, while marrying only one for the sake of justice is not? I think the real issue is the question of who has the right to decide which verse should become a source of law and which one should be pushed aside and be ignored. Whose interest should be promoted and protected?
Obviously, it is men who are in power and it is men who are in authority. They chose polygamy over justice and used their own interpretation of the Quran to justify their deeds. This has led us to think about who has the right to interpret the Quran, and who has the right to choose which interpretation will be used in our lives."
To read the full interview, click here.