2021 June 27 – JJ – female age 33 – Imran Khan Controversy
Prime Minister Imran Khan ignited controversy when he stated the following on an Axios interview that aired June 20th, 2021: “If a woman is wearing very few clothes it will have an impact on the man unless they are robots. It’s common sense.”
In response, several news outlets accused Pakistan’s Prime Minister of promoting rape culture and victim blaming. Is that what Imran Khan was doing?
We discussed this controversy in today’s class, along with rape culture, the treatment of women at the mosque, modesty, critical race theory, bid’ah, the growth of Islam in the West, changes to Islam in the future, the soul, death, CCA (Common Sense, Context, Accountability), QHA (Quran, followed by Hadith, followed by Accountability) and spiritual bucks.
The morning of today’s class I started out with two cycles of prayer and fifteen minutes of meditation as usual. While I was not completely focused in my meditation on the words la illah ila allah (there is no deity but God), I was more comfortable with the meditation than I usually am. And sitting for 15 minutes was not as difficult as it was the previous two weeks.
After prayer and meditation, the regular students of the class were introduced to a new student. Brother S. Brother S is a born Muslim who has lived in both the West and Iraq. He told us of his stories of working in Iraq and the dangers he faced in doing so, especially since he was assisting the U.S. government. He said many people in Iraq commit violence against each other in the name of Islam, but their true motivations are political and economic.
This reminds me of something my teacher said in a previous lesson, the tree ‘P’s’ of corruption in the world are Power, Poverty and Passion.
After Brother S spoke about his experience, I spoke of my own experience finding Islam as someone who was not born into the faith. I told the class about how I converted during Covid on Zoom.
Once introductions were done, we worked on our prayers. With my teacher, I went through the pronunciation of Surah Al Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Quran), Al Ihklas (The Sincerity), a short chapter that is said to be equivalent to a third of the Quran, and Al Kawthar (The Abundance).
My teacher told me Al Kawthar was revealed after the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) experienced the death of his son. His enemies used this tragedy to taunt him and make him feel like his Lord was not with him. Al Kawthar was thus revealed, stating: “Oh Prophet. Indeed We have granted you the fountain of abundance. Therefore (be grateful), offer prayer and sacrifices to God only. Indeed, it is your enemy who will be cut off from future hope.”
I shared another surah with my teacher that was not taught to us in the GS class, but that I learned from a different class. An Nasr. The surah states the following: “When the victory of God has come and the opening/conquest, and you see the people entering into the religion in masses, then glorify God with your praise and ask for his forgiveness, indeed your Lord is oft forgiving.” My teacher said this verse was revealed once the Muslims successfully conquered Mecca. It was a reminder to them that even though they achieved victory, they should stay humble, and always remember the Lord—the one who brought them their victory in the first place.
Once we were done with practicing and memorizing our prayers, we moved onto the discussion phase of the class. Our teacher brought up the controversy about Imran Khan’s statements and asked the students our opinions on the matter.
At today’s class, I was the only female present, so I figured I should probably say something of my own opinions and experience with the topic of modesty and sexual harassment. I told the class that a man once asked for my number in the parking lot of a mosque while I was wearing an abaya and a headscarf. And yet when I go about my day wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and no headscarf, very few men bother me. I was making the point that a man approached me when I stood out, appeared different. Perhaps seeing a Western looking woman in an abaya is unusual and it made him want to approach me. Whereas when I’m blending in by wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and uncovered hair, less men are interested in approaching me.
I was trying to make the point that sexual harassment and flirtation is not caused by how much or how little clothing a woman wears, but that if a woman looks different or vulnerable, it can unfortunately make her a target for men.
We also mentioned the verse on modesty in the Quran (24:30). We brought up the fact that the very beginning of the verse tells men to avert their gaze and the sad fact that Muslim men are not following this advice. Instead, they are policing what women are wearing while not following the rules themselves.
This segued into a conversation about women at the mosque. Questions were raised such as: Why do women have to sit behind men? Why can’t women pray with men? There wasn’t really a clear answer about why this must be, but our teacher mentioned it had something to do with culture and men looking at women instead of praying.
The treatment toward women was also relevant with our next topic, which was Critical Race Theory. Our teacher told us that Critical Race Theory seeks to prove that the United States society is designed to treat African American men as if they are inadequate. Then our teacher asked us to consider if Islamic society does the same thing to women.
Next, we talked about the Islamic concept of Bid’ah. Bid’ah refers to innovation in religious matters. Our teacher said changing the month of Ramadan or changing the order of the prayer would be a form of Bid’ah.
After that we talked about the growth of Islam in the West. Our teacher mentioned that Islam is the second most practiced religion in France, after Catholicism. He also mentioned there is a large growth of Islam in the prisons and that many European Muslims join the militaries of their countries so they can get more rights and respect as citizens. There was some brief mention of how many people in prison convert to Islam because it offers them a sort of structure or support system that other religions do not offer. And that perhaps too, this is the reason why Islam as a religion may be growing so rapidly throughout the world.
However, our teacher also mentioned that Islam could change as time goes on, that women could gain more power in the Ummah and that there could be openly gay imams accepted by the community. He didn’t say this was necessarily a good or bad thing, just that societies change, and so too will the Ummah. How will the Ummah change? There was no certain answer on which way will it go. But we just discussed the possibility of things getting more accepting, more watered down, or even going off in some other unexpected direction.
Then we had a conversation about the proper way to bury the dead (quite the segue from gay imams, right?) Students were curious if cremation prevented the body from going to God. Our teacher said that many bodies were cremated because of Covid or tossed into mass graves during battles. Would this truly prevent people from going to paradise? He said at the end of the day, we only bring our souls to God, so what happens to the physical body matters little.
Many interesting questions were raised about this, both inside the class and outside the class on our WhatsApp phone chat. For instance, one student brought up the point, What if a serial killer got her heart in a heart transplant—Would she be guilty for the things the serial killer did? The likely answer to all this is that the body is just a machine and that it is our soul, not our bodies, that will be judged in the end.
Toward the end of our discussion, we went over some of the core concepts that have been raised in the class before. Spiritual bucks is a common topic. Our teacher said if someone earns many spiritual bucks by being a good person, they should spend these spiritual bucks on other people rather than themselves because God will punish them if they get selfish. We also talked about the class acronyms CCA and QHA. CCA (Common Sense, Context, Accountability) and QHA (Quran, followed by Hadith, followed by Accountability). Both concepts focus on accountability. When we die and go before God on the Day of Judgment, we cannot blame other people for our misdeeds. We are all individually responsible for our actions.
In this last section, I will insert my own thoughts, which are separate from what was discussed in class. With all matters, including the way men and women interact with each other, accountability is key. So in terms of bringing this essay back to the first question raised, in the same way that women are accountable for the way they dress, men are accountable for who they are looking at and their actions as they react to who they are looking at. When men commit misdeeds in response to the way women are dressed, the man is accountable for his actions, and he can’t blame a woman for the way she was dressing no matter how much or how little she is wearing.
However, women can take advantage of men too.
There are unfortunately women out there who treat men like ATMs and take them to the metaphorical cleaners at divorce court. So of course, women are also accountable for their behavior. And just because society allows women to act in a certain way, doesn’t mean that they should.
Because at the end of the day it is not society that makes the rules, it is God.