A Muslim Feminist’s Desperate Denial

Dalia Mogahed is a public advocate for Muslim Rights and a defender of Islamic beliefs in the American public.  On her personal Facebook page, she shared this meme:


These were her thoughts on the meme:



Here’s the original Hadith:

Abu Umamah reported: A young man came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and he said, “O Messenger of Allah, give me permission to commit adultery.” The people turned to rebuke him, saying, “Quiet! Quiet!” The Prophet said, “Come here.” The young man came close and he told him to sit down. The Prophet said, “Would you like that for your mother?” The man said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you. People would not like it for their mothers.” The Prophet said, “Would you like that for your daughter?” The man said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you. People would not like it for their daughters.” The Prophet said, “Would you like that for your sister?” The man said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you. People would not like it for their sisters.” The Prophet said, “Would you like that for your aunts?” The man said, “No, by Allah, may I be sacrificed for you. People would not like it for their aunts.” The Prophet placed his hand on him and he said, “O Allah, forgive his sins, purify his heart, and guard his chastity.” After that, the young man never again turned to anything sinful.

In another narration, the Prophet said to him, “Then hate what Allah has hated, and love for your brother what you love for yourself.”



I agree with Dalia that humanizing a person will make a potential aggressor less likely to harm/degrade them.  However, I think her rejection of the contradiction between the Hadith and the meme is dishonest, and quite frankly stupid.

In the Hadith, a man considered engaging in adultery with another woman, and the Prophet Muhammad helped him see it from the point of view of that woman’s relative, whether he would want that for his own women relatives.  The man said no, and because of this empathy for the woman’s relatives, he became dissuaded towards pursuing his desires.

How is that not empathizing with other women as if they were his own?  How is that different from identifying a potential victim of sexual assault as someone’s mother, daughter, sister?

That man was asked to be in the position of not the woman herself but her relatives.  This emphasis on the woman’s family instead of the individual woman shows us the honor culture and collective ownership of a woman’s body and sexuality in early Islamic history. A promiscuous woman would be harmful to her family members’ honor, and the man in the Hadith had to take that into account.  He had to consider the burden of being a family member of the woman adulterer, instead of being asked to consider the consequences of the woman herself.

Dalia Mogahed ended her post with “I see no contradiction between the Hadith and the idea of this meme.”

The contradiction between the Hadith and the meme is extremely obvious.  How does she fail to see the contradiction between the two?  Is she deliberately being dishonest?

Why does she fail to examine the Prophet Muhammad with the same degree of critical thinking she would with any other man?  Why is he exempt from her criticisms?  Why is Dalia Mogahed so desperate to prove that Islam is inherently feminist and then takes extreme mental gymnastic leaps like this one?

I think Dalia Mogahed is one of many Muslims in western society struggling to reconcile their Islamic faith with their secular, feminist, progressive etc. values.  Like other western Muslims, she cherry picks positive verses from the Quran and Hadiths; and does mental gymnastics/dilutes the scriptures to prove that the Islamic views on women is compatible with contemporary feminism.

If any other man said what the Prophet said, would she still deny the contradiction of that instance with the meme?  I doubt it.

Dalia Mohahed’s denial of the obvious contradiction proves one thing: Muslims trying to reconcile progressive values with their devout Islamic faith are desperate and in denial.

What do you think? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to follow this site, follow my twitter @secularbrownie and my Facebook for updates and cool articles!


11 thoughts on “A Muslim Feminist’s Desperate Denial

  1. I really hate the whole “Muhammad gave rights to women” trope.

    Here’s an analogy (and I’m paraphrasing something I read in political philosophy years ago): Let’s say there’s an emperor who rules his empire with an iron fist. He is feared by most of the population he rules and has done all sorts of horrible things in the past. However, he decides one day to grant a certain section of his empire total autonomy. The people in that region are completely free from the emperor’s grip and can enact their own laws and customs and are no longer bound to any policies the emperor may implement in the rest of the empire. The question is: are these people now “free”? Well, the answer, simply put, is no, because their “freedom” and “rights” come from above.

    The same is true in this scenario: even if the history is all in agreement that women in the early Islamic caliphate were granted rights and liberties, it still doesn’t make them liberated, because these liberties were merely acts of permission granted from above rather than the product of collective struggle from below. Muhammad was not a proletarian leader who organized the oppressed; he was a successful businessman who became a pope-king.

    As for “Islamic feminists” in the West, I think they’re confused. They seek to be committed to modern, progressive causes and doctrines (feminism, communism, postmodernism/queer theory, whatever) and, at the same time, demand that all others see them as loyal to their traditional customs and hierarchies. What’s even more telling is how most of this stuff is coming from diaspora populations in the West OR highly “Westernized” Muslims living in cosmopolitan cities in the Islamic World.

    BTW I’m a woman and a communist/feminist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really naive.
      Muhammad was an activist type in Mecca, but once he moved to Madinah he played into politics more. He did many things that we would consider questionable/atrocious today, like he would allow slavery and sexual access of masters to their slaves (it says so in Quran and Hadith,) he married a 6 year old girl and had sex with her when she was 9. Muslims today knowing all these things still give him an excuse and play the cultural relativity card. They keep him exempt from any criticism.

      I don’t think he’s fundamentally an evil human being. I think he’s a man of his times who has highlights and flaws.


  2. I don´t see the problem with the hadith, where does it say it is because a adultress woman is bad for the family ? i mean it´s because it will tarnish the image of the family ? It clearly says, that ” people would not like it for their sisters”, does not say anything about her being harmful, it´s about the person in the question like ” would you like your aunt getting raped” does that mean the person is saying that to save the family picture ? Ofc not


    1. Nothing wrong with the hadith. But it clearly contradicts the logic of the meme and dalia denied that. This is more a criticism of that denial
      And to empathize with being the woman’s relative has different implications of empathy with the woman herself


  3. She’s only valuable because she’s somebody else’ sister, mother, etc = she’s only valuable because she’s owned by family/men.

    She should be able to see this 🙂


  4. “Muslim feminist” is a classic example of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. These Muslimahs wish to affirm western egalitarian values, while at the same time upholding the traditional mores of Islam. Unfortunately this is logically impossible, because Islam is intrinsically patriarchal and misogynistic. Perhaps Muhammad did some good things for the women of his time and place, although that is debatable. What is crystal clear from the Qur’an and Sunna is that he viewed females as second class citizens, inferior beings, and the property of men. Muslims jump through endless apologetic hoops trying to disprove what is obvious to the rest of humanity.


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