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  • She Used Critical Thinking To Reject Feminism, Stay Muslim

She Used Critical Thinking To Reject Feminism, Stay Muslim

muslimah serial entrepreneur hodan ibrahim

This is not a picture of Hodan Ibrahim.

How do Muslim Feminists usually respond when Muslim men point out the heresy and oxymoron that is “Islamic” Feminism?

Who hurt you?

You probably have a small penis!

You can’t handle a strong woman!

A ‘real’ man would do such-and-such…

Toxic masculinity! Patriarchy! Misogyny!

Matter o’ fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a single rational argument by these shrieking harpies addressing criticism of Feministic heresies.

(Note: while the majority of these heretics are Muslim women, some are men. The “male feminist” is a sexual strategy used by beta males who can’t attract women on the basis of their masculinity. These men are frequently outed as sexual predators.)

Their only defense is to resort to insults and attempt to emasculate men who, validly, point out the incompatibility of Feminism with Quran and Sunnah.

…And the male is not like the female… [Quran 3:36]

It’s important to note, many Muslim women are aware of this and speak out.

How are they dealt with?

I’m sorry you haven’t realized your internalized misogyny.

I hope he picks you, sis!

That’s not ‘true’ Feminism!

Apparently, Feminism is all about giving women the right to choose…

Unless, of course, they choose to reject Feminism and choose to embrace the teachings of Islam.

Given ad hominem is the default tactic of the Muslim Feminist (rational supporting arguments being non-existent)…

She will attempt to rubbish criticisms from Muslim women by claiming they are uneducated, backward, unaccomplished, or whatever else she can use (other than actually proving her case.)

This last-ditch attempt is easily arm-barred into submission by the numerous educated, financially independent, successful Muslim women who stay true to their Islamic values and identity.

Many of these women are readers of Becoming the Alpha Muslim, and one of them is my guest in this episode of the Becoming the Alpha Muslim podcast.

I first came across Hodan Ibrahim in 2016, when she basically dropped everything she was doing in Canada and moved to Dubai to organize and host M-Powered Summit.

This was a first-of-its-kind conference on Muslim startups and entrepreneurship.

I ended up interviewing her and her co-founder for Ilmfeed, and also did writeups of the event. I haven’t seen one like it, since.

She hosted another, similar conference in Malaysia then next year, and has since moved on to bigger and better things.

You see, Hodan is a serial entrepreneur.

So the easiest thing that I did, and the hardest thing that I did, was becoming an entrepreneur. Um, it’s, it’s who I am. And I started out by failing a bunch of times and having little digital startups. The first company that worked out for me was a digital marketing agency that I had, um, and Alhamdulillah, after like three months. I went full-time on that.

Being an entrepreneur is “cool” now…every other Instagram profile has the title splashed across their bio.

But Hodan was in the entrepreneurship Game long before it was even a thing.

As a first-generation, Somali-Canadian immigrant Muslim (her family fled because of the war,) she ticked multiple minority status boxes…

And frequently found herself the only black woman in a room full of white men.

There was not a single person of color in any of these rooms that could understand my perspective…I remember one incident where I went to CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.) This was the first event that I ever did, in Ottawa, and it was about supporting entrepreneurs of color. And I went and got an interview with the CBC, and they’re just like, “Why does it matter if an entrepreneur is a person of color?…why can’t you just learn from all types of entrepreneurs? Why don’t you have white entrepreneurs?”

None of this stopped her.

What’s interesting to me is how she didn’t let her hamster run wild and create a narrative of victimhood (Feminism, Patriarchy, Toxic Masculinity, yadda yadda yadda.)

She just did what she had to do to get where she needed to go.

And it was her faith that aided her.

So then for me it was important to just start saying, well, I want to be able to do this too. Right? And I know that I can do this too. I don’t need some political movement to tell me that I can do this. I know already innately that I can do this. And where do these feelings come from? Where they come from, the fact that, first, I’m Muslim, Allah/God breathed life into you, so that makes me, what? His masterpiece. Which makes me, what? Fully capable of doing anything on this earth. And the other thing is also I’m African. I knew that it came from an incredibly rich illustrious history, of people who were extremely wealthy who came from a really rich intellectual background, really rich cultural background. So that was what gave me the confidence to say like I know that I can do whatever it is that I want to do, but I have certain issues and those issues come down to access to certain resources.

Oh, and if you’re wondering whether she’s educated, she did a double major in political science and international relations, with a minor in human rights.

Before we got into our chosen topics of discussion, I asked Hodan to first describes what she understands as “Feminism.”

People in this day and age, are really very, very politically sensitive, but at the same time, that also creates a situation where people are very binary in thinking, which is incredibly, incredibly dangerous. So, um, intelligent people, and especially what Islam says, what Islam encourages as a faith, is that it’s supposed to encourage critical thinking. And so there is a danger, I think, of the modern feminist movement. I’m talking about third wave feminism and the danger for me is that feminism started with good intentions…And then you have this third wave of feminism now, um, which I don’t think so much about equality, um, but it’s become, you know, a radical movement of trying to do everything that feminism has said that it’s not about. Right? So feminism, the idea of giving women a choice, she should be empowered if she wants to stay home or if she wants to work. Today, what I’m seeing is a type of feminism that’s not really about equality.

She goes on to make the argument that Muslim attitudes toward women were the result of socio-cultural changes at the time due to war with disbelievers and sectarian infighting.

In effect, the pressure on the Muslim Ummah caused it to become much more protective over Muslim women, and this is reflected in scholarly writings of the time.

The key point being these attitudes were never meant to oppress women in the first place.

And because these attitudes were an effect of the times, it’s more appropriate for Muslims to understand our modern context and act accordingly.

So, um, the calamities that happened at the time really, really affected the A’immah (scholars). And because of this, this sort of external chaos…what happens is anytime that society faces extreme chaos from the outside, they internally become much, much, much more traditional (conservative,) kind of lean towards more traditional idea, which is exactly what happened to the Muslim Ummah, which is exactly what happened to the Islamic scholarship. Then you have scholars that came after Imam Al-Ghazali that were also affected by this, like Ibn Taymiyyah as well, who became very, very conservative.

You see a similar situation in colonial India and other Muslim nations.

Indian-Subcontinent Hanafism is quite a bit more socially conservative than Transoxanian Hanafism.

Like it or not, scholars are affected by their environment.

Why do you think we have feeble, effeminate fiqh coming out of many scholars in the West?

Well, one hypothesis I have is these scholars have been adversely affected by the generational drop in testosterone, seen in developed countries.

That’s why it should be obligatory for Muslim men in positions of leadership to get their t-levels checked and get optimized if it turns out they’re low-T.

Low-T scholars are going to give you weak, spineless, sell-out-y fatwas.

Moving on…

Given her background and upbringing, Hodan could have easily gone the way of other Muslim Feminists.

She could have become one of those red-haired, Quran and Sunnah rejecting, praying in a mixed congregation while on her period, “Islamic” Feminists.

Or she could have become a “Feminist Deviant.”

That is, the type of Muslim Feminist who claims the identity and is informed by the ideas and discourse of the former, while allegedly relying on mainstream Islam to derive legitimacy in the community.

She is neither.

The way I look at it is like this: To me, I don’t need it because all my empowerment comes from my religion. I don’t need, um, some western secular idea that served women in this part of the world…

Like, if we’re really going to talk about equality, first of all, men and women are not equal. They’re not equal. What does this mean, that they are equal? It’s actually a disservice to say that I’m exactly like, man. No! I’m not better than a man. A man isn’t better than me. But I have things that a man doesn’t have. And a man has things that I do not have. So does it have to be like I have to be the same as them? No, I should be treated as an equal human being. Every human being should be treated as an equal. But it does a disservice to me and my particular unique talents and potential when I say that I have to be just like a man. I have been working in areas and working in spaces just like men do, but I’m not doing it because I think that I have to be just like the next man or just like Zuckerberg or just like these entrepreneurs.

No, I take power in my own self. I have pride and dignity in my own self. And I say God has given me something incredible. Islam has empowered that incredibleness in me and this is where I’m deriving my power from. I’m not deriving my power from my opposition to someone else or how I have to be better than someone else or the emasculation of a man. I’m not doing any of that. Um, I think feminists would do very well, uh, to probably look to the east or to look at developing countries and see how they can solve inequality issues there. And when I talk about inequality, I’m not like, “I am equal to a man.” Equality Issues i.e. equality of access. Economic issues that are causing women to do things, or social or cultural issues, that are causing women to be in situations so they don’t need to be in.

Which then creates real inequality. Yes, absolutely. There’s a real inequality there, but it’s not inequality of gender. It’s inequality of opportunity, it’s inequality of being able to fulfill your potential, which yes, some men may have because of some socially prevalent ideas or traditions that might supersede others towards how they look at women. But this “rah-rah-ness” about women having to be the same as men, NO. There is a way to be empowered, but it does not need to be through a western secular idea. It’s by looking at the fact that our religion already empowers you.

She sounds like a “I’m a strong, independent black woman who don’t need no man” meme, right?

I would never say that!

But no, she’s pro-marriage and what’s more, pro-polygyny.

Well, it does make a lot of sense to me. It’s like, okay, first of all, we have to operate from a place of understanding. Rational, objective understanding, not emotional understanding based on insecurities. Because a lot of the time, if you think in an emotional way this stuff can really get you heated it in a lot of ways. So a lot of women who are like anti-polygamy or anti-whatever, it’s not because they actually fundamentally disagree with the idea. It’s maybe because they’re just emotionally, there’s some sort of like an emotional idea or an emotional feeling or insecurity that exists. First thing I will say is that polygamy is accepted in Islam. It is a law of Allah. You cannot disagree with that because of your emotions. If you don’t like it, that’s your problem, but this has no bearing on how the religion is. Okay, this is what our religion says. Now, there are conditions that a man must fulfill: financial, and I think even more important, emotional intelligence that must exist.

I am in favor of it. If people are consenting, if people can do it, all sides are consenting, people want to live a happy life doing that…I don’t see how that’s any different than the acceptance of a lot of Muslims of gay couples or people who are consenting and in different types of relationships who, you know, are saying, “I accept transgender” or “transgender relationships” because those are two consenting people. It doesn’t make any sense to me why this form of a relationship is so demonized, but it’s so easy. We Imams today could that are for homosexual relationships who recognize homosexuality, who recognized transgenderism as ways of being in this world and that people who are consenting in those relationships can then carry out those kinds of relationships when they should be recognized in the legal form, but then the moment that a man says I can financially and emotionally and mentally take care of multiple women, and those women are also consenting in the relationship…What is wrong with that?

There’s nothing wrong with it. The only people that will say there’s anything wrong with it are people who are incredibly insecure with themselves. And if that’s the case, you probably are going to have a difficulty in a monogamous relationship anyway. Because you need to be secure in who you are, and you should know who you are, and you need to love who you are, um, more than you love a man. So that’s number one. So that’s a very empowering, for me, that’s the way I look at it. I think very few, very few men qualify for polygamy. Even more so, I think very few women qualify for polygamy. But if people want to do it and it’s consenting, I don’t see what the problem is.

She brings up an important point female insecurity.

Too many women base their entire identity, their self-worth, and their happiness on their man, or their relationship with him.

Ladies, no one can make you happy.

Men can make you feel good, but we can’t make you happy.

You need to make yourself happy.

Figure out a way to derive happiness internally.

As we wrapped up the interview I asked Hodan if she had any words of advice for the Muslim women who read Becoming the Alpha Muslim.

So for my Muslim sisters, what I would say is that I have had probably almost every challenge of life thrown at me. Being an entrepreneur, building my own businesses, and I want to continue to build businesses. I grew up kind of on the bottom of the social totem pool, meaning that I literally had zero, zero opportunities afforded to me. I had to do everything myself. I had a really supportive family Alhamdulillah. I will say that I had that blessing of an amazing mom and two really amazing sisters who are beacons of empowerment for me. But your ability to do anything that you want to do, you can do it. You don’t need someone to relegate that, manage that. I came from a space where I’ve. I’ve traveled Hamdullah. It’s almost every single continent in the world, almost every single continent. Because I had a drive and a passion, I found out exactly who I was and what I wanted to do.

There was no person that was telling me how to live my life. All my empowerment, contrary to a lot of people who will look at my life and say it’s un-Islamic, but I found it within our religion. Within Islam. Islam empowered me. Traditionally Islam empowered me to focus on who I am, what I want to give to the world, what my purpose is, and where my self-worth is coming from. And I really hope if you’re listening to this and you’re, maybe you fall under the category of what I consider like a self-sacrificing Muslimah. If you are in a situation where you’re giving up your emotional, your mental and your social health and you’re not empowering, you’re not feeding yourself every day, you really need to start thinking about…like asking yourself like, who are you? Always ask yourself this question like, who are you?

What is your purpose in life? Beyond husband, beyond children, beyond your career? Because that’s what’s called “your truth.” Once you’re set with that, nothing in this world can shake you. You can lose anything. Everything in your life. You can lose baby, you can lose husband, you can lose business, you can lose everything. But your core is being able to know who you are. And this is all rooted in our religion. Um, so don’t devalue yourself because our religion values you already, like already you’re valued and you’re the most precious thing in the world because Allah values you.

Got any questions for Hodan?

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