In a belief or a movement to accomplish an

In this 21st century, many women called themselves as a
feminist as they are getting more vocal in fighting for their rights or their
position in a society. As years went by, it can be clearly seen that many women
are getting more engaged in the society and some of them are also very
successful and career women. It is common nowadays, in a family, the husband is
not the only one who is looking for bread and butter and there are also some
cases where the husband is a stay-at-home dad and the wife is the one who is
supporting the family. Women are getting more open in voicing out their opinion
and what they believe in. In Islam, there is a relation between Islam and
feminism. What the feminist in the West is trying to fight for, Islam has been promoting
long ago back to the Prophet Muhammad’s time. In Islam, women are allowed to do
anything they want as long as it is permissible in Islam. However, some
feminist especially those from the West, blame Islam, saying Islam and feminism
do not go together. They think that Muslim women are being oppressed where the
so called feminists are blaming Islam for that. However, they are few of
feminists use Islam as their foundation of what they are fighting for.

What feminism actually is? According to Merriam Webster, feminism
is an “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”. However,
feminism is not a belief where women is more powerful over man, it is a belief
or a movement to accomplish an equal rights between men and women (Fiss, 1994).
He also mentioned that feminism is a guideline for the feminist to shape what
they want to fight for which compromises all aspects of life. Feminism is also
portrayed in terms of writings and there are many writers who implement the
element of feminism in their literary works. Brizee,
Tompkins, Chernouski and Boyle (2010) stated that, a feminist text is a
literary text that that portrays the economic, political, social, and
psychological oppression of women. They also mentioned how patriarchal a culture
could be in a society in a feminist literary text. In contrast, an Islamic
feminist text is a literary text where feminism is discussed in within the
framework of Islam. Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Janmohamed is one of the
example of Islamic feminist text which going to be discussed much further later
in the essay. Islamic feminism is what a Muslim should promotes and to be
understood thoroughly. Islam does not promotes any discrimination towards other
people be it women or man, in the eyes of God all human being is equal, there
is nothing that differentiate us human other than our level of Taqwa.  In the West, Muslim women are seen to be
oppressed as they seem to be ‘forced’ to wear the headscarf whilst, for Muslim
women, they believe that they are free to choose what they want to wear it is
not that they are oppressed, it is that the West wants Muslim women to think
they are being oppressed. Thus, Muslim all around the world should have enough
knowledge regarding fundamental beliefs of Islam in order to not to be easily
influenced by others.

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In the feminist literary text by Shelina
Janmohamed, Love in a Headscarf, there are few parts of the book in which the
writer promotes Islamic feminism.  The
writer proposes a cultural notion in which how the Aunties view a woman who is
highly educated. The Aunties suggest that a woman should get married first,
take care of the husband first and then sort out whatever the wife wanted to
do. The Aunties also add that a woman should not get a master and even PhD
because no men wants to marry an educated woman. In this context, Shelina
argues that education is also a part of religion. The Prophet Muhammad Himself
encourages ones to seek for knowledge even if he or she needs to travel till
China. Moreover, Shelina’s mother also considers education as one of the
important elements that she wants from a son-in-law. From the book, Shelina
mentioned that her father considers that the most important portion to success
is education, she is raised in a family where education is a key to everything
so it is no doubt when someone believes the other way around, it is an eye
opening for her.

Education helps especially Muslim women to study
in depth about not just politics or economy but also Islamic materials which
will breaks the ancient stereotypes that a woman also could be educated and
able to create a movement. Most Muslim women nowadays are trying as hard as
they could in order to free women from any sense of oppression or stereotype
through Islam, and education is one of the important part (Ramadan, 2016). In
today’s world, even though there are still some people who considered woman
should not be too highly educated, there are still many women do realized how
important education is in their life, not just in this world but also in the
hereafter. From the text, the writer highlights the separation of religion from
culture, gender divide and restrictions in seeking knowledge is not taught in
Islam the writer analyses the true identity of Islam within the feminist point
of view (Hasan, 2015). Muslim woman usually are being portrayed as vulnerable
and oppressed by the men especially in the West. In the book, it can be seen
that the writer illustrates how Muslim women in a society should represents
themselves which is  not to be very
highly educated, in order to be an excellent wife material or else they are not
going to be married by a decent man.

The writer also points out a feminist idea when
she wants to do something which turns out to be not what a typical ‘good Muslim
girl’ would do, to climb a mountain. Shelina is trying to portray that being a
woman does not stop her from doing what she wants and what she enjoys. When
Shelina decides that she wants to climb the highest mountain in Africa, Mount
Kilimanjoro, the Aunties are being cynical toward her decision. The Aunties
presume that it is not nice for a girl to climb a mountain and they are the one
who are worried that people will talk about her climbing a mountain. For the
Aunties, a girl cannot do extreme activities like boys did but it is different
from Shelina’s point of view, for her, climbing a mountain is an exciting also
challenging activity for her and being a woman does not stop someone to do
something that they love as long as it is not wrong in Islam.

Shelina highlights the story of how Prophet
Muhammad’s beloved wife, Khadijah would visit the Prophet when he spends his
time in The Cave of Hira to meditate. Despite the fact the Prophet Muhammad is
meditating in a cave located on a high mountain, it does not stop Khadijah
fulfilling her duty as a wife. Khadija would climb the steep mountain in order
to visit her husband. Both Khadija and Shelina are Muslim women, thus, where is
the fault in Shelina’s wanting to climb Mount Kilimanjoro? Shelina mentioned in
one of her article from theGurdian, “Muslims are indeed more conservative than
the general population, but this is perhaps a trait shared with other religious
communities” (Janmohamed, 2009). It is not a doubt that somehow most Muslims
are indeed conservative but here comes the part where Sunnah and Hadith of the
prophet take places, people should be clear that religion and culture are two
separate things. If something seems to be wrong in terms of a culture, it does
not mean that it is also wrong in terms of religion. All Muslim has overlooked the
idea of all Muslims all around the world are following the footsteps of a woman
when performing pilgrimage. In the book, Shelina mentioned, “The whole event of the hajj, including this part of emulating
Hagar’s run between the two hills, is one of the pinnacles of spiritual
devotion for a Muslim” (Janmohaed, 2014). Every pilgrims must perform Sai’e as
a symbol to appreciate Hajar, how she runs from Safa to Marwah in order to
collect water for her son, Ismail. In her book, Shelina mentions that Muslims
have been following the footsteps of a woman for ages, but still there some
Muslims who have some revolting ideas where “women should be weak, subservient,
and oppressed” (Janmohaed, 2014).

For Muslim women, hijab is a common thing be questioned about.
Shelina touches the issue of hijab in which how the non-Muslims and Muslims
react towards those who wears hijab especially in a society where Muslims are
the minorities. The writer highlights some of her experiences wearing hijab
herself. Hijab for her is a part of her faith which in Islam, Allah commands
for the women to where modest clothes and Shelina, for her, she believes and
understands in the concept of hijab she wants to wear it willingly. Hijab is
one of her obstacles when she is trying to find a husband where for some of the
men, they do not want their future wives to wear hijab. The men use ridiculous
reasons for not wanting a wife who wears a hijab. For instance, from the book,
“I think girls who wear hijab are probably very religious and stay at home all
day praying. They must be a bit dull. I like to go out a lot, so I wouldn’t
have anyone to go with” (Janmohamed, 2014). Shelina refutes the assumption how
the society look at a hijab-wearing women where she believes that Muslim women
wear hijab as a symbol of their confidence in Islam. Shelina strongly defends
that women does not wear hijab for the sake of protecting themselves from men.
She believes that man are not animal and it is not women who control men.
Wearing hijab is based on the women’s choice, hijab-wearing women are not being
oppressed as it is their own personal option to wear hijab.

The whole story basically refutes the typical assumptions that
Muslim women are being oppressed and they are being forced to wear hijab by
their male relatives (Hasan, 2016). Shelina explains that she do not like negative
stereotypes and discrimination against hijab-wearing women is very common
especially in the West. Nevertheless, wearing a hijab also has a huge impact
due to the post 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre. As the attack is being
claimed by a so-called jihadist group Al-Qaeda, thus the Islamophobia is on the
rise. More and more people start to feel frightened towards Muslims, and as
being illustrated in the book, Shelina is one of the victims. Shelina manages
to explain that a hijab-wearing women still choose to wear the hijab with a
sense of tranquillity and harmony despite all the mocks and taunt towards
them.  Men are able to be respectful
enough towards women with moral and ethics. Shelina also expresses her
annoyance when a French girl named Anne tells Shelina and her friends that
Muslim women are being oppressed upon seeing they wear hijab. Despite the fact
that, Shelina and her friends are not married during that time and they are
unaccompanied by no one, in Anne’s point of view “they are subjugated and their
Islamic identity is nothing but given and coerced on them” (Hasan, 2015). She
explains that with her and her friends are travelling in the Middle East, how
come Anne thinks that they are being oppressed. If they are oppressed, they are
not going to be in the Middle East travelling freely with no man guiding them,
they should be at home, cleaning the house, be vulnerable and not do anything.
Shelina considers that with her being a Muslim-born woman, “saw being Muslim
only as part of their culture and heritage” (Janmohamed, 2014). She explains
that Islam has the meaning of being a human being and one should find the
divine inside them.

To conclude, Love in a Headscarf is really an overwhelming feminist
literary text. This is due to the writer’s own experience in encountering the
stereotypes and backlashes for being a Muslim women. Shelina emphasizes
plentiful of pertinent elements in a feminist point of view within the
framework of Islam. She points out that education is an important component in
one’s life be it woman’s or man’s as education is also a part of a religion.
Shelina also pinpoint the mind-set of some people that women should not be
doing things that are seem to be inappropriate for a woman to do where her
Aunties say it is not nice for a girl to climb a mountain. She counters the
Aunties by elaborating that even Saidatina Khadija climbs the mountain, why she
cannot. Also, Shelina highlights her journey of being a hijab-wearing woman.
The post 9/11 attack is the most challenging for her most people were getting
sceptical towards Muslim during that time with the rising of Islamophobia.
Shelina has carefully illustrates the perceptions of other people towards
Muslim women according to Islamic teachings. The portrayal of the conflicts of
her experience as a Muslim woman establishes the importance of the relationship
in Muslim communities and gender roles (Hasan, 2015).