Introduction

[Tesneem:] It was at the point in our weekly Islamic Studies session where I began to zone out when I heard the shaykh’s words floating past my ears, “...and that’s why women shouldn’t memorize the Quran.” What did he just say? I had just finished memorizing the Quran myself that year, so I sat up in my seat. “My sister memorized the Quran,” he continued, “but she’s been so busy with her newborn baby that she never has time to review it, and now she’s forgotten it all. So it’s better for women not to memorize because they won’t be able to retain it while raising children.” I couldn’t hide my shock and immediately responded that I knew many men who had memorized the Quran and, for some reason or another, had not retained it. But the encounter stayed with me: how could he have discouraged women from simultaneously pursuing two of the greatest deeds—memorizing the Quran and raising children? In that moment, he took something that had given me inspiration, strength, and serenity—the endless hours and dedication put into memorizing the Quran—and left me feeling disempowered.
We cannot deny that Muslim communities have a problem with gender. On the one hand, Muslims feel frustrated by the injustices they see—both major and minor—when it comes to gender. On the other hand, many Muslim men (and some women) feel exasperated by what they see as a growing segment within the Muslim feminist movement that condemns all men as sexist and all institutions, including religion, as inherently misogynistic.  

What is Feminism?

The Problem

So What Should We Do?

What is the Prophetic Example?

Moving Forward

Notes