Submission, Part II

Submission, Part II

Earlier today I was reflecting on my experiences in the church and masjid and how they mirror each other. Suddenly I was overcome with laughter. I was all alone in my apartment with an uncontrollable case of the giggles. I held my stomach and my eyes watered as I realized how thoroughly ludicrous it all is.

The Bible and the Quran both preach submission. After all, this is “God’s will”, the order that He personally ordained. There are various reason given for this:

  • Man was created first
  • Eve was the first one to sin so submission is punishment
  • Men have been given more strength/made to excel over women

No matter the reason given, it comes down to men being on top. Okay, for arguments sake, let’s accept this. Women are to submit…but wait. The very same people that teach women to submit also teach us to cover our bodies. Our breasts, hips, legs and rear end are all so distracting! We’ve got to dress “modestly” to keep men from sinning and losing their minds. Something about this doesn’t make sense. The conservative, religion-based idea of modesty actually undercuts the very idea of submission itself. If men are so weak and fragile that the mere view of the female form can be so dangerous, why on earth should women be subject to them?

Now of course I don’t believe that men are this silly. I find the idea to be incredibly demeaning to men and women alike. It demeans men because it casts them as mindless brutes, unable to control their passions. It demeans women because it makes them feel ashamed of their bodies and puts an unnecessary burden on them. Such concepts of submission and modesty are outdated and damaging, and I reject them both.

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A native Seattleite and recent East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been. I reside in the suburbs of NYC with my husband, daughter, and our two feisty but deeply loved cats.

7 thoughts on “Submission, Part II

  1. Love this! Excellent point at the end.. why are we to be led by “weak” individuals? Granted, we can learn from anyone. And anyone can be the unexpected hero.. but why ARE we the only ones responsible for their actions?

  2. Dear dimunitivediva,

    Your argument either deliberately or unintentionally chooses to brush over the fact that Islam tells both men and women to dress modestly and guard their modesty. This may not be enforced in various cultures, but traditional Islam itself sets these guidelines for both sexes.

    Also, you seem to blend your Christian and Islamic world views together with regards to certain issues, and that is problematic. Yes in Christianity Eve was blamed for breaking the rules (and as a consequence punished with childbearing and etc.), while in Islam both Adam and Hawa were blamed equally for disobeying Allah’s command. (See Qur’an 7:19-25).

    It all depends how we choose to look at the sources; which parts we choose to focus more on, and which parts we tend to ignore. Personally, I see nothing but equality in Islam.

    1. Good evening Nida,

      I did not intentionally leave out the Islamic requirements for modesty for men. As someone who has left Islam I am obviously not going to be an apologist for the faith. If someone is looking for a detailed pro-Islamic view of submission and modesty, they are not going to find it on my blog. If one is interested in that I suggest they search Google for the hundreds of dawah websites that serve that purpose.

      I am fully aware that in theory Islam advocates modesty for both sexes. Unfortunately in reality this translates to intense pressure on women in particular. Muslims do NOT devote the same amount of time to men’s dress and modesty requirements as they do to women’s. Look at all of the lectures, books and pamphlets devoted to the details of hijab.

      You are right in one aspect though. I DO blend my experiences with Christianity and Islam together and I will continue to do so. As far as I am concerned there is a reason why both religions communicate such a patriarchal and backwards message in regards to women: they come from the same tainted source, the primitive Far East. Christians can delude themselves all they want, but the Old Testament is eerily similar to the Quran. It is my opinion that the words contained in both books have little to do with a Supreme and Loving Deity and more to do with enforcing the social standards of that time.

      In closing Nida I have a few questions for you. You say that you see nothing but equality in Islam and you are entitled to that view. However, can you elaborate on the equality of the following:

      *Sura 4:34, where men are instructed to beat their wives for disobedience
      *The fact that Muslim men are permitted to marry Christian and Jewish women but Muslim women are restricted to Muslim men only
      *The gift of houris in Jannah for Muslim men
      *The hadith stating that women are deficient in intelligence
      *The hadith where Mohammed states that most of the occupants of hell will be women

  3. In Northern Nigeria the women are not permitted to go to school to become educated let alone literate. Some equality in Islam…yeah sure.

  4. ^ Yup, that’s me I’m afraid. I mean, since you’ll never be able to find anything in Islam that calls to illiteracy for men or women.

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