In a time where interfaith and cultural and religious diversity are scrutinized and need support, Raheel Raza is a force to be reckoned with. Her outspoken and strong opinions on Muslim society and Islamic beliefs have been groundbreaking and inspiring; however others consider them to be a source of criticism and condemnation. Yet Raza remains undeterred in her fight against gender prejudices and her mission to improve the female position in Islamic society continues.
Islamophobia is a real problem today and I teach to reduce geographic ignorance and fears about an unknown ‘other.’ That has also created an environment where many–myself included–are hesitant to shine the light on issues of gender equity and other cultural problems in the Muslim world for fear of it entrenching students with bigoted viewpoints to cling to them all the more firmly. Also, many are worried that critiques will also be perceived as Islamophobia. Recently the Swedish foreign minister called out Saudi Arabia’s legal restraints on women–some called this Islamophobic, Saudi Arabia removed its Swedish ambassador and stop issuing visas to relative silence from the global media and no support from the international community.
We cannot lay the blame on an entire society/religion based on the actions of a few, but it would be disingenuous to pretend there were no problems. As Raheel Raza says, “culture is no excuse for abuse.” The linked videos are one Muslim woman’s critique on some cultural aspects within some Muslim societies. This is not to say that these problems are only in the Muslim world, nor does it means that the all Muslims live in or want to create oppressive societies–far from it. There is great, rich diversity of thought, opinions, and interpretations among Muslims.