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Sex and the Ummah

Sex & the Ummah | Sexual Harassment: A Muslim Problem?



By Hena Zuberi

A touch, a feel, a whisper. It doesn’t take much to make a young girl feel dirty, stripped of her dignity. Walking in the streets of this Muslim country was treacherous.   Going to the bazaar was not a fun experience. I remember getting my ears pierced – a memory so horrid. ‘Come behind the counter’, he said, I looked at my aunt, hesitant, he looked decent enough. That little girl in the video from could have been me. My aunt thought my tears were from the pain of the ear-piercing gun. My pain was something I did not even understand.

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I was 15 – Umrah – and we were in front of the haram, the Kaaba the house of God, during Tawaf- I could not believe it. I asked Allah ‘why? why here Ya Allah’ – My father was right behind me but the lecher had no thoughts of his akhirah.

I was 16 – I had had enough! The yearly trip to Pakistan to celebrate Eid with my grandmother came with a big price – I didn’t want to go out on Chand Raat to get the bangles to match my clothes and kuhsse (embroidered slippers) -I was bigger, stronger and didn’t want to put up with it any longer.  It is not a stalker – one person, it could be anyone – the tailor, the shopkeeper, that dude in the torn Levis or that older man with a beard. A crowded alley and someone, something brushed up again me and I turned around and slapped the closest male face I found! I didn’t care if it wasn’t the perpetrator – all the past years’ anger welled up and I yelled. The worst part was the look on other women’s faces, like I had done something wrong, broken some unspoken law – thou shall not speak, thou shall suffer in silence – it is your fault.

I was 25 – Cable channels  had just started broadcasting a sanitary pad advertisement for the first time in the country, and one of the models wore a hijab.  That summer was the worst summer – everywhere you went you would hear perverted creeps asking you if it was one of those days. ‘Ignore them’, was the word on the street.

I was 32 – I guarded my daughter like a hawk – if Chinese moms are tiger moms, I was a shaheen (falcon). I didn’t want her memories of visiting Pakistan to be filled with guilt, shame.  I spoke to her about unwelcome touches, told her to scream out loud so everyone knows.  “Don’t touch me!!!” To move away if anyone tries to come near her. At the lace shop, she played with faux crystals and and I stood behind her, staring down any one who dared think of touching my child, your child, everyone’s child. Just because I am on the street does not make it a welcome sign for you to touch, grope, pinch. I have the right to walk down the street safely.  My body, my country.

Educate yourself and others:

It is imperative to spread awareness and talk about this issue.  Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex, staring at length and touching. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman in the U.S. by making offensive comments about women in general in the workplace. If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the US here is a support group.

Stop calling it Eve-teasing: It degrades women further.  This name puts the blame on the women and degrades the memory of  Hawwa (AS). Call it what it is – sexual harassment.  Why  are we so afraid/ashamed to use any form of the word sex?

The Effects of Sexual Harassment on the Victim

The effects of sexual harassment vary from person to person, and are contingent on the severity, and duration, of the harassment.  However, sexual harassment is a type of sexual assault, and victims of severe or chronic sexual harassment  can suffer the same psychological effects as rape victims.  Aggravating factors can exist, such as their becoming the target of retaliation, backlash, or victim blaming after their complaining, or filing a formal grievance. Indeed, the treatment of the complainant during an investigation or litigation can be brutal, and add further damage to their life, health, and psyche.  Depending on the situation, a sexual harassment victim can experience anything from mild annoyance to extreme psychological damage, while the impact on a victim’s career and life may be minimal, or leave them in ruins.

This is for someone who experiences harassment at work – now imagine a whole country like this, where the minute you walk out of your home you fear that assault.

Most of us have heard the the reports out of Egypt, but this is not just an Egyptian problem. It is experienced in many Muslim countries. Many women in Muslim countries don’t even know that this is a crime.

Lets look at the stats coming from Egypt more closely.  In 2008, Abul Komsan, the woman’s rights activist, polled 1,000 women from all parts of the country. What she found shocked her. 98 percent of foreign women polled said they had been sexually harassed. And about eight out of 10 Egyptian-born women said the same thing. She also surveyed Egyptian men, and almost two-thirds of men polled actually admitted that they harassed women.  And before the holier than thou start preaching that this only happens when women are uncovered, no it does NOT. One of the most important aspects of this study was that it found that 72.5% of victims surveyed were wearing hijab when they were sexually harassed.  It happens to all women, even ones that are in full niqab, under several layers of cloth . This survey may superficially shatter the claim that hijab does protect from molestation. But remember these were just 1000 women in a country of 18 million and the study was taken in an urban city. Anecdotal evidence suggests women may be harassed less depending on where they are, if they cover and as they age. I am not refuting the research but do think more research needs to be done in Egypt and in other Muslim countries, as well. ( I will examine the hijab=protection issue in another post, inshaAllah. Here in the U.S. I have never be sexually harassed after donning my hijab, maybe because the mindset is totally different or  maybe the outer garment screams ‘don’t come near me’.)

Before the all is perfect in the West crowd pipes up – this a definitely not a problem exclusive to Muslim countries, either. From Mexico City to Chicago, this is a male problem.  According to National Crime Records Bureau, the fastest growing crime in India is violence against women.  Walking down the street, taking public transportation or having a career, all put women at risk for sexual harassment and sexual assault, no matter the city, country or continent.  Catcalls, fondling, violence and indecent exposure are an everyday occurrence for women in the United States as well.  is a website dedicated to ending street harassment where young women across the nation share their stories and, if they’re quick enough, post photos of their harassers in this safe, online space. is the Pakistani distant cousin of Hollaback, where women are speaking about harassment and abuse.

What is definitely worth studying are the responses of the men in the ECWR study.

Perhaps nothing illustrates Egypt’s loss of a moral compass than the responses of some men in the ECWR study.  Some said they harassed a woman simply because they were bored. One who abused a woman wearing the niqab said she must be beautiful, or hiding something.  As a professor in Cairo, I  see these misogynistic sentiments on display all too often. A woman is called a whore in public? She is seen as dressing like one. Groped by a man on the subway? She must’ve allured him beyond his control with aromatic fragrances and entrancing pheromones. An urban ambler exposes himself to a girl on a sidewalk? She was probably staring lustfully at him… a law can help but it needs to be accompanied by an ideological shift. Young Egyptians, both male and female, must be convinced that the burden of blame for sexual harassment doesn’t belong to the hunted. The guilt of sexual abuse, by logical definition, is the predator’s alone. Justin D. Martin is a journalism professor at The American University in Cairo.

All the statements in the quote above are parts of the equation. Some cultures put all the blame on women, other put all the blame on the man. I think both genders need to take responsibility for this disease in society.  I do not believe a victim is responsible, but the other women in the society are. Having said that, I do believe women need to use their judgment; just as we would caution children about sexual predators, we should remind ourselves not to be vulnerable and accessible, the two qualities that rapist and harassers look for.  Men need to support their daughters, sisters, wives when they complain of harassment instead of forbidding them from going out or blaming them for causing the incident.  Men and  women both need to raise sons to be men who do not treat women like toys.

I. What can women do?

1. Speak Up: Talk about sexual harassment with your friends, family, colleagues, employees – the more awareness that is spread, the better. Break the silence, upset the status quo – it is your body. HarassMap, a project based in Cairo, plans to give women an outlet to report instances of harassment. Combining FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi’s mapping platform, HarassMap aims to be a voice for women.

2. Take self defense classes: Hapkido or street fighting teaches you how to respond to any attack. This form of martial arts works really well for women. For example, if an opponent were to push against a hapkido student’s chest, rather than resist and push back, the hapkido student would avoid a direct confrontation by moving in the same direction as the push and utilizing the opponent’s forward momentum to throw him. Here is more on Egyptian girls taking action.  Both my girls take martials arts classes – I thoroughly believe in empowering girls.

3. Avoid walking alone: Team up with other women, co-workers, family members, fellow commuters.

4. Role-Play: Train girls and women to have a range of standard responses to harassers if anyone harasses them.

5. Use your common sense: Avoid areas when the chance of getting harassed is higher. Walk in groups if you can. If the harassment is really wide spread then take community-wide steps.

Why do men sexually harass women?

Rising unemployed, unmarried men, hanging out on the street are touted as characteristics of oppressed societies where the majority identify with the oppressor.  If this happens only in repressed countries then why is it happening in our masajid in the US? If the men in Saudi do it because the country has gender segregation, then why does it happen on the tube in London?  My initial reaction as a victim of harassment is  ‘ If you want to get your thrills, go find a halal venue for it. My sister’s bodies, covered or uncovered, are NOT your playground.”  But this is a deeper problem then men just being sick creeps – it is an attitude – one that is taught to men from a young age – differing  in different countries. In some countries women are treated just as a sexual toy, just for the pleasure of men, in others they are the man’s honor, and in others harassment is  just something to do.

1. Sexual depravity in societies across the world: Easy access to pornography, titillating songs, billboards and videos, acceptance of flirting and other changes in cultural norms, delayed marriages are all contributors to this problem.

2.Women moving in areas previously considered exclusively male. This article about mashers in early 1900s in the U.S. is so insightful. As changing demographics in Muslim countries this century mimic those in the West circa 18th century, ‘as industry supplanted agriculture, more single men were leaving their families for work in the cities. At the same time, more women were entering the public sphere on their own as shoppers, students and wage earners.’

3. It is a power thing: This is evident when we look at the current trends in the West- As women in the workforce rise and get into positions of power, sexual harassment cases by women of men have doubled since the 1990s. Given how accustomed women are to drive-by comments and propositions, it can be thrilling when the tables turn and they’re the ones controlling the dynamic.

4. Adoption of Islam just in rituals: Increasing religiosity in many Muslim countries has not come with stress on Akhlaaq (Islamic manners) combined with lack of adab and  knowledge about ways to treat women, about the rights of women lead to this combustible situation.  There is so much  emphasis on hijab but not haya in both sexes. Picking and choosing of verses in the Quran by sermon-givers and laymen, to dominate and subjugate women so despite the apparent rise in religiosity in Muslim countries, the attitudes toward women haven’t changed but have gotten worse.  There is also deep rooted hostility towards women based on misundertsanding of ahadiths, as well as resentment towards women who want to step out of the four corners of their homes.

5. The me, myself and I obsession: We have increasingly become a more selfish world based on instant gratification. Men think, I may or may not get the girl but at least I can get my sexual high of the day by groping her.

6. Changing ideals of manhood- more aggressive males are the heroes and the chivalrous protector image is considered old-fashioned.

7. Men just think its OK: Many books and articles about Gender Psychology have been written about the psychological differences between men and women. What a reasonable man and a reasonable woman perceive to be a hostile environment may be entirely different, according to PsychologyToday.  If this is the case then men need to ask themselves these questions:

  • Would I mind if someone treated my spouse, fiancee, mother, sister, or daughter this way?
  • Would I mind if this person told my spouse, fiancee, mother, sister, or daughter what I was saying and doing?
  • Would I do this if I was with my spouse, fiancee, mother, sister, or daughter?
  • When a person objects to my behavior do I apologize and stop, or do I get angry instead?
  • Is my behavior reciprocated? Are there specific indications of pleasure and not “she didn’t object”?

Another gender studies professor calls it homosociality – the need for men to impress other men. According to Dr. Schywzer, many men who become solitary harassers first learned to harass in groups. Harassment isn’t about sexual attraction to women. It’s not something women invite.  And it’s not something usually intended to elicit a positive sexual response from women. It’s about one thing: impressing other men.  One of the fascinating things about homosociality is that it doesn’t always require the actual physical presence of other men.  When a man has been raised to always be conscious of how he appears to his fellow males, he may end up behaving in stereotypically hyper-masculine ways even when there are no other men around.  If this is true, then brothers, you all know men who do this – for Allah’s sake stop them, let them know that you are not impressed.  When we see men, Muslim alpha men reaching out saying ‘ hey that’s just not cool’, this behavior will change.

Definitely not all Muslim men are like this – there are many brothers who know, and who will protect you.  Strangers who will help you cross a street, guide you when you are looking for a shop. These are the men who I am speaking to – you are our hope, our weapon against this enemy.

II. What can men do to stop sexual harrassment?

  • Refuse to join in. Do not make any comments yourself.
  • Discourage others from doing so. Tell them the person is not enjoying it or tell them to leave the person alone.
  • At a suitable time, raise the issue about public harassment with your friends and explain why it is inappropriate to treat people that way.  It is a part of the Mercy of Allah that you deal politely and gently with them. Were you severe, uncivil or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from you: so pass over their faults, and ask for Allah’s Forgiveness for them. (Qur’an, 3:159)
  • Teach young men, brothers, sons to respect women from a young age – my husband does not tolerate disrespect from my sons towards me or their sisters. Read them ahadith on honoring women, lowering their gaze, not touching non-mahrams from a young age.

Those of you who don’t stand up and defend a sister, a mother, a daughter, you share the blame.  It is easy to shrug it off by saying that this is a part of their culture – it is incumbent upon us as Muslims to uphold a higher standard, nothing about harassment falls within Islamic values.  Men are quick to point out daraja over women – a degree over women when it suits them – this is the prime instance to step up to that degree and take responsibility for the women in your society. This is your degree over women – you have an in that we don’t have.  You can relate to other men, you can talk to them, stop them, shame them.   Allah has made you qawmun alan nisa (caretakers of women).

If you are confronted with a street harassment situation here is what can you say:

  • Do not address the man/group harassing the female. Experts say simply offer your  presence.
  • Don’t be loud and physically confrontational. You can simply distract the harasser by saying “salam” or  just stay in open view so it won’t escalate to a rape scenario.
  • Distractions and indirect interventions help best. Asking for directions, asking for the time, or other innocuous questions can often be enough of a distraction for a harasser to go away and move on, without causing a big scene or putting anyone in physical danger.
  • Where possible, intervene by giving control to the target of the harassment ( “is he bothering you?” or “are you okay?”).
  • Just do the right thing. I think there are times when a harasser may be intimidating even to other males, but you have to find the God given himma to stand up for women in these situations. Otherwise, it’s as if we are giving the harassers tacit approval to continue their behavior.
  • If a woman in a crowd shouts out about being touched, be vocal of your support, say something like  “Whoever did that, it’s not welcome.”
  • Be aware of the situation, know what your advantage is, and if confronting a group situation, make sure you are interacting with the leader, contact the police ( in some countries, police do not listen to women but will listen to a man complaining).
  • Don’t turn a blind eye, confront them even if it’s awkward, even if it’s not socially acceptable, do it anyways…Remember that many women are not in the situation where they are safe speaking up for themselves. Help even if the woman is antagonistic towards you – we are jaded at times because sometimes the ‘heroes’ turn out to be worse creeps.

III. What can Communities do to stop sexual harassment?

Lobby for sexual harassment laws: My sister told me about a sexual harassment case at work . She works at one of the largest ad agencies in Pakistan.  Nothing can be done because there is no precedent.  A panel was called and my sister and her colleges are to pass judgment on this man. This is 2011 – Muslim countries import every new fangled ‘Western’ idea while hating on the the West, but sexual harassment laws are too foreign for them.  Pakistan has recently passed sexual harassment laws, but getting companies to implement and getting the police to arrest the perpetrators is the next mountain to climb.

  • Take the report to local council people who are sensitive to women’s issues and discuss street harassment with them. Propose a law that fines men who verbally harass women in a sexual or sexist manner. Ask them to introduce it and support it.
  • Meet with the local police departments about street harassment. If they do not already, ask that police officers receive sensitivity training regarding street harassment. Also, when surveying women about their harassment experiences you can ask them where they are harassed and create a map tracking this data. If there are problem areas, show the data to the police officers and ask them to have officers patrol the area.
  • Talk to local businesses that have employees who work outside about the general problem of street harassment. Ask them to be proactive and to publish a phone number on their work vehicles and/or on a sign at a work site that people can call if the employees harass women. Ask them to post signs saying “This is a harassment-free zone.”  (Street-level steps courtesy of

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Hena Zuberi is the Editor in Chief of She leads the DC office of the human rights organization, Justice For All, focusing on stopping the genocide of the Rohingya under Burma Task Force, advocacy for the Uighur people with the Save Uighur Campaign and Free Kashmir Action. She was a Staff Reporter at the Muslim Link newspaper which serves the DC Metro. Hena has worked as a television news reporter and producer for CNBC Asia and World Television News. Active in her SoCal community, Hena served as the Youth Director for the Unity Center. Using her experience with Youth, she conducts Growing Up With God workshops. Follow her on Twitter @henazuberi.



  1. zaynab

    April 25, 2011 at 1:47 AM


    • Girija

      May 5, 2011 at 8:47 AM

      The write up is scholarly placed ,with lot of information and insights, it is accomplished.
      according to me it is the society where female /male separations are practiced conservatively we may find more such harassments.

  2. AnonyMouse

    April 25, 2011 at 4:33 AM

    AWESOME. JazaakiAllahu khairan!

    Anyone who sexually harasses, abuses, or otherwise degrades a woman’s dignity, personal boundaries, and sexuality is a sick freak who is committing a clear crime against Islam. It is NOT the woman’s fault, it is the MAN’s! NO excuse justifies sexual harassment – not the “she was wearing revealing/ provocative clothes” (LOWER YOUR GAZE!), not the “well it’s not like she’s religious anyway; she doesn’t wear hijaab/ jilbaab/ niqaab” (THAT DOESN’T MEAN SQUAT!).

    • Amman Abdul Adl

      April 26, 2011 at 12:32 PM

      Wow, A Sister whose speaking up! I’m glad someone is (Masha’Allah). I think many brothers really don’t understand what women go through. Not about sexual harassment, but about speaking up or defending themselves when they feel violated. “The Quiet Women” is expected in many societies, especially in the South Asian community. The idea is simply to succumb to everything, and it’s taboo to even speak out when you feel you’ve been wronged. This suppressive ideology has lead to the creation of extreme feminist movements around the globe.

      But this should not be a “MEN BASHING” article which unfortunately has become very common in the modern world. I think we as human beings (men and women) need to balance out the arguements as much as possible. We could point fingers at the men, but the way women are treated now is a reflection of the way they’re acting. Again, both MEN AND WOMEN need to be aware of what they’re doing in society. Men to need realize that even if a women is completely nude in public then we MUST lower our gazes and not harrass her; and if women don’t want this to happen to them then maybe they need to do their part as well.

      In short: “We’re prepared to work at it but you have to meet us halfway.”
      (This is for both men and women and I could safely assume that this is an Islamic Persepctive)

      Allah Knows Best…

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 28, 2011 at 5:09 PM

      Thanks Mousey- maybe it was her striped socks, no wait wait-the funky bag!

  3. Leo

    April 25, 2011 at 5:08 AM

    Being a person who has friends who are Muslim and not Muslim I have to admit: the Muslims are the biggest perverts (not necessarily practicing ones however I notice many don’t lower their gaze until they have had a good gawp). Those originating from the Indian subcontinent are the worse.
    Im convinced their sexually repressive culture has something to do with it, it could be the attraction of “the forbidden fruit”. There was an article a while back where a journalist looked up frequencies of searches of sex terms on google which found Muslim countries dominating by a long margin. Some searches were very disturbing:

    • MU

      April 25, 2011 at 5:39 AM

      I’ve had the opposite experience. The Muslims don’t gawk but the others do. I think it’s the sexual openness of them white folks which always leaves them looking for more.

      …two can play this game…

      • Leo

        April 25, 2011 at 1:58 PM

        ” I think it’s the sexual openness of them white folks which always leaves them looking for more.

        …two can play this game…”

        I’m calling a ceasefire here before war breaks out! I didn’t mean to offend you, im not attacking you, just stating observations. I’m not looking to play games and there is no you versus us.
        BTW I think some of us may consider the use of “them White folks” a tad racist. Maybe would have been better to use “non-Muslims”.

        • Abdullah Brown

          April 25, 2011 at 5:01 PM

          Whoa, there, MU. I am Muslim (and White), was born and raised in the U.S., have worked and lived both here and in the “Muslim world”. I am also familiar with the work Leo references. The sad truth is that pornography is a problem rampant in the “Muslim world”. Leo has quoted only a portion of the work that studies this. And, according to a number of studies, pornography is a greater problem in at least some areas of the “Muslim world” than in some areas of the West. There is a problem. We need to face it.

          • F

            April 25, 2011 at 6:47 PM

            That’s because many in the West don’t need pornography. Whereas in the Muslim countries, that’s all they might have. Doesn’t justify it but explains it.

          • Nauman

            May 5, 2011 at 12:44 AM

            I agree, the pornography is the problem that we are facing in Muslim World, where the sad thing about the south Asian Muslims is that nobody knows the implications and the side effects which comes with it. It disgraces the element of Haya!, and then how could you explain the things that are shown in the Music videos. What we need to understand is that both Men and Women should respect their respective BOUNDRIES and ponder about oneself inner conscious.

            May Allah provide us wisdom and forgives us for what we have sinned

        • Muslimah

          April 25, 2011 at 8:52 PM

          Assalamu ‘Alaykum Brother Leo,

          You wrote: “BTW I think some of us may consider the use of “them White folks” a tad racist. Maybe would have been better to use “non-Muslims.”

          I am White and Muslim, Alhamdulilah,

          • Marwa

            April 25, 2011 at 9:13 PM

            White, born and raised Muslim, and a Hijabi…

          • MU

            April 25, 2011 at 9:45 PM

            You all understand now how “Those originating from the Indian subcontinent are the worse.” or “Those originating from Arab countires are the worse” feels.

      • Dina

        April 30, 2011 at 4:25 AM

        I have to disagree. The worst and most persistent harassment I have experienced, and especially the type of harassment where when I expressed opposition to the behavior (or my husband did!!), we were threatened by physical violence, either by the single male or by his “pack”. I have never ever experienced harassment by the audacity of being in the streets as a female, by the audacity of looking an (arab) man in the eye with a white man before (I am arab myself, but my partner isn’t, but still “Muslim looking”, which shocked him (!) the men would still “do this to him/us” (!!!) – as if it were any better if they did it to white women and their partners!). Similar experiences are told by other arab friends in europe, and also by turkish girls.

        And it has one thing to do with religion – if you are educated that “women provoke you”, that you have animalistic instincts as a man a woman better take care of by veiling her body (a simplified version/single-sided version, as all of you have pointed out, neglecting that men’s hijab is to not even LOOK at women) then you have a formidable excuse to harass a woman who does not veil. The reason why this still happens to veiled girls in saudi or in egypt is that in Saudi 100% of girls are veiled, in egypt close to 100%. In the west, Europe or America, the Muslim harassers go by the excuse of harassing the unveiled majority Muslim and non-Muslim girls and women. Preachers saying exposed women’s bodies are like “meat waiting for the cats to tear it apart” (Australias chief muslim cleric publically said this) are singularities, and concern only Muslim preachers in the west. No other religion’s preachers unashamedly promote or excuse RAPE like that.
        it has been largely reported on german news a couple of years ago when the wearing of the hijab multiplied in muslim mostly turkish ghettos in german cities. girls as young as 13 or 14 reported they had been so badly harassed and threatened wtih rape as unveiled “wh****” that they took on the hijab and now were walking freely, and unreflectedly praised the hijab as their “halo”. this very islam rooted miseducation of boys and young men makes harassment, even if it happens for slightly different reasons also in non muslim contexts, a very islamic issue.

        • Dina

          April 30, 2011 at 4:33 AM

          p.s. your poll needs to add “YES/in Muslim attire/in the West/by Muslim men” or “YES/ in non Muslim attire/in the West/by Muslim men”. All the times I have been harassed in the West it has been by Muslim or arab men.

    • Umm Abdullah

      April 25, 2011 at 7:03 AM

      It’s not a Muslim problem, it’s a culture problem. Islam has given us the tools and the means to prevent sexual harassment. Hijab, marriage as early as possible, segregation of the sexes, etc. It’s the culture of the country that precedes Islam coupled with the lack of education that leads to things like this. No man will justify his actions based on Islam as Islam does not encourage or condone sexual harassment. The culture in previous times was much more sexually repressive. But there was less harassment, the propagation of pornography, prevalence of nudity and obscenity in pop culture has changed people’s way of thinking.

      There’s just as much sexual harassment in non-Muslim countries….

      There’s a lot to say, this is just a start…

      • Leo

        April 25, 2011 at 8:19 AM

        “There’s just as much sexual harassment in non-Muslim countries….”
        Unfortunately we will never know if this is case as we don’t have records as to what’s going on in Muslim countries and as the article highlights they are behind the rest of the world when it comes to harassment laws. I have read stories of girls who have been raped who spoke up only to be “honour killed”. It doesn’t look good.
        If you read the article I think it’s ironic the hijab works well in deflecting male advances in non-muslim lands as opposed to Muslim lands.
        Although you may argue it’s cultural problem and not a Muslim one, countries such as Egypt, Pakistan etc religion affects their culture. It appears that hijab, segregation and marriage early is not working. If it doesn’t work in Muslim lands where is it going to work?
        We may try to make excuses such as lack of education but let’s be honest. Do you really believe people who sexually harass women/girls don’t know what they are doing is wrong?

        • Daniel Gina

          April 25, 2011 at 10:54 AM

          Im not sure if you’ve been to these Muslims countries, but hijab, segregation and early marriages are most definitely far from being established features of society.

          And the thing with a truly islamic society is that all the facets need to be working in unison. In other words, you won’t really get very far if all your women dress head to toe but are engrossed in a sexual pop culture and pornography, lack spiritual education, ec.

          Neither I’ll you get very far if everyone dresses correctly, have good spiritual education, but can’t find the means for marriage until theyre 35 or 40. A celibate society is an impossible society.

          So unison is the keyword.

          • Daniel Gina

            April 25, 2011 at 1:25 PM

            (above reply was to Leo, not to author)

          • The Shardul of Allah

            April 25, 2011 at 2:14 PM

            TOP POST!!!

            PS. This is a complement to Daniel Gina’s post.

        • Yasmeen

          April 26, 2011 at 12:55 AM

          That link you provided above to the Fox article is beyond disturbing, though I still doubt Fox’s accuracy in reporting. I’ve never read that anywhere else.
          Anyway, moving on. We get it Leo–Muslim countries have a huge problem with sexual harassment. It’s funny though, I get harassed more often by non-Muslims here. What can be said about that? Oh, that possibly it’s a worldwide epidemic? It’s not even a cultural thing–it’s all about ignorant parenting. Honestly, I think that’s all it comes down to.

          • Waqas

            April 26, 2011 at 3:41 AM

            Have a look here though – the Fox ‘report’ made big news in Pakistan. Sadly, this one didn’t.

            Point being, there are problems – deep, deep problems – but let’s not misuse them to sell reports.

          • Amad

            April 26, 2011 at 4:48 AM

            You can do your own trending…
            for example, Pakistan still ranked all-time high (just behind rival India ;)) for sex videos:


            The point is that we have a problem, stats can always be played with.

          • Me

            April 26, 2011 at 3:17 PM

            I don’t think we should make it a muslim or non Muslim issue, sexual harassment happens everywhere you go. I am sure we Muslims have the same issues if not more… Muslim or not some men are just dogs. I am talking from experience.

      • MW_M

        April 25, 2011 at 8:26 AM

        There’s just as much sexual harassment in non-Muslim countries….

        I doubt that, really. Could you imagine 66% of American males sexually harassing someone? This article is talking about visits to “back home.” Implicit in that is that this is not as prevalent a problem in non-Muslim countries. Maybe it’s time to stop trying to spread the blame and admit there’s a serious problem in our community.

        • Hena Zuberi

          April 25, 2011 at 3:36 PM

          Studies conducted show that between 80-90% of women have been harassed in public.from Hollaback

          In New York City, where we have the longest history of posts with pictures, the racial breakdown of harassers perfectly mirrors the racial breakdown of the city itself. This is consistent with all forms of gender-based violence. Harassers, like rapists, come from all racial and class backgrounds. And this is because harassment is deeper than the color of our skin or the income brackets of our neighborhoods. It’s about an international culture when gender-based violence is simply seen as OK. So yeah, I guess it is a “cultural” thing. It just happens to be everyone’s culture.

      • Dina

        April 30, 2011 at 4:30 AM

        early marriage is leading women to neglect education, it is multiplying childbirths which has social and health implications, it is putting pressure on men to earn for large families which leads them to not be involved as much as they psychologically should or could in child rearing. it is leading women to experience sexuality too soon – a man does not have a human right to dispose over a female body. nothing is made better if a man will not harass strange women in the streets at his every whim, but his wife. the problem is feeling of entitlement to sexual pleasure by men, and this is not solved by hijab or early marriage. men need to take responsibility, and need to control their whims. women are said to love glamorous things – so by biology they should be entitled to take shoes, jewellery, pretty clothes in shops even if they do not have the money to buy them all? should women by their biology steal these things? see how ridiculous this sounds? women are expected to control their desires, men must be too.

        • Inqiyaad

          April 30, 2011 at 2:46 PM

          Without an outlet to the urges that are built-up in a sexually permissive society, children (yes, children as young as 3rd and 4th graders) are having sex outside marriage. This is leading to increased teenage pregnancies, it is putting pressure on women to raise their children as single mothers. It is leading women to experience sexuality to soon without any consequences or responsibilities for men. Of course it is causing health concerns, that is pushing authorities to distribute condoms to these young children. You cannot get married but you can have sex. Yes, that is the message they are giving them.

          Islam offers a solution. Get married early, if you can. The “if you can” part includes the financial, emotional, and maturity aspects of a person. These are dictated by societal norms. It is up to the society as a whole to dictate their expectations and face the consequences that result from their expectations. I have listed some of them above.

          What is a permissible means of fulfilling one’s desires and what is not is dictated by Allah. If you want to fulfill your desires, get married and be ready to take up the responsibilities that come with marriage. If you love beautiful things, pay for them.

    • Abu Yusuf

      April 25, 2011 at 6:11 PM

      Leo, the search results showing Muslim countries as top searchers of sex or pornography related key words is oft-quoted. In fact, Pakistan tops the list for such searches. The reporting is not fair and balanced because Fox News does not quote that Muslim countries also top the web in Islamic key word searches. So there is a balance there between depravity and religiousity. Why do Pakistan (and other Muslim countries) top the world in porn searches? It is common knowledge that men in times of war (and intense stress) seek the comfort of sexual outlets. Hence we find that soldiers (and army bases) are surrounded by prostitutes in times of war. Mut’a marriage was also allowed at one point because Muslim soldiers away from their families and in times of deathly fear needed the relief that a woman can provide. Pakistan has been in a state of turmoil and war for years now – civilian strife, drone attacks, humiliation of being left in the dust by India, war-readiness, etc has left a country full of men on edge. I am not condoning or justifying depravity – rather providing a possible psychological basis for such actions.

      As far as the main article by sister Zuberi is concerned, I as a brother to two lovely, cultured, and highly educated sisters unequivocally reject sexual harassment. At the same time, I reject the increasing furor created by women in a trend that has taken off with the feminist movement – I am referring to male bashing. Male bashing has become the fashion of the day. For every woman out there that was sexually harassed, there is a woman or women who invited it by flirting, smiling, speaking softly, wearing perfume, dressing provocatively (such that even lowering the gaze would result in an eyeful), or otherwise indulging in haya-less behaviour.

      I really liked the points the sister raised in the subsection titled “What can men do to stop sexual harassment?“. In fact, the most chivalrous of men were the Rasool/Anbiyaa’ and the Sahaabah so much so that one of the sahaabah gallantly defended and was killed for coming to the defense of a Muslimah in Madeenah who was sexually harassed. No man should tolerate watching another man sexually harass a Muslimah. What I found amiss though, in the subsection titled “What can women do?” was the clear ayah of the Qur’aan advising women to stay indoors. Why is that never mentioned by our progressive sisters of today? Why is it not mentioned even as an after-thought?

      Besides the valuable suggestions mentioned in the post to mitigate sexual harassment, including teaching our Muslim brothers proper etiquette in dealing with Muslimaat are the following:
      1) Advise our sisters to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. The most secluded room in the house is the best place to be for a Muslimah according to authentic sunnah. There is no need to go window shopping or Starbucking when we have e-commerce shopping available. If shopping is necessary to replenish old jewelry, clothing, etc, go out in groups with other sisters, or with your mahram, or at a time when markets are not busy. One of the moderators had a fantastic argument – that women can go crazy staying indoors. Well the responses to that are as follows: A) women going crazy or not crazy is not the source of legislation B) women have to be educated about the benefits and high status of staying indoors and they should be provided halaal outlets of entertainment that precludes the necessity to go outside the home constantly. Someone brought up the fact that Ayesha (RA) raced with our Rasool (SA). Yes, but she did not go out and race with him every day, or every week, not even every month or every year!! Just because she raced with him, sisters and some progressive brothers use that as carte blanche to allow females to venture outdoors unchecked.
      2) Promote the concept of early marriage for the brothers. I don’t think it is more difficult in any culture to marry a woman than in Islamic culture. Notice I stated culture. Not religion. In our religion, marrying is extremely easy. But in practice, the fathers and guardians of women (and even the women themselves) throw up huge roadblocks for their suitors in the form of educational requirements, wealth, dowry, status, dreamy looks, and whatever else that causes even middle-class young arabs to flee and marry ahlul kitaab women from Europe. In south asian culture, it’s much worse. When men need marriage the most (starting around age 13 through 25) they are deprived and hence they fall into pornography, sexual harassment, self-castration, the secret habit, fornication, homosexuality, girl-friending, facebook-ing, mySpace-ing, and all other social ills. During no time in a man’s life does he need marriage more than in his teens and early 20’s. And those unfathomably are the exact years his Muslim society turns its back on him and rejects his ardent desires and wishes to marry to remain chaste. Until they reach now the late 20s and even 30s when the fire of desire has subsided and he has fallen into any of the social ills aforementioned. If a 13 year old male has intense desire, then by all means to protect his chastity he should marry if fasting is too burdensome on him. I believe Shaykh ibn Uthaymeen or others among the wise ‘Ulema have even encouraged the fathers of such young men to support them to get married so as to preserve their chastity.

      The blame for sexual harassment can be (and is) unidimensionally and rather simplistically attributed to Muslim men. I aver that society itself (including a fair share of women) collude in and share the burden of this evil practice.

      • Muslimah

        April 25, 2011 at 8:12 PM

        For every woman out there that was sexually harassed, there is a woman or women who invited it by flirting, smiling, speaking softly, wearing perfume, dressing provocatively (such that even lowering the gaze would result in an eyeful), or otherwise indulging in haya-less behaviour.

        Assalamu ‘Alaykum Brother Yousef,

        Subhan Allah, and may Allah forgive me and I don’t wish to insult you, but this is the most ignorant and un-Islamic statement I have read in a long time. I thought such uneducated and backward statements were a relic of the past. I was shocked to read these sentiments on Muslim Matters.

        And, by the way, if a non-Muslim reads it, he or she will find justification in any erroneous misconception that Islam is a misogynist religion.

        “You also wrote: 1) Advise our sisters to stay indoors unless absolutely necessary. The most secluded room in the house is the best place to be for a Muslimah according to authentic sunnah.”

        Men like you scare me. Aoothoobilaah.

        • Abu Yusuf

          April 25, 2011 at 10:17 PM

          WaAlaykasSalaam Sister,

          No offense taken whatsoever. I respect you and honor you for being a Muslimah. You are entitled to your opinion and are due protection from your mahram and guardians and many sources of inheritance insha’allah. Islaam is not a misogynistic religion. It recognizes the natural roles of men and women. So we learn the following from our Rasool – the greatest man that ever lived. If any of the following scare you, the problem is in the reader’s understanding:

          “O women, give in charity and seek forgiveness a great deal, for I have seen that you form the majority of the people of Hell.” A wise woman among them said, “Why is it, O Messenger of Allaah, that we are the majority of the people of Hell?” He said, “Because you curse too much, and you are ungrateful to your spouses. I have seen none lacking in common sense and failing in religion but (at the same time) robbing the wisdom of the wise, besides you.” The woman asked: “O Messenger of Allaah, what is wrong with our common sense and our religion?” He said: “Your lack of common sense (can be well judged from the fact) that the evidence of two women is equal to that of one man, that is a proof of the lack of common sense, and you spend some nights (and days) in which you do not offer prayer and in the month of Ramadan (during the days) you do not observe fast, that is a failing in religion.”

          “Any woman who puts on perfume and passes by people so that they can smell her fragrance is a zaaniyah.”

          “If I were to command anyone to prostrate to anything other than Allaah, I would have commanded women to prostrate to their husbands. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, no woman will fulfil her duty towards her Lord unless she fulfils her duty towards her husband, and if he asks her for herself when she is sitting on a saddle, she should not refuse him.”

          “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if a man were covered from head to foot with weeping sores oozing pus, and his wife were to come to him and lick his sores (to clean them), this would not fulfil the rights he has over her.’”

          “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to travel the distance of one day’s journey except with a mahram.”

          “No people who appoint a woman as their leader will ever prosper.”

          Mu’adh b. Jobal (R.A.) reported that Allah’s Messenger (صلی اللہ علیہ وسلم) said, ‘A woman does not annoy her husband but his spouse from amongst the houris (maidens with wide eyes, intensely white and deeply black irises) will say: Do not annoy him, may Allah ruin you.” He is with you as a passing guest. Very soon, he will part with you and come to us.’”

          Umme Salamah (Radiahallahu Anha) narrates that she said to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) “O Rasûlullah, are the women of this world superior or the hûrs (of Paradise)?” He replied, “The women of this world will have superiority over the hûrs (houris) just as the outer lining of a garment has superiority over the inner lining.” Umme Salamah R.A then asked, “O Rasûlullah, what is the reason for this?” He answered, “Because they performed salâh, fasted, and worshipped [Allah]. Allah will put light on their faces and silk on their bodies. [The human women] will be fair in complexion and will wear green clothing and yellow jewelry. Their incense-burners will be made of pearls and their combs will be of gold. They will say, ‘We are the women who will stay forever and we will never die. We are the women who will always remain in comfort and we will never undergo difficulty. We are the women who will stay and we will never leave. Listen, we are happy women and we will never become sad. Glad tidings to those men for whom we are and who are for us.’”

          “In Jannah there is a market to which the people will come every Friday. The northern wind will blow and shower fragrance on their faces and clothes and, consequently, it will enhance their beauty and loveliness. They will then return to their wives who will also have increased in their beauty and loveliness, and their families will say to them: `We swear by Allah that you have been increased in beauty and loveliness since leaving us.’ Thereupon they will reply: `we swear by Allah that you have also been increased in beauty and loveliness since we left you.”

          {{Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allaah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allaah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allaah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity and their husband’s property}}[al-Nisa’ 4:34]

          • Muslimah

            April 25, 2011 at 10:39 PM

            Wa ‘alaykum assalam Brother Yusuf,

            Jazak Allahu khairan for your gracious response.

            My concern is not with the Daleel that you cite. Rather, it is with the supposition that women are the root cause of errant male Muslim behavior. As you wrote, “For every woman out there that was sexually harassed, there is a woman or women who invited it by flirting, smiling, speaking softly, wearing perfume, dressing provocatively (such that even lowering the gaze would result in an eyeful), or otherwise indulging in haya-less behaviour.

            It is wrong to blame a woman for sexual harrassment. The male is accountable for his actions no matter what the temptation. If women were ultimately responsible, then Eve would be responsible for getting herself and Adam thrown out of Jannah. This was not the case. Rather, both were held accountable.

            Barak Allahu feek.

            PS I am a revert and have no Mahram or guardian.

          • Anon

            April 26, 2011 at 7:44 AM

            I honestly feel sorry for your wife / future wife.

          • Anon

            April 26, 2011 at 8:07 AM

            Let me elaborate — I in no way dispute the ayahs / hadiths you quote, but the context and manner in which you list them in is despicable. For instance, did you know that by the woman marrying a man, moving out of her home into his and leaving her family behind for him, she has fulfilled her right as a wife to him? Everything else she does is out of her love.

            In addition, it’s easy to list hadiths and prove a point, but you must also clarify that which you list. For example, the Hadith you quoted about the “lack in common sense and religion” of women should be expanded upon, and it’s transliteration should be provided. Yes, women lack in religion in comparison to men, but it is only because Allah (SWT) has made women biologically different than men and so they undergo menstruation, which is out of their control. The way you say it almost implies that women lack in certain areas because they are simply inferior to men. You should probably also know that everytime a woman “fails in religion” because she cannot pray, her status in jannah is raised due to the pain she experiences EVERY SINGLE MONTH. Please be careful of how you list things brother, and I’d advise you to quote and clarify them in their context, lest you sound like you are bashing women because they are inferior to men, which I’m afraid you very much sound like.

          • Sick

            April 28, 2011 at 2:24 PM

            Abu Yusuf, with the things you have said I cannot in good conscience consider you my brother in Islam. How dare you try to put blame on women for being harassed. No one deserves that EVER, no matter what. The blame falls entirely on the perpetrator. The article itself talks about even niqabi women being harassed – are you going to blame them for not wearing cloth that’s black enough? Where does it stop? If you, Mr. Yusuf, are ever harassed or raped by a sick man, do you think you should be blamed for looking too sexy to him? Perhaps you swayed your hips too much in public and therefore deserved it? You are a disgrace to Islam, I seek refuge from you and the Shaitan whispering fitna in your ear.

          • Umm Reem

            May 1, 2011 at 12:52 AM

            this comment is a prime example of what I was talking about in my Fitnah Frenzy article! :)

          • Sebkha

            May 1, 2011 at 1:39 AM

            Umm Reem’s Fitnah Frenzy article was top notch too. Seriously, should be required reading. If you haven’t read it yet, run, don’t walk to look it up here, it’s great.

          • just me

            May 5, 2011 at 10:14 AM

            sorry just a further point that many people have made before. ok so you advise or banish women to the home, then who will attend your wife when she is sick and wishes for a female doctor? who will deliver your children, what women will be contributing to the education system so on an so on. i myseljust for illustration purposes intend to work from my home and reckonise how the extreme women can do everything attitude has bought much harm to our world and relationships.

        • Inqiyaad

          April 26, 2011 at 2:48 AM

          As salaamu ‘alaikum,

          Sister, I think you and Abu Yusuf (for that matter even sister Hena) are saying the same thing. Consider what sister Hena wrote in the article itself:

          “Some cultures put all the blame on women, other put all the blame on the man. I think both genders need to take responsibility for this disease in society. I do not believe a victim is responsible, but the other women in the society are.”

          Sister Hena, Jazakillahu khair for the article. I pray that our men take heed and be real men who do not indulge in this despicable sin. I had heard one case of molestation in the Haram. I am shocked to learn that so many sisters have faced this. No wonder that the Muslims are in the present downtrodden state. This is what Allah did to Bani Israel when they gave up the Commandments of Allah.

          وَضُرِبَتْ عَلَيْهِمُ الذِّلَّةُ وَالْمَسْكَنَةُ وَبَآؤُوْاْ بِغَضَبٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ ذَلِكَ بِأَنَّهُمْ كَانُواْ يَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ ذَلِكَ بِمَا عَصَواْ وَّكَانُواْ يَعْتَدُونَ

          “And they were covered with humiliation and misery, and they drew on themselves the Wrath of Allâh. That was because they used to disbelieve the Ayât (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allâh and killed the Prophets wrongfully. That was because they disobeyed and used to transgress the bounds (in their disobedience to Allâh, i.e. commit crimes and sins)”

          I had a few issues with the article (I guess most boil down to clarity of writing). Abu Yusuf, Umm Abdullah, Daniel Gina and others have addressed some of them already. I will list them, regardless.

          1. The Title: I read this yesterday and found the title to be sensational and misleading, as Umm Abdullah, Daniel and Abu Yusuf pointed out. Alhamdulillah, I now see a question mark in the title.

          2. My second issue is pretty much what Abu Yusuf and Daniel have pointed out. Sparse use of Islamic teachings for women to counter this problem, especially dressing and Hijab. I understand that some despicable men do it despite the Hijab. If we are trying to remind men of their duty as ‘qawwamoon’ and of lowering their gaze then we should remind sisters about their duty to observe Hijab. Unless this was, as Abu Yusuf would say, meant for ‘men bashing’.

          وَاتَّقُواْ اللّهَ الَّذِي تَسَاءلُونَ بِهِ

          Fear Allah, by whom you ask one another

          3. This survey may superficially shatter the claim that hijab does not (sic) protect from molestation.

          I think you meant ‘this survey may superficially shatter the claim that hijab protects…’

          In this context, I find it disturbing that you were very cautious in opposing ‘the research’. However, when it came to the protection offered by Hijab, you were ambiguous and noncommittal.

          What Allah says has more weight than any research on the face of this earth. Allah says that Hijab is to identify (that you mean business) and protect. Because this is a Muslim forum, I expected you to make this clear that Hijab DOES protect.

          Please do not get me wrong. I am not accusing you of putting Qur’an on the back-burner or running down the hijab. Just that the disclaimer for your belief about research came out stronger than that for Hijab. I will be waiting for your article on Hijab and the protection it offers.

          4. The overall picture I got from reading your statement and comments by other sisters about Hijab in the US is that ‘men in US respect Hijab more than men in ‘muslim lands.’

          Do you think that there was not a single man in the ‘muslim lands’ who checked himself from harassing a women because of her Hijab? As for the obvious question, why is there even a single man in ‘muslim lands’ who would do this (despite the Hijab) and none in US? My hypothesis is that there is a different threshold for justification between these two places. In the US, for example, the threshold may be that a women who wears a cleavage revealing attire is subjected to harassment. In the ‘muslim lands’ the threshold may be as low as a woman walking, talking or gazing a certain way.
          Please see my explanation about justification below.

          4. I do not believe a victim is responsible

          Daniel Gina has discussed this very eloquently. I think we need to distinguish between justification and responsibility. Lack of Hijab or any other shortcoming on a woman’s part is not a valid justification for male perpetrators. However, in some cases, the victim may share the responsibility. Please, before anyone jumps on to this, I will say that I have nursed a black eye trying to prevent harassment of a sister who was wearing ‘western’ clothes on top of missing the Hijab. I did so because I believe that the behavior of those men was/is ‘not justified’. Even if faced with this scenario again, I will still do what I did then.
          But, do I think the sister could have taken steps to prevent such a situation? Yes. In that sense she is responsible.

          5. “From Mexico City to Chicago, this is a male problem.”

          You are telling this to a male who got groped on the metro in Chicago, by a woman. I think Carlos, below, has mentioned something similar.

          6. Given how accustomed women are to drive-by comments and propositions, it can be thrilling when the tables turn and they’re the ones controlling the dynamic.

          Did you really write that? Sexual-harassment is thrilling to the males who perpetrate it. It must be to the female perpetrators also (I am guessing). However, I fail to understand how you would find it thrilling.

          • Abu Yusuf

            April 26, 2011 at 11:44 AM

            Sister Muslimah, your guardian is the local Imaam or Muslim judge if you do not have a mahram. I also agree that accountability rests on the man ultimately for the sexual harassment he perpetrates. I further denounce such evil actions. My main point was that sexual harassment is multi-faceted with multiple channels of blame, and is not simply men being pigs. I congratulate you for being among the chosen ones having reverted to the fitrah and it gladdens my heart that you are amongst one of those who will be honored in paradise.

            To the daughter of the horseback rider (aka Anon), please provide your evidence for this quote of yours: “You should probably also know that everytime a woman “fails in religion” because she cannot pray, her status in jannah is raised due to the pain she experiences EVERY SINGLE MONTH“. Also, please note that our Rasool stated to the effect that 4 women reached perfection in religion but over 125,000 men have reached that apex. Also, how can the sister claim that the woman having left her home behind and moved in with her husband means she has fulfilled her rights as a wife? How bold and strong a claim that is when our Rasool has stated that a woman cannot fulfill her rights by even going further than that – “By the One in Whose hand is my soul, if a man were covered from head to foot with weeping sores oozing pus, and his wife were to come to him and lick his sores (to clean them), this would not fulfil the rights he has over her.’”

            Finally, along with the condemnation of sexual harassment I again strongly denounce and reject the notion of the propagation of timidity amongst men, to the extent of cuckoldry. Male bashing has got to end. And Muslimaat are responsible for rearing a generation of daughters who again learn to respect their fathers and husbands and look up to them as leaders of the family unit.

          • @modestgrrl

            April 26, 2011 at 12:30 PM

            Hijab protects from objectification – a very serious, insidious mental illness whereby a society views women’s bodies as individual autonomous things designed to please other people.

            Hijab does NOT protect from rape or other crimes where the aggressor dominates/controls another person (not necessarily a woman) by using sexuality against them. Rape and some forms of sexual harassment are not sensual in nature – if they were, small children, men, and old ladies wouldn’t be raped

          • Amman Abdul Adl

            April 26, 2011 at 1:46 PM


            I really think you should be a member of the MM Staff? Seriously…

          • Anon

            April 26, 2011 at 4:13 PM

            Assalamu’ Alaikum Brother,

            At first I thought perhaps you were being a little heated in your responses, but the things you say only continue to show that you seem to think women are inferior to men in accordance with their intellect and religion.

            This lecture by Mufti Ismail Ibn Musa Menk talks about the rights of Muslim women and expands on the point that any woman who suffers during her monthly cycle, it is a ‘kaffara’ and a compensation for her sins, and a rise in her status and rank in the akhira.

            The second point is a quote from Mufti Muhammad Ibn Adam al Kawthari (, where the husband has to be mindful of the wife’s sacrifices for him: “Indeed they have restricted themselves by you; you do not have a right to anything above that” (Tirmidhi). ‘Cooking, cleaning, and domestic chores are not the right of the husband; therefore anything the wife does is a favour and should always be appreciated’ (Fiqh of Marriage).

            I also don’t see the point you are trying to prove by listing numerous hadiths that don’t have any relevance to the topic of sexual harassment. I am not one for man bashing; I believe men and women play different roles in Islam akin to the differences between them, but neither subjugates one below the other, and that is the beauty of Islam.

            It seems that you are thinking otherwise and are unwilling to accept that women also have a very esteemed position in Islam, are also capable of nearing perfection in religion, and in relation, are granted certain rights that no man can claim.

            P.S. “Daughter of a horseback rider” …?

          • Amad

            April 27, 2011 at 1:48 AM

            Abu Yusuf, consider this as a polite warning. “Low blows” such as “daughter of horseback rider” are unacceptable. Don’t think people are dumb here and don’t understand the inference.

            I will also advise you that normally we’ll just delete cut and paste dump of verses and ahadith. Contextual understanding is important and anyone can throw out any supporting text on any matter. If you already hadn’t gotten responses, that would have happened.

            To bring out texts to prove some point about how women are “inferior” and thus somehow responsible for what they bring upon themselves is despicable. It is exactly this attitude that turns away people from Islam and sisters from practicing.

          • AnonyMouse

            April 27, 2011 at 4:54 AM

            Abu Yusuf, when you said “daughter of the horseback rider,” I’m assuming you meant me.
            In which case, I did not make the statement you quoted: “You should probably also know that everytime a woman “fails in religion” because she cannot pray, her status in jannah is raised due to the pain she experiences EVERY SINGLE MONTH“

            In any case, I find your constant patronizing of Muslim women to be offensive, and your selection of ahadeeth in supporting your stances on “Muslim women’s inferiority to her husband” to be biased and unrepresentative of the broader Islamic view on husbands and wives.

            May Allah guide us all, ameen.

          • Hena Zuberi

            April 27, 2011 at 5:29 AM


            Aah the title- let me go into this a bit because a few readers have posted about this-
            The title was meant to be a rhetorical and a real question. I hoped that my article would have made it clear but since it wasn’t clear to everyone hence the addition of the question mark.

            Plus because we are bloggers vs print writers, many of our titles are worded to match word searches on search engines. So anyone searching for Muslims and SH would land on this post-

            I just hold Muslims to a higher standard- This is our dirty laundry that needs to be washed- we need to proactively take back the narrative. Having read so many articles in MSM media about this issue and the narrative being framed that this was a ‘Muslim’ problem- led to me speaking about my experiences.

            @ Brother Inqiyaad
            -Lets play numbers- yes men do get harassed too- but a great majority of the victims, on a consistent, daily basis, are women! Yes, this is a big issue so much so that I have met many sisters who are terrified to walk in their neighborhood, take public transport to go to college or work- paralyzed by their harassers. In fact I have yet to meet a woman who I have asked this question and has said no that they have never ever faced some level of harassment.

            -why would I find it thrilling?

            – Brother, when that woman groped you, were you responsible for her groping you? What steps could you have taken to prevent that situation?

            -By the way, we are looking for editors- if you have the time I would as a writer love to have someone review my work critically before it is posted. You caught a typo, I fixed it.

            -Because this is a Muslim forum, I expect my readers to know that Hijab protects- We are a ‘conservative’ site, we have been very vocal against the niqab ban and thru our polls we know that most of our readers believe that the minimum requirement for women is a head covering and a cloak.

            JazakAllah for giving me the benefit of the doubt- this hijab=protection issue, I discussed with people of much greater knowledge and felt it was so important that I have to dedicate a whole post to it and committed to it-

            Hijab articles are a dime a dozen- sometimes we get sick of writing/reading about a piece of cloth- I cover for the sake of Allah, to please Him, to grow closer to HIm, not for men or not to save me from a man, but people reading that survey and now our poll will ask the question about hijab and it not protecting so it does need to be addressed.

            The other reason I did not include it in my advice is because I was trying to follow the Sunnah, the spirit of the hadith of Al Fadl when he gazed on a beautiful woman who was questioning the Prophet SAW during Hajj- our Nabi, may the most perfect of blessings be on him, held his chin and turned his face away from her, he did not send her home or say anything to her, just answered her question.

            JazakAllah khair to you and all other readers who made such insightful comments-

        • Me

          April 26, 2011 at 3:24 PM

          Would you say the same if God forbid your wife,mom,sister or daughter was raped because of the way they dressed??? This is very sad and I truly feel sorry for your wife.

          • Inqiyaad

            April 28, 2011 at 1:43 AM

            What would I tell a victim of any assault? I don’t think I can be clearer than what I wrote earlier about the non-acceptability of justifications on the part of perpetrators. Still, let me try again. No assault/harassment can be justified or tolerated even if the victim was walking naked on the street.

            Again, you are conflating between two related but different issues. One deals with ‘how to overcome the problem of sexual harassment in society’ and the other is ‘helping the victims of an assault overcome the trauma (a minor one or rape)’. This article, in my estimation, was meant to be an advice on how to eliminate this problem from our society.

            If my estimation is correct then we should prefer reason to emotion, and the Shariah of Allah to both emotion and our own flawed reasoning. Shariah identifies primal solutions to this problem- lower your gaze, do not leave the confines of your home to hang out on the streets, dress as per Islamic requirements, (the above apply to both men and women) and have a Mahram around as much as possible.

            I think it is not only reasonable but also obligatory on us to identify and accept these as the first steps in our quest for a solution. Also, I would not mind warning my mother, sister, wife, or daughter about a certain dress sense, behavior, or putting themselves in situations that have been associated with such assaults.
            I would not mind telling them that choices have consequences.

            But, would I tell this to a victim after the assault? It is anybody’s guess that there is a place and time for everything. Having said that, would I use the example of a victim to warn others about the consequences of incorrect choices and overlooking shariah? Yes, I would do that.

            Sister Hena,

            Jazakillahu khairan for taking time out to reply to my post.

            I agree with you that women face it more than men. This is what I have been arguing all the time when commenting on other posts here. Sexual objectification/exploitation of women is a bigger problem than objectification/ exploitation of men. Maybe I should have elaborated my objection to “it’s a male problem”. I meant that this behavior is not exclusive to males and of course, it is not intrinsic. It is an attitude that is developed. So it is not a ‘male problem’ as much as it is not a ‘Muslim problem’. As a Muslim, I was offended by the title, and as a male, was offended by this statement. The ‘man’ in anyone cannot and does not push one to do this. It is a shortcoming of one’s attitude and behavior, but not gender. I guess we are saying the same thing.

            As for the responsibility issue, please see above my explanation to “Me”. I would like to add that both Daniel Gina and me have qualified our statements- ‘some’ victims might be responsible. Also, as I said earlier, I understand that some despicable men do it despite the Hijab. To answer your question directed at me, I will just say that, Alhamdulillah, mine is not a good example to demonstrate the consequences of overlooking the basic demands of Shariah with regards to the particular incident.

            The Hijab advice issue:

            “Because this is a Muslim forum, I expect my readers to know that Hijab protects”.
            So shouldn’t we expect the readers to also know that sexual harassment is not acceptable? Then there is no point in addressing the whole topic in the first place. Unless we assume that all women visiting the website and reading this article understand their obligations and that not all men visiting this website understand their obligations. Besides, polls are a reflection of the people who choose to participate and not the entire readership in general.

            May Allah accept your efforts at following the Sunnah of our Prophet sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. However, I will humbly submit that this is an incorrect application of this Hadith, for the following reasons.

            1. Some scholars use this same Hadith to support their opinion that, while hijab is mandatory, niqab is not.
            2. It was the time of Hajj; we would expect women traveling for Hajj to be wearing proper Hijab and to be with their Mahrams.
            3. The settings are different, there was one man and one woman (or several women according to some narrations) involved on this occasion. The women were going about their business, and most probably wearing Hijab. So, at that time, Fadl ibn ‘Abbas was the only one needing correction.

            A blog is a different setting; there is very minimal scope and possibility of customizing in this medium. Especially, when the article has addressed several steps to be taken by both women and men. In this context, absence of advice relating to hijab (and other Shariah prescriptions for women) stands out as a glaring lacuna. I would not go into details of the ‘why, benefits, or effectiveness’. Just mention that Allah has ordered xyz in Shariah as a means to check harassment.

            Wallahu ‘alam and I apologize if I have written anything offensive, either now or before.

            P.S: Sister Hena and Brother Amman, Jazakumullahu khairan for your recommendations. I personally believe I am not qualified. But, InshaAllah, I will think about it. Just let me know how to proceed if I would want to take this up in future. Sister Hena, you could get my email from the web admin.

      • Rabee

        April 25, 2011 at 8:45 PM

        MashaAllah, this is a great article and raises awareness for a problem in our society. I’m proud that my fellow sisters in Islam are strong enough to stand up for themselves and for what’s right, and InshaAllah the men will do the same.

      • Hena Zuberi

        April 27, 2011 at 3:01 AM

        Asalamalaikum Brother,
        Why have you labeled me progressive for speaking up about my experiences? I don’t even know what you mean by that.

        I was very careful NOT to make this a male bashing article- If a Muslim women speaks up about her experiences you automatically call it male bashing- this article was read by all our brothers on the editorial board and none of them found it to be offensive to GOOD, decent men.

        How about telling that to the brothers as well- where in the deen, are they supposed to hang out on street corners ‘Starbucking’ as you say? Muslim parents often teach their girls to guard themselves, not to venture out, cover their bodies but there is such a double standard when it comes to the boys in the family, they are not taught to look away or respect a woman’s personal space, to wear loose clothes.

        You want lock up 50% of humanity? please tell that to the women who work in the fields, have to drive their kids to masjids, Quran class, teach, work to feed their families, do grocery, want to learn deen-millions of them, each of them who face a different reality -which may not include window shopping!! Brother, this is a real, real issue please don’t trivialize it by making it men vs women- we were both put on this earth to help and support each other.

        Would you want me to start cutting, pasting stories of the Sahabiyaat where they were selling, running businesses,nursing, traveling, educating, cleaning masajids, learning.

        I really find your comments offensive.

        • Muslimah

          April 27, 2011 at 7:57 AM

          Assalamu ‘Alaykum Sister Hena,

          Who do we contact regarding the editing position, in sha Allah; and is it paid?

          Jazaki Allahu khairan.

          • Hena Zuberi

            April 28, 2011 at 4:36 PM

            Sister Muslimah- as of now MM does not pay for any work- as a non -profit we work for the ajr. You can contact info at muslimmatters .org for further information.
            with salam

      • Siraaj

        April 27, 2011 at 7:01 AM

        Abu Yusuf,

        Whether a woman does or does not go crazy is not a source of legislation (nor did I claim it to be), but the relevant sources and principles from which a hukm is derived will be based on the context of the question and questioner.


    • Me

      April 26, 2011 at 3:11 PM

      Your post made me laugh and I couldn’t agree more. I am from Somalia and men from my country and also the biggest perverts in the world… The sad thing is women don’t report sexual harassment because in many cases they’re to blame…

      • Umm Reem

        May 1, 2011 at 12:56 AM

        sadly true in some other “muslim” countries also….

    • Masood Habib

      May 13, 2011 at 9:24 AM

      Look at the source – Fox News: says it all about its authencity!

    • asha

      May 15, 2011 at 7:21 PM

      Not that we don’t have huge problems relating to this topic…the news story you posted by fox news was debunked a few days after the story was posted. You can do a google search for the genesis of this story. Apparently written by an intern.

  4. S

    April 25, 2011 at 7:25 AM

    A few things:

    1) Unfortunately this kinda stuff is rampant in Muslim societies. I have experienced it first hand myself and i have heard many many horror stories from others. I had a few non muslim friends whose time in Morroco was made hell by perverted men. Men who would lock thier sisters in thier houses (literally) yet go out and get drunk and perve on women.

    The reason is that whilst on one hand women are told to cover, be modest etc (and rightly so) the men are given no education about lowering thier gaze, proper interaction with women etc.

    2) Once during HAJJ, i was making my way back to the haram from Mina. When we got close to the masjid we got stuck in a massive crowd of people. Some guy who had no fear of Allah began to purposely push against me. I had had enough so i turned around and began shouting at him. Alhamdullilah, almost all the males around me began to shout at the man (they seemed to have understood what was going on) and pulled him back. He got dragged back into the crowd somewhere and I slowly made my way to my hotel. So not all men are bad :)

    However Makkah has to be one of the worst places (in terms of wierdo men), considering it’s the haram.

    3) In places like pak though this stuff happens, i have generally experienced that staring is because they have seen something ajeeb, like a women driving (lol) – at least in the more remote areas.

    On the whole both men and women need to fear Allah. It’s nothing that good islamic tarbiyah can’t fix but that is almost non existant in many places this evil exists.

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 25, 2011 at 3:45 PM

      JazakAllah for sharing your experiences- we need to speak up at that moment, on forums, in ouR communities. Good for you for not bearing it in silence!

      Tarbiyyah is definitely one of solutions that we need to focus on:- every school teacher, every parent, every Quran teacher should make it a point to talk to kids about safe and unsafe touches. That the lowering of the gaze is the hijab of men.

      I have to say though I grew up in the Sudan and MashaAllah, generally, our Sudanese brothers are some of the MOST respectful MEN on Earth-

      Furthermore, I truly believe one GOOD man can stop MANY bad men.

      • joanne

        April 25, 2011 at 11:10 PM

        That’s good to hear, ma sha Allah. What do you think are the factors that make Sudanese men respectful of women?

        • Muslimah

          April 27, 2011 at 4:50 AM

          Allahu ‘alam what makes Sudanese apparently more respectful of women. On a different but similar vein, a Sudanese friend told me that the Sudanese also have a romantic wedding ritual where the woman falls and the man catches her.

  5. DiscoMaulvi

    April 25, 2011 at 7:45 AM

    Sexual Harassment is dispecable and unfortunately a major part of the Pakistani environment. Unfortunately, as a whole the male population (and as a Pakistani male I have to right to judge them) is guilty of failure to lower one’s gaze, lewdness, and more. Unfortunately, sometimes even those men who outwardly appear to be respectful and sometimes even religious indulge in this rather nasty practice (all the more why outward appearances are no the end all be all). Similar behavior exist across the border in India (hence signifying more than just “a muslim problem”).

    May Allah protect us from such conduct, help us to improve society to eliminate this problem, and help us to lower our gazes.


    • Hena Zuberi

      April 25, 2011 at 3:58 PM

      Brother Aly will talk to all his employees at his business about the general problem of street harassment. He is going to publish a phone number on their work vehicles and/or on a sign at a work site that people can call if the employees harass women and will post signs saying “ This is a harassment-free zone.” :) InshaAllah

      -Calling ALL GOOD men, anyone else?

  6. Muslimah

    April 25, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Assalamu ‘Alaykum Dear Sister Mehreen,

    I am saddened to learn of all these terrible offenses perpetuated against you, Subhan Allah. I seldom if ever experience sexual harrassment, but then Allah subhanhu wa ta’ala has given me other tests, Alhamdulilah.

    From your blog, it sounds like your world is consumed by violations of sexual harrassment to the point that thought of them consume your day and influence your relationship with your daughter. To some, if not great extent, we can be a magnet for what we fear, so it is important not to give your horrible memories and concerns for your daughter undue proportion. Our intentions, energies and thoughts have a physical manifestation so it is important to think and act in a manner which is positive. To be positive, it might be necessary to get counseling and or make Hajj to purify yourself of the injustices perpetrated against you and rid yourself of any feelings of blame or culpability. The goal is to get up in the morning and feel good and clean and happy and for your daughter to do the same. Like I said, I have almost never been sexually harrassed and your daughter may or may not be either. As we enjoin good and forbid evil, it is not good to cast suspicion or aspersions about men in general or to teach her to do the same.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, in spite of all of your experience, to remain moderate and take the middle path. In the meantime, our brothers especially, and sisters, must be vigilant in stopping harrassment and educating the perpetrators each and every time they see it.

    Jazaki Allahu khairan for your wonderful blog. May Allah make it easy for you and guide us all. Ameen.

  7. DiscoMaulvi

    April 25, 2011 at 7:47 AM

    Let me also add that is doing a wonderful job of highlighting this and other issues of importance to the society. Excellent work by Sana Saleem, Naveen Naqvi and the rest of the team!


  8. Farhan

    April 25, 2011 at 10:02 AM

    I will NEVER do this.
    (in sha Allah)

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 25, 2011 at 4:12 PM

      May Allah bless you and make you a role model for others around you- That is step one can you also pledge to 2. discourage others, 3, talk to your friends about it and 4. teach the next generation chivalry.

  9. Aideh

    April 25, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    thank you sis.much needed article.

    I liked the tip you gave that we should prepare girls with how to respond to harassers. Its part of being street smart that you teach your girls how to react to unwelcome advances. Any advice on where to find those kind of resources for younger girls, especially online would be helpful.

    Jazakillahu kheiran!

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 25, 2011 at 6:45 PM

      Be sure to talk to young girls in a matter of fact way as not to scare them- Teach then that their

      Their response should include:

      1. Strong body language
      2. Direct response
      3. Loud serious tone of voice

      -depending on where you are-teach them to report harassers (to parents and anyone in authority, shop manager, mall security etc) esp b/c some of them are serial.

      If some says something distasteful or unwelcome- teach them to verbally say something like “Stop it, don’t harass me- women don’t like it”

      Don’t apologize just say “Stop doing XXXYYY, man in red shirt” or “Don’t whistle at me- it’s harassment”

      Don’t argue, lose your temper like I did, or cuss at the may escalate the situation- Here are some more responses

      Girls often think it is somehow their fault. I remember the first time I found out that other girls have experienced it too, it was a huge relief- isn’t that weird? We talked about it in such hushed tones too.
      May Allah SWT protect our girls-Ameen.

      This book is a good read

  10. Daniel Gina

    April 25, 2011 at 11:08 AM

    First of all, I have to begin by offering my sympathies (although I’m sure it’s not what victims need) and expressing my shock and disgust at the sexual harassment problem.

    I don’t necessarily want to list all the things I agree with you on (as it would basically be a summary of your article), and would instead like to highlight a few things I feel need further clarification and correction in my personal view.

    1. As said above by someone, I have to take a little objection to the title ‘a muslim problem’. To say so is to imply it is a muslim-specific problem (even though you do posit a caveat denying this in your article) or one that affects Muslims disproportionately compared to other men from other faiths.

    I would instead also say this is a cultural and society-specific problem and one linked to social circumstances more than the ‘muslimness’.  The claim that it’s a muslim problem wont apply in the same way when you bring it to Muslims in western societies for example (and that’s not say we are totally innocent here either). Or take Indonesia and Malaysia. A huge section of the muslim ummah and I doubt you will find problems the way you’ve described about Egypt. Even in Egypt, is there any evidence to say that muslim men alone are involved in this behaviour while Coptic Egyptians are free of it? I really do doubt it. Point is, calling this a ‘muslim problem is inaccurate and not the best choice of words.

    2. We’ve all heard this argument that the victim should never be blamed, and to the outrage of many, I would disagree and say that while it hold true especially for your cases you mentioned abive, it certainly isn’t an absolute truth. Now, before i continue, I have to add  an important caveat here that of course in no way is this a justification for haram deeds nor a way to shirk off blame from the male. If something is haram it is so without exception: shaytan whispers and provokes us all the time and yet we can never justify our misdeeds with that as an excuse, and neither can shayan get away with whispering.

     You mention the case of a man who would expose himself to a female and this is most certainly an ugly form of harassment. But turning this around, when a woman exposes much of her body to men, clearly ‘dresses up’ and wears perfume, etc why is this not seen as a form of ‘harassment’ towards men? When a man suggestively smiles or winks at a woman its harassment, but when a woman suggestively walks half-naked and shakes her backside around it is not harassment? You mention the case of the alpha-male. Now when this alpha-male sees a woman basically ‘teasing’ him in this way, he will probably see it as a challenge to his masculinity. i.e. ‘here I am, check out my curves and my flesh and drool over me, but i dare you to come near me.’ So in this sense, she most certainly shares blame.

    To make this clear, in front of Allah swt, will she get away scot free? I don’t think so. In fact we know women dressing up is a harassment to men because she receives sins every time she walks out the door with perfume, and every time a man lays eyes on her with lust as a result of her nakedness (I say nakedness because islamically, anything not face or hands is part of our awrah) etc. She cannot go to Allah and say ‘the victim cannot be blamed’. Both the male perpetrator and the female perpetrator (both involved in their own levels of harassment) are deserving of punishment, each depending on the level of their crime, and i don’t deny that usually the male’s one is worse.

    So this one sided female perception of harassment needs to change. Just as women suffer psychologically from harassment, so do men. In fact, I would argue that these cases of physical sexual harassment you’re referring to are partly the result of the harassment men face from women daily from a young age, something you already alluded to; pornography, being exposed to women’s awrah (I.e. Non-hijabi females) literally everyday, being exposed to a sexual culture, etc. When a man starts to lose his Hayaa and mentally starts perceiving women in sexual terms alone, how can we deny that this isn’t a psychological trauma they’ve suffered? Because haya is from the fitrah, and something external has to change it.  

    3. Now the flip-side is that of course, not all of the women who are harrassed fall into the category I’ve marked above. Many do adhere to islamic ettiquette and offer no provocation whatsoever. Which means that provocative behaviour is undoubtedly not the sole reason for sexual harassment (I just wanted to clarify that it needs to be acknowledged as definitely part of the problem rather than being ignored ). Here, some of the things you mentioned apply; lack of marriage, culture of promiscuity, exposure to pornography and sexually overt music cultures, skewed perceptions of manhood, etc.  And some of the solutions you outline are mashallah very valuable.

    4. Overall, there needs to be a return to the attitude of hisbah, of commanding to good and forbidding evil. Let’s face it, if our own communities have succumbed to these faults, it’s only because we let them through our silence and by turning a blind-eye. In fact, this can be said with regards to almost all the social ills. We have an attitude that we can restrict our da’wah and hisbah to our own closed talks and circles, or to the net, in which we always end up addressing and preaching to the converted. While we may also command good to the public from time to time, we rarely forbid then from evil. Because that requires a level of guts and has risks attached.  But what kind of a man is it that allows this shameful evil to occur in front of him while he remains silent?

    One of the good practices in our community (alhamdulillah – it does still need more work though) where I live is what we call ‘outreach’ da’wah. Practising youth weekly go out onto the street, especially in summer, and directly and in person  engage with the other non-practising youth in their communities and get to know them. over a period of time, this creates a certain ‘presence’ in the community and on ‘the streets’ and everyone comes onto the same ball game and there’s a mutual respect. If anyone from the muslim community tries to do something dodgy and out of the ordinary, it becomes socially unacceptable as a result earns condemnation from all sides of the game.

    Wallahu a’lam.

    • The Shardul of Allah

      April 26, 2011 at 11:01 AM


    • BintKhalil

      April 28, 2011 at 7:51 PM

      Assalamu alaikum

      This just might one of the best comments on MM.

      Jazak Allah khair

    • Nadia

      April 29, 2011 at 4:56 AM

      “But turning this around, when a woman exposes much of her body to men, clearly ‘dresses up’ and wears perfume, etc why is this not seen as a form of ‘harassment’ towards men?”

      Are you kidding me??

      How is being sexually assaulted without your consent the same as seeing someone’s arm, leg or hair?

      You are equating being physically harassed to just seeing the human body?

      Men see their mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and grandmothers ALL THE TIME. They see their beauty and are perfectly aware of what a woman’s body looks like. Suddenly, they see someone else’s and that means they are able to attack that person?

      And if you don’t want male bashing and people to say that harassment is an inherent male quality, you are completely opposing your argument by saying women have a responsibility to dress a certain way, because you are admitting that being sexually aggressive and disrespectful is something a man cannot help? Seriously?

      “Just as women suffer psychologically from harassment, so do men.”

      Only if the men are PHYSICALLY harassed in the same way women are, NOT by simply being exposed to a woman’s beauty. Women aren’t psychologically harassed for seeing a good-looking man. Do men whimper in hear, become depressed and suddenly become introverted after seeing a woman in public? Do you have statistics, examples and proof of that harassment you are talking about?

      Seeing a woman does not mean SEX, just like seeing a man does not mean SEX. The majority of people being harassed are not dressing in a sexual manner or do not try to do so, so therefore it is the man who needs to change is idea about what is sexual or not and stop acting so animal-like. See people for who they are-human beings, not sexual objects. That lesson is not going to be learned by just covering someone up because you are validating the point that women are simply sexual beings and cannot be seen as human beings until you add some kind of artificial barrier over them.

      How come women seem to understand this and don’t demand that men cover their hair or smile or arms, because those can be attractive? Why is a woman not offended or “challenged” by a man walking around and living his life regularly?

      I think this “alpha-male” who feels challenged by women needs to take himself down a few notches and come back to reality to learn what modesty and humility really mean again!

      Where does it say in the Quran that dress is a direct link to treatment by society and that if a woman doesn’t dress a certain way she is responsible for what happens to her, but if a man doesn’t it then nothing happens?

      If we are to argue we dress modestly so we are not judged by our looks, then we are still judging each other by our looks if we think a slight adjustment changes how we should treat each other.

      And how is there a culture of promiscuity in Muslim countries if Islam is not about promiscuity? If these are “Western” issues, then how come they exist in the same way in Muslim countries? What is distinguishing us if our religious values are not being practiced sincerely and only superficially, because we think it’s enough to put artificial barriers between us and think that’s enough?

      Marriage will not solve the issue because men are still capable of abusing and taking advantage of their wives if all they view them as is a means to have sex. Marriage is a difficult, important partnership for the rest of your life that is about making an honorable commitment to value each other and raise a family. Telling a 13 year old or 16 year old to do that because he starts to have feelings for girls is a ridiculous solution.

      Just saying it is a cultural issue is skirting the problem because it occurs in various cultures in the “Muslim” world, so whose culture is allowing it? Obviously rape happens all over the world, but it is unique in the Muslim world for being framed as a clothing-responsibility and gender-responsibility argument instead of a religious-values, social upbringing argument.

      Also note that the author put a question mark after “A Muslim Problem” which means she is not saying it is SOLELY a Muslim problem but it is a Muslim problem in that none of us know how to deal with it or feel like taking a serious, effective and public approach to tackling it. At least I have seen none to date.

      I am SO SO proud of this article, mashallah, for hitting every point exactly, giving advice, being open-minded, unafraid, comprehensive, respectful to the true intent of Islam and bringing in men and women together for this disturbing, yet critical problem.

      I can’t wait to see the great impact we will all bring together to make a difference.

      Allah will not change our conditions, until we change them ourselves.

      It’s time to stop the excuses, stop the blaming on material or external factors and reflect on ourselves and our spirituality.

      • Inqiyaad

        April 29, 2011 at 8:46 AM

        Sister Nadia,
        I think you misunderstood Daniel.

        I think he was talking about one form of sexual assault i.e indecent exposure. All he is arguing is that if Islamic standards are applied, women not dressing properly falls into this kind i.e indecent exposure.

        Your point about, “That lesson is not going to be learned by just covering someone up.” I think he has made it pretty clear, “you won’t really get very far if all your women dress head to toe but are engrossed in a sexual pop culture and pornography, lack spiritual education,…”

        No, the Qur’an does not say that a woman who doesn’t dress a certain way is responsible for what happens to her (except in the Hereafter, of course). However, an extra requirement for woman’s dress is prescribed to combat this problem.

        I found the following a little absurd, “And how is there a culture of promiscuity in Muslim countries if Islam is not about promiscuity?” Neither Islam nor being Muslim is about promiscuity. It is otherwise, To paraphrase what our Prophet sal Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam said, “one does not have Iman (is not Muslim) when he/she is involved in adultery/fornication.” And about the ‘culture of promiscuity’, do you have numbers to prove this?

        As for “Marriage will not solve the issue because men are…”. Like Daniel said, “Neither I’ll you get very far if everyone dresses correctly, have good spiritual education, but can’t find the means for marriage until theyre 35 or 40.” And, he is not talking about 13 and 14 year old. Besides, if we are to believe our Prophet, it can help. He said (paraphrasing again), “Marriage is the best way to lower your gaze.” If it can help you control your sight then I guess it can be helpful in controlling your limbs. But you are right, marriage ALONE cannot help if the other ingredients pointed out by both you and Daniel are missing.

  11. Pingback: [Article] Sexual Harassment: a Muslim problem « Lamya's Corner

  12. Coorled38

    April 25, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    ” Do you really believe people who sexually harass women/girls don’t know what they are doing is wrong?”

    That and the self satisfied knowledge that he will never be held accountable…even if she dares speak up. Not only does the culture support this disgusting behavior but generally the laws in the country do to. Just look over to Saudi where the odd brave woman that reports rape or harrassment is quite often then accused of adultery etc…and lashed as well.

    In other words, the culture of sexual harrassment exists because of the laws…not despite them.

  13. hamid ajami

    April 25, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    Sexual repression and repression of woman is behind this behavior. Also, the idea that women are less than men and should be obedient to men. In nations with greater equality between sexes and greater freedom for women, there is far less sexual harassment on the streets, except of course, usually by Middle Eastern men in Europe.

    Also, as an interesting side note that is somewhat relevant, Pakistan leads the world by far for porn searches. Iran is 3rd, Egypt 5th….. hmmm interesting trend.

    • Muslim

      April 25, 2011 at 7:43 PM

      “in nations with greater “equality” between sexes and greater freedom for women, there is far less sexual harassment on the streets.”

      That’s right! If you want to feel up your neighbors sister or your fellow classmate, you can’t do it on the street. You got to take her to the club and let her back that thang up! Or you can just visit one of the thousands of government taxed strip clubs or massage parlors that are located all over the western world, where women can freely disrespect themselves. Or, if you want, you can also sit on on a shooting of the latest porno film, because what you forgot to mention was that, even though there are many searches in the Muslim world for “porn” on the internet, the porn industry was born in the western world and is still manufactured here more than anywhere else in the world. Another way is, just sit down at your local college campus, and enjoy the view, because if you haven’t noticed, the main concern of most women in the western world is to look sexually attractive while they walk around outside. But just make sure that she is 18. But if you are younger than 18 and she is too, its all good!

      I think most people on this blog consider sexual harassment negative because of the actions sexual harassment entails along with the fact that it is unwelcome. The only person in a Muslim woman’s life that is allowed to look at her, flirt with her and touch her in that manner is her husband. Just because she allows it, DOESN’T make it acceptable from an Islamic viewpoint.

      A woman allowing flirting behavior, inviting people to stare at her body, and letting a male who is not her husband talk to her in a sexual manner is just as bad as a man on the street trying to whistle or stare at a woman who doesn’t want him to.

      Just because it is “her” body, or her life, doesn’t mean she has the right to do with it whatever she wants.

      From an Islamic viewpoint, both are not appropriate.

      By the way, I have a theory about that whole google search from the Muslim World thing. I think the reason why the western world doesn’t have many searches for “sex” or “porn” is because most men (and women) already have the web pages bookmarked and are monthly subscribers to several different porn sites! You ever thought of that??

      • DG

        April 25, 2011 at 9:14 PM

        Very impressed with the way you put an alternative view forward mashallah! It’s true that we are quick to buy into the discourse and its paradigms as its set to us by external factors instead of looking at it 100% from a deeni perspective.

        And I think your Google search bookmark theory may actually be very true (especially given a lot of – if not most – internet use in Muslim majority countries like Egypt and Pakistan are done via internet cafes rather than personal computers).

      • Nadia

        April 29, 2011 at 5:06 AM

        “A woman allowing flirting behavior, inviting people to stare at her body, and letting a male who is not her husband talk to her in a sexual manner is just as bad as a man on the street trying to whistle or stare at a woman who doesn’t want him to.

        Just because it is “her” body, or her life, doesn’t mean she has the right to do with it whatever she wants.”

        Yes it does! A woman’s body is as much her body as a man’s body is as much his body. The only one has claim over those bodies is Allah (SWT) because he created them of course.

        Men and women are not owners of each others’ bodies either.

        A woman most certainly has the right to do with it whatever she wants because Allah (SWT) gave her free will, however with that free will, comes responsibility and she will be judged by him just as men will also be judged by Allah (SWT) as well.

        A woman chooses if she wants to get married, choose who she marries so she is therefore choosing who gets the right to see her and be with her.

        Sexual harassment is always unwelcome, so I don’t understand your point about how most people on here find it negative because of what it entails?

        Flirting and compliments are not harassment. They can be mere annoyances but they are not harassment.

        What we are talking about is something a husband could never do to his wife even though they are a couple, because it is still harassment! Period, end of story.

        It is always about consent! Why is that so hard to understand?

        If our ummah only understand this concept more, we wouldn’t be in this predicament now. It’s ridiculous! Stop claiming ownership over each other, stop enslaving one another mentally and physically.

        Men and women have rights over each other and are garments for each other, so let’s spread the love and stand together as one!

        • Inqiyaad

          April 29, 2011 at 8:55 AM

          I agree with almost all of what you said here, except the following.

          “Flirting and compliments are not harassment. They can be mere annoyances but they are not harassment.”

          Yes, they are harassment and it is the law. Legally (with certain caveats), you can complain against your co-worker or superior if they are involved in this at your workplace.

          Besides, as sister Hena pointed out in the article, this is one of the lame excuses given by perpetrators. “I was just complementing her”, in reality he/she is harassing her/him with something she/he did not ask for in the first place.

        • Muslim

          May 1, 2011 at 2:43 PM

          Salaam Sister Nadia,

          I guess the way I expressed my opinion was in a sarcastic manner and probably not the clearest way to do so and that is my fault. My main reason for doing so was in reply to a comment posted that was explicitly saying that it was because of the culture of Muslim countries that women were being sexually harassed there and that the lack of freedom of women causes this. The comment also mentioned that in the Western world, women don’t get sexually harassed because they have more freedom. (Which is obviously false, but for arguments sake, I ignored that false fact)

          What I was trying to point out is that the “freedom” here in the west for women (and men) is many times not acceptable from an Islamic view point.

          I completely agree with you that sexually harassing anyone is wrong. But what I was trying to say that women (or men) who sexually flirt with and expose their bodies in provocative clothing, etc to people who they are not allowed to do this with, is ALSO wrong. Even if the individual is doing it out of their own free will, and is consenting to flirting with another person who is not their husband/wife, it is STILL wrong from an Islamic perspective. Just like making sexual remarks to someone on the street, at school or in the office would be wrong from an Islamic perspective. The consent factor has nothing to do with it from an Islamic perspective. The act itself is wrong when done with someone who is not your husband or your wife. I think all of us would agree that a woman or man in Islam is not allowed to use sexually seductive words with the anyone (even the same sex), is not allowed to expose parts of their nakedness to others, is not allowed to touch anyone in a sexual manner or even touch normally the opposite sex, or etc with people who are not their spouse. All of those activities, if you will, are only allowed to be done with your spouse in Islam.

          So a guy walking down the street cannot say these things to whoever he wants. At the same time, nor can a woman who is consenting to this behavior do this with whoever she wants. Unless, of course, they are married.

          I said this to express to the commenter I was replying to above that from an Islamic perspective, both are wrong, and just because women have a lot more freedom in Western society to consent to sexual behavior, doesn’t make the situation much better over here either. My point was a general reply to a theme that was running in the comments that for some reason, in the west, women have it so much better because there is supposedly less harassing going on here. And also to the general theme in the comments that Muslim men living in Muslim countries are all perverts browsing the web watching pornography all day long and salivating on the streets as women walk and can’t help themselves from staring, or making comments, etc. It was to remind people that respect for women is not so much better over here in the West either. Especially from an Islamic perspective.

          In regards to your statement about “flirting and comments are not harassment”, I have to say that there is really a thin line between the two. BOTH of which are not allowed in Islam. The first obviously being not allowed with anyone who is not your spouse, the second being with everyone.

          How does a guy know when he went from flirting to sexual harassment? I will tell you that most guys have no idea, and the limits of the two are always changing. For example, I have seen guys make remarks specifically about the size and shape of a woman’s private parts, and the women who they were referring to accepted it and were even laughing about it. I have also seen guys getting cursed out for the same thing. I have seen guys telling girls that they look really nice and girls welcoming that comment and I have seen guys being completely rejecting for saying such a thing even though in western culture that is completely acceptable to say. I have seen guys trying to have a normal conversation about any random topic where women welcome it. And I have seen guys trying to spark up conversations with women about random topics where the women felt very uncomfortable even having a man have the audacity to come and talk to them. Meaning, you can define sexual harassment or flirting however you want to define it and everyday it is constantly changing. But the Islamic view point on it has been the same for more than 1400 years.

          I have actually witnessed this confusion in the work place. A conservative, if you will, woman complained against a male who was “mere flirting” from his perspective. But to the woman, it was completely unacceptable. And the guy actually couldn’t read the signs quickly enough coming from her to stop, and he got in trouble for it. I really felt bad for both parties because the women didn’t want that attention and the guy was just talking like he normally talks with women. Most people from the west would not consider it sexual harassment but the guy got in trouble for it.

          You also mentioned that sexual harassment of a husband to his wife would be unacceptable as well. You are right that a husband or a wife would not be allowed to harass the other, but from an Islamic perspective, there is a huge difference of a husband saying sexual things to his wife versus a non-husband.

          A man who is not the husband of a woman has not RIGHT even to try to say anything sexual of any nature to a woman, whether or not she is CONSENTING. And if the guy continues and keeps harassing her even against her will, he would be increasing in his wrong actions.

          A husband, however, has the right to try to look at in a sexual manner, flirt with and sexual seduce his wife. If she doesn’t respond, and rejects him, then obviously he needs to stop. Even though, in Islam, it is his RIGHT to get sexual relations from his wife in normal circumstances, if she refuses him, there is NO justification for marital rape or persisting on harassing her in that manner.

          There is a big difference in the above two examples. From an Islamic perspective, a Husband has the right to get certain things out of his wife and certainly has the RIGHT to try. A man who is not married to a woman has NO RIGHT to even try to get anything out of a woman or to even continue any random thoughts he has in his mind about flirting with or sexually communicating with a woman.

          In regards to your comment about a woman having a right to her own body just as much as a man has a right over his body, I agree. Again, I think I didn’t clarify my statement enough:

          Just because it is “her” body, or her life, doesn’t mean she has the right to do with it whatever she wants.

          The comment I made above was in context to the argument I was making about freedom in the West for women to disrespect themselves from an Islamic perspective. I was, again, replying to this theory that because western society allows sexual freedom, there is a lot less sexual harassment here. My point was that even if there is less sexual harassment here (which I still believe is false), there are many other ways in our western society that this same freedom leads to the exploitation of women by others and also themselves. And specifically, that quote had to do with the “themselves” part.

          Consent matters for many things. But for many things, consent does not matter. It doesn’t matter if it is your body or not, you are not allowed to consent to certain things in Islam. If a person consents to suicide, adultery, fornication, masturbation, drinking intoxicants, gluttony, sexual relations with their own spouse during their menstrual cycle, flirting with non-spouses, etc are all, from an Islamic perspective not ALLOWED. Whether you give consent to a man or woman who is not your spouse to flirt with you or say “nice things to you” doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t take place either way.

          In the case the guy does it out of force, it is sexual harassment and IS not allowed. In the case a girl allows it to happen to her, it is NOT allowed.

          I didn’t mean to say that women have don’t have rights over their bodies. Or marital rape is acceptable or a woman doesn’t have the right to choose her husband, etc.

      • be

        April 29, 2011 at 8:49 PM

        agree with most of your points . I thought too of the fact that here there is cable and rental movies to do the job …but most importantly the report from fox news was misleading and untrue. The woman who did the report used word like donkey sex in google engine and get Pakistan number 1 but when a Pakistani journalist did a research with ” sex with donkey” USA ranked 1 ….same for sex with camel…. sex with vegetable….. talk about twisted mind !!!!!
        here is the article please read;\28\story_28-7-2010_pg9_6

        of course this does not mean I am on denial and think we do not have issue with access to pornography in Muslim countries …but relying on lies and fox news political agenda wont do the job either …

  14. Amad

    April 25, 2011 at 2:00 PM

    We also read a lot about sexual molestation at home. Is it possible that the blind eye towards molestation at home (usually by relatives, close friends) simply empowers the perverts to try it outside?

    I really feel that porn has so infiltrated homes and minds of men who are limited to halal options (marriage) that it builds up frustrations to the point of perversion?

    • Inqiyaad

      April 29, 2011 at 8:10 AM

      Brother Amad, those are some good questions. I have a few myself. I wish we could could actually test these hypothesis with some unbiased data.

      1. Is there a relationship between people who indulge in sexual harassment as youngsters being prone to be domestically violent within their marriages?

      2. To begin with, is there a relationship between what children observe while growing up (for example domestic violence, sexual objectification of women in media) that predisposes them to indulge in sexual harassment / domestic violence?

      Sister Hena has pointed out the importance of teaching our kids (which of course is very evident in itself). I personally think that this education will solve more than half our problems.

  15. The Shardul of Allah

    April 25, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Jzakhallah sister for blurting out the truth. Here are my observations:

    01. I first of all would like say that I am ashamed by such behaviors from my fellow Muslim brothers so much that I sometimes feel that I bury my head in the sand. And yes, it is a problem among the Muslims. There is simply no point bringing in the non-Muslims in the scenario. Whether the problem of sexual harassment exists among them is not our business. The first step of solving a problem is admitting that the problem exists. Denial can only make things worse.

    02. This problem is a living proof of the hadith of the Messenger of Allah, “I leave behind no greater trial for my ummah other than the trial of women.”

    03. Not properly educating boys about how they should behave with girls is indeed the main cause of such problem. Most parents are either too shy or too careless to teach their sons about Islamic manners they should observe when they see their fellow sisters or interact with them. It should start with instilling the fear of Allah in the hearts from an early age. Boys should be taught that they first and foremost need to behave in a certain way when they come across non-mahram women because this is command of Allah and His Messenger. Parents should also teach their sons the concept of haya and should tell them to zealously lower their gaze.

    04. Parents need to be aware of how much access their boys have to computer and internet, what programs do they watch in television, what books they read, and what type of friends do they mingle with. We simply cannot expect a boy to behave totally Islamically who grows up without any guidance from his parents in this age of sexual bombardment.

    05. Early marriage should be encouraged. If a boy hits puberty at 15, and then marries at 27, it means he has to remain is abstinence for 12 years. This is a long period of time. How many boys in our time are properly equipped with the tools of knowledge to actually stay away from sins for a period greater than a decade?

    06. Most of the Muslim men, now a days, do not have the true fear of Allah in their heart. We behave like a true Muslim only in the presence of other Muslims. When there is no fear of our ugly face of being exposed in front of our so called society, we do not think twice before violating the law of Allah. That is why sexual harassment can take place before the House of Allah. That is why a 60 year of old man, who has done hajj twice, secretly goes to brothel.

    07. I believe sexual harassment happens in most cases not because men do not respect women, but because men fail to control their animal nature, their nafs. No matter how great the temptation is, there can be no excuse for transgressing the boundary of Allah. Because “Allah burdens a soul bot beyond its capacity.” Having said this, I have to concede that in our time, it requires a highest level of taqwa and sincerity with Allah to lower the gaze. Because now a days tabarruj is extremely prevalent. A few days ago I went for a training and the receptionist lady to whom I had to report was wearing a shirt though which you can cleanly see her undergarment. By Allah, I made this observation although I just tried to look at her face and then quickly lowered my gaze. The other day I went to buy a watch and the saleswoman was wearing an extremely revealing sleeveless outfit. I am not saying that environment makes Muslims men perverse, nor I am blaming our perverseness to women here; what I am saying here is that it requires a very high level of control over the nafs and a very high level of taqwa simply to lower the gaze. How many Muslim men have that high taqwa? Since we do not have that level of taqa, most of us ends up looking at non-mahram females. We do not lower our gaze. And gaze is like a poisonous arrow from Shaytan. And everything starts with a gaze. Continuously not lowering the gaze finally takes the shape of sexual harassment.

    08. While there is a very high need of educating brothers, there is also a very high need of educating sisters. The Pakistani mom living next to my house encourages her young daughters to go out in revealing clothes. Again, we have no excuse for not lowering the gaze, irrespective of the situation we find ourselves in, let alone sexual harassment, but I sincerely believe that majority of the Muslim women do not maintain hijab properly.

    09. I also sincerely believe that the main tool to solve this problem is instilling the fear of Allah among Muslim men. Until majority of the Muslim men becomes a true Muslim in their public and private life, our women will never be totally safe.

    10. Although Islam has given women the permission to go outside out of necessity, home is still the best place for her. And in our time, fitana has become so severe that I believe men should also remain in their home and mosque as much as they can. As for going to work, they need to find a place that has no women.

    PS. Before you say that there is no workplace today that has no female, I would say it is Allah who will bless you with such a workplace. If you truly intend and beg to Allah to bless you with a workplace that has no fitnah, Allah can bless you with such place. Allah is capable of everything.

    • Nadia

      April 29, 2011 at 5:21 AM

      How can you propose a world where men are outside and women are inside?

      What kind of fantasy, utopian world do you believe we live in?

      Muslims are supposed to be practical and spiritual, preparing for the next world while living in the present world.

      Having women work and go outside is a completely normal and necessary part of life. A society and community cannot flourish or function if half its population is absent. Women can work for their families and work for their community. It doesn’t make any sense to say her intelligence, talent, creativity, passion and drive was given to her so she could sit at home.

      Do men have something about them that makes them so special that they have all the ideas and abilities to save the world and keep the world running by themselves?

      Having men never interact with women in a normal, healthy, regular manner is the entire problem of harassment. How can we teach our boys and men how to interact with girls and women if we then say that they must never meet unless they are married? That defeats the whole point!

      We’re supposed to teach each other modesty and respect so that when we all work, study and help one another, we know how to behave in the right way!

      Teach our society that marriage is more than sex will enable them to survive the period of time until they are married, because they will occupy themselves with fruitful, beneficial and productive measures until they have found the right person, are ready for the responsibility and Allah has made it good for them.

      My parents did not marry when they were teens yet they surely experience romantic feelings as they grew up. They knew their values and their sensibilities to marry when they could and never harassed anyone or committed premarital sex. That is the Islamic standard we should hold everyone to! We do not lower the bar and make excuses for the weak and then implement that punishment on the greater Muslim community.

      Having a workplace with no females is not a blessed thing at all, but a surefire way to ignore women’s needs, assume you know best for them, serve them through generalizations since you don’t listen to them or employ any of them and miss out on the world’s greatest source of untapped potential to break the cycle of poverty, violence, war, crime, terrorism, hunger and disease.

      Until more men become humble in that they do not possess all the knowledge and truth in the world, that they cannot do it all alone, women, the ummah and the whole of mankind will suffer and continue to suffer.

      “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

      That is the attitude we need to have.


      • The Shardul of Allah

        April 29, 2011 at 11:55 AM

        Dear Sister:

        I am not a scholar of Islam, but my understanding of Islam is such that it encourages a world order where the primary role of men are being bread winners and that of women are being home makers. To fulfill their primary roles properly, men thus need to go outside of their homes and women thus need to stay inside their homes. Of course I understand that there can be circumstances where women may be required to work, but I treat those situations as exceptions.

        I can provide many proofs in support of my opinion, but I fear that I may present them without proper context, and thus get the lable of an alpha male.

        Now, if women don’t work outside, how can she use her education, creativity and passion? In my humble opinion, she should use those to raise better Muslim generations.

        Can success come without women working outside? I think it can. Because men and women have different roles, and when each of them fulfill their respective role, Allah will bless us with success.

        Now, my view is strictly my personal opinion and I do not instill it among others. Because there is no compulsion in religion. Thus sisters should not feel that I am telling them to quit their careers and stay at home.

        Despite holding such view, I have never blamed women or their dress for our pervert behavior. I believe Islam is a religion that encourages us to take responsibility for our own actions. If you read my post again, you will find that I have heavily emphasized on cultivating the fear of Allah, lowering the gaze and practicing self-restrain. Because at the end of the day, I cannot control how others behave, I can only control how I will behave.

      • The Shardul of Allah

        April 29, 2011 at 12:04 PM

        Having men never interact with women in a normal, healthy, regular manner is the entire problem of harassment. How can we teach our boys and men how to interact with girls and women if we then say that they must never meet unless they are married? That defeats the whole point!

        I would appreciate if you can enlighten us how this interaction between non-mahram male and non-mahram female is possible within Islamic guidelines.

        “Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”

        When Musa (A) met the daughter of Shuaib (A), he was first walking behind her. But he became afraid that walking like that may cause him to cast an unlawful glance, and thus to protect the purity of his character and that of the daughter of Prophet Shuaib (A), he requested her to guide him from his back. They interchanged their position, and Prophet’s Shuaib’s daughter led Prophet Musa (A) from the back.

        You walk side by side only after marriage.

  16. Jahanara

    April 25, 2011 at 5:38 PM

    I am an American Muslim convert. I grew up in the US playing sports, running around in shorts as a teenager, wearing a bikini on the beach, etc. and have been sexually harassed many times in my life by men in this culture. It does not feel good. It is especially humiliating when you have to bring a harassment issue up to the male principle of your high school when all else fails at telling a boy to back off. I did not know any better at that time of dressing any differently. It is just the American culture. I would like to preface the rest of what I’m going to write here, by saying that I have a degree in World Religions, (in addition to a Masters degree in an entirely different field) and distinctly remember taking a “Spirituality & Sexuality” course at my all women’s college, for college credit. I do not side with the sexual harassers in this world at all, but I need to offer some perspective here on something I have been reflecting on for a long time, and that is directly related to this sexuality issue in this blog.
    I have a hard time with accepting the obvious lack of sexual education of youth (both genders) in Muslim countries and throughout many countries in West Asia and SE Asia. It is totally unacceptable, a “dark-ages” mentality, does not do any good for healthy, understanging marriage relationships, and is at LEAST half of this entire problem of Muslim men watching porn, etc. How else are they supposed to learn about sex? There is minimal curriculum, if any at all. Also, having grown up here in the US, I feel that many Muslims fail to see that allowing marriages so early, just to take care of the “sexual urge” problem, does nothing for people’s psyche or human potential, when they get married too young, have kids, then have no time to reflect on themselves, their gifts to the world, who they are as individuals and are thrown right away into the ever-spiraling downfall time consumer of caring for kids and a husband right away. That is not the answer either. The answer to eliminating more of this general problem, in my opinion, lies in balance of sexually educating Muslim kids from a young age, allowing them to interact freely enough (within bounds) with members of the opposite sex as youth, and then modeling a healthy attitude toward human sexuality in general for them, so that they are neither ignorant of the subject or ashamed.
    I’m sure many of you reading this are judging me by now. It doesn’t matter. Inshallah, Allah knows the truth of what it means to be in right relationship, has given us progressive minds, a beautiful gift of sexuality to be shared with a life partner, and we should be able to come up with a better way of eliminating more of these types of problems through being educated about them ourselves and then educating our children.

    • M

      April 25, 2011 at 7:22 PM

      “I feel that many Muslims fail to see that allowing marriages so early, just to take care of the “sexual urge” problem, does nothing for people’s psyche or human potential,”

      Well said. Early marriage is not the solution. People should marry when they are mature and ready for a new chapter in their life, not solely because their hormones are driving them crazy. To do so is degrading to the sacred institution of marriage and can have dangerous implications for future families.

      Kudos to MuslimMatters to shedding light on such a pervasive problem. May Allah rectify our affairs.

  17. Carlos

    April 25, 2011 at 6:14 PM

    I speak from the American experience, although I have visited and lived in other countries. I suspect this kind of thing is worse in third world countries, where education systems are worse, where cultures are more male-dominated and where women’s rights are less developed. Admittedly, however, I do see it here in the U.S., particularly among the urban teenage crowd, although, when the victim is from the same crowd, she usually does not seem to be doing much to protest. Harassing a woman on the street is something, I think, that shows extremely low social skills. Men who are raised by thoughtful parents and surrounded by even average peers normally do not do this sort of thing (although judgment declines the more drunk one becomes). A person who harasses strangers on the street is so low on the social totem pole that it would be hopeless to try to get a woman’s attention through more legitimate means, especially a beautiful woman of higher social status, so he has to force her attention by harassing her. Perhaps he justifies it too himself by thinking he is complimenting the woman’s looks. More likely, he just doesn’t care about the woman’s feelings.

    Having said all that, there are different levels of sexual harassment, ranging from the simply annoying to the kind that is prohibited in the workplace to the criminally-punishable. The author above is presumably talking about the more serious kinds, judging by her apparent anger and frustration. Simple flirtation is not sexual harassment, as long as it is not overtly sexual, and as long as the recipient does not make it clear the flirtation is unwelcome. The simply annoying kind of sexual harassment is best dealt with by teaching young boys (and girls) that the opposite gender is equal to them, and to treat them with the appropriate respect. The kind of harassment that is prohibited in the workplace is relatively easy to deal with, at least in the U.S. Lawyers fall all over themselves, in the U.S., to sue companies who tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace, and no intelligent company is going to risk a lawsuit.

    If a girl or woman does not welcome an advance, the simplest way to avoid it is to verbally confront the harasser, as long as she can do it in a way that is safe, for example, if she is in a public place, surrounded by others. A harasser will probably be surprised at the victim’s courage, and embarrassed by the attention being re-directed at him. If a harasser reaches the criminal level (e.g. obvious groping of strangers on the street), inform the local police (and, if they do nothing, complain, in writing, to their superiors). In my city, not too long ago, a man was making inappropriate physical contact with professional women in the downtown area. A police woman then dressed in professional clothes and walked around downtown by herself, and, when the man came up behind her, and touched her, the police arrested the perpetrator.

    I was recently groped by a woman on a downtown street. She was obviously drunk, and with a group of sports fans leaving a sports bar. It was only the second time in my life a woman had groped me. I did not find it funny (although, I have to admit, I am guilty of being slightly proud that I am an attractive enough man to have twice made women lose control of their manners in this way). Still, I cannot imagine having to deal with such nonsense my entire life, like many women do. I just glared at her, letting her know I did not find the touching welcome or humorous.

  18. Man

    April 25, 2011 at 6:29 PM

    i am not saying it is right but sometimes a male can be overcome by the sexual desire and give a lustful gaze. the lustful gaze can happen unintentionally too. if an attractive women comes in front of you and you are not ready for that, then your thoughts will automatically go towards doing haram sometimes.
    those who perform the action of sexual harrassment other then the lustful gaze, Allah knows best their inner states. Some people may have more sexual desire then others. Allah judges people based on theirs intentions and their actions.

    • Zeyad Ramadan

      April 25, 2011 at 10:06 PM

      @Man: Respectfully speaking brother, your comment “some people may have more sexual desires than others” is part of the very rationalization and lies offenders give to themselves to violate others whether it is by objecting others and their personal boundary by their eyes or taking it to the next extreme and violating them physically.

      Allah definitely does see our intentions for good and our shortcomings no doubt, but what makes it better is when we can take accountability for ourselves regardless of whatever the situation or the circumstance is around us.

      • Amman Abdul Adl

        April 26, 2011 at 12:15 AM

        “…but what makes it better is when we can take accountability for ourselves regardless of whatever the situation or the circumstance is around us.”

        Brother, you took those words “right out of my mouth”.

        I mean just think about it for a second. Allah (SWT) knew exactly what would be the state of the world in this day and age. Even then we have to stick to Allah’s divine commandments. Yes, they’re is some leniency in extreme cases, but overall we have to do our best.

        The situations were not ideal for the Prophet (S) and the Companions 100% of the time and they did whatever they could without comprising their Deen.

        Allah Knows Best

      • Muslim

        May 1, 2011 at 11:31 PM

        Salaam Brother,

        I agree with you. A sin is a sin and in most normal circumstances, a person has to overcome their desires to commit a certain sin.

        However, I think there is a differences between someone justifying something versus someone explaining the causation for something.

        Even though it isn’t right to lustfully gaze at a woman, as a community we have to accept the fact that the more women begin to walk around with less clothes or more provocative clothes, the harder it will be it lower one’s gaze. On top of that, the pop culture that is hammered into young people’s minds in the west constantly reaffirms the idea that women are just the objects of men to enjoy. These things are causations. They shouldn’t justify any sin, but at the same time we can’t be in denial of them. They have to be addressed seriously.

        Which is why, if you take a look at the Islamic dress code, it seems pretty extreme. Cover a woman from head to toe only allowing her face and hands to be exposed coupled with a command to lower one’s gaze. Alhumdulilah, there is so much practical wisdom in that.

        And I don’t agree with the argument that this doesn’t work because we still have sexual harassment problems in Muslim countries. Satellite television is everywhere these days and you have hundreds of women uncovered on TV which has also affected the perception of women and their role in society in the Muslim world. Throw in high speed internet and XXX pornography and you realize why even in a society where many women walk around outside covered, you still have these types of severe problems. However, that is not a justification for women to now relax their dress codes either. I think TV and high speed internet need to just go.

  19. Amatullah

    April 25, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    Fantastic article Hena, one of the best in MM’s history. Jazaki Allahu khayran.

    I think a lot of Muslim sisters feel that only Muslim men harass women, but I think we feel that way because here in the West – hijab protects us from that (to a certain extent). Just looking through that hollaback site was nauseating, subhanAllah, it really isn’t a Muslim only problem.

    I learned a long time ago that we shouldn’t put everyone under one umbrella. I cannot insult men because whenever my sister or I have been harassed (by muslim and non-muslim men), it has always been another man who came “to the rescue”. (except one time when my friend saw what happened and beat the guy up with her purse :) )

    may Allah protect us and our families.

  20. Rabee

    April 25, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    MashaAllah, this is a great article and raises awareness for a problem in our society. I’m proud that my fellow sisters in Islam are strong enough to stand up for themselves and for what’s right, and InshaAllah the men will do the same.

  21. Sister

    April 25, 2011 at 8:47 PM

    I’ve had several experiences of sexual harassment, all of which when I have been wearing Hijaab and Abaya.

    1. A pervert who kept starring at me, and gesturing for me to come over to him, on an overnight train in India – I was a young girl. I was travelling with my family, and was so confused and embarassed that I didn’t say anything.

    2. A cousin, also in India – he was much older and kept putting his arm around me. This time I did speak up, but only after the incident.

    3. A man who exposed himself to me on the Tube. As a young unmarried girl, I didn’t instantly know what was going on, and for anyone who knows the Tube – it’s not the place for making any kind of “fuss”. Alhumdulilah, I was able to get away from him by getting off a carriage and onto another (he did follow me off the train, but I got on just as the doors closed). And this time I didn’t say anything either.

    In every single instance I feel like the person singled me out because they knew that I wouldn’t draw attention to what they were doing. The pervert on the train was so bold as to expose himself on a busy train in broad daylight for a long period of time – so much so that other women noticed, got up in horror, but he stood there right infront of me unfazed…why they never said anything baffles me.

    This type of harassment is terrifying, and so embarrasing! Alhumdulilah ‘ala kuli haal, my experiences will help me to protect my children, inshaAllaah. It is so important to teach your children about the dangers of mixing with strangers, even in public places, and how to speak out against any form of harassment.

    JazakAllah Khair for this article.

    • Muslim

      April 25, 2011 at 9:08 PM

      Salaam sister – in your case I think you should have told your parents or authorities. This way that kind of behavior will be stopped. Just like it would be my duty to report a thief on the train or a violent person on the train, you should also report any incidents or tell your fellow companions on the train what is going on.

      In Japan (“Developed World”), especially in Tokyo, there is a huge sexual harassment and assault problem on their subway trains. Groups of men connect on the internet and go out groping women on packed trains. Usually they pick the trains where people are so squeezed together, no one can really do anything about it.

      The incidents that take place are extreme where they will grab a woman for a minute and grope her while others are watching and then let her go and run away. This has prompted the introduction of “women only” cars on the subway.

      In Tokyo, you can legally get any sexual service from a woman by paying her, except intercourse.

      So its not just the third world/india that has weird, horny guys on trains or on the internet or at the brothels.

      If you actually think about Hijab for women, without looking at it from a religious or social point of view, it is pretty extreme. Cover every single inch of your body except your hands and face, or else get punishment in the hellfire for it. Look at gender relations in Islam. DON’T talk to the opposite sex unless out of necessity. Don’t look at the opposite sex, don’t smell the opposite sex, don’t be alone with the opposite sex. It seems extreme, but when you realize the kind of consequences that take place because of its absence, you realize its not so extreme. It actually makes perfect sense.

      • Sister

        April 27, 2011 at 1:44 AM

        Wa ‘alaykum assalaam Br Muslim,

        I wish that I had spoken out about it, but sexual harassment can be so embarrasing for women, that many (like myself) will never speak about it to anyone. I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking that many women feel so confused in that instant (like is this really happening?) and even guilty thereafter, that they force themselves to forget about it, as though it really never happened.

        @ Sr Olivia, I think the type of sexual harassment can vary from culture to culture….the comments section is well-worth a read:

  22. Amatullah

    April 25, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    As-Salaamu alaikum,

    Both men and women are to blame for sexual harassment. I wear hijab and live in the US. 3 years ago, I almost never got sexually harassed. Over the past 2 years, when it became very fashionable for all women to dress and act like prostitutes, I have experienced more sexual harassment than I ever did in the past 20 years. Women also need to show more respect for each other. I have been insulted and mocked by more women than men in the past 2 years in the masjid and outside of the masjid. When men see that women don’t respect themselves or each other, how do we expect them to treat us? Women get pitted against each other by men who use us as pawns.

    I also see that some hijabis have boyfriends and are very flirty. This sends a bad message and makes things difficult for sisters who are trying to maintain their haya.

    Both men and women need to stop supporting the objectification of women in our daily lives, in the media, and the entertainment industry.

    EMANcipate yourself

  23. Zeyad Ramadan

    April 25, 2011 at 9:25 PM

    This article is timely. I was just on a call today with one of my own clients who brought up a memory of being sexually molested as a kid and the only feeling he could draw up against that was indifference and downplayed it, whereas when he thought of it happening to a little girl or boy of his own the sudden anger he felt right away.

    When we aren’t adequately prepared as parents and can’t provide that safe healing environment in our homes, the only choice our children have is to numb the feeling or traumatic experience out so they could function “normally” without that recurring pain again and again.

    So then these kids grow up carrying that rock from their past bring into their marriage and something similar happens to their children and they react exactly like their parents did because that’s who they modeled.

    One thing that I feel is missing in the article though is to mention that the victims are both males and females. Although the majority of the offenses do happen to young girls/women and are perpetrated by men, it’s important to acknowledge the collective pain and stories of all victims and not to fall into just the stereotype.

    • MX

      April 26, 2011 at 3:01 PM

      @Zeyad Ramadan,

      The last para connects very well with me. Myself, being a muslim guy, cannot count all instances of sexual harassment that have occured with me, all from males, mostly from strangers. I’ve lived in an ultra-conservative muslim country and I can’t even completely remember the number of times I’ve been asked for sexual favors in the streets by teens. I recall one instance when a 20 something-guy came to me and asked me for sex outside a fast-food joint during the last 10 days of Ramadan at Qiyam-al-layl before the taraweeh prayers were going to start!!

      Alhamdullilah ala kulli haal, after these nasty events and educating myself about sexual harassment over the years, I have learned how these perverts behave, how they pick their victims. Now that I am older, I have learned to be aggressively alert when it comes to homosexuals and paedophiles. I intend to teach my younger cousins about haya, sexual ettiquette in Islam Inshallah.

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 27, 2011 at 10:56 PM

      I am glad that you and several others raised this point that boys are also abused and that we have to teach our boys about safe and unsafe touches- Street harassment may also be an issue for them especially in areas of the world where young boys are the only ones out on the streets because their sisters and mothers are not allowed out of the homes.

      Sexual/street harassment is a form of sexual abuse. If I am not mistaken the kind of molestation you are speaking about occur most often when the perpetrator is not a stranger and is often must more invasive. That kind of abuse leaves deep scars and to cover the hurt victims, do cover up their own feelings rather than having to deal with the pain. This issue has been dealt with in previous Sex and the Ummah articles. I didn’t want to lump the two together. Each has it’s own pathology.

      I was exploring reasons specifically about why men harass women but judging from comments it seems like many brothers have experienced it as well by men as well as by women- Lets explore this as well:
      so why are grown men harassing young boys on the streets?
      – some brothers said it was because the women are dressed a certain way- so are the boys also dressed a certain way. I think it is mostly about power.

      Are you a therapist, brother? JazakAllah khair for sharing your thoughts.

      • MX

        April 28, 2011 at 11:28 AM

        Wa alaikum salam,

        Your reason provided in the first paragraph is correct. I ll build on it further. In ultra-conservative countries like KSA etc if a bunch of guys pulls over their car to harass a group of women in public places like crowded markets, etc it will definitely attract attention from others present around. So it’s not that prevalent.

        The above reason explains why street harassers who mostly happen to be homosexuals and/or pedophiles are so very comfortable in approaching any kid or teen on the streets who allures their eye as no one is going to suspect them. Worst of all, they can easily get away with it because they pick on kids who are usually of a different nationality.

        Now because of my ugly experiences with street molesters I get very uneasy if I happen to see 20-something males driving aimlessly in their cars and pulling over to ask small children for “directions” or anything else.

        The preventive measures for young teens to protect themselves from street molesters are very much the same for women. Travel in a group. Warn children not to approach or respond to any grown-up in the street who pulls his car over to ask ur child for ”directions”. Not to hang out late in the night. Never let your child sleep with any elder male relative/acquaintance/visitor etc.

        I’ll tell you another story of mine. When I was around 12 or 14 years old, I used to go to my local shopping centre with my younger brother, 10. There was a perv store-clerk over there who used to try to lure my small bro by telling him things like “I ll give you some nice stuff. Come with me here.” I saw where he wanted to take my brother. A small store-room located in an isolated corner of the shopping centre. Just the right place where rapists/paedophiles try to bring their targets towards.

        At once I understood what he wanted to do.

        So I would do anything to distract his attention and take my brother away with me to some other part of the center. I never let my brother visit that place again until that clerk was gone after some years or so.

        So you see, these are the sort of experiences that you learn from. And no, I am not a therapist. Jazakallah khair for your response.

  24. Yasir Qadhi

    April 25, 2011 at 9:40 PM

    Ma sha Allah, as usual MM raises the bar and speaks out on more taboo topics!

    I’m proud to be a part of the MM team. Keep up the good work!


  25. UmmSarah

    April 25, 2011 at 9:48 PM

    I was 15 – Umrah – and we were in front of the haram, the Kaaba the house of God, during Tawaf- I could not believe it. I asked Allah ‘why? why here Ya Allah’ – My father was right behind me but the lecher had no thoughts of his akhirah.
    For a second, I thought how does she know about my experience. I’m from Pakistani origin and lived most of my early years in Saudi Arabia. I started getting harrassed from really early age, on street, market, bus stop. I never shared my experiences with anyone because I was so embarrassed.
    At least for me, it all ended when I moved to Canada, from that time and on, I was never sextually harsssed or molested.
    This is certainly not a muslim problem but a cultural problem.

    • umm musa

      April 25, 2011 at 11:16 PM

      girl… it’s funny… well not really… but the exact same paragraph sparked the exact same reaction in me. i was 14, in full abaya, and making tawaf around the kaaba, holding my mom’s hand and walking behind my brother… getting felt up from behind. it still flabbergasts me. i was born and raised in america, have worn hijab since i was 12, and have never had any such problem here…
      i also had a cousin in pakistan hitting on me once (SO awkward and embarrassing)… the same cousin who self-righteously said he’d never visit america b/c it was such an evil place full of sin… thinking (i’m assuming?) that b/c i was the “american” cousin, he could actually lay a hand on me. blah….

      • Hena Zuberi

        April 28, 2011 at 2:27 AM

        Asalamaliakum SIsters,

        This is so sad that so many sisters have faced the same exact situation at the haram.. I don’t think we invited it, we were dressed appropriately, so just like if someone steals something from our homes despite all precautions, locked doors, security etc we do believe that robbery is a test from Allah, in the same way -we have to check our spiritual states too- why are we being tested like this? Make extra duas of protection too.

        For the brothers who want us to just stay home- what are your solutions for making the haram safe for your sisters?

        @umm musa
        I hope you told an adult because perps tend to escalate in their molestation if left unchecked.
        All victims- TELL TELL TELL, part of the power is knowing that the victim will not speak up.

      • BintKhalil

        April 28, 2011 at 8:40 PM

        Assalamu alaikum

        Might as well open the floodgates about the groping in the haram. I was in an abaya and niqab and about 2 feet from the gates of the haram in madinah standing next to my mum and dad when a man brazenly attempts to place a hand on my chest. Apparently, groping from behind is so yesterday. Alhamdulillah, I backed out by reflex. He was gone in a flash, lost in the crowd, to find the next unsuspecting female worshiper.

        Oh yeah I was born and raised in Riyadh and I can go on all night about the sexual harassment I have experienced when in abaya and sometimes in niqab.

  26. Sabeen Mansoori

    April 25, 2011 at 11:31 PM

    Jazakallah khair for an amazing article. It appears to be a universal problem transcending race and cultures and sadly religious affiliation. I still do not understand why the hijab seems to protect us in western societies but a full niqab seems inadequate in the courtyard of the Harum? It is symptomatic of a spiritual void in society that even proximity to the House of Allah is not enough to stop them.

  27. Amman Abdul Adl

    April 26, 2011 at 12:03 AM

    Wow, A Sister whose speaking up! I’m glad someone is (Masha’Allah). I think many brothers really don’t understand what women go through. Not about sexual harassment, but about speaking up or defending themselves when they feel violated. “The Quiet Women” is expected in many societies, especially in the South Asian community. The idea is simply to succumb to everything, and it’s taboo to even speak out when you feel you’ve been wronged. This suppressive ideology has lead to the creation of extreme feminist movements around the globe.

    But this should not be a “MEN BASHING” article which unfortunately has become very common in the modern world. I think we as human beings (men and women) need to balance out the arguements as much as possible. We could point fingers at the men, but the way women are treated now is a reflection of the way they’re acting. Again, both MEN AND WOMEN need to be aware of what they’re doing in society. Men to need realize that even if a women is completely nude in public then we MUST lower our gazes and not harrass her; and if women don’t want this to happen to them then maybe they need to do their part as well.

    In short: “We’re prepared to work at it but you have to meet us halfway.”
    (This is for both men and women and I could safely assume that this is an Islamic Persepctive)

    Allah Knows Best…

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 28, 2011 at 3:07 AM

      I did not want this to be a men bashing piece at all.. I love and respect the men in my life- my father, my uncles, brothers, sons, nephews, husband, teachers- each of whom make the world a better place (mashaAllah) and am grateful to Allah for them. I believe their support, love, advice, character and them being strong men- have all contributed to my growth, esp. spiritually and helped me be the woman I am today.

      I agree with you on meeting halfway but

      but the way women are treated now is a reflection of the way they’re acting

      sounds a a bit like ‘they have it coming’ which is not the right attitude.- if you didnt mean it that way then forgive me.

  28. Carlos

    April 26, 2011 at 12:55 AM

    I don’t lower my gaze. If there is someone feminine and beautiful to look at, I glance, then look away, like most men (Come on, admit it Muslim brothers). Staring is just pathetic. It is okay to appreciate natural beauty, as long as you do not do it so much that you blatantly disrespect others, and make yourself look like a creep.

  29. SA

    April 26, 2011 at 2:12 AM

    Hena thank you so much for writing about this topic!

    I and so many of my friends have had similar unfortunate experiences. We usually had no clue and had to wisen up pretty fast.I thought it was a Desi thing but thanks to you I learnt it isn’t.I used to dread shopping on weekends when we were in the Middle East.As for Pakistan every time we visited my mom always had these huge chaddars (long shawls) sown for us.It was ridiculous how my aunts would never take me or my cousins shopping in Pakistan.Anytime we did venture out into the bazaar there would be atleast 4 or 5 of us and never at peak hours.

    In the West it isn’t so bad.Although there is something to be said for Juma’ prayers.I have seen that at the end of Juma’ prayers in masjids that have a single entrance many of the girls stay back till atleast the sea of brothers have left before venturing out. Its because some brothers don’t have the decency to give way and lower their gaze!

  30. AnonyMouse

    April 26, 2011 at 4:44 AM

    To those brothers who trot out the “stay at home!” aayah (which I don’t object to btw), the fact of the matter is that religious sisters do try their best to follow this commandment.
    However, once again, there are situations and circumstances today that women cannot stay in her home as much as she would like… necessities such as work, school, and a million other things mean that she must go out.
    As for those women who are not Muslim, or Muslim but not practicing, etc. the best thing we can do is advise them gently – not with a “the best place for you is the most secluded room of your house!” (which I believe is only the best place for women to pray, not to stay in permanently!).

    BTW, I find that the brothers’ repeated comments about how they feel harassed/ deliberately provoked by women’s public displays to be very interesting. I wonder if the majority of men – Muslim or not – feel the same way. And if so, could this be something studied, written about, and published/ distributed in the mainstream media etc. so that we can get a better idea of how men feel about women’s provocative dressing in public?

    • Daniel Gina

      April 26, 2011 at 7:49 AM

      I think you’ll find that men don’t like to admit that feeling of being harassed whatsoever. It takes a lot of guts and fighting of the ego and personal pride to admit a man’s greatest weakness, no matter how tough he may be in all the other aspects of his life. Put him in front of a powerfully enticing woman and watch him crumble, except for the one Allah has mercy on (in fact, the story of Yusuf AS demonstrates this, that even the most powerful of men, the prophets, shuddered when put in this situation).

      For some reason, men are mocked when they admit they are troubled by the temptation of women and their enticement and when they stand against it. Yet, a woman is respected for her bravery when she stands against a man trying to entice her (in the cheap ways men do!).

      As for your idea for researching views of men on this, I think you’ll find two stances:

      1. Those who who are practising and live by laws that call for abstinence and patience will be the ones who will tell you they feel harassed by constant bombardment of female sexuality in their faces wherever they go. Because this group of men are the only ones trying to fight it off.

      2. As for the other group, you will find they will claim the exact opposite. They LOVE the constant bombardment. If I wasn’t muslim I’m sure I would love it too. I’d say bring it on! This group of men, knowingly or unknowingly, relish the fact that many women live their lives – to be frank – in order to please men. Trust me, it’s a feeling of power. Women don’t know it most of the time, but they are voluntary slaves to the pleasure of men in many cases. This group of men see women giving them signals of ‘check me out’ and they gladly check them out. Why need to sexually harass when you can go to a night club and brush your body along a woman who will relish it just like you? Of course, not all men in this group are to that extreme, but they do at least enjoy feasting their eyes if nothing else (check out carlos’ comment above).

      Of course every man enjoys it, but the difference between group 1and 2 is that 1 feels troubled by it because he realises it’s harmful to him, his dignity and his deen, while 2 takes it all as a burst of sexual enjoyment.

      Reardless of which group you’re from, the reality is that both groups are still affected (I called this harassment for those in group 1); affecting their deen, the way they view women, and producing a level of sexual tension and stress that is taboo in society. etc. The harmful effects are probably greater on group 2 given they are exposed to the harmful effects more.

      Wallahu A’lam.

      • AnonyMouse

        April 26, 2011 at 8:01 AM

        JazaakAllahu khairan for your comment… I find your insight fascinating.

      • The Shardul of Allah

        April 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM

        Mashallah Daniel Gina. All praise to Allah that there are still people among us who stand up and speak the truth.

        To be frank, among all the trials that I have faced in my life, nothing can come close to the temptations of women.

        There was one scholar who said, “If you give me all the riches of the world and ask me to guard it, I will take this responsibility gladly. But if you ask me to stay one night with the ugliest woman of the world, I cannot guarantee you if I will come out with my character intact the next day.”

        But whatever, instead of spending our precious time in teaching our sisters about how they should dress and where they should stay, better we take this opportunity to earn our Jannah. Optimists in situations of trial see opportunities, whereas pessimists only see difficulties. Let us be brave and optimists ;)

        • Daniel Gina

          April 26, 2011 at 11:17 AM

          Jzk for the reminder on optimism!

          By the way, I have to say I checked out both your blogs (shardul and anonymouse) that you linked via your usernames and believe me when I say it, I’m extremely impressed and proud of the content. May Allah accept our good deeds.

          • Amman Abdul Adl

            April 26, 2011 at 12:28 PM

            Mash’Allah Sister Dina! It’s great to read a well balanced post. Alhumdulillah, thank you…

  31. L AA

    April 26, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    This is not a Muslim vs Non-Muslim issue. it is age old and it is still rampant, in the streets of Casablanca, in Cairo, in Detroit, in New York, in Minneapolis, in Mazatlan, in Cancun. Geography does not matter, it’s the same crap, different day. “how ’bout some fries with that shake” ? sound familiar. it should. I have turned around and grabbed the hand on my Butt in the subway more than once, and I’m old and fat!

    Until MEN get the idea that it’s NOT OKAY, and WOMEN get the idea that it’s not a compliment, it’s going to be there. Hijab? niqab? miniskirt? what’s the difference? there isn’t any.

    We teach our daughters how to deal and we teach our sons not to do. THAT’S how we change the world.

  32. UmmZayn

    April 26, 2011 at 1:26 PM

    I havent read through all the comments so I dont know if this point was already addressed. Hena, thanks so much for writing this and helping to raise awareness on this issue and to also empower and educate people. I think its important to have such things addressed not only to women, but men as well. Although a larger number of girls are probably victims of sexual harassment, it does happen to guys as well, boys as well as grown men. Its important to also educate young boys so they are aware and dont feel ashamed to speak out and stop the abuse. We often hear horror stories of sexual abuse incidents in madrassas etc, Im not saying they are all like this, but we all know it does happen, so its important to not just focus this education on girls, but our boys as well. And like I said, its not just boys, but can happen to men as well. When my husband went for Hajj, he was walking through a crowd in the direct vicinity of the Haram Shareef in his ihram, and a man from the crowd groped him. So I just wanted to point out the importance of especially educating young boys about these issues too, because often we focus it mostly on young girls only

  33. Olivia

    April 26, 2011 at 2:45 PM

    I know sexual harassment happens everywhere, but the vast majority of stories I’ve heard, even from American girls, happened in Muslim countries and in particular the South Asian subcontinent (sorry! =( ). maybe its just happenstance, but does anyone think there’s a connection between sexual harassment and a lack of accountability or inept law enforcment? i mean, bottom line, if the cost outweighs the risk, men won’t do it, unless they’re really desperate. but if there’s no fear of reprecussion, it will become more commonplace. sounds like law enforcement needs to take sexual harassment more seriously would be my guess. overcrowding is probably another problem in places where it happens.

    • The Shardul of Allah

      April 26, 2011 at 2:49 PM

      I am from sub-continent, I can tell you that this is true.

      When the victim goes to police, let alone getting justice, she only receives more sexual harassment from police.

    • Kristin

      April 28, 2011 at 12:16 AM

      I think it’s all a matter of degree. I knew two women in small Canadian towns who were charged or almost charged with mischief for reporting rapes.

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  35. Marwa

    April 26, 2011 at 3:07 PM

    Well, there are so interesting comments in there, i tried to read all, but it`s too difficult.
    *i want to mention some points regarding the issue in my country ( Egypt,a third world country):
    i kinda believe that the main reason for the sexual harassment in Egypt include (but may not be limited to):

    1-Regime oppression upon males, so they wanted to feel somehow strong, by doing this to women.
    i have seen a report yesterday that says that sexual harassment didn`t show up much this easter (it was a major trouble each easter, especially in the zoo and parks)

    2-poor education about religion. The reason of which was poor education about islam in schools, and shutting down the broadcast of all channels that try to preach.

    3-Some times, it`s the woman`s fault (some times, not most of the times) coz men feel they`re calling for it.
    4- The police was not protecting the women, some times they stood by watching, or even shared. which gave the predators an excuse to act this shameful act.

    _There is another point that i don`t know if it`s important to point out or not, but alot of women who wear hijab in Egypt are not wearing a proper hijab at all, actually their clothing some times is more exposing than a non-hijabi (some times this is so annoying)
    _And there is a point that is so important to point out: We have to point out the brave men who protect women everyday on the street, coz this way, alot of men will try to act like so and the harassers will actually decrease their act, and may even try to stop other men.

    Finally, a brother up there (Leo) said that muslims are the biggest perverts, esp. those coming from India.
    i have to tell u that sexual harassment is a worldwide problem, not only in the muslim world. And it`s worst in your society, because as far as i know, there is a rape case reported every five minutes in the US.
    so, i guess the US has a bigger problem that needs action.
    Finally, i hope that allah guides us all the right path.
    Jazakallah khair for sharing this article.

  36. Abez

    April 26, 2011 at 3:09 PM

    I typed a comment in here that got so long it took on a life of its own.

    And here it is.

  37. Cartoon M

    April 26, 2011 at 8:06 PM

    This is really sad. Shouldn’t Muslim men be the most respectful of women, since this is what our religion teaches? If our character is our dawah, then we have a lot to improve on. But at the same time it’s important to not demonize all men. I see this happen sometimes. Most men are good and respectful of women. May Allah guide us.

  38. Ubaidallah

    April 26, 2011 at 8:56 PM

    What about women harassing men? These girls won’t get off my swag!

    • Damali

      April 28, 2011 at 5:23 AM

      Its just as bad if women are harassing you, sorry to hear that. You should take the same precautions women do & tell women who harass you to stop….they will listen

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  40. belle and sebastian

    April 27, 2011 at 6:55 PM

    OT, but in the last couple days that i’ve been reading updates and such here, every time i scroll past the picture of the niqabi woman being hassled by the men wearing different coloured t-shirts, my 2 yr old positively insists that they’re the wiggles. she’s quite adamant about it!

  41. Aisha

    April 27, 2011 at 7:07 PM

    Thank you for such a moving, inspiring, and beautifully-written article.

    In solidarity!

  42. waleed ahmed

    April 27, 2011 at 11:12 PM

    I was having a conversation with a caucasian woman about stereotypes. I asked her how south asians were stereotyped amongst white people. The first thing she mentioned was that brown guys were known for giving white girls the dirtiest looks; prolonged staring while making creepy facial expressions is a well established trait apparently. She also said that this wasn’t just her personal experience but there was consensus amongst her girlfriends on this issue.

    Being Pakistani, this woman’s words echo in my head every time a white girl passes by me. It is quite humiliating to know that people of my race have established a reputation due to which I might automatically be perceived as a pervert even if my intentions are the purest. This is a serious issue and I hope my brothers in skin colour make an effort to erase this detestable mark on our character.

  43. Kristin

    April 28, 2011 at 12:13 AM

    Thank you for this. I am not Muslim, I am a white woman who grew up in rural Canada but my entire adolescence was rife with sexual harassment. To see it put into words that that constant harassment and fear has the same impact as rape validates my experience. I knew from the age of 13 that it was not safe to be a woman, I can only imagine what it is like in the Islamic countries of which you write.

    I have one more thing to offer, sexual harassment will not stop so long as we promote the idea that it is a woman’s job to not get raped rather than a mans job not to be a rapist/harasser. When you pair this attitude with the objectification of women you wind up with men who feel entitled to our bodies but bear no responsibility for their actions. And women, we are raised to not make waves, not upset people, not cause a scene.

    Again, thank you for this post, more needs to be said about this kind of sexual harassment.

  44. Abeer

    April 28, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Thank you so much for this.

    I’m a little disappointed in the comments where people are defending Muslim culture and Islam, and saying it’s a worldwide problem. This implicit denial of what is going on is actually hurtful to me, a victim of sexual harassment from Muslims. Although your intentions are wonderful, it takes away from the point of this article. I think it is very very important to highlight this, which was already bolded in the article, “One of the most important aspects of this study was that it found that 72.5% of victims surveyed were wearing hijab when they were sexually harassed. ” More women who WEAR hijab are being sexually harassed in Egypt than those that do NOT wear hijab. We have to accept responsibility that this DOES occur in Muslim countries and Muslim communities rather than trying to finger-point the problem elsewhere. This is a website dedicated to talking about issues affecting Muslims.

    I was 16 years old when I went to Pakistan for the first time. It was a few months after I had performed Hajj and I was on a spiritual high thinking that it would be wonderful to visit another Muslim-majority country. Living in a small Muslim community in America I had never really interacted with that many Muslims before, except during Jumah, Eids, or other big events. I was excited to go to a place that I perceived to be filled with purity, imaan, and righteousness. I was quite the naive child. Although I learned about sex in high school biology class, I thought it was a dirty way in which non-Muslims reproduced (I was also quite prejudiced back then) and that Muslims were simply blessed by Allah so as to avoid this dirty method.

    I learned that Muslims had sex at the international airport in Karachi. We went to the airport to pick up my father, who could only take two weeks off for the trip (Whereas the rest of the family spent a total of six weeks in Pakistan.) It was the longest I had been separated from my father, and I excitement cannot contain the proper word for how much I wanted to see him again. In my hijab and shalwar kameez I ran through the airport and heard my mom say from the distance to not go through the crowd or we’ll get lost. I chose to ignore her and wove my way through the crowd to attempt to get as close as possible to the arrivals section. The crowd was very thick and eventually I could not weave through anymore and had to remain stationary.

    That’s when it happened. That’s when I learned about sex. A complete stranger started touching me in inappropriate places. I had absolutely NO conception that Muslims had sex, and being in a Muslim-majority country I immediately assumed I had simply stood in the man’s way. So I moved. He moved too.

    Eventually, I don’t know how long it took, the realization hit me hard. I was terrified, but it was difficult to move away from him with the thick crowd. The WORST part of this incident was that this man did not feel the need to take me to an empty bathroom, or some dark alley. I was in the middle of a crowd. A CROWD of people. I remember looking first at my shoes scared to move. Then I looked up at the crowd of men around me. They were all men. They all knew what was happening. Not a single man did anything. I could tell by their clenched jaws that they knew I was looking for a savior, but everyone ignored me.

    I spent the next few YEARS of my life thinking that it was entirely my fault. That I had disobeyed the commands of God and this was my punishment. I felt so ashamed of myself I fell into depression and contemplated suicide. I would go to MSA meetings at college and wear long loose coats, hoping that no Muslim man would ever be attracted to me. I felt that I didn’t deserve to get married because no man would want to marry someone who wasn’t a pure virgin (though technically I am a virgin, I felt like what had happened has spoiled the virginity I was to give my husband [I grew up with a patriarchal interpretation of Islam.])

    Eventually, I got the courage to tell some girls on a one-on-one basis. Every single girl told me that they too had been sexually harassed by a Muslim man. But every single one also said that we should not talk about it because it will ruin our chances of getting married. We then spoke about the many times we’ll be passing by a Muslim man and they stare at us as if we are objects. A lot of commenters say that’s what white/western people do, but I must disagree. I went to a high school that was 97% white, and never have I ever felt objectified by men, even at the peak of their crazy hormones. In college, I met many non-Muslim men that I worked on projects with and I have always felt comfortable around them. Sexual harassment DOES occur in the West and it is a problem in the West as well, but I feel more comfortable and safe around non-Muslim men then I ever have around Muslim men who either stare at the floor when I’m around, stare at me continuously, or speak about me in a perverted manner. (In our MSA it was found out that the men would talk about sexual fantasies with each of the MSA girls. I know that probably happens with any group of guys regardless of religion, but I feel that there should be a higher standard placed on the quality of Muslim men.)

    If I ever have kids I will make sure they received proper sex-ed and the boys grow up learning the responsibilities of interacting with women, rather than being simply told to lower their gaze. I don’t know if it will be a perfect methodology, and I know Muslim Matters tends to be more conservative than my approach towards Islam, but I do hope that my kids will never have to experience what I had to.

    • Hena Zuberi

      April 28, 2011 at 1:50 PM

      Dear Abeer,
      Thank you so much for having the courage to speak out in a public forum- I feel that the more our sisters’ voices are heard and the silence is shattered the closer we can come to changing attitudes.

      I don’t think that this should harm your chances at getting married- By God this was not your fault-

      What he did to you was not sex it was molestation- sex is something beautiful created by our Lord to be enjoyed by a husband and a wife in the sanctity of a marriage. Don’t let his actions have any more control over you- There are many good, decent Muslim brothers out there who will not judge you and I pray that Allah SWT chooses one of them to be your spouse.

      We are practicing Muslim brothers and sisters on MuslimMatters, who are conservative BUT I believe and can speak for most of the writers here, that we believe in educating men, women, children about sex and interaction between genders just as our Prophet may Allah’s blessings be on him taught us.In a haya filled, direct way that doesn’t leave you in confusion or lead you towards haram but encourages you to wait for this God given pleasure at the right place and at the right time.

      Duas from your sister in Islam

    • Inqiyaad

      April 29, 2011 at 12:17 AM

      Sister Abeer,
      May Allah increase your levels in Jannah and recompense you for your patience.

      Whenever you are disturbed by this memory try to replace the imagery that is playing in your mind with the following. I must tell you that what follows is not fantasy. It is something that Allah has promised you, because you have been oppressed.

      Imagine this person standing in front of you, at your disposal. Yes there is a crowd around you, the entire humanity. But, you are in no need of them. Because, Allah will be your supporter. He will not ignore you. Your compensation will be in the currency of deeds. If you choose to forgive, Allah will elevate your status and recompense you according to His Magnificence.

      I pray that Allah blesses you with a loving and lovable Husband. I pray that you continue to share this love in the Gardens of Al-Firdous al-a’laa. I pray that your children have the best of manners and that they are never violated.

      This last piece that I am about to write, I debated a lot about it. Whether to write it or not. Ultimately, I decided to write. When I comment on this blog about the importance of Hijab and related things, it is out of concern. There are sisters who make some wrong decisions that put them at an increased risk of such assaults.

      I think I have clarified this before, but I guess I can do a better job. The responsibility of making the right choices is toward Allah. None has the right to violate you, even if you have shortcomings in your responsibility toward Allah. Anyone who violates you is an oppressor. You have been oppressed and Allah will recompense you as promised.

      I just want my sisters to tie their camels. Anyone who steals, despite the efforts of my sisters, will be in an even difficult situation to explain on the day of recompense.

      Your brother in Islam.

  45. anila raiy

    April 28, 2011 at 1:46 PM

    thank you so much for sharing your story! i am a Muslim girl and was faced with similar situations, with non-Muslims in a Muslim country. i always thought i was alone in this and had to hide it because i was embarrassed. but truth it, its still always in the back of my head and makes it very hard for me to truth the opposite gender. but again, thank you for sharing!

  46. Carlos

    April 28, 2011 at 7:24 PM

    Just this morning, I was walking down the street in my work clothes, and I heard, from a parked car, “You look very nice.” I stopped, and looked in the car. It was a woman. She nodded, smiled, and repeated what she had said, “You look very nice.” I took the nod and the smile to mean she was being sincere. Nobody else could hear what she said, so, even though I felt a little awkward, I nodded my head, as if to say, “Thank you.” I think this lady was, at worst, just being flirtatious, so I was not offended.

    I do not mean to belittle some of the disturbing accounts some of you have posted. Obviously, some posters have experienced very traumatic instances of sexual harassment, and I am deeply sorry for you, and wish you the best. Please remember that it is not your fault.

  47. be

    April 29, 2011 at 12:36 AM

    so can someone please pass a link on how (not how important it is) to educate our children about sex in an Islamic manner?? thank you
    the link that was provided by brother Ahmed did not bring me to it.


    • Hena Zuberi

      April 29, 2011 at 12:51 AM

      salams, Sister Umm Reem is working on her follow up post about this.

      Is your child a boy or a girl?
      If she is a girl start with this-

      It about puberty but will give you a basis to start the discussion inshaAllah
      I am hoping to write a part II to add to this for older girls inshaAllah (keep us in your duas)
      the boys version will come out in May inshaAllah

      Soundvision has some tips too

      • be

        April 29, 2011 at 10:12 PM

        jazak Allau kheiren !!!
        I just forwarded that to my friends….

        It sounded in on of the article in MM that we need to talk at an early age about those things to our kids you advice a specific age? I MEAN my daughter is 6 should I just leave her alone??

        • Hena Zuberi

          April 30, 2011 at 2:00 AM

          Alhamdulillah, I am glad that helped.

          At this age- I would suggest talking to her about awareness of her surroundings, safe and unsafe touches, tell her about private parts. That her body is a gift from Allah and she has to help you protect it. Tell her about awrah and satr so she is familiar with these concepts.

          Don’t scare her but let her know that there are people who come under Shaytan’s waswasa and may want to touch children in an unsafe way. Don’t use the word good or bad because children confuse the meanings and someone it may feel ‘good’ but is not a safe touch and also when she is married the childhood connotations of good Safety is also closer to the terminology that they are used to because we teach them not to to touch fire as it is unsafe or cross the road without looking.etc

          Teach her know the concept of mahram, nonmahram. That girls grow up and get married and only then that man will be her mahram.

          No secrets from MOM ever- She should know that she can come to you at anytime if she feels uncomfortable around someone. To tell you if anyone touches her around her private parts.

          Run, yell, tell I teach my kids.

          At six they have so many questions- answer them in a honest, direct way while inculcating haya from this age.

          I hope these points help

  48. Altaf Ahmad

    April 29, 2011 at 1:05 AM


    brother and sister, i did’nt read all comments but i like to share my feelings and thought about islam and role of women in islam.

    Islam is a name of peace and not a terrisioum, education. love, discpline, respect, regards, and humanity.

    islam never teach for not to disobey the woman, its gives a higher rank in the world and in rest of the world where we have to leave for ever, we will known by our mother in AKHARAT, is woman not a men.

    who ever think that negative about good woman is living in hell,

  49. Pingback: Friday Links | April 29, 2011 » Muslimah Media Watch

  50. Aqeeqat

    April 29, 2011 at 8:00 AM

    To all the men on this website blaming women or claiming misogynistic hadith to further justify their brothers’ perverse behaviour- let me just say this. 1) A woman requires protection, not subjection to perversion. 2) The Quran states that men and women were created equally. As the Quran is the word of God and cannot be changed, this should be the first thing one sites in regards to the treatment of women. I strongly caution against overly quoting hadith, which were the words of a man written by men, and subject to the errors that men commit.

    Furthermore, a child has no sexually developed organs and is not required to cover anything. A child who is immature has no conception of sex or gender relations. And just as a child needs protection, so does a woman. Islamically, men are supposed to be the protectors of women, not the perpetrators of the greatest sins against them. How dare you blame those whom you are charged with protecting? Let me tell you my story before you go on with these abhorrent beliefs.

    I was 2 years old when I was first exposed to sex. I was staying at my grandmother’s house playing with my toys when my uncle took me by the hand and led me to his room in the basement. To this day I remember the pale blue paint on the concrete walls. To this day the sight of that shade of blue makes my stomach turn. He closed the door and locked it. Then he exposed himself to me and made me do things I can’t repeat. He realized he could do it because he could get away with it. And this went on for years behind the backs of my parents and my whole family.

    To make matters worse I was raised that unless I was a virgin no muslim man would marry me. This caused me great stress and alarm, so much so that as a teenager I contemplated and attempted suicide 3 times. One time I ended up in the hospital for 3 days in a coma after over dosing on pills.

    When I hit puberty, I started getting attention from male cousins. Almost every older male cousin I have has sexually molested me or hit on me in some way.

    When I became a young adult, I gained weight at a shocking rate, I was purposely making myself unhealthy because I didn’t want any man to ever look at me again. Unfortunately we all know that doesn’t work, because men are attracted to women of any shape, size, and appearance.

    A few years ago, I was with a large group of fellow muslims on a military training mission here in the US. The elderly muslim men were the worst perpetrators of harassment that I have ever met in my life. No shame, no humility. They would brazenly rub their bodies against women, make lewd comments, and in general make life miserable for the females there.

    That being said, as woman that was born and raised in the United States, I have never experienced harassment at the hands of non-muslim American men. I have only experienced the utmost respect at school and the workplace. I have reached a point in my life where I have had so many bad experiences with Muslim men that I refuse to marry a muslim born man. I have become so scarred and damaged I don’t think I would ever feel safe with such a man. And the fact that my virginity is such an issue, how could I ever explain such a thing? Women are always blamed for such things, and if not blamed we are seen as damaged and unacceptable. I never had a choice. God willing, had I known about hijab at a young age I would have done it. But I don’t think that would have stopped what happened to me. I strongly believe that men in society need to stop blaming women and realize they are the perpetrators of violence and they must correct themselves. Yes violence against women exists everywhere but we must admit there is a huge problem in the MUSLIM community and it must be corrected. I never wanted this life, I wanted to have a normal life. But that choice was taken out of my hands before I was even old enough to realize what I wanted out of life.

    My fiance now is not a muslim, but he is in the process of converting insh’Allah. May God forgive those who committed sins against me. And may my story be a lesson to my brothers out there who are ignorant of the crimes of THEIR brothers, cousins, uncles, and fathers.

    • Muslimah

      April 29, 2011 at 10:00 AM

      Assalamu ‘Alaykum Sister Aqeeqat,

      I too agree with you that I was born and raised in the US and never experienced harrassment or abuse at the hands of the non-Muslims. My ex-husband, however, who is Muslim, perpetrated extreme domestic violence against me and sexually abused our four-year old daughter. My ex-husband’s brother also shared with me, after the divorce, that he was raped repeatedly by him (in Saudi Arabia) as a boy. Alhamdulilah, this monster is out of our lives now and we have gone through a lot of counseling. My daughter, however, doesn’t like or trust men and recently confided that she might be gay.

      As a brother suggested before, there is a positive correlation between sexual harrassment and domestic violence – at least in my family.

      Going back to the matter of its prevalence in Muslim societies, even at the Haram or in Saudi Arabia, and not, as so many Sisters have indicated, here in the West, then we need to look at the conditions that lend themselves to producing Muslim perpetrators of sexual abuse and domestic violence. I, for one, feel that Islam when practiced without moderation leads to extremist behaviors. In this regard, segration of men and women can engender a desire and craving for the forbidden. Therefore, a moderate and balanced approach to co-mingling should produce in Muslim men less of an unhealthy obsession in the opposite gender, in sha Allah.

      Another point. If someone blames women for causing men to commit sexual harrassment, then he relinquishes self-control and empowers them to dictate his feelings and actions. If the only recourse is to keep women in seclusion for their own and his protection, then I might suggest that it is that brother who needs to be put in seclusion until he can control himself. Wa Allahu ‘alam.

    • Haleh

      May 9, 2011 at 5:24 AM

      Assalamo alaikom sister Aqeeqat,

      As your sister in Islam my heart goes out to you for experiencing such painful events so early in your life. The fact that it was a famiy member always makes it more difficult since these are the people who should have had your best interest in mind. You trusted them and they repeatedly betrayed you. There is no easy way to cope with these difficult tests you have gone through.

      As a psychologist I want you to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. The majority of the clients I have worked with have been sexually abused by a family member. The same was true when I worked with non-Muslim clients in the U.S.. It is a huge problem for all societies. You can get some comfort by knowing that many people who do seek counseling or educate themselves about overcoming abuse do get better and can have healthy marital relationships. It is important to realize that IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT and the way you can make sense of all the pain is to do something meaningful with the lesson you have learned. Maybe you can help educate mothers about sexual abuse and how they can better protect their children. Most victims were not taught about protecting themselves against sexual abuse. Here is what I suggest to share with young children:

      1. No one should touch your private parts
      2. You should never touch another person’s private parts
      3. If a person tells you to keep a secret from your parents they are not a good person
      4. If the person threatens to kill you or your parents know that this is just a way to scare you- it’s only a threat
      5. Tell an adult about anything that doesn’t feel right – Parents please believe your children & stop the denial

      I am happy that you are engaged. Insha’Allah that you will be able to find fulfillment in your new life and put the past behind you. Remember that the past does not equal the present! I pray that you can be an example of a survivor throughout your life.


  51. Nadia

    April 29, 2011 at 2:21 PM

    “But turning this around, when a woman exposes much of her body to men, clearly ‘dresses up’ and wears perfume, etc why is this not seen as a form of ‘harassment’ towards men?”

    Are you kidding me??

    How is being sexually assaulted without your consent the same as seeing someone’s arm, leg or hair?

    You are equating being physically harassed to just seeing the human body?

    Men see their mothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and grandmothers ALL THE TIME. They see their beauty and are perfectly aware of what a woman’s body looks like. Suddenly, they see someone else’s and that means they are able to attack that person?

    And if you don’t want male bashing and people to say that harassment is an inherent male quality, you are completely opposing your argument by saying women have a responsibility to dress a certain way, because you are admitting that being sexually aggressive and disrespectful is something a man cannot help? Seriously?

    “Just as women suffer psychologically from harassment, so do men.”

    Only if the men are PHYSICALLY harassed in the same way women are, NOT by simply being exposed to a woman’s beauty. Women aren’t psychologically harassed for seeing a good-looking man. Do men whimper in hear, become depressed and suddenly become introverted after seeing a woman in public? Do you have statistics, examples and proof of that harassment you are talking about?

    Seeing a woman does not mean SEX, just like seeing a man does not mean SEX. The majority of people being harassed are not dressing in a sexual manner or do not try to do so, so therefore it is the man who needs to change is idea about what is sexual or not and stop acting so animal-like. See people for who they are-human beings, not sexual objects. That lesson is not going to be learned by just covering someone up because you are validating the point that women are simply sexual beings and cannot be seen as human beings until you add some kind of artificial barrier over them.

    How come women seem to understand this and don’t demand that men cover their hair or smile or arms, because those can be attractive?

    Where does it say in the Quran that dress is a direct link to treatment by society and that if a woman doesn’t dress a certain way she is responsible for what happens to her, but if a man doesn’t it then nothing happens?

    If we are to argue we dress modestly so we are not judged by our looks, then we are still judging each other by our looks if we think a slight adjustment changes how we should treat each other.

    And how is there a culture of promiscuity in Muslim countries if Islam is not about promiscuity? If these are “Western” issues, then how come they exist in the same way in Muslim countries? What is distinguishing us if our religious values are not being practiced sincerely and only superficially, because we think it’s enough to put artificial barriers between us and think that’s enough?

    Just saying it is a cultural issue is skirting the problem because it occurs in various cultures in the “Muslim” world, so whose culture is allowing it? Obviously rape happens all over the world, but it is unique in the Muslim world for being framed as a clothing-responsibility and gender-responsibility argument instead of a religious-values, social upbringing argument.

    I am SO SO proud of this article, mashallah, for hitting every point exactly, giving advice, being open-minded, unafraid, comprehensive, respectful to the true intent of Islam and bringing in men and women together for this disturbing, yet critical problem.

    I can’t wait to see the great impact we will all bring together to make a difference.

    Allah will not change our conditions, until we change them ourselves.

    It’s time to stop the excuses, stop the blaming on material or external factors and reflect on ourselves and our spirituality. 

  52. Carlos

    April 29, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    There are some heart-wrenching accounts here. Thank you, sisters, for sharing your painful experiences to enlighten the rest of us. Please remember that the abuse was not your fault, and does not devalue your worth as a human being. My thoughts are with you, beloved and valued sisters.

    I am shocked that so many of these accounts of sexual harassment and abuse are regarding cousins, uncles and even fathers and brothers. Sexual harassment and abuse are terrible enough, but, when it comes from within the family, the trauma, permanent damage and feelings of betrayal must be so much worse. Of course, incestuous sexual abuse is not unique to any one culture. But I have to wonder if the rigid segregation of unrelated males and females in some Muslim societies increases the likelihood of incestuous sexual abuse. Has anyone ever done a study on that question? Does being limited to access to females of one’s own family make a male more likely to commit incestuous sexual harrassment and abuse?

    One also has to wonder, as some posters have suggested, if unmarried men having no outlet for sanctioned or at least tolerated sexual behavior leads to sociopathic perversion. If a man, either due to youth or poverty or familial status or religious status or social status or handicap or looks or age or whatever, is not able to marry, what is he to do about his very real urges? Not everybody is as good at self discipline as some are. Some might say a girlfriend (or boyfriend?) is the lesser of “evils.” Some might say pornography is the lesser of evils. If I had to weigh the evils of consensual extra-marital relationships or (non-child) pornography with the evils of sexual abuse, I have to admit that I would choose the former over the latter. Try to be realistic, rather than dogmatic, in considering this dilemma.

  53. Carlos

    April 29, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    (FYI, my last comment was censored, even though it did not break any “rules” of this website, and even though it contained what, I think, was some very useful ideas.)

    I thought of some other ideas for preventing sexual abuse:

    – Do no assume that any adult or adolescent is safe around children just because they are family. The only people who should be assumed to be safe are the biological mother and the biological father, assuming they give no signs of being unsafe.

    – Educate. Educate. Educate. Teach boys. Teach girls. Teach children the moment they can communicate. Teach adults. Encourage victims of abuse to share their experiences. Let them know it is not their fault, and that they have not lost their human value. Let children know their bodies belong to themselves, and that nobody else has the right to touch them. Let men know that sexual harassment and abuse does harm its victims, and that it is not okay. Teach boys that girls are their equals under the law. Teach in the schools. Teach in the mosques. Teach at home. Teach. Teach. Teach.

  54. Mohammad Yusha

    May 2, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    Moderators: Was my previous comment deleted just because I disagree?

    Hena Zuberi: Before calling this a Muslim problem, maybe you can look at the rape stats in the U.S and other western countries. And as for slapping an innocent person, shame on you.

    • sebkha

      May 2, 2011 at 2:02 PM

      Seriously, you’re trying to say shame on her because of her panicked response to being sexually molested in public when she was a 16 yr old child? This was the best response you could come up with?
      The only thing useful about your comment is that it reinforces how demented a certain portion of the male thinking is when it comes to this issue.

  55. Mohammad Yusha

    May 2, 2011 at 2:58 PM

    @Sebka: I hope one day a girl gets molested, and she turns around to slap an innocent person, and that person happens to be your father or brother. Then come back and tell me the same thing.

    • sebkha

      May 2, 2011 at 7:39 PM

      If it were my father, husband, brother, or any other male in my family, their hearts would have nothing but forgiveness for a mistake like that, and they’d be very sad that such a thing had happened to any woman, anywhere, no matter what. But you are hoping for another child to be molested so that I can learn some kind of contrived, insane lesson? Sick. Very, very sick. That’s straight up pathological.

      • Mohammad Yusha

        May 2, 2011 at 9:48 PM

        So nice of you to twist my statement. I am not hoping that a girl gets molested, it happens all the time.

        As for your male family members having forgiveness in their heart, it makes the wrong act correct, right?

  56. Mohammad Yusha

    May 2, 2011 at 3:02 PM

    > The worst part was the look on other women’s faces, like I had done something wrong

    @Hena: The women were probably not aware of what you had just gone through.

  57. Coorled38

    May 2, 2011 at 3:56 PM

    I had this argument with my then Muslim husband so many times. He was also of the opinion that a woman abetted in the crime of sexual harrassment or rape against her by inflaming the hormones of men who could not seemingly prevent themselves from reacting. Here is my argument.

    If a woman came walking down the street stark naked the manly thing to do would be to offer to cover her up…why? maybe she has been attacked and is wandering in shock. Maybe she takes medication and it has affected in some way to be unaware of her surroundings. Maybe she just suffered a head injury of some kind and is unaware of her surroundings….maybe she is on bad drugs and in unaware of her surroundings. Maybe she just took her clothes off and started strolling down the street enjoying the freaking weather.

    Whatever the cause of her nudity is…it is NOT a green light to react…the reaction should NOT be that she is “open for business” and let the sexual harrassment or rape commence. Every man who sees her (and women for that matter) has one of three choices to make.

    ignore her
    attack her
    defend her

    Ignoring should not be an option. Would you ignore you own wife/daughter/sister if she were the one walking nude?

    Attacking should not be an option. Would you want your own wife/daughter/sister attacked if she were the one walking nude?

    Defending should always be the ONLY choice. Would you not want your own wife/daughter/sister defended if she were the one walking nude?

    Now I understand that wearing clothes that are revealing is not the same as being stark naked…but the priniciple still appplies. For whatever reason that woman is wearing what she is wearing, how she is wearing it etc etc…that does not give men the green light to react negatively. If she is committing an indecency, dressing immorally or whatever you want to call it…then the sin is hers and hers alone. To react negatively to it is to create your own sin that cannot be blamed on her or excused with pathetic “she made me do it” responses.

    In YOUR mind she may be walking around with an invisible “F**k me” sign on her back…but unless the words and invitation to follow through with that come directly from her lips and are directed to YOU…there is no invitation…there is NO sign. Period.

  58. Michele

    May 2, 2011 at 5:58 PM

    this whole hijab or non-hijab thing is a NON issue. The fault of the harassment is the sexual harassers. We all know that we are held accountable for our own actions, Men who molest women will be held accountable for their actions. If we were to present this argument in reverse and a Muslim female grabbed a good looking Muslim man in a nice pair of shorts that people would say she was justified. This whole “blame the victim mentality” is what makes Muslims look like backwards fools.
    I have NEVER in 20 years been harassed in modest attire without a head scarf in the U.S.. I was however molested multiple times in an ababya and head scarf when I went for umrah in Saudi.

  59. Carlos

    May 2, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    Your censorship of my comments are justified – thank you for regulating me when I lose control of myself.

  60. Pingback: Muslims Debating Harassment, Standing Up for Women’s Rights via | Green Prophet

  61. Tinamarie

    May 3, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    Very insightful and powerful article and comments. We covered this story at

    Respectfully, Tinamarie

  62. Mohammad Yusha

    May 3, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    If this is a Muslim problem then please explain to me why it happens in India? Do I need to mention that Hindus do it too, and along with them Christians. Or is it that every time a woman is harassed, the harasser has the word Muslim written on his forehead?

    For those women who have never been harassed in the west, let me remind them that Muslims live in the west too. So obviously, there are good Muslims out there.

    This is not a Muslim, Hindu, or Christian problem. This is a regional problem. Everyone does it in countries like India and Pakistan, including women. The only difference is, their way of doing it is different.

    A few years ago, I wanted to get inside a shop but a girl stood there blocking the door. After I said, excuse me, she wouldn’t budge. I said it again, loudly, but she still wouldn’t move. I was left with no option but to try and squeeze myself in the shop from the little space between her body and the door. She obviously enjoyed my body touching hers.

    Once in a shop selling watches, two girls, one on my right and one on my left, tried to sandwich me between them while I talked to the salesman. They had more than enough room on their sides but they wanted to touch.

    Yet another incident, a woman wanted to open the chain of her purse, but instead of a simple finger movement, she extended her entire arm, deliberately brushing her hand against my arm.

    In an exhibition watching maut ka kuwa (death pit) while climbing down the steep stairs, the girl behind me put her hand on my shoulder for support. However, is there any guarantee she did it for support?

    These are few of many incidents.

    While none of the incidents bothered me, I would like to ask if it would be acceptable if the scenarios were reversed?

    Finally, unlike Ms. Zuberi, men do not turn around and slap the nearest female face.

    Best Wishes.

  63. Mohammad Yusha

    May 3, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Just want to add that women need to stop flattering themselves. Not every guy out there wants to touch them. MANY TIMES IT HAPPENS BY MISTAKE. In heavily populated countries, especially India, many times bodily contact is almost impossible to avoid, in crowded buses, malls, market places, etc. Even when a place is not crowded, it can happen accidentally. What makes women so sure that whenever they are touched, it is deliberate?

    • Muslimah

      May 3, 2011 at 10:03 PM

      Some of these brothers commenting are case studies.

    • anon

      May 3, 2011 at 11:24 PM

      “What makes women so sure that whenever they are touched, it is deliberate?”

      Uhhh, how about a hand magically finding its way between my legs? How about a hand grabbing my breast? Apparently this is impossible to avoid. Who knew

      “Women need to stop flattering themselves”

      Your comment really shows your level of ignorance with regards to this issue. Sexual harrassment has nothing to do with how attractive a woman is. It is about power and control. Therefore when I walk down the street and men holler at me from the corner or when I am on a train and I am groped by a man next to me I do not feel flattered because I realize their actions have nothing to do with the way I look and everything to do with power and control. This has nothing to do with feeling the need to flatter ourselves.

      And ditto to what Muslimah said. I’m really amazed by the generally level of skeeviness displayed by some of the men commenting here.

      • Mohammad Yusha

        May 3, 2011 at 11:39 PM

        Thanks for twisting my statements to suit your needs. You mean if someone touches you from behind in a crowded bus, you can be sure it was deliberate, right?

        >Sexual harrassment has nothing to do with how attractive a woman

        When did I say that is has to do with how attractive she is?

        • MX

          May 4, 2011 at 2:39 PM

          Let me get this straight with you. I’ll tell you about myself first. I grew up in an ultra-conservative muslim country where I was a victim of street molestation, public indecent exposure and getting raped once, not to mention the innumerable requests for sexual favours from strangers. All by MEN. And I am a male.

          So, accept the fact that we have a fair share of street sickos, homosexuals and pedophiles in our community.

          You said,
          ///MANY TIMES IT HAPPENS BY MISTAKE. In heavily populated countries, especially India, many times bodily contact is almost impossible to avoid, in crowded buses, malls, market places, etc. Even when a place is not crowded, it can happen accidentally. //

          Oh please, I’ve travelled on heavily-crowded trains, tubes and buses in metropolitan cities like Delhi etc. And I can say this with conviction , that there is a big difference between unavoidable body contact(the acceptable kind) and the unwanted sexual grope.

          You see, men sexually harassing women and the whole annoying stares/catcalling/brushing-against-female-passengers has reached to such a sick level here that had to reserve a Ladies-only compartment in the metro tubes.

          So, please don’t ask retarded questions like “how can you sure it was deliberate”?
          You’ll know that once you are repeatedly touched/groped/asked for sexual favours by some male-creep in a crowded location.

        • Carlos

          May 4, 2011 at 6:02 PM

          Mohammad Yusha is correct that much physical contact in crowded places is accidental. That is a given. Having to share personal space, and being accidentally bumped are part of living in crowded modern urban environments. We have to deal with sharing society with other humans who are strangers. Someone who cannot accept that reality might want to consider staying home or moving to the countryside. I do not think Mohammad Yusha is necessarily showing “skeeviness” for pointing-out this obvious fact.

          But Anon, Muslimah and MX are also correct. They are talking about something completely different, unmistakeable sexual harassment and assault in public places, which definitely also happens, and happens “everywhere.” They are talking about the stuff that is definitely not accidental. I think what they are trying to point-out is that it belittles victims of sexual harassment and assault to bring-up innocent examples of physical contact when the group is talking about a much more serious problem, and to then not also acknowledge that the problem is much more serious than the innocent examples suggest. Mohammad Yusha, the others are saying you are being insensitive by bringing-up examples that suggest you are trying to trivialize a very real social problem that hurts many women (and men).

  64. Mohammad Yusha

    May 4, 2011 at 9:44 AM

    I have been in a few situations where I ended up touching women accidentally, and in one the woman thought it was deliberate and stared at me with a dirty look. If a man is not paying attention to where he is walking, or lost in his thoughts, or even something as simple as taking the neighbours baby from her to play with him, there is a possibility that there could be bodily contact. Women need to realize that it is not always intentional.

    I agree that some comments by men, such as women should stay at home to prevent the problem or that they are harassed according to their attire is wrong.

    Having said that, let me repeat that this is not a Muslim problem as people from all religions do it. Please see my comment dated May 3:24 PM (Also, just wondering why it is ok when girls do it).

    – In my comments so far, my apologies to those I ended up offending, intentionally or unintentionally.

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  66. Muslimah

    May 5, 2011 at 3:19 AM

    I apologize too.

  67. N

    May 9, 2011 at 1:10 PM

    Jazakum Allahu khairan for the article and the comments.

    — It made me physically ill reading about the muslimahs groped in the haram. As well as the other women subjected to this type of thing. Many Allah swt vindicate you in the best of ways.

    — I hope our muslim men increase in their ghayrah of the muslim women, which is a feeling of cherishing and protecting them from harms, including slander against their innocence. Instead of feeling male-bashed, where is the reaction of needing to step-it-up in terms of protecting the females in society?

    — Isn’t it insulting to men that other men think they can grope up their mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives in public, sometimes right under their very noses?

    — The fact that so many abuse cases are against hijabi women, children, and males, show that provocative clothing of some women does not cause this abuse.

    — Provocative clothing and behavior is aggressive at some level, yes, and we need to take our precautions in the effort to help our brothers and sisters — but it does not itself cause transgression and certainly it could not justify transgression of people who do not wear provocative dress. Besides, Do the women who dress like that intend aggression, or are they simply ignorant and blindly following what is going on around them? They deserve more dawah than dirty looks.

    — Non-Muslim and Western women should not be the victims of guilt-by-association — elements of their cultures might be indecent, but that does not mean they themselves are. The vast majority of average, everyday Western women have decent morals and are looking to have a marriage for life and raise kids in a wholesome family environment. Unfortunately some of them have been tricked into taking wrong methods for achieving that. Again, they deserve dawah not dirty looks. Any convert female who ever wore shorts outside before Islam can tell you they did NOT intend to get sexually harassed by doing that. You will find many women in the west flocking to islam because it honors what they ALREADY knew and felt inside.

    — There is a lot of psychological projection going — projecting onto someone else what one is ones self feeling. Just because a male sees a woman who he happens to think is attractive (and beauty is in the eye of the beholder), does not mean she is asking to be looked at lustfully or groped. Just because a man is horny, does not mean the young girl in the crowd near him is asking to be fondled.

    — Strong male desires and urges are very real, and should not be belittled, and we need to be more aware and sympathetic of this — however, this is an internal, spiritual problem, a battle that can only be waged inside the male. And blaming others for acting on impulses will not help win the internal battle. There needs to be a separation between feeling a feeling, thinking a thought, and acting upon them.

    — On this matter, victims do need to speak up, and we should not punish or guilt-trip our daughters/sisters/wives etc for speaking up. Perpetrators thrive on the imagination that somehow the victims wanted it, deserved it, and enjoyed it — silence only means consent to them. Not the guilt, shame, embarrassment, shock, that it really was. So by not being silent it is saying, no this is not enjoyable or agreed upon by the victim. No we do not accept.

  68. The Truth Seeker

    May 10, 2011 at 1:00 AM

    After reading the article and couple of comments I want to share my opinion

    Many sisters say that , mostly its the muslim men who are the perpetrators , not the non-muslims men
    . Most non-muslims have already established emotional or physical contact from a very young age , for example 16 or 17 . At this age they are getting every thing which is supposed to be between a husband and wife . The non-muslim men know that they have their own women and there is no need to look and harass other women for their own pleasure .

    For muslim men , its different . First of all muslims are prohibited to have any relations with a women before marriage . They don’t really understand how to behave and treat a women . Do you know that muslim countries are the one where most pornography is viewed online. If you don’t believe me then google it . Tell me why ?? . Why this isn’t any western country .

    You need to understand some basic underlying facts which are the reason why most muslim men do this act .

    And to your amazement , have you ever wondered if females harass males . I have personally seen two examples in my life where women were the one who were harassing males and this occured in a restaurant in saudi arabia . The women were wearing burqa like all religious muslim women .

    And please stop bashing all males . Not all males view females as goddess or something great .

  69. The Truth Seeker

    May 11, 2011 at 5:47 PM

    I also want to mention something that not all females view a little flirting and compliments as sexual harassment .

    I have seen majority of non-muslim women who actually appreciate little compliments unlike muslim females .

    I guess muslim men should only answer muslim females in either yes or no tone . I guess, being little nice and exhibiting chivalry is now seen as harassment by majority of muslim females.

    I also strongly urge muslim men to keep focus on their religion and careers . I think that in today’s world there are a lot of exciting and pleasurable activities and things to do rather than to waste your time and commit sin by talking to muslim females or developing female obsession .

    • N

      May 11, 2011 at 7:02 PM

      @ The Truth Seeker

      jazak Allahu khair for your comments. It is good to be able to hear all points of view.

      I can’t speak for any of the other posters, but in my humble view there is a huge difference between what is being described in the article and the posts, and other normal kinds of interactions between male and female (muslim or non-muslim).

      It is like saying a man who is a thief, who steals a watch, is the same as a man who looks at the watch in a store, and is thinking about buying it. No, they are not doing the same action, even if they are both interacting with the watch.

      We will not say stealing and shopping are the same; neither will we say sexual abuse/harassment and normal male-female interaction are the same.

      the non-muslim women you said like some flirting and compliments –yes, maybe to a point, but they would never, ever like to have happen to them what is being described in the article. They would not accept it.

      i don’t think any female who posted above thinks that all men, or even a tiny fraction of muslim men, sexually abuse women. One man can be doing this to hundreds of women! We are not looking for men to blame, but men to be aware of what some of us are going through, and to help us. I believe the huge majority of Muslim men are the best men on the planet, mashaAllah!

      It sounds like from some posts, including yours, men get harrassed too sometimes and it is good to let us know this and share what you are going through (in appropriate venue like this) – so we can be helpers and protectors of each other!

      About another very important point you made… Muslim women would like to be talked to in a nice, complimenting way, just like any woman — if this is in a clear atmosphere of talking about possibly leading to marriage. Where the clear word has been said, that the interaction could lead to marriage. In a condition where the feelings can build between the two in a way that would be supervised and that would protect both the man AND the woman’s feelings and dignity.

      how many men and women (non-muslim and muslim) flirted, smiled, talked, complimented and one thought this is ‘fun’ and one thought this was leading somewhere (marriage), and hearts and hopes got broken?

      and of course within marriage there should be all the flirting, nice talks, tender touches, compliments flowing between the male and female. This is all very normal, caring, friendly, and psychologically and physically healthy for both of them. woman needs and respects man, and man needs and cares for woman — without worshipping, obsession, or anything like that.

      May Allah swt make it easy.

      • The Truth Seeker

        May 12, 2011 at 4:20 AM

        I agree with you N

        But i would like to share my personal experience with muslim women .

        Once I was in a hospital . I was waiting for the elevator . When the elevator came , a woman knocked me hard on the arm and went into the elevator . She said that she is in hurry . I told her that ladies first . Upon hearing that she gave me a very nasty look and said to me that I am a sexist man

        I thought wow , I was being polite and she said me this . Well I didn’t want to get into argument so I stayed quiet .

        Many of my friends shared this common thinking that whenever they talk to a muslim women , they(muslim women) always tend to think that any advances by a male will always be considered sexual harassment . If they(muslim women ) don’t want to talk to males , they can politely tell men to go away . I think that if any one ask some one to do a thing for them in a very polite and gentle way . I am dead sure people would do things for them .

        One of my friend even got slapped by a muslim woman even though the woman was responsible . He was walking and talking on his cell phone in a Mall . He stopped walking and a women from behind bumped into him . After slapping him , she told him that he wanted to touch her and he intentionally stopped . I was so annoyed that she without even thinking slapped him . My friend was married , had extraordinary character , is religious . Instead retaliating to that woman , he walked away .

        I used to respect women but I have personally seen and experienced couple of very surprising encounters with muslim women . The examples , I just gave were few of them .

        I always thought that it was always the females who are the one suffering but after growing up in this society and culture it seems that it is not true .

        I am not saying that touching women’s body in anyway is right by a anyone . It’s wrong wrong and wrong ..and there is no way any body can find this acceptable but i think that due to couple of men , all men are treated as sex hungry monsters .

        My friend was searching for a good muslimah to marry but he was not rich . He was a low to average income earner but was excellent in his religion and personality . He got rejected from 7 different muslim ladies who were themselves practicing muslim and the reason of rejection was that he was not rich .

        He then met a christian women . She was apparently a doctor . She married him knowing that he was not rich and she converted to Islam . This was about 7 years back . This is just one example

        I have seen several muslim women who are supposedly gold diggers and would not even consider a low to average income earner man despite man having good character .

        I used to be nice and polite but now I have changed . Women tell me that I am rude . I don’t understand . When I used to be nice , women thought that I have some evil intentions in my mind . But now when I am not , they tell me that I am not a gentle men .

        This is so strange ..

        P.S I am not trying to downplay or accuse any muslim women of anything bad . This is something which I have seen personally . I hope that majority of muslim women are not like that .

        • N

          May 12, 2011 at 11:30 AM

          Thank you so much for sharing these experiences. I learned a lot, alhamdulillah. What you described does not surprise me, but now I can understand more the impact these female behaviors can have. Maybe we (as females) do not think about how these behaviors affect men.

          What you said was very true – basically that a small percentage of men are making it much more difficult for the vast majority of other good men.

          From personal perspective, I’ve never done exactly what you’ve described, but definitely I do act on the rude side to men outside my family. If you would ask me, I would say absolutely it has to do with putting up a defense against any hint of possibility of getting into a compromising situation with a man.

          Not from a “man blaming” position, but just realizing that male-female interaction has the potential to move very quickly – from one or both sides – to emotional and physical territory — real, or perceived.

          (I’m not defending mistreatment or rudeness, just kind of explaining where it might come from)

          Basically, as females we can feel – and can really be – very vulnerable and so put up a tough exterior to prevent from getting hurt.

          (again, not defending but trying to explain)

          As for non-muslim females, they have similar end goal of marriage, but totally different strategy. Their typical cultural strategy is to be more open to interacting with a wide variety of males — because they do not get “punished” for it in their marriage market which is relatively large, open, and fluid.

          Non-Muslim males expect that the non-muslim females have dated many times, there is plenty of marriage opportunity for women even in their 30s and beyond, there is no strict expectation of virginity at marriage, and families have relatively low involvement in the process. Even if they get beyond prime age of fertility, there are many culturally acceptable options for fertility treatments, surrogates, adoptions, etc. Over time non-muslim women will get much more adept at interacting with males, and be able to engage more comfortably in flirting, joking, being friendly, fun, nice, etc.

          If non-Muslim female went through her usual process, but then gets married to muslim male and converts to Islam – like in your example – alhamdulillah she got a “do-over”. There are no easy do-overs for other Muslim women.

          I do not know the answers. But maybe inshaAllah this kind of dialogue can help in understanding some of the tensions between the genders, and in understanding one another’s perspectives and struggles.

          Jazakum Allahu khairan, and

          May Allah swt Guide us to what pleases Him.

    • Maya

      May 12, 2011 at 10:37 AM

      I can’t speak for all Muslim women but I love getting compliments about my looks. I wear loose abaya and hijab and don’t wear make up but I still get nice comments from non Muslim men, it doesn’t bother me at all, it actually makes me happy to see others appreciate my beauty. Just recently I was at the mall and this old white man came over and asked where I was from, when I told him he said I was a very beautiful woman… I told him thank you.. So you see not all Muslim women take compliments from men and think they’re harassing them.

      Now flirting it different, before I got married little flirting didn’t bother me. I can tell when a man is harassing me, so flirting is different from sexual harassment. At least to me. Now that I am married I wouldn’t like men flirting with me at all…

      • The Truth Seeker

        May 12, 2011 at 3:34 PM

        At least maya have shown some sort of maturity . I am glad that there are muslim women who do not take little compliments as sexual harassment .

        Nevertheless, , majority of muslim women think that a little chit chat with them( muslim women) will turn into some serious relationship . Well let me give you an advice , if you fear that any conversation between you ( muslim women) and man can develop further into something serious then at least first politely tell them to leave . If they don’t listen , then you can use other rude and strict methods . But I guess that majority of the men will understand you if you tell them politely and will not be needing other methods to push them back ,but I guess you don’t apply the polite approach.

        If you talk to a men with a rude behavior then eventually that men will think that muslim women are rude . Eventually he will be resenting all muslim women , and later on change his whole perspective regarding muslim women

        What I am saying that due to your rude behavior good men are now changing their thinking about muslim women .

        I think majority of the muslim women think that they are beauty queens and every man want a piece of them . Please get off you high horses . And I am saying that with evidence . I used to ask my female family members and other female friends that why do they respond harshly to any men . Almost all of them said that all men regardless of their character think about sex when they see women .Hearing this , I was in shock . I cannot believe muslim women have such a negative thinking embedded into their minds . I believe that this is the mindset in majority of muslim women . Now , don’t say that this is false . I know that this is true and deep inside your heart you know that .

        Nevertheless , times have changed . I guess that there is absolutely no conclusion to this debate .

        I can only advice my male brothers that please try to focus on your religion and don’t think about women too much . If you have a woman in your destiny , then you will have her no matter what . I think that, by focusing more on your education and career , you can have a delightful life . There are so many interesting things to do in this world . Please don’t sit ideal because the ideal mind is most vulnerable to satanic waswasah …

        May ALLAH bless all muslims .

        P.S You may think that I am try to defend men . No , I am not , I am defending THE GOOD MEN who are on verge to change their minds . All men who have committed serious crimes of sexual harassment must be punished very SEVERELY .

        • N

          May 13, 2011 at 7:20 PM

          Thank you again for sharing your perspective….

          Nah, you don’t know what is in my heart.

          anyway, what i would like to say is that Allah swt first orders the believing men to lower their gaze, and then also orders the believing women to do likewise. And for women to cover and not speak softly or in enticing manner (some might call that being rude, so be it). And that we should not even follow the footsteps of the Shaytan, let alone follow directly.

          I am not certain of many things in this life, but I am 100% sure Allah swt Knows His creation perfectly.

          So for whatever reasons He legislated that (i.e. what is the exact nature of man, nature of woman, etc) that is not really my concern. My concern is try as best as humanly possible to listen and obey Him.

          your advice for men was excellent – to focus on religion, work, education, etc. This is terrific advice, because if their focus is on letting their sensitivities to a few remarks make them dislike all muslim women, or interacting with many women and thinking about what they said, what they didn’t say, how they said it, how they flirted, how they didn’t flirt, how they received compliments, etc then they are going down an unproductive path…

          If a man is serious about getting married, he should focus on one prospective woman at a time, let her know what he is interested in (talking for marriage), and then interact with her as an individual.

          Not just randomly interact with all kinds of women, then takes what each one says and then talk to his buddies about it, then his buddies talk about their experiences with muslim and non-muslim women, then they generalize to all muslim women, etc.

          And once he gets married, inshaAllah, he would be way too busy to focus on which women reacted to which of his compliments which way… :)

          in the end, this is far away from the original issue; the original article and comments were NOT about women getting a compliment here and there and thinking they were being sexually abused. But about real crimes that are crimes is non-muslim courts of law.

          What is interesting is that part of the victimization is that it is hard to prove (often leaving no visible marks), and easily blamed on the victim (male, female, child) being overly sensitive, imagining things, not being able to take a joke, etc

          This is part of the bravery required in speaking out…

          • The Truth Seeker

            May 14, 2011 at 4:45 AM

            Hah … very clever N

            You have tried to indirectly attack my thinking . Never mind . It seems that you are adamant on your stance and indirectly and politely refuse to acknowledge what I am trying to say .

            I am will not try to respond back . Do whatever you like .

  70. CSR

    May 12, 2011 at 10:29 PM

    I am not a psychologist, but reading some of these comments, I get the sense that there is a lot of mystery, confusion and misunderstanding between Muslim men and Muslim women. You appear to know so little about each other. It is a little sad to see. Perhaps if there were a way for you to interact in a way that is acceptable to your religion, such as through correspondence on the internet, some of the fog may lift. I think that, if a society takes male/female interaction too seriously, it is not good for members of either sex. Men and women are just two sides of the same coin. You could have just as easily been born a member of the opposite sex.

    • N

      May 13, 2011 at 6:54 PM

      LOL, all the advice columns, self-help books, seminars, tv shows, movies (comedy and drama), poetry, etc devoted to the mysteries of male / female interactions, and you think this is a muslim problem?

      If you hold the answers, Oprah might want to book you for her next show! :)

  71. Omar

    May 17, 2011 at 7:38 PM

    The Last Sermon of Prophet Muhammad
    “Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds.”

    This sermon was delivered on the Ninth Day of Dhul Hijjah 10 A.H. in the ‘Uranah valley of Mount Arafat’ (in Mecca).

    After praising, and thanking God he said:

    “O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

    O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. God has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. God has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’al Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

    Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

    O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under God’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

    O People, listen to me in earnest, worship God, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

    All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

    Remember, one day you will appear before God and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

    O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Quran and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.

    All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O God, that I have conveyed your message to your people”.

    The believing men and women are protectors and helpers of each other.
    They (collaborate) to promote all that is good and oppose all that is evil;
    establish prayers and give charity, and obey Allah and his Messenger.
    Those are the people whom Allah would grant mercy. Indeed Allah is
    Exalted and Wise. (Al-Tawbah 9:71)

    May Allah increase the men of islam in shame and honour towards the women of this world.

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  73. Peter Hall

    May 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

    Hi, I am not a Muslim, and I have no intention of being a Muslim, but I am reading about Islam to educate myself. So please, I am no expert.

    I have traveelled with my girlfriend to many Muslim countries, and had very different experiences. In Indonesia, and Tunisia, we met the most moral, friendly and respectful males and women. In the UAE, we again encountered a few sexist lears (directed at my girlfriend, not me) but they were from low paid workers and soon stopped when I looked at them. But the native people of the UAE we perfect gentlemen in all ways.

    However, in all the places in the world I have travelled, I have never seen anything like what we encountered in Egypt and Lebanon. My girlfiend was subject to constant sexual harrasement, to a point where she would not leave the Hotel.

    She was always modestly dressed, and she was always accompanied by me. But the site of blonde hair drove these guys crazy, to a point they were like animals.

    I am not a small man, I weight 120kg and I am a very fit and healthy male. But the pack mentality we encountered, in what we thought were safe areas was truely scary.

    I think middle eastern males do have a problem in how they react to women, to say anything else is truely stupid.

    All societies have a level of sexual harrassement. But the problem with Egypt and other Muslim countires are a cultural problem where I feel Islam is not helping the problem but making it worse.

    It isnt the fault of Islam, but it isnt the solution either. I saw the actions of these men, as the actions of men who do not have to account for their actions.

    They feel Islam justifies their actions by selective reading of the texts.

    All I would like to say, is that evil only truely triumphs, when good men do nothing. There are alot of good muslims doing nothing in Egypt, Pakistan and Lebanon.

    If men acted this way in Indonesia, in my experience, especially to guests in their country, they would be beaten like dogs.

    Australia, where I am from is far from perfect, but what we experinced in Egypt and Lebanon was endemic.

    I see there are many good Muslims on this site trying to not let evil triumph.

  74. KJ

    June 5, 2011 at 2:12 PM

    This is an extremely exaggerated article. Having spent a major part of my life in Pakistan and knowing a number of women living there, I can witness that the kind of scenario you have posted here is an extremely negatively exaggerated image of the society there.

    You mention that in your case when you faced harassment and you tried to raise your voice you were shushed by other women? I have no idea which part of Pakistan you were in ma’am but I have witness quite a few times that whenever a man has attempted to do such a ridiculous thing he has had to face a good beating by other women and men around.

    However when I saw similar things happening in the tube in London ( been lived here for a few years now) I have seen that it was only the woman shouting out as ‘pervert’ and then the various charitable organisations filing a case against that man (for their own good) but none of the people around during the incident tried to make an attempt to support that woman in the tube.

    These are also certain positive differences between the Muslim and Non-Muslim societies you should consider, before coming out and shouting all the bads, and blaming only the Muslims for this ridiculous act. What I hear from this entire article is a biased, one-sided, negatively exaggerated feminist voice.

    This evil does exist and we need to stop it, but I do not agree with the appropriateness of the way you have addressed it.

  75. Peter Hall

    June 6, 2011 at 6:10 AM

    Well KJ, you definitely have your head truly where the sun doesn’t shine.

    If you have spent any time in Pakistan, how could you have NOT seen how the bulk of males act towards all women, not just the Westerners.

    Stop trying to turn this into a anti Muslim thing when it clearly is not. The problem is not with Islam, the problem is how some males in certain cultures are using selective parts of the Koran to justify their behaviour.

    KJ why do you try and justify what these men clearly do, by saying the West is worse? That is childish and dishonest.

    I note you said YOU saw similar things on the tude, but only a woman helped. Does this mean you stood by and did nothing?? So you are as bad as the rest? Why did you not say something?? Are you less a man than a woman? You should be ashamed, and I think you made up your story about London, if it is true you should be ashamed for doing nothing. You are a coward.

  76. ME

    July 9, 2011 at 2:03 AM

    i live in egypt and an asian. i got harassed every single time i leave my house. whether im alone or walking in groups. ive tried wearing the hijab but it simply wont do. its the same scenario over and over again. was it the woman’s fault that she got harassed? i dont think so. yes it is happening everywhere in the world but i didnt expect a MUSLIM country to turn out this way.

    • Carlos

      July 9, 2011 at 8:55 PM

      I went to Egypt with an East Asian girlfriend and some other friends. My girlfriend was so popular, school groups would surround her at tourist sites just to take a photo with her. She was very beautiful. After a few days, she didn’t want to go out in public, because all the stares were making her uncomfortable, and people were even touching her, although not anywhere wholly inappropriate. I told her most of the people were just being friendly, and found her interesting, and not to take it too personally. Fortunately, I was able to convince her not to spend the rest of the trip in the hotel. Still, I can see why you also feel uncomfortable, ME. The Egyptians are good people, but should be a little more respectful of visiting foreigners. I know Arabs and Muslims better now that I have been blogging with so many. Now that I know how strong their prejudices against non-Muslims are, I think maybe I was being a little naive when I assumed everyone in Egypt was just being friendly when they were showing so much interest in us.

  77. Farah

    July 12, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    I was sexually harrassed 9 times in my life… starting from age 5 up until adulthood. As an adult you can suspect that i may or may not have invited that sort of attention, but when i was only 5 how do you explain a man groping me and rubbing himself against me for the short minute that my dad made the mistake of walking away and leaving me w/a stranger? what mistake did i make THEN? Or what mistake did i make when the mosque across the street from my house had accomodations for children to play in which was supposedly a protected area for them. Me being one of the kids, once again i was forcefully held behind a tree by a muslim man before Friday prayers where he misbehaved w/me? What mistake did i make THEN when i was just a kid? Some people truly make me sick when they ignore the fact that men are SOLEY responsible for their actions, and nobody ever holds a gun to their heads for how they behave. Everyone is solely responsible. I’m not talking about the women who walk openly in public places displaying themselves for others to see, they are in a different category because they’re not practicing responsiblity. My question is, when an innocent woman or even a child faces this sort of abuse WITHOUT any invitation, why are men still saying that ‘oh well women should practice more hijab’
    Some people are complete hypocrites… i don’t think that anything you say will ever make sense to them. I have been harrassed 9 times– that’s a lot for one person. And under EVERY occassion, i did not invite that sort of attention. And all 9 times, the perpetrators were MUSLIM MALES. I think this says a lot about the problem within OUR society… let’s keep religion and education away from this. Because if religion was LACKING… then why did this incident happen to me in a mosque on friday prayer? If education was lacking, just how much education do you seriously think a man needs to know that women should NOT be treated that way? I can find 5 random 10 year old boys who will say that this is wrong… So why don’t grown men in their 30’s and 50’s know the difference? I’m sorry, people who blame lack of education or religion are simply looking for an excuse …
    It’s one thing to treat women this way, but i say that the people who justify this sort of behavior by others are no different than these perverts and they should all rot somwhere together so that women can be safer.

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