4 Notes From A Muslim Feminist

by Hoda Katebi

Is it possible to be a Muslim Feminist? How do these beliefs fit together?

Well, as a Muslim Feminist,






TO: Those trying to liberate me from my headscarf. Those who place borders around their solidarity work. Those who are single-issue activists. Those who think Muslims can’t be feminists.

1. You’re probably referring to the fact that I cover my hair. (Which is apparently somehow oppressive now.) Not respecting MY CHOICE to dress as I wish is succumbing to the same patriarchal rhetoric that the fraternity at my/all uni(s) use(s) to justify their sexual harassment towards girls wearing, well, literally anything. #notcool.

2. Speaking of how I dress. The Hijab (head covering) is not even oppressive. It’s empowering. For me, it’s a feminist symbol itself. It is a symbol against materialism and against sexualization of women’s bodies. Although please note — I protest state-sanction mandatory veiling. Just like I protest state-sanctioned anti-burqa laws in France. Feminism is about our choice to choose what we wear, not about state control over our bodies and choices. (We usually would file that under patriarchy.)

3. Same with Islam as a whole. Our religion is way more pro-women than what is portrayed in the media. (Pro-tip: never listen to the media.) The introduction of Islam actually raised the standard of living for women, banning the cultural practice of killing female-born children, and gave women the right to own land and vote, among other advances. The patriarchy is a global institution of repression and was present in the Middle East before Islam. Don’t equate a global problem with my belief system.

4. ‘White feminism,’ stay away. We don’t need your saving or your naked bodies (I’m looking at you, ‘feminist’ activists protesting Mosques, topless) to smash the patriarchy or drink male tears. Actually, it’s for your own good — we wouldn’t want stray glass from the glass ceilings we’re breaking to cut all that exposed skin you’re using to try to emancipate us from ourselves. We’re down with white allies and feminists who are white, but not an exclusive brand of feminism that excludes non-hetero-cis-white women (black women & women of color, queer & trans women, Muslim women, etc). Real feminism is more than just closing the wage gap for white women.

Much love & solidarity,


This post originally appeared on joojooazad.com and is reprinted here with permission.

JooJoo Azad is a radical anti-capitalist, intersectional feminist, and body-positive activist fashion blog written and run by Hoda Katebi, a sarcastic (& angry) Muslim-Iranian writer, photographer, and activist living in Chicago.

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