Sadiq Khan wants Muslims like me to fight against extremism – but it is dangerous for women to speak out

I have been attacked and ostracised by my community for daring to explain that Islam and feminism are compatible. Muslim women need protecting if we’re going to help fight Isis

Yasmin Choudhury
Monday 23 November 2015 10:59
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I have been a Muslim all my life. Reading the Qu’ran as a little girl aged 5, sitting in my hijab, learning by rote huge chunks of text to get to the impossible heaven I was told I must worry about. I had no idea as a child that what I was being taught was not Islam but an orthodox, evil cultural belief system blended heavily with misogyny, customs and rituals.

I call this ‘Wicked Tribalism’ and it’s stinking, evil diatribe is practiced widely across a minority of culturally obsessed diaspora communities like mine that span UK, USA and Bangladesh. This belief concept is then passed on and on – and woe to anyone who dares object. That is why, despite what Labour’s Sadiq Khan claims, it’s not that easy for British muslims – and particularly Muslim women - to challenge tribalism, even when they distort the true face of Islam.

As a Muslim woman, to object to Muslim teachings is to face instant ridicule, hate, fear and expulsion. I was taught that boys are better than girls. I was taught that men must inherit all the wealth. And I was taught this despite it being strictly against the Qu’ran.

But I was never taught the clear message that exists within Islam, which is this: there is no compulsion in religion. Islam makes provisions to stipulate that women receive access to various pots of wealth – all of which are hers alone and nobody else’s to touch. Our holy book even talks about gender equality. For example, in Sura Al-Imran (3:195) it states: “I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female — you are equal to one another/you are of one another.”

These economic rights for women are stripped from the educated British Muslim community I was born into. They were hidden away from me to instead focus on my modesty and lack of hijab. It is why I now speak out.

Currently there is a horrific statistic that reveals that only 1 per cent of women globally have access to titled property. I am working to change that by daring to claim my own land shares through claiming assets left by my father in Bangladesh and UK.

It was after my father’s tragic sudden death in 2004 that I slowly began to wake up, it was only in 2012 that I started to challenge my own family and community on their version of Islam. I demanded to know why only men should inherit, when in fact the Qu’ran gives women explicit economic rights and, in my opinion, is the first real feminist ideology. I never got a reply.

I tried to stand up to my community both in UK and Bangladesh and say, let us return to the real Islam – one which is feminist, philanthropically humanitarian and peaceful. Then horrors started. I have had my personal and business life destroyed. I have been slut-shamed and threatened.

This is the collective punishment Muslim women like me face for daring to make a stand.

It’s why I now say this to my fellow Muslim women: don’t step up, as there is no support whatsoever for women like us.

If Sadiq Khan wants us to speak out, he needs to fund us and then protect us. Until then, there is no safety net for us. True Islam directs Muslims to be good people. It is why I suspect most good Muslims are as shell-shocked as I am, at the unfolding ghastly way our religion has been infiltrated by evil factions like Isis and wicked cultural ideology. But being Islamic is something entirely different to being a Muslim.

I often suspect women like me rarely get a voice because we don’t fall into either pro or anti-Muslim narrative camps. But I will never stop trying. It’s why I have launched a petition to get the way Islamic education is taught reformed. I just wish the likes of Mr Khan spent their time listening and protect existing British Muslim men and women who are already fighting for change.

Yasmin Choudhury is a Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Lovedesh & Amcariza Foundation.

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