Muslim Sexuality

Salam,

Please check out this video. http://huriyahmag.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=33

It discusses the hardship Muslims reconciling their queer or lesbian identity with religion.

Yasmeen

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Queer Muslim Revolution

Hey Everyone,

I have one more link for all of you to look at. http://queermuslimrevolution.blogspot.com/

I suggest looking at their bookstore section.

Yasmeen

Huriyah

Hey Everyone,

Check this blog out and let me know what you think!
http://huriyahmag.blogspot.com/2009/08/hijab-unveiling-queer-muslim-lives.html

Yasmeen

Muslim women’s rights in Islam

Confronting Patriarchy by Dr Hina Azam

Watch this lecture by Dr Hina Azam, Asst Professor at Univ Texas-Austin.  She posits that much of the problems women face around the world are derived from the way female sexuality is perceived in the Islamic tradition.

What are your comments, reactions?

Addressing Muslim Women’s Sexual Behaviors

by Sarah Hasan
I think about sex all the time. Not in a nasty sort of way. But it’s definitely up there, in my head- All the time.

When I was younger my thoughts were associated more with a fear of the unknown than curiosity. As I grew older and learned more about it from friends, magazines, movies and my sisters (not in any particular order) I was perplexed by the intensity of my curiosity…see, like most girls brought up in a traditional Pakistani household that places hefty value on an indistinct and questionably unadulterated cultural value system, I thought I was kinda weird to have all these questions about sex. Like many others in my social circle, I learned more about it first as something shameful, then taught to accept it as a fact of life and later delved into viewing it through the many psychological, biological, and socio-religious lenses.

Whether or not you think about it as much I do is a totally different topic of discussion (feminist intellectual schmoozing is my absolute favorite…preferably discussions with my girls in dimly lit coffee shops) but no one should deny the importance of starting A discussion. There is a pervasive silence on the topic in traditional Muslim communities (and I say this in a very general way, since Muslim communities worldwide are so diverse not just geographically, but also rich with the culture they dwell in). So it was interesting to come across Organica’s survey of Muslim Women’s Sexual Behaviors, as this is exactly why Cindy, a lovely Arab-American Muslim Feminist blogger has set out to spark a conversation about. She writes it best when she writes “Muslim women are often portrayed as passive beings with little control over their sexual behavior”.

While this is by no means a scientific study, it does serve as an impressive cursor to the conversation which currently highlights one side – the male side – of the story. Quick overviews of parts that blew my mind:

-Based on the variety of definitions provided for ‘sexual behaviors’, 59% of respondents admitted to having extra- (or pre-) marital experiences.

-Sexual Foreplay [with a man/woman] and Self-Pleasure are cited equally as the most common types of sexual behaviors respondents have engaged in.

-How they learned about sex. And here is a prime example of a conversation-sparker: If girls are learning more from friends, internet and sex ed at school- it is so very important that they have the right, comprehensive information that is also culturally and religiously sensitive, so that it applies to them and isn’t just a distant, objective brand of knowledge.

-The high percentage of respondents who would want to engage in oral sex. Engaging in anal sex however is not as widely received.

Indeed, the survey brings to light the fact that Muslim women too “have strong sexual urges, opinions, needs and preferences”. Generally, the participants seem to be a confident group of women with open communication styles, a whopping 93% of whom recognize that as a woman their sexual needs are equally as important as men’s. It goes on to shed light on how respondents’ culture and upbringing has affected their views on sex and virginity, as well as experiences of sexual abuse.

Check it out for yourself- what are your thoughts on how we can begin to address the situation?

You can follow Cindy’s tweets at @Organica_ or holler at her through her blog

Culture and Identity: My Own Decisions

I am a 19 year old Muslim girl raised in a family that identifies itself with its culture and religion. I’m very proud of and grateful for my family. However, I do realize that sometimes my culture is the primary decider of my family’s perception of individuality. I’ve lived by our religion and culture’s rules of no drinking, intimate relationships, and any other activities that are “normal” for American teens. I’d like to believe that I make own decisions by my own morals as opposed to what my culture requires. However, this becomes harder when my family stresses the fact that I do or do not do things because it is how my culture guides me. I was having dinner with my aunt’s family when my uncle said that his boss, Ashley (whom I had met before), and he were discussing my education and career plans when she asked him if I had a boyfriend (I still don’t understand why that is something they would talk about!). Then my aunt added, “You should have told her ‘No, we do not find that acceptable in our family and culture. Our girls aren’t like girls here. They care about education before anything else.'” When I heard this, it finally hit me that it seemed as though the way I would live my life had already been decided for me. Could I go behind my family’s back and do the things that they wouldn’t allow me to do? Yes, I definitely could. Would I do it? Most definitely not. I like my lifestyle, but I do not appreciate that it seems as though I’m restricted to certain things or as though someone else is telling me what to do or not to do. I realize that everyone’s culture influences their personalities to a certain point, but I don’t think it’s right when culture seems to define an individual rather than enhance her character.
Middle Eastern cultures seem to be the most strict when it comes to raising children mostly because of the religion associated with those cultures: Islam. Muslim parents tend to be more controlling of their family lives in order to drive their children in the right direction in terms of religious and cultural guidelines. I don’t believe that famillies or cultures should make the decision for individuals. I hope we can work together as members of HEART to not only educate young women in sex education, but also in taking control of their individuality and identities.

Understanding how Interpretation of Islam Affects Sexuality By Yasmeen Shaban

Although there is a need for sex education for youth and adults in Muslim communities to understand their bodies and sexuality, I believe the lack of it stems from a system of sexism and patriarchy that exists in Muslim communities. There is a need to have an open and critical dialogue about the way sexism and patriarchy operates within Muslim communities and culture. The fact that women and girls are still being pressured and forced into marriages shows how they have lost their right to choose. I do not blame Islam for this. The problem lies in sexist cultural standards that are given to the public as Islamic law. The problem also lies in who is interpreting Islamic law as well as how is it being interpreted. Religion has been used as a tool of oppression against women not only in Islam but in other religions as well.

Muslim communities have given women messages about sexuality and gender. A woman’s worth is not inherent; it is equated to her submission to the rules of a male dominated world. If she does not uphold standards of Muslim defined femininity, she is worthless. She must cook, clean, “cover up”, take care of the children, and first obey her father then her husband. She must not be strong, intelligent, opinionated, and independent. She must be the ideal notion of modesty or else the consequences are severe. It will compromise her family’s honor. She is denied the right to her body in order to please her community and family. Men must prove their masculinity as the family leader who must control these women. Some who may be reading this may have the reaction of my mother leads our family and my father respects all the women in my family. I argue that you are lucky. This is a social structural problem where women are expected to live by these standards. If the community values equality of women, then these standards of femininity and masculinity must change.
Lily Zakiyah Munir’s “‘He Is Your Garment and You Are His …’: Religious Precepts, Interpretations, and Power Relations in Marital Sexuality among Javanese Muslim Women” is a published article in the Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia. Munir did a qualitative study of Javanese women in Indonesia. Munir argues that the way Muslims understand and interpret their religion affects their experiences of sexuality. The Muslim women’s experiences displayed the lack power women have in their relationships with their husbands. One woman, Lisa, described her sexual experience with her husband as “savage, insensitive, inhuman, exploitative, oppressive, and humiliating” (Munir 203).

Munir says:
Lisa’s husband used a Qur’anic verse (Q.S. al-Nisa’ 4:34) to justify his patriarchal attitude. This confused Lisa because her father had interpreted and implemented this same verse very differently. She said: My father perceived men’s family leadership as empowering, supporting, and liberating. That’s why men have been given certain privileges to enable them to “bring blessings” to women, the oppressed group, not the other way round. My husband was different. He perceived leadership as monopolizing, controlling, demanding rather than giving, and even repressing and exploiting, like in the case of our sexuality (Munir 203).
This is an example of how interpretation of Islamic text has an impact on women’s lives. One Muslim man interpreted the ayah as means of treating his wife and daughters in equal way whereas another man felt it was his privilege and duty to control his wife.

Although this was done in Java, Indonesia, I would argue that this study is very important for Muslim women and men to understand since patriarchy and sexism still exist in Muslim communities. If we want to have a community dedicated to gender equality then we need to start understanding how Qur‘an and hadith has been interpreted, who has the power to interpret and speak about it, and socio-historical context. Munir says that Islam is about the equality of all oppressed people. This reminds me of how Prophet Muhammad (s) was really persecuted for his faith in Islam. We need to start sending healthier messages to our youth and adults as well about sexuality.

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