The problem with Eltahawy’s argument

A good Muslim is the one who is moderate in his belief and practice. I do agree with this statement. Moderation is actually a key teaching in Islam. But the definition of moderate is different according to Americans and Europeans. A Moderate Muslim is one whose ideology and practice are agreeable to the American and European societies.

For example, Muslim women not wearing hijab and out spoken about how Muslim men are using their women as slaves are considered moderate Muslims. Mona Eltahawy, Ayaan Hirsi Al and Irshad Manji are best examples of how a moderate Muslims should be. The west takes them for granted as how Muslim women should be and urge all Muslim women to take them as role models. According to many Westerners, it is a FACT that Muslim men are selfish, abusing, polygamists, and wives beating. Hence, Muslim women should rebel against their masters.

One good thing about Eltahawy’s article is that many women, Muslims and non-Muslims, even Muslim feminists didn’t accept her argument that Muslim men hate women. There were huge numbers of articles against her argument. For anyone who has the slightest knowledge in conducting research can easily falsify her argument. Eltahawy’s based her article on listing some examples of how Muslim men treat women. Don’t you think we can list some bad examples from any culture and conclude with a result that will support our claim? But of course the western media is not interested in such article unless it is about Muslim weirdos. Since 1975 number of abortion operations in the U.S. never falls under 1 million. The total number of abortions performed in the U.S. since 1973 equals 54,559,615 [source]. Did all Americans participate in terminating the lives of 54 million fetuses? Did all Americans support the killing of 1 million fetuses every year? I always say that every culture has its good and bad practices. To generalize about the entire culture is very condescending and simplistic way of thinking.

While thousands of brave Arab men been savagely killed, jailed, and tortured to secure a better life to their families -ironically this includes mothers, sisters, wives, daughters and female relatives- during this current “Arab Revolution”, Eltahawy chose to climb to the top of the media ladder and secure fame in Western media. She took advantage of an old Western cliché that Muslim men abuse their women and built her argument on that. I believe her article would harms and damages any support Arabs would receive from Americans and Europeans to seek freedom from tyrant regimes. She offered a Carte Blanche to the West to not support any change in the Arab world fearing of monsters taking control of the country.

On behalf of Arab husbands, sons, fathers, and brothers who work very hard to make sure that they can put food on their families table out of LOVE for their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters I say you are wrong Mona Eltahawy and those women who celebrated your article. I would like to ask those women to be fair and answer why millions of Arab men cross the borders far away from their homes? And why thousands of North African men put their lives at risk crossing the Mediterranean Sea on small boats?

Although there are many bad practices by Muslim men but Eltahawy’s article was a cheap way to take advantage of abused Muslim women instead of helping their cause. I don’t think trashing a culture and religion, like Eltahawy’s did, is meant to be a positive criticism rather it was a way to secure many columns in Western newspapers and magazines.

13 thoughts on “The problem with Eltahawy’s argument

  1. I don’t agree with these women but there is a difference between Islamic non-Arab society and Arab society. In fact, Arab Islam is a poor example of Islam because Arabs still hold on to their biases and prejudices in contradiction to Islam. Arabs are poor custodians of Islam and are not true to its principles as non-Arab Muslims. Therein lies the problem.

    1. “Arabs are poor custodians of Islam and are not true to its principles as non-Arab Muslims.” I don’t agree with your claim. The Prophet (s) said in hadith, “There is no difference between Arabs and non-Arabs except through righteousness.” Neither me nor you decides who is better custodian of Islam. Our individual practice is what counts. Muslims whether Arabs or non-Arabs have good and bad apples.

  2. I don’t know why all such people, who like to show that they are defending what they like to call “women’s rights” can’t see that they are attacking others rights!!
    Its offensive when they picture Muslim and Arab women as an “ITEMS” live just to obey the “DEVILs” /male rules.

    For example when they talk about head scarf, don’t they think that there is a lot of women CHOOSE to wear hijab?? and that they are attacking others rights of choosing what they want to wear???

    Your last sentence summarize it all…..it’s nothing more than a media issue.

    1. Unfortunately, for many people as long as Muslim women are covering their heads they are considered abused and are deprived of their rights to choose what to wear, no matter what Muslim women say.
      Thanks for speaking up about your right to choose to wear hijab.

  3. Thank you, Whisper!
    Assel – I am not sure why you couldn’t post a comment. Sometimes, WordPress acts weird🙂 Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts about the subject.

  4. When I saw Mona’s story come across my News Feed, I never imagined how many blog posts and other articles would be written in response! I have a few Muslim women friends on Facebook. Most I only know through blogs or are friends of friends. Some thought Mona was spot-on in her assessment. I remember a Saudi friend thought it was true. And maybe for her it is because of her experiences in her country. But plenty of others thought it wasn’t true. I guess it depends a lot on what you’ve personally encountered. No doubt some Arabs have been abusive of their women, but I’d never paint them all that way. Just as I’d never paint all American men as porn lovers simply because many of them enjoy porn. Nor as you stated, are we all abortionists though the US has legally murdered millions of babies since the 1970s. We should never label ALL people one way.

    Sidenote: Though, of course, I’ve never been married to nor had an Arab boyfriend, the Arab men I’ve met always seem very considerate and kind. I’d like to think they treat all women in their lives this way. So my experience with Arab men has been very positive.

    Thanks for writing this post! It’s always good to hear an Arab man’s perspective!

    1. Thanks for your input, Susanne. I appreciate your feedback and thoughts.
      I do respect others’ opinions. I am aware of Eltahawy’s blog and writing. But this one in particular I didn’t like mainly because such a widely popular print chose to publish it on its first page and not just as a writer’s opinion or a column.
      In my opinion, the article is as wrong as if someone wrote, for example, “All Germans are Nazis.” I am sure such article will never see a front page but when someone write something offensive about Arab or Muslim men, like Eltahawy’s did, it is easily published.
      Glad you had a positive experience with the Arab men you meet.

  5. Jaraad, I know that there are many men, probably a majority of men, who feel like you do. You will cherish, empower and nourish your wife, your daughters, your sister.

    Like every culture, there are men who hate women – in America, they just shoot them and get it over with. But there are laws to bring justice, and therein lies the difference.

    I think the greatest test of the depth of Arabian men’s love for Arabian women is to create laws that protect them, and then enforce these laws.

    This is what is lacking. Love without this kind of action is empty. As Nas wrote today, it is silence that kills women.

    I know many are not fond of Mona, her manner, her connections, her motives. But she had too many truths in that article to ignore.

    1. Kinzi, really glad to see you write your input about this particular post and thank you for linking it in your blog even we are indifference about what Eltahawy wrote.
      I understand because of the type of work you do with women in Jordan and other places you are exposed to many horrible stories. But I think the FP article took an extreme approach that, as I mentioned in this post, may not help the cause of what is going on the Arab world now a days. In addition, regardless of men’s opinion here, there are as many Muslim women who didn’t agree with Eltahwy’s article as well.
      I always write in my blog and when I comment about related subject in Jordan that we should enforce the law. For example, we have laws against smoking in public transportation but it is not enforced and many such laws as well. So, yes beside having more laws to protect women we should also make sure that we enforce these laws.
      I read Nas’ article as usual he never fails to impress his readers. And here comes my second resolution of the problem beside enforcing laws; proper E D U C A T I O N. Our schools curricula are in dire need for a change.

Comments are closed.