Choosing My Own Chains


The following is a guest contribution by “Hope.”


Choosing My Own Chains


The Rhetoric

  • “The shackles of Ms. Clairol… you are a slave to the cosmetics industry… a prisoner of Hollywood’s concept of beauty… if you don’t’ fit their standards you are nothing!  Allah subhanawata’ala gives you freedom from all of that.”
  • “A woman is like a piece of candy – she must be covered to not let filth pollute her.”
  • “A man is like a stone, if you drop the stone in mud, you can wash it clean; however, a woman is like a piece of silk, if you drop it in mud it is forever soiled.”  
  • “Your husband is like your father except you bear children with him.”
  • “A woman needs “ta’deeb” (discipline) which is why Allah gave men the right to hit her, she is in her nature rebellious; therefore, the man who hits his wife honors her by keeping her “ala al sirat al mustaqueem” (on the righteous/straight path).


Yes, I was well versed in this rhetoric; it was instilled in me as a young girl.  I fell for it too.

I was caught between laughing hysterically at his unbridled arrogance and seething with rage at the obsequious women in the audience nodding emphatically- while nudging their young daughters “see, see why we wear the hijab?  We are gems that must be encased and protected!”


Refuting this Rhetoric

May the refutations of this rhetoric commence:

  • “The shackles of Ms. Clairol… you are a slave to the cosmetics industry!”
      1. FALSE – I can elect to refrain from wearing makeup, I can refuse to buy the latest trends in fashion, and I can refuse to subscribe to Hollywood’s photo-editing concept of beauty.
      2. I cannot refrain from wearing the hijab, or take it off of my own volition without being counseled (harassed) by every “brother” or “sister” that decides to make me a fixation of their need to gain thawab or control.
  • “If you don’t fit within their standards, you are nothing!”
      1. FALSE- I am valued as a human being, wife, mother, friend, and business woman due to my integrity, compassion, competence and character. Furthermore, I find it amusing that we women are chastised fitting into “their standards”; yet coerced to fit within your Islamic standards.
  • “The hijab forces them to look past your appearance and value you as an individual woman, not as an object”
    1. FALSE- the hijab reinforces rape culture.  Here’s how:
      1. If a woman is not covered, she is “asking for it” (putting herself at risk).  Many within the communities assume uncovered women are “fair game” and find it perfectly acceptable to harass, cat call, grope, them.  This provides a “certain kind of men” (I use that term loosely) the justification needed to commit heinous acts against women, girls and even boys.  
      2. Conversely, [real] men are falsely reduced to nothing but visually-triggered animals driven by an inherent predatory instinct that renders them incapable of restraining themselves sexually.
    2. As a woman, how can I be appreciated for more than my physical appearances if I am stripped of my individuality and forced to conform to the silent mass of black sheets
    3. How is it that I am instructed to free myself from the hands of a perverse society and in the same breath told to submit to the rubrics of religions that reduce my standing to that of a child in need of discipline, confinement and supervision?
    4. Why would I trade discretionary “shackles” for ones that are compulsory for a religion that:
      1. Renders me unclean- Like the Biblical and Judaic texts, menstruating women are harmful and unclean – this mentality feeds into the dehumanization of women.
        ويسالونك عن المحيض قل هو اذى فاعتزلوا النساء في المحيض ولا تقربوهن حتى يطهرن فاذا تطهرن فاتوهن من حيث امركم الله ان الله يحب التوابين ويحب المتطهرين
        And they ask you about menstruation. Say, “It is harm, so keep away from wives during menstruation. And do not approach them until they are pure. And when they have purified themselves, then come to them from where Allah has ordained for you. Indeed, Allah loves those who are constantly repentant and loves those who purify themselves.” (Quran 2:222) (tafseer)
      2. Reduces me to a mere vessel for sowing his seed to be used according to his volition.
        نساؤكم حرث لكم فاتوا حرثكم انى شئتم وقدموا لانفسكم واتقوا الله واعلموا انكم ملاقوه وبشر المؤمنين
        Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth [righteousness] for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers. (Quran 2:223)(tafseer)
      3. Provides my husband the right to marry up to 4 women without my consent and warns me that I am not to question what is allowed by Allah.
        يا ايها النبي لم تحرم ما احل الله لك تبتغي مرضات ازواجك والله غفور رحيم
        O Prophet, why do you prohibit [yourself from] what Allah has made lawful for you, seeking the approval of your wives? And Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Quran 66:1)(Tafseer)
        عسى ربه ان طلقكن ان يبدله ازواجا خيرا منكن مسلمات مؤمنات قانتات تائبات عابدات سائحات ثيبات وابكارا
        Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you – submitting [to Allah ], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshipping, and traveling – [ones] previously married and virgins. (Quran 66:5) (Tafseer)
      4. Allows me to be taken as a slave.
        يا ايها النبي انا احللنا لك ازواجك اللاتي اتيت اجورهن وما ملكت يمينك مما افاء الله عليك وبنات عمك وبنات عماتك وبنات خالك وبنات خالاتك اللاتي هاجرن معك وامراة مؤمنة ان وهبت نفسها للنبي ان اراد النبي ان يستنكحها خالصة لك من دون المؤمنين
        Prophet, indeed We have made lawful to you your wives to whom you have given their due compensation and those your right hand possesses from what Allah has returned to you [of captives] and the daughters of your paternal uncles and the daughters of your paternal aunts and the daughters of your maternal uncles and the daughters of your maternal aunts who emigrated with you and a believing woman if she gives herself to the Prophet [and] if the Prophet wishes to marry her, [this is] only for you, excluding the [other] believers. We certainly know what We have made obligatory upon them concerning their wives and those their right hands possess, [but this is for you] in order that there will be upon you no discomfort. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful (Quran 33:50) (Tafseer)
      5. Allows my husband to take slaves as concubines 
        والمحصنات من النساء الا ما ملكت ايمانكم كتاب الله عليكم واحل لكم ما وراء ذلكم ان تبتغوا باموالكم محصنين غير مسافحين فما استمتعتم به منهن فاتوهن اجورهن فريضة ولا جناح عليكم فيما تراضيتم به من بعد الفريضة ان الله كان عليما حكيما
        And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. (Quran 4/24) (Tafseer)
      6. Allows my husband to 1: lecture me (ok fine, pending I have the right to lecture my husband too), 2:refuse to share my bed (again fine- don’t bother me when I have a migraine or just don’t feel like it), and 3: Strike me (Try it, I dare you)
        الرجال قوامون على النساء بما فضل الله بعضهم على بعض وبما انفقوا من اموالهم فالصالحات قانتات حافظات للغيب بما حفظ الله واللاتي تخافون نشوزهن فعظوهن واهجروهن في المضاجع واضربوهن فان اطعنكم فلا تبغوا عليهن سبيلا ان الله كان عليا كبيرا
        Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand. (Quran 4:34) (Tafseer)



Islam claims to be the perfect religion- the end all be all of all divine revelation. Claims of perfection means its validity and applicability should remain universally regardless of time and location.  This perfection is negated with remarks such as: “those were different times”, “they used to bury girls alive back then”, and the asinine “slavery in Islam was different than western slavery”.  No cleverly articulated responses or esoteric interpretation can justify this.

The so-called “shackles” of secular society gave me what Islam did not: choice.  I had to choose between Islam or freedom from it.  I chose freedom.



If you want contribute writing, submit it here for review.


What do you think? Feel free to comment below. Don’t forget to follow me at:

Twitter @secularbrownie



4 thoughts on “Choosing My Own Chains

  1. I found this piece very refreshing and clarifying! I feel that we live in a culture where it is forbidden to criticize religious oppression (not just from Islam), particularly oppression of women.

    May I share this blog post on my blog?

    My next step will be to follow you 🙂


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