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Islamic Feminism In Mohja Kahf’s Selected Poems

1574 words - 6 pages

Mohja Kahf, a Syrian American poet, novelist and scholar, lives in America where Muslim Arab women are described as exotic, oppressed, inferior to men, and as Evelyn Shakir says:
According to popular belief, all Arab women can be divided into two categories. Either they are shadowy nonentities, swathed in black from head to foot, or they are belly dancers—seductive, provocative, and privy to exotic secrets of lovemaking. The two images, of course, are finally identical, adding up to a statement that all Arab women are, in one sense or another, men's instruments or slaves. (quoted in “Arab American Literature” 2008, 8).

Therefore, Kahf uses her words as weapons to fight these rigid stereotypes against Muslim and Arab women. Her ideas about Islamic feminism make a great influence on the themes of her poetry and other literary works. She wrote a lot about important historical female figures in Islam as well as contemporary Muslim women. This paper is about Islamic feminism in Mohja Kahf’s “The Marvelous Women,” “The Woman Dear to Herself,” “Hijab Scene #7” and “Hijab Scene #5.”
According to the Cambridge dictionary, Feminism is “the belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state.”(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary 2008).The term (Feminism) has many different meanings. Some writers define it as the social and political movement in the United States and Europe, while other writers define it as the belief that women are oppressed and there is no justice for them. However, the most comprehensive definition of Feminism is that it is a group of social and political movements, which defend women’s rights and call for women’s equality and opportunities in education and work. In these movements, women seek equality in all aspects of life and use a wide set of strategies to achieve this purpose.
Feminists greatly focuses on women but some feminists such as the author, Bell Hooks, said that men are an essential part of feminism since it seeks gender equality. However, feminists are women who call for women to be treated in a good way, make their own decisions and choices in their lives, and work for equality either within the movement or outside it. “The Islamic world is teeming with feminists,” says Riffat Hassan. “They may not call themselves feminists, but they want a choice in who they marry, and they want education.”(“Islam & Feminism” 2003, Para.25)
Feminists’ movements began in the sixties in the United States where women were claiming their rights such as suing their husbands for divorce, getting their children’s custody, owning properties and having any type of credit. In addition, women were struggling to view themselves as equals wit men in religious organizations such as mosques, churches and synagogues Because of these feminist movements, feminist theory emerged to examine women’s roles in society as well as their...

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