"I hope that ... when we stand up to those who oppress our communities, that Allah accepts from us that as a form of jihad, that we are struggling against tyrants and rulers not only abroad in the Middle East or on the other side of the world, but here in these United States of America, where you have fascists and white supremacists and Islamophobes reigning in the White House."
Although Sarsour later protested that the word jihad literally means "struggle" or that "our beloved prophet ... said... 'A word of truth in front of a tyrant ruler or leader, that is the best form of jihad,'" that is not what the word jihad means in general parlance to anyone you might ask in the Middle East. The people there know only too well that if they even tried to speak a "word of truth" to someone in power, that could possibly be the last word they would ever utter.
The word jihad is not a matter of left or right or liberal or conservative, except when it being manipulated to repackage and sell as something warm, fuzzy and non-threatening to trusting people in the West.
In Sarsour's world, women who do this are called feminists, but, in reality, they are as dangerous to women's rights, the peace of a nation and stability of its government as male jihadists.
At a recent Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention, Sarsour urged fellow Muslims, in an openly racist speech, to wage jihad against the "fascist" and "white supremacist" White House, be perpetually outraged, and not to assimilate. She mentioned 9/11 not as a terrorist event waged by Muslims against Americans, but as a day that triggered victimization and Islamophobia against Muslims by America.
Americans got upset just because they were murdered? As the saying goes: "It all started when he hit me back."
Even though Sarsour later claimed her use of the word "jihad" meant non-violent dissent, that is not what the word is taken to mean in any Muslim country. There, it means only one thing: war in the service of Islam. In addition, her speech did not sound peaceful. It clearly sounded more like a call for an Islamic uprising against the White House.
Linda Sarsour's recent speech calling to wage jihad against the "fascist" and "white supremacist" White House did not sound peaceful. It clearly sounded more like a call for an Islamic uprising. Pictured: Sarsour at the Women's March on Washington, on January 21, 2017. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)
Sarsour apparently identifies as a feminist. Sarsour's kind of feminism, however, embraces the most oppressive legal system, especially for women: Islamic religious law, Sharia. Sarsour's feminism is supposedly for empowering women, but it twists logic in a way similar to how Muslim preachers do when they claim that beating one's wife is a husband's way of honoring her.
Pro-Sharia feminism is a perverted kind of feminism that could not care less about the well-being of oppressed Muslim women. Sarsour's logic concerning women does not differ much from that of Suad Saleh, an Egyptian female Islamic cleric, who recently justified on Egyptian TV the doctrine of intentional humiliation and rape of captured women in Islam. Saleh said, "One of the purposes of raping captured enemy women and young girls was to humiliate and disgrace them and that is permissible under Islamic law." There was not even a peep in Egypt's civil society about such a statement.
Here is an Australian Muslim woman calling beatings by husbands a "blessing from Allah".
Muslim feminists seem to think that they must defend Sharia and "Allah" before any other consideration -- including women. Musdah Mulia, a Muslim professor, who also claims to be a feminist, maintains that Islam is a religion of equality. She has said, "blame Muslims, not Islam, for gender inequity." Muslim anthropologist Ziba Mir-Mosseini has argued "The problem [for women in Islam] has never been with the text (the Koran), but with the context." That means, presumably, that the problem is everyone's fault except for the sources themselves: Islam, the Koran and Sharia.
The reason Islamic feminism has been perverted is because over centuries it had to conform to Islamic law, Sharia, which regulates to a fare-thee-well all behavior of women, men and children. Many Muslims, however, seem to be in denial that the main goal of Sharia is to promote life under the bondage of Sharia as good and healthy. Sharia therefore becomes a convoluted way of coercing people to adapt to tyranny.
In London, for instance, devout Muslim women, while wearing a full black niqab, are seen carrying signs protesting British law, supporting Sharia and threatening Europe with another Holocaust and another 9/11. Here in America, the angry mother of the Tsarnaev brothers, responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, instead of apologizing for what her sons did in a country that welcomed them, warned that "America will pay." These are the kind of women that Arab TV places on pedestals. The message to Muslim women is that this is the only kind of feminism Islamic society will tolerate.
"Muslim feminism" is essentially the feminine form of jihad: women defend Sharia, promote jihad, and even emulate the Islamic "virtue and vice police" against other women.
Strong and assertive women do exist in Islam, but to stay strong and respected they have to sell women who want to escape the tyranny of Sharia. Because of the tremendous pressure from life under Sharia, Muslim women have developed a warped form of feminism: a kind of coping mechanism like a "Stockholm Syndrome," where the captive believes that if he is nice to his captors they might treat him better. Like kidnap victims trying to merge with the thinking of their kidnappers in order to survive, women in the Islamic world have learned to defend Sharia and be protective of Islam's reputation as priority number one. That is what Linda Sarsour is advocating today as "feminism."
If such Muslim feminists truly cared about women, why are they not dedicating their work and effort against the rape and oppression of Yazidi, Christian and women of other sects who are being abused and tortured by Muslim men not only in the Middle East but also in Europe? The only women who are coming to the rescue of women being raped in the Middle East are Western women -- unfortunately not Muslim "feminists."
Most hijab-wearing Muslim women tell Western audiences that they are not oppressed and are proud of their "protection" under the hijab or the niqab.
What the West needs to know is that in the Muslim world, jihad is considered more important than women, family happiness and life itself. If we are told, as Sarsour said, that Islam stands for peace and justice, what we are not told is that "peace" in Islam will come only after the whole world has converted to Islam, and that "justice" means law under Sharia: whatever is inside Sharia is "justice;" whatever is not in Sharia is not "justice."
The cruelty of life under Sharia produces two kinds of women: the aggressive and proud, and the doormats. The aggressive Muslim "feminists" often turn their aggression not on the cruel system, but on weak women who are victims of Sharia -- because it is so much easier to turn on the weak than to take on a system that has the power to harm, jail or kill you; and they hope to be praised and rewarded for supporting the system that abuses them.
The system, at its origins, was designed to please men -- promising them anything and everything if they sacrificed their life on earth and their earthly wife and family for jihad. In such a system women, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness had to be sacrificed:
"But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you know not." (Surah Al-Baqarah [2:216] - Quran)
What Islam wants is for men to kill the enemies of Allah and get killed to expand Islam and then presumably go to paradise. Women's welfare has therefore become an inconvenience to Sharia to say the least.
Strong Muslim women know what they should do if they are to enjoy a certain level of power and respect in Islamic society. They must never defy Sharia, but embrace it. The rewards for compliant Muslim women may explain why most of the Muslim college professors sent by Saudi Arabia to teach Americans never criticize Sharia but claim it to be harmless and even liberating.
An Islamic "Sarsour style" of feminism has to be Sharia-compliant in the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" mode. Such women have a high degree of tolerance for domestic violence and oppression of other women whom they can regard as "dissolute" or "bad." After being indoctrinated under such a cruel legal system, Muslim feminists end up taking pride in conforming to Sharia while condemning the supposedly "bad" women who do not conform. Whatever unpleasant acts might happen to these other women, according to many Muslim "feminists," those women brought it on themselves by not accepting Sharia.
Centuries of sacrificing family happiness for jihad have taught Muslim women that they are an inconvenience to men who supposedly would prefer to be doing jihad. Thus the "wise" Muslim woman molds herself and others to fit into Islam's priorities. Islam calls any woman who rebels "nashiz" ("rebellious"), a derogatory term. Under Sharia, a husband could lock up his nashiz wife at home for life and get three other wives and enjoy his life while she is locked up.
Rebelling against Sharia is, sadly, for the Muslim woman, unthinkable. That is why during the "Arab Spring," not one Muslim woman carried a sign against the oppression of Sharia in Egypt's Tahrir Square. How can a healthy and normal feminist movement develop under an Islamic legal system that can flog, stone and behead women?
That is why Linda Sarsour's jihadist kind of feminism is no heroic kind of feminism, but the only feminism a Muslim woman can practice that will give her a degree of respect, acceptance, and even preferential treatment over other women. In Islam, that is the only kind of feminism allowed to develop.
This Islamic oppressive view of women is now creeping into Western cultural views of feminism. Recently, USA Today celebrated the hijab as symbol of feminism.
It is important that this brand of "pride in bondage" kind of feminism that people such as Linda Sarsour are trying to "sell" not be "bought" by the good-hearted, but insufficiently informed people in the West.
Nonie Darwish, born and raised in Egypt, is the author of "Wholly Different; Why I chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values"