“Religion does not force anything”? Islamophobia and the veil seen by a Muslim feminist


Is wearing the veil “the person’s choice”? Natalia Tambieva, Russian Islamologist and theologian, calls to interpret the verses of the Koran taking into account our time and our interests. A closer look at a vision “different from that of men”, that of this Islamic feminist who aspires to gender equality within Islam.

When a veiled mother at the regional council was criticized by the elected RN Julien Odoul, Marlène Schiappa was among those who defended this woman. The MP castigated an intolerable “communitarian provocation” when the Secretary of State for Equality between Women and Men insisted that the birth of communitarianism was due to other factors.

From the point of view of Muslim feminism, clothing and appearance are “the choice of the person,” Russian theologian and Islamologist Natalia Tambieva told Sputnik in an interview.

“Although religion prescribes it, there can be no coercion,” points out the representative of this internal movement in Islam which aspires to gender equality within religion. “It is a personal choice, the choice of a woman and not of her parents, her husband or her culture or the society in which she lives. Because it is possible to live wearing the veil only if it is your choice. “

Natalia was not born a Muslim. She converted to Islam at the age of 19. She claims that religion has allowed her to maintain contact with God without any intermediary. And Muslim feminism tends to reinterpret the suras by adapting them to today’s societies.

There are no good and bad

“Religion does not force anything. This is one of the fundamental principles of Islam. We tend to forget about it, “she insists. “Our right is this: who wants to wear the hijab, wear it. Whoever does not want it, does not wear it. However, there is no right or wrong positioning. “

Her choice is to wear the hijab. She felt the apprehension of others, but she did not abandon Muslim feminism which is above all for her a field of study.

“I think I was the first [en Russie, ndlr] to use the term “Islamic feminism”. And it sparked a heated debate, not always very positive, ”she admits. “There was a feminist association, not very well seen at home and elsewhere. This reaction is very similar to those that can occur in religious communities. ”

What means to fight against Islamophobia?

For her, France has been one of the symbols of the fight against the wearing of the veil or the burkini. Indeed, a 2019 Ifop poll revealed that the French were more embarrassed at the sight of a woman wearing a burkini on a beach than by a topless or even naked woman.

At the same time, there are many American or British television series that strive to demonstrate diversity: a homosexual couple, African-Americans, a woman in a hijab, advances the researcher.

“In the UK, the mayor of a city wears the hijab [Rakhia Ismail, maire d’Islington, ndlr]. In Europe it looks like Britain and France are close in terms of European values, but they are so far apart. ”

All active Muslim women, who want to work veiled for example, face the same problems, notes Natalia. In the fight against Islamophobia, it ensures that:

“Any activity, any social integration – not only of Muslim women, but more generally of people who position themselves as Muslims – instead of being marginalized, is in itself an act against Islamophobia”. By types of activity, it means awareness, charity, business, education.

A female vision different from that of man

The process of forming Islamic feminism began in Western countries in the 1980s, much earlier than in Russia. It’s always related to the context, the culture, the perception, the state of mind, specifies the feminist whose thesis she is writing about “Islamic feminism in the context of modern Russian history”.

“Muslim women in the United States embarked on this first wave by recounting what was going on in secular society, with all of these women’s rights movements. Then there is this second wave which reflects a position, a feminine vision which can be different from the masculine one. ”

This is what served as a testing ground for researchers of Islamic feminism who concluded that “no theological work has been written by a woman in fifteen centuries. We only have male analysis and interpretation, “she notes.

Read the Koran and not its interpretations

Then Natalia returns to the origins of the movement and notes that the idea of ​​her pioneers was to consult the original source from which it was necessary to propose new avenues of exploration:

“Not all of these classic works were created as part of the first generation of Islam. Some were written much later, in the Middle Ages, in the XV and XVI, or even in the XVIII and XIX centuries. But, “as certain political processes have consolidated these ideas, there has long been a belief that nothing could be changed and that everything had already been written.”

Not everyone can read the Qur’an in its original version, so many use translations and interpretations written by researchers, said the Islamologist.

“This is the idea of ​​a renewed female vision: the works of these researchers are not the only truth. We have the original source that we can always read taking into account our time, our perception and the interests of women “, summarizes the theologian.


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