Msreading Iran

"Women Life Freedom" is not a feminist slogan and this is not a “women’s revolution.” The events unfolding in major parts of the Muslim world mean that after almost 200 years, the 1848 revolutions finally resume: the autonomous individual is far from dead, with a tip of the hat to George Orwell.

Msreading Iran
Dismantling Allah. Source: video screen grab

It isn't quite as tragically laughable as Mohammad-Javad Larijani's explanation: "The police were enforcing the limitation on public nudity. You may call it 'hijab,' modesty, or whatever, but in all countries – without exception – there are limits on public nudity," but Maryam Namazie's “Don’t you dare touch a woman in a veil. Don’t you dare touch a woman in a veil,” has the same ring of pantomime theatre about it. This bellicose grandstanding was not directed at the Iranian brutes, male and female, who had just killed another veiled woman, no. It was directed at anyone in the West who might get it into their head to confront a woman in Islamic head dress. One wonders whether the same protection would be offered to a man sporting a Hitler moustache. Not the same thing? Read on.

The absurdity in Namazie's unconditional protective stance is the presumption that a woman in a "veil" (Namazie's euphemism) chooses to wear it. So, effectively, the problem is that the Morality Police interfered with Amini's choice, rather than that they were enforcing something mandatory, or that it was mandatory in the first place, or that the hijab is a fascist excuse for arbitrary abuse. The predators who roam the public spaces of Iran in search of "improperly dressed" women are women in veils, Namazie's protégés. Such muddled thinking and inconsistency run through all of Namazie's discourse that touches on Islam and Muslims. There might not be any need to smash the matriarchy, but it is certainly necessary to confront it.

Women Life Freedom is not a feminist slogan and this is not a “women’s revolution.” The events unfolding in major parts of the Muslim world since 2010 mean that after almost 200 years, the 1848 revolutions finally resume: the autonomous individual is far from dead, with a tip of the hat to George Orwell, and not only in the Muslim world, but over very large parts of Asia, most notably China and Russia. Because the social tensions, for the moment, are not so stark in Turkey, the rise of the autonomous individual is not so obvious there. But the latter's economy is on the brink, because the President set the country's interest rates not as an economist, but as a Muslim. Watch this space.

It isn't clear exactly how explicit, how in-your-face, the signs have to get before the world's talking heads acknowledge that what we've witnessed since 2010 is not mere public dissatisfaction with authoritarian regimes, let alone bread riots, or trivially, a woman's right to "choose" hijab. It is a wholesale collapse of the social order that makes totalitarianism, including Islam, possible, the end of the epoch of the dependent subordinate.

It cannot be denied that Turkey's interest rate policy is Islamically guided; Erdoğan clearly acted as he had spoken. It cannot be denied that the Muslim Brotherhood, while thriving in the United States, is imploding in both Turkey and Egypt. It cannot be denied that attacking and dismantling the Iranian crest, simultaneously the name "Allah" and the creed, "There is no god but Allah," is not about the right to wear or not wear Namazie's "veil," and it cannot be denied that when Mahsa Amini's father chased a presumptuous cleric away from his daughter's funeral, "Take your Islam and go!" the last thing on his mind was his daughter's right to choose what to wear.

The widespread knocking off of clerics' turbans, the latest twist in the Iranian defiance of their overlords, is, similarly, seen as nothing more than youthful irreverence. Unquestionably, the authority of the religious establishment is gone, in Iran as elsewhere.[1] Older people cannot creep up behind a cleric, knock off his turban and quickly disappear, but they can publicly vent their anger at the mullahs, and they do.

In the above-linked video, note that the clerics' demands: "Dress properly!" "Put your hijab on",  "Fix your hijab!" "Hijab is God's order. You have to wear it", "You should go and live abroad," etc., are all predicated on the non-existence of the individual and the social arrangement of dominance-subordination. The younger women respond with things like: "It's none of your business", "I don't want you, stupid man!" "What? This is my country. You can't tell me... I want to live any way I want to", "I want to live free in my own homeland", etc. Older women say things like: "Enough with you clerics. Pack your bags and leave. No one can tell me what I can and can't wear. You have ruined this country!" (to spirited public applause). "If you're aroused by a woman's hair, then you're the problem. You've ruined the country for forty years. Pack up your suitcases."[2] Cleric to unveiled woman: "You violate my rights." Woman's response: "I violate your rights? You're the one doing so!"

"It's none of your business," flies directly in the face of "commanding the right and forbidding the wrong." According to Islam, it is every Muslim's business. Ayatollah Khomeini famously intoned:

Islam and divine governments …have commandments for everybody, everywhere, at any place, in any condition. If a person were to commit an immoral dirty deed right next to his house, Islamic governments have business with him. …Islam has rules for every person, even before birth, before his marriage, until his marriages, pregnancy, birth, until upbringing of the child, the education of the adult, until puberty, youth, until old age, until death, into the grave, and beyond the grave.[3]

The sanctity of the individual, the inviolability of the individual, is facing off directly against exactly that which makes Islam totalitarian: every Muslim is supposed to police every other Muslim. For Islam to be toppled in Iran, women have to lead the charge, not because of some feminist fantasy, but because they bear the brunt of it and have to liberate themselves. Freedom given is not freedom; it is dispensation, it is favour, and can just as easily be taken away. From the thousands of videos doing the rounds, it is clear that women are not demanding that their rights and their freedom be given to them. They are demanding that the rights and freedom intrinsic to them as human beings be recognised and respected.

Older women are finding a different route to their autonomy. It is them who have suffered for forty years to keep their households going in the face of ever dwindling resources. Their country was not free forty years ago, but their mothers could put food on the table. The mess that their country finds itself in now is the direct result of theocratic dictatorship. With their children grown up, they have something to say. For them, unlike young women, it is not as much about a promising future as it is about holding the clergy to account for a wasted past.

The women of Iran are not just taking off their hijabs, as the women's choice lobby would portray it, they are burning their hijabs. This is not "choosing" not to wear the hijab today, and maybe, if the mood takes them, wearing it tomorrow. It is about throwing off a shackle, permanently. It is about destroying an Islamic instrument of control, about asserting your freedom for yourself, by yourself. Of course, in light of turbans getting knocked off, one can similarly argue that the clerics are free to wear or not to wear the turban. It is their choice. Is Maryam Namazie now going to ride to the defence of mens' right to wear the turban? “Don’t you dare touch a man in a turban. Don’t you dare touch a man in a turban.” Come on, Maryam. Now's your chance to at least be consistent, for once.

Of course, everyone can see that it is men meting out instant justice to the men who assault woman, and that men tell the cleric not to shout at women and to leave them alone, but note that this "commanding the right and forbidding the wrong" comes not from the notorious Morality Police, the representatives of the regime, but from the mullahs, the representatives of Islam. Nowhere are women as abased as they are in Islam. Iranian thinker, Mansoor Hekmat, put it this way:

In Islam, …the individual has no rights or dignity. In Islam, the woman is a slave. In Islam, the child is on par with animals. In Islam, freethinking is a sin deserving of punishment. Music is corrupt. Sex without permission and religious certification, is the greatest of sins. This is the religion of death. In reality, all religions are such but most religions have been restrained by freethinking and freedom-loving humanity over hundreds of years. This one was never restrained or controlled. With every move, it brings abominations and misery.[4]

Islam is not alone in its brutal subjugation of women. In Russia, with its legalised wife-beating (a recent improvement in Russian law), as well as in China, where domestic violence is not even a concept, the violent subjugation of women is deeply embedded in culture.[5] This is so also in large parts of India. But to bring Maryam Namazie's grandstanding into sharp relief, it helps to read an excerpt from Oriana Fallaci's 1979 interview with Ayatollah Khomeini:

Ayatollah Khomeini: They do not know how to be useful, neither socially, nor politically, nor professionally. And this is so because, by uncovering themselves, they distract men, and upset them. Then they distract and upset even other.
Oriana Fallaci: That's not true, Imam. In any case, I am not only talking about piece of clothing, but what it represents. That is, the condition of segregation into which women have been cast once again, after the revolution. The fact that they can't study at university with men, or work with men, for example, or go to the beach or to a swimming pool with men. They have to take a dip apart, in their chadors. By the way, how do you swim in a chador?
Khomeini: This is none of your business. Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women.
Fallaci: That's very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I'm going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now... —There. Done! But tell me something. A woman such as I, who has always lived among men, showing her neck, her hair, her ears, who has been in war and slept in the front line in the field among soldiers, according to you, is she an immoral, bold and improper woman?
Khomeini: Your conscience knows the answer. I do not judge personal matters, I cannot know whether your life is moral or immoral, whether you behaved properly or not with the soldiers at the front. But I do know that, during my long lifetime, I have always been right about what I said. If this piece of clothing did not exist — the Islamic dress — women could not work in a useful and healthy way. And not even men. Our laws are valid laws. [6] (My emphasis)

The absurdity of Namazie’s grandstanding, “Don’t you dare touch a woman in a veil. Don’t you dare touch a woman in a veil,” becomes inescapable when set in the context of what is happening to women who do not wear the hijab. Here is Robert Spencer, you know, the bigot, spelling it out for Namazie's benefit:

Nor is brutality against Muslim women who dare not to wear the hijab limited to Iran. Aqsa Parvez’s Muslim father choked her to death with her hijab after she refused to wear it. Amina Muse Ali was a Christian woman in Somalia whom Muslims murdered because she wasn’t wearing a hijab. Forty women were murdered in Iraq in 2007 for not wearing the hijab. Alya Al-Safar’s Muslim cousin threatened to kill her and harm her family because she stopped wearing the hijab in Britain. Amira Osman Hamid faced whipping in Sudan for refusing to wear the hijab. An Egyptian girl, also named Amira, committed suicide after being brutalized by her family for refusing to wear the hijab. Muslim and non-Muslim teachers at the Islamic College of South Australia were told they had to wear the hijab or be fired. Women in Chechnya were shot with paintballs by police because they weren’t wearing hijab. Other women in Chechnya were threatened by men with automatic rifles for not wearing hijab.

Elementary school teachers in Tunisia were threatened with death for not wearing hijab. Syrian schoolgirls were forbidden to go to school unless they wore hijab. Women in Gaza were forced by Hamas to wear hijab. Women in London were threatened with murder by Muslim thugs if they didn’t wear hijab. An anonymous young Muslim woman doffed her hijab outside her home and started living a double life in fear of her parents. Fifteen girls in Saudi Arabia were killed when the religious police wouldn’t let them leave their burning school building because they had taken off their hijabs in their all-female environment. A girl in Italy had her head shaved by her mother for not wearing hijab.[7]

That's a lot of people who say, what's choice got to do with it, and are prepared to put their murder weapon where their mouth is. They're all Muslims, and Namazie says we must never, ever criticise Muslims. In reality, she does not fume about the rights of women to veil if they so choose, she fumes about Muslim women being questioned about why they “choose” to wear such an obviously oppressive “mediaeval rag.” She fumes because Islam, rather than "Islamism," is drawn into question.

Yet, by far more duplicitous on the hijab protests has been Sheikh Dr Yasir Qadhi. A year ago Dr Qadhi published an impassioned five-part series of videos, "Challenging the Zionist Narrative of Palestine," imploring Muslims, to travel more than 5,000 miles to “Falistine” to see for themselves just how evil the “Zionist regime” is, and that he would personally lead a tour group there, on condition that they patronise only “Palestinian” businesses.[8]

When the protests currently sweeping Iran were just getting underway, a Western teenage woman wrote to Yasir Qadhi:

"Is it true that our religion forces the women to wear the hijab? Can an Islamic government have this right? Shouldn't worship be done freely?" And then she goes on and on and she says "Since I wear hijab in my school, all of my friends and teachers are asking me about"— and then she mentions what happened specifically in that country— "and I don't know what to say. So can you share your thoughts and what do I say to my colleagues and my teachers in this regard?[9]

The good sheikh did respond, but not before this classic act of cowardice: issuing himself a Get-out-of-jail card:

I'm going to take one particular question, but it is, uh, responding to a much broader, uh, issue and that is regarding a recent political event which, uh, we're not going to comment on the politics, but it has certain Islamic, uh, issues to discuss as well, regarding the enforcement of the hijab in a particular country, and apparently it caused the death of somebody and whatnot. Now in this q and a, we're not interested in in political specific political countries, so we're not going to mention any name, neither am I a political commentator.

Now that the sheikh's congregation was suitably primed, he could finally get on with answering the patient young woman's question. I shall quote only one-ninth of his answer:

Even though our sister Maha is in high school, uh, I will treat you, sister Maha, as an adult, and I will answer your question, uh, in a way that, inshallahu ta'ala, it's a little bit detailed, it is multifaceted, but I feel that, uh, in order to do justice, I need to mention a number of points. So in response to this question, basically, um, can, or should, morality be enforced in an Islamic land, or what does the political Islamic structure look like? Let me take a step back and respond to this question in nine specific points, nine points, each one of which is worthy of a much longer lecture, but the point is to, uh, to summarise, and then I want you to do your own research in all of these nine points.

Point number one: while I do understand why this question is in everybody's mind, in the news, and people are emailing me, I want to remind myself and all of you, all of those listeners, that in the end of the day, we should be careful to get involved in issues and matters that are beyond our responsibility. All too often we become passionate and and very spend a lot of time talking about some hypothetical, theoretical issue for us, in particular, what should happen over there? How should Islamic lands, or what should, or how about this, or hypothetical that, and in the end of the day, what we are responsible for is what we ourselves can do.

Therefore, I am not responsible for something happening 5000 miles away. And to discuss in heated anger what should or should not happen is of hardly any tangible value in the end of the day. Let us prioritise that which is pragmatic and practical. Let us prioritise our own lives and lifestyles, and let us ask ourselves: how should I be a better person, a better worshiper, a better believer, a better human being in today's world, and let us ask ourselves, what does Allah want me to do? What is the best way for me to live my life? And once we know the answer to that question, let us try our best to live up to those ideals. In case we fall short, we ask Allah's forgiveness and make up our shortcomings via other good deeds.

And I say this because all too often we concentrate too much and over-emphasise discussions that are not of benefit to us. And Allah azzawajal says and reminds us in the Quran: Oh you who believe, you are responsible for yourselves. I command you to take care of yourselves. If another person goes astray, that person is going astray is not going to cause you harm as long as you are consistent and good and rightly guided in your own lives. So let every person take care of himself or herself and let us prioritise bettering ourselves. What is most important? What I am responsible for in the eyes of Allah is myself, not what a regime does, not what we go back and forth with conversations.

And I say this because, okay, I understand you need to have a conversation with your colleagues and friends, our teachers. Have one, and then move on. And don't let this issue bother you. Don't let this issue become the most important issue of, you know, your life, when in the end of the day, no matter what position you hold, no matter what position your friends hold, it's not going to cause any benefit in the grand scale of things.

And perhaps, perhaps in these types of discussions, people become so involved that they forget what they are required to do in, uh, and substitute it for something that they're not required to do. We are not required to comment on things 5000 miles away. We're not required to have a stand about something that is not within our purview and domain. So first point here: look at the broad picture and understand that you need to prioritise your life and your own manners and your own worship and your own lifestyle and that is what Allah will ask you about.

But I do understand this is a very, you know, it's a perturbing question to some of you. I do understand that you have to give a response, because in the end of the day, you are probably one of the few hijabis in your school, and so you become somewhat of a representative, even though you weren't asked to. It's not fair, I understand, and so you're reaching out to me. You're wanting some response and answer. So I'll try to give you a little bit, but like I said, point number one: don't get lost in the details. Don't lose the force for the trees, as they say. In the end of the day, you're responsible for yourself… [and so it goes on for eight more “points.”]

In other words, do not trouble your pretty little head with things going on 5,000 miles away, unless its "Falistine," in which case, travel 5,000 miles and see how evil the Zionists are. Concern yourself with being a “good Muslim,” i.e., hear and obey, and leave such matters to the people of knowledge. Of course, with Iran all over the Internet and hijabi schoolgirls in the West being challenged by their peers, Yasir Qadhi cannot escape addressing the issue of hijab. So bankrupt has the intellectual defence of Islam become, that Qadhi is finally reduced to spinning the murder of a woman for failing to wear her hijab just so, as equal to enforcing laws against walking around naked on a Western street. I kid you not:

There are laws against indecency in every single country on Earth, so it's not a question of should the government have the right, it's a question of how much right does the government have. And so it's just a question of, you know, how much it is here in Texas, it's a a certain amount, and in the Middle East it is another amount. But both Texas and the Middle East they have laws about what a woman and a man can and cannot show, and so we have to understand this point here: that there is no such thing as ultimate freedom to dress as you please.

At least, Mohammad-Javad Larijani did not say, “Apparently, it caused the death of somebody and whatnot,” Of course, you would have to be a “good Muslim” to not see a problem here, just as you will have had to be a “good Muslim” to not see through Dr Qadhi’s equating a boy and a girl marrying at fifteen and fourteen, to a man of fifty-four marrying a child of six. It is to be hoped that Dr Qadhi's young questioner will see through the fraud that is her religion sooner rather than later, and save herself. There is no decency in Islam, only oppression.

The hijab, this obvious instrument of oppression and abuse, is only a “woman’s choice” to those who would obfuscate the fascist character of Islam. But the callous disdain of Ilhan Omar’s “Some people did something,” in response to 9/11 and Yasir Qadhi’s “Apparently, it caused the death of somebody and whatnot,” in response to Mahsa Amini’s murder, speak to the same Muslim indifference to the victims of their religion. Not all Muslims… —yeah, right.

To wear the hijab or not wear the hijab is not a woman’s choice, since no women other than Muslim women end up having to deal with the consequences of this so-called choice. It is not a Muslim woman’s choice, since there is a price to pay whichever way she “chooses,” a price that a kafir woman considering what to wear never has to pay, whichever way she chooses. Whether a woman wears a hijab or not, in the kafir woman’s case, would a choice, but in the Muslim woman’s case, it is a dilemma. Whatever she chooses, she loses.[10] If she wears it, she loses her autonomy and self-respect; if she does not wear it, she could lose her life. Maryam Namazie's deflection to Western people challenging "a woman who wears a veil" is disingenuous. Mahsa Amini was wearing a veil, and she was "touched" by women wearing veils, and there wasn't an "Islamophobe" in sight. Maryam Namazie is one of the most accomplished Islamic apologists. I would grant her that.

PRCS, a reader of Jihad Watch, comments on Iran: Man slaps woman, other men fight back on her behalf:

The oppression of women in Iran is abhorrent to most in the west, of course, and that it’s being reported is a good thing. But, given the increased emphasis of pundits’ opinions and reports by politicians and so-called journalists about this current event, one might conclude the problem is relegated to Iran alone. But, weren’t many of those same uninformed folks asking about the post-war treatment of Afghan women by the new Taliban government? And haven’t the same questions been asked over the years about women in Aceh, Brunei, our Saudi allies….

Have they really not connected the dots? Do they truly not know that most of the world’s Muslims–including those in the U.S.–believe Qur’an mandates hijab? Surely they know Iran’s official name is The Islamic Republic of Iran? Have they still not realized that Islam is the ‘root cause’ of all this?[11]

PRCS might well ask, because the responses are incongruous. Surely, by now, all who feel moved to comment on the goings-on in Iran must have a pretty good idea that such horrors are one with Islam. And the chances are that they have connected the dots. They do know. Two questions that flow from this is: one, do they want to know? and two, do they want you to know? Omid Djalili comments on the same incident:

A man slaps a woman and thinks he can calmly walk away. Where such actions were commonplace before, there are now dire consequences - significantly handed out by other men.[12]

Women Life Freedom is the ultimate negation of Islam. Muslim women are Islam's first dhimmis. Allah has bought from the Muslims their lives, so that all they have left is death. All they must do is submit; they must hear and obey. Freedom is not even a concept. Women Life Freedom is about as anti-Islamic as a slogan can get. The revolt is a massive repudiation of Islam. No "movement" is involved here. No woman is commanding men, "Avanti!" The men who rush to defend the women from assault are not "liberal left progressives." They are just decent men who know that beating a woman is no way to behave, and their humanity has overcome their fear of falling foul of Shari'a. Communism and Islam are in the same crisis for the same reason: the autonomous individual displacing the dependent subordinate. They think for themselves, they ask questions, and if they do not get satisfactory answers, they do something about it.


Notes:

  1. YouTube evangelist Christian Prince offers an excellent summary of these events in Egypt. "Egyptian Muslims are challenging their Muslim scholars," CHILDREN OF LIGHT MINISTRY, YouTube, 14 Jul 2022 https://youtu.be/PKS-O5l1r3o
  2. https://twitter.com/AlinejadMasih/status/1589175541370081282?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1589175541370081282|twgr^ec06991e9b4bcf7dbd2061f89f5b892e19b39e9e|twcon^s1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jihadwatch.org%2F2022%2F11%2Fislamic-republic-of-iran-youths-knocking-off-turbans-of-muslim-clerics-as-part-of-anti-regime-protests
  3. Ayatollah Khomeini, quoted in Georgy Gounev, The Dark Side of the Crescent Moon: The Islamization of Europe and its Impact on American/Russian Relations, Transaction Publishers, 2014, p176.
  4. Mansoor Hekmat, Islam and De-Islamisation, interview with Negah, January 1999 http://hekmat.public-archive.net/en/3140en.html
  5. In Shanghai I have, more than once, had to place myself physically between a man and the woman he was beating up. When I shouted at the man to fight me instead, he backed down, perplexed. The saddest part is that afterwards, they were walking off hand-in-hand. How very much like Islam.
  6. Oriana Fallaci, "An interview with Khomeini," New York Times, 7 October 1979.
  7. Robert Spencer, “Women in Iran Are Fighting for Their Freedom, and This Imam in Texas Is FURIOUS,” PJ Media, 8 October 2022 https://pjmedia.com/culture/robert-spencer/2022/10/08/women-in-iran-are-fighting-for-their-freedom-and-this-imam-in-texas-is-furious-n1635623
  8. My critique of Yasir Qadhi's "Challenging the Zionist Narrative of Palestine" series is here.
  9. Yasir Qadhi, Should Hijab Be Enforced? Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi, EPIC MASJID, YouTube, 29 Sept 2022 https://youtu.be/s0xK2i-flJY
  10. Here are some more “choices”:

    “We aren't coming to kill you [Ukrainians], but to convince you. But if you don't want to be convinced, we'll kill you. We'll kill as many as we have to: 1 million, 5 million, or exterminate all of you.” (Pavel Gubarev, Russia's ‘PR’ figure in Russian-occupied Ukrainian province of Donetsk).

    “Islam rules. If they [kufaar] refuse, then [gesture: we slit your throat]. We have to fight, and if we fight you, then we capture you. You become our slaves and we take your land …because you refuse. I give you two good options. This is the strength of Islam.” (Islamic Scholar Assim al-Hakeem).
  11. Robert Spencer, Iran: Man slaps woman, other men fight back on her behalf, Jihad Watch, 25 September 2022 https://www.jihadwatch.org/2022/09/iran-man-slaps-woman-other-men-fight-back-on-her-behalf
  12. Omid Djalili on Twitter, 21 September 2022. https://twitter.com/omid9/status/1572654826047295488?ref_src=twsrc^tfw|twcamp^tweetembed|twterm^1572654826047295488|twgr^1ce68bbfa6a698b24cd5662181e3803fcc81de5a|twcon^s1_&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.jihadwatch.org%2F2022%2F09%2Firan-man-slaps-woman-other-men-fight-back-on-her-behalf