Thursday, March 19, 2009

Muslim Women activists in Russia

The above is an article by Paul Goble entitled, “Modernity, Not Tradition behind Rise in Activism among Muslim Women in Russia, Studies Show.” I’ll quote a few interesting passages:

“The increasing activism of young Muslim women in the Russian Federation represents their effort to come up with an alternative paradigm . . . [which] leads such women to be far more self-conscious and political about their understanding of Islam and its social and political roles and to consider the structuring of their lives around it not as a rejection of the modern world but rather as “a new alternative modernist project,” as a form of what might be called modernization without Westernization.

Such Muslim women activists, Garayev argues, thus define their task “as the actualization of the rights of women by means of a multi-cultural discourse” and thus seek to achieve their goals “without denying many of the achievements of democracy and civil society” but rather by informing these modern institutions with Islamic content.”

“Sabirova, who has analyzed the lives of young Tatar Muslim women in Moscow, argues that many of them devote particular attention to learning about Islam via written sources and coursework and then to defining how what they have learned can be combined with their “modern” experience rather than simply copying what their mothers or grandmothers did.”

“. . . they point out that “many of them, alongside their achievement of religious training, conduct activities for girls in the mosques, give private lessons in Arabic … [and even] plan to continue their religious education abroad” in order to better understand how they can define themselves.”

“. . . these young Muslim women support the idea of “the pluralization of cultural identities, call for the decentralization and the creation of a multitude of legal and authority hierarchies,” all of which leads them to ‘demand the transfer of democratic power to regions and groups.’

Such ideas [present a] challenge to contemporary Western culture” more from the inside than the outside because these young women accept much of what more open societies have to give them without accepting that these societies have the last word when it comes to values.”


What these women are saying doesn’t contradict the teachings of Sayyid Qutb. He believed in using what he considered valuable in the West and in Stalinist Russia but modifying it to fit the teaching of Islam – as defined by Sayyid Qutb. So I would ask these ladies, do you inform the modern institutions you refer to with “Traditional” “Islamic content,” or “Islamic content” as defined by Sayyid Qutb? From what I see described, it can’t be “traditional,” but if they subscribe to Sayyid Qutb’s teachings, we mustn’t forget that he emphasized the Jihad in a way that it hadn’t been emphasized before. In traditional teachings there is the greater and lesser Jihad. The greater is something like Ephesians 6 for Christians, a spiritual wrestling with evil. The lesser is for self-defense. But Qutb exalted the lesser Jihad to be the primary principle of modern Islamism; so where, ladies, are you getting your “Islamic content”?

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