#BlueBra, There Comes a Time. ~ Pranada Comtois

Via on Jan 23, 2012
Photo: Emerentian

For the women of Islam

I am stepping out of deep mourning over the loss of my spiritual sister and lifelong friend. Though my eyes are swollen almost shut from crying since yesterday morning and I can barely take full breaths, I am impelled to speak about the Women of Egypt’s struggles.

Muslim women all over the region need to hear women’s united voices, our combined prayer. They have to claim their protection and sovereign human rights themselves, but to oppose the nearly insurmountable obstacles they face, let them here our cheers – feel our desire for their well being.

It is incumbent on every human being to hear the cries of Islam’s women.

I especially want to speak to the wise-women of America’s baby boomer generation. Together we comprise the largest number of women in their middle-ages that the United States has ever seen. We are the women that came into America’s work force like never before. We are the women who have been exposed to the broadest understanding of the world’s religious and spiritual paths. We are the women raising grandchildren in unprecedented numbers. We do this while we care for our aging or invalid mothers – and still nurture our adult childre – who for the first time in our history are not reaching maturity until their 30s and later. Caring for three generations, we have grown large in wisdom by our experiences and exposure to global realities.

Before we die it behooves us to give the great gifts we have received through our trials and triumphs. More has been given and more has been asked of us. More is required of us. Let us extend our love, and take any practical actions we can, to support our Islam sisters.

While visiting a young friend’s Facebook page she jokingly referenced a BBC news article; the article stated that a report was being circulated in Saudi Arabia saying: if women are given the right to drive, it could spell the end of virginity in the country. Several other young women on Facebook joined the discussion and laughed at the article.

I didn’t find the news report funny and the young women in America need to understand the seriousness of the misogyny Islam women face. We, as their mothers, need to educate them about the horrors of women’s abuse and the extent of the abuse that Islam women endure on a moment-to-moment basis.

Though I am not a follower of Islam, I support the religion of our Islam sisters. I understand that what is happening in the Middle East in several countries is not a secular uprising that demands modernity (in terms of how Americans see modernity).

But religious or not – whether interpreting the Torah, Bible, Bhagavad Gita or Shariah, or any secular laws, women must be empowered, dignified, and protected.

On NPR last week, Raghida Dergham, a columnist for a Pan-Arab newspaper, boldly asked ALL OF US to pay attention to what is happening in Egypt.

She asked the United States to reconsider our opinion of thinking the Islamist party a moderate party that can be worked with. Dergham pointed out that though women risked their lives, side-by-side with their fellow brothers last Spring at the Tahrir Square to bring about change in that country their rights are in jeopardy, their protection insecure. They are being sidelined.

Dergham says it’s “nonsense” for US policymakers to think they can work with the Islamists, until the female voice is represented, respected, and heard. According to her, Iranian women are telling Arab women,

Beware. We thought that if we are patient, if we take our time, if we are quiet in the beginning that we will recapture our place in the society. Take a look at us. This is not a place you want to be. Stand up to the Islamists and tell them, “Explain to me what are my rights.”

Since the US has a woman Secretary of State – who is well aware of the pains that chauvinism delivers – I’m surprised that US policy in our foreign relations doesn’t lend more support to women in the Muslim region. Mrs. Clinton, you must make sure that the US gives full support to Muslim women.

Many can disagree with Dergham, but today we cannot.

Today we see thousands of women protesting in Cairo after they saw another women attacked, stripped and beaten in the streets. They are proof that Dergham speaks the truth.

There comes a time when the abused must risk their lives to protect others.

It is time for the Islam women to face the daunting task of standing up to widespread, systematic misogyny and disempowerment.

If American women thought they had to face difficulties over the past one hundred years seeking the right to vote and a place of dignity in society, we can think twice, three, and four times about the difficulties our Muslim sisters face. The social and religious structures are so profoundly embedded that the women’s hope for basic rights is almost unachievable.

But the impossible is possible when people are pushed for years and years and years beyond reason.

Open your heart to their struggle. Keep them in your prayers in the days, weeks, months, and years as they find their voices and strength to stop the abuse and misuse of power.

Let us speak our minds and demand our country’s policies reflect the precious rights of women of Islam. Let us not condemn their sacred religious choices. Let us raise the discussion. Women give birth to and nurture the world.  Women protect the world.

Let us send them a message, women of Islam – take your power back. We understand your pain. You must do this for your daughters, granddaughters, and future generations. We cannot do this for you. You must stand strong in your countries. We love you.

Let us not laugh on Facebook. Let us use Facebook and Twitter and all mediums available to us to embolden our sisters in the Muslim world. Let us send messages to our own politicians, our own religious leaders that we will not tolerate seeing the Women of Islam sidelined, attacked, stripped and beaten in the streets.

#BlueBra now.

And to whomever is her mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter – hold nameless, faceless, frightened BlueBra in sacred embrace.

Pranada Comtois is a writer, speaker, teacher, and founder of Little Ways of Being™. She shares “the path of unconditional love” in her blog, seminars, and workshops; volunteers as the Managing Editor for Bacopa Literary Review; is raising her precious three-year-old granddaughter; grabs any free time (like when?) to write poetry; is trying to find an agent for her nonfiction book, and enjoys kirtans with friends. Pranada believes women are natural spiritual leaders, the world needs more of us owning that power, and is passionate about assisting women exercising our full spiritual potential. You can find her on Facebook or Twitter as well as her website.

About Pranada Comtois

Pranada Comtois spent two decades immersed as a contemplative-ascetic in an ashram, and the next twenty years raising a family and running two multi-million dollar businesses with the intention of embodying practical spirituality in the world. She brings the wisdom of multiple traditions and lessons from her own experience into her writing and inspirational speaking. Pranada is a spiritual activist who advocates for the Way of the Feminine Divine and the practice of unconditional love in daily life for personal and community transformation. Thousands of people have benefited by bringing heartfulness to their mindfulness. She blogs at Little Ways of Being™ and is passionate about empowering women to find their unique gifts, voices, and strengths and usher them into the world. Find her also on Facebook and Twitter and Youtube.

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3 Responses to “#BlueBra, There Comes a Time. ~ Pranada Comtois”

  1. Tom says:

    This article is misleading and further fuels the confusion about women in Islam, and also serves to promote Islamophobia with sweeping generalizations about the worlds largest religion.

    Not all sects of Islam force strict laws of inequality on women. Least we forget that many orthodox religions do this, including Christianity and Judaism, from what women wear to their place in society. Hell, even in Israel the government has ruled it illegal for a Jewish woman to marry a non-Jewish man, and some sects of Christian are now seeing a "revival" in the practice of arranged marriage.

    Aanyone who knows anything about women in Islamic societies knows that practices are not always dictated by religion. Often times, especially in rural areas, rules that specifically govern women come from cultural traditions that stem from pre-Islamic periods. The widely-cited example of mandatory hijab has existed long before the spread of Islam. It was adopted into Islam, and most women wear hijab by choice.

    Beyond the subject of hijab, most westerners (especially western "feminists") criticize various practices in Islamic societies out of ethnocentric perspectives – that we know better than they do, what is best for them – even though many, if not most, women in Islamic societies follow "oppressive laws" in self-compliance.

    It's rather ignorant to assume that all women in Islamic states are being harshly oppressed, and that it's happening because of religiously-conservative patriarchs.

  2. lincolnbriant says:

    Thanks Pranada for your informative and encouraging article. Putting people who are in distressful situations in our thoughts and prayers always helps, I believe. My personal observation when I spent some time in the middle east some years back is that there is a real tension there between those who are more westernised and those who are not. As some members of those societies developed western ideals and habits it was a departure from the traditional Islamic lifestyles of their forebears. This was a change and change often produces fear in the hearts and minds of others who do not understand it. Fear can cause harsh judgement and even persecution of those who act differently. Especially in societies which are very theocratic in nature, change is often viewed as an affront to their "absolute" values from scripture.
    As middle eastern cultures have become more engaged with the west through trade modernity is taking place. They are becoming exposed to many new ideas and ways of life which are unfamiliar. Western and Middle Eastern cultures are definitely colliding there like never before. I think the backlash to this change is coming from Muslims who want their societies to remain as they have been in the past and sadly, they see forcibly controlling the women in their societies as a way of maintaining control. At the same time, the entertainment industries, which represent and spread western "culture" around the world, have shown them the opposite extreme, where women are often characterized as "sex symbols". I think seeing women portrayed in that way only adds fuel to the extremists fire, making them believe that unless they "protect" their women they will also be exploited in that way.
    I am with you in praying for women being respected and their rights upheld!

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