Saturday, 26 March 2011

Islamic Feminism: The Feminism I Relate To | Peace X Peace

Lana Abu Ayyash

Lana Abu Ayyash

A Jordanian woman leader reflects on her path to Islamic feminism, including how she founded Sister Power, the online social network for Muslim women.


I have always been interested in women’s rights. I remember reading hardcore feminist literature at 12 years old and writing about women’s rights at 17.


I cannot say it’s entirely because I was opposed to how women were treated in our society. Nor can I claim that I was brought up in a traditional Islamic household and that did it for me. This interest or passion, if you will, was always just there as part of who I am.

Early on, I rebelled against my traditions, religion, and everything else I could think of. Looking back to those years I can see that I did everything except read and educate myself about the very same tradition and religion that I declared war against.

In the year 2000, I was living in Canada and attending women’s studies classes at the University Of Western Ontario. As much as I loved it, I felt somehow foreign. The material we discussed was something I couldn’t relate to entirely – even though at the time I considered myself a secular agnostic. I felt that my roots and my traditions were calling to me.

I began a crusade to understand who I was, where I came from, what I want, what is Islam, and who was Muhammad.  I wanted to understand the issue of women in Islam—a subject that has always provoked me. I began to read the Quran—something I never did when I was advocating against the Quran.

After several years I became convinced that Islam was what I was looking for. It is who I am and it is the “type” of feminism that I understand and can relate to.

I found my calling.

I began a study of Islamic law and philosophy. I became a full time researcher on women’s rights in Islam. I started meeting with women several times a week, giving lectures at times, and writing articles. The more deeply I dug into our tradition the more I was saddened by the bad reputation the tradition has.

In 2008, I started a social network for Muslim women called It is a place where, as Muslim women, we can interact, share ideas, express our feelings, and voice our concerns.

I am a feminist, and will always be.  But now I realize that feminism, freedom, and liberty have many faces and comes in many different and rich colors.


To learn more about Islamic feminism, go to these sites:

In Search of What Islam Really Says

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