The Goatmilk Debates: “Islam is Incompatible with Feminism” – Mohamad Tabbaa For the Motion

“THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, intellectually stimulating manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument, followed by an optional rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of the respective arguments.

The motion: “Islam is Incompatible with Feminism”

For the motion: Mohamad Tabbaa

Against the motion: Katrina Daly Thompson

“God is not dead; and neither is He a feminist”  by Mohamad Tabbaa 

God has not died, just yet. But there is a real push to kill Him. And it’s gaining popular support. I’m sure we’ve all noticed the modern tendency to ‘reconcile’ Islam with almost everything; democracy; liberalism; homosexuality; heck, even Christianity. And now feminism. So what’s the problem, exactly? Surely any right-minded individual would openly embrace the move to bring Islam into modernity, while only a backward Wahhabist regressive fundamentalist caveman would resist, right?

Well, not exactly.

You see, there are a number of fundamental flaws inherent in many of the arguments put forward to ‘modernise’ Islam. I will highlight some of these flaws — especially as they relate to feminism — and argue that not only are Islam and feminism not compatible, but that our actual attempts at reconciling Islam with modern ideologies is futile and misguided.

Rather than launch into definitions of what Islam and feminism mean, I believe it’s important that we first take a step back. This debate, after all, is not really about Islam and feminism per se; this debate is more to do with epistemology. Epistemology, otherwise known as “the theory of knowledge”, is the study of the creation and basis of knowledge itself.[i] Epistemology concerns itself with questions such as: What are the structures and conditions of knowledge? How is knowledge constructed and justified? Does knowledge lead to truth? What are the limits of knowledge? And does God play a role in this process?[ii]

The question being debated here, namely is Islam compatible with feminism, is one which can only be answered by first exploring the epistemological and methodological assumptions underpinning the call for Islamic reformation, and what these mean in the greater scheme of things.

Feminism, in all its variations, depends very heavily on postmodern theories of knowledge; namely that there is no ‘objective’ or transcendental truth; that all realities are merely constructed, contextual and relative, and therefore subject to change; and that all knowledge is intrinsically biased.[iii] Utilising poststructural methods of deconstruction, postmodernists argue that all knowledge is influenced by power, personal interest and especially language, and that therefore no knowledge can claim to be impartial.[iv] It is upon this basis that feminists (rightfully) critique the dominant liberal discourse as being male-oriented and oppressive towards women.

So, while the core concern of feminism might be women’s equality, rights or humanity, postmodernism (and hence, feminism) itself teaches us that one cannot judge an idea based solely on its ‘abstract’ theory, but must instead deconstruct its underlying assumptions in order to ascertain what that idea is really advocating or producing. For example, renowned feminist scholar Margaret Thornton argues that, despite its proclaimed concern of ensuring equality between males and females, liberalism is inherently biased against women; not because of its ‘abstract’ theory, which is neutral, but purely because of its underlying assumptions – its epistemology – which are male-oriented.[v] Likewise, in order to properly assess both the nature and impact of feminism, one must necessarily look past its purported aims and concerns, and instead investigate its philosophical basis. Continue reading

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The Goatmilk Debates: “Islam is Incompatible with Feminism” – Katrina Daly Thompson Against the Motion

“THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, intellectually stimulating manner.

Each debater makes their opening argument, followed by an optional rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of the respective arguments.

The motion: “Islam is Incompatible with Feminism”

For the motion: Mohamad Tabbaa

Against the motion: Katrina Daly Thompson

Feminism and Islam are compatible

Katrina Daly Thompson

There are two groups who might argue that feminism and Islam are incompatible: Muslims who don’t understand what feminism is, and feminists who don’t understand that Islam is open to interpretation, including feminist interpretations.  I’ll address each of these groups in turn.

Many people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, don’t understand what feminism is.  They might think it’s a Western idea focused on man-hating, female superiority, or bra burning, but none of that is accurate.  There are three definitions of feminism that inspire me; the first defines feminism as an idea, the second as a movement, and the third as an intellectual approach.

What does feminism mean as an idea? “Feminism,” Cheris Kramerae wrote, “is the radical notion that women are human beings.”[i]  It’s that simple. Feminists argue that human beings should not be discriminated against on the basis of their sex or gender. For Muslims, this should be an easy argument to get behind.  After all, the Qur’an tells us,

“Verily, for all men and women who have surrendered themselves unto God, and all believing men and believing women, and all truly devout men and truly devout women, and all men and women who are true to their word, and all men and women who are patient in adversity, and all men and women who humble themselves [before God], and all men and women who give in charity, and all self-denying men and self-denying women, and all men and women who are mindful of their chastity, and all men and women who remember God unceasingly: for [all of] them has God readied forgiveness of sins and a mighty reward.”[ii]

In other words, the Qur’an teaches that God treats all human beings equally, whether we are men or women, not differentiating among us by sex or gender but rather by the extent to which we’ve surrendered, believe in God, are devout, truthful, patient, humble, generous, modest, and worshipful.  We are all subject to the same rewards from God.  God, we might say, is a feminist.  The Feminist.  Continue reading

“The US should stop Aid to Pakistan”: THE GOATMILK DEBATES

THE GOATMILK DEBATES” will be an ongoing series featuring two debaters tackling an interesting or controversial question in a unique, intellectually stimulating manner. 

Each debater makes their opening argument,  followed by an optional rebuttal.

The winner will be decided by the online audience and judged according to the strength of the respective arguments.

The motion: The US should stop Aid to Pakistan”

For the motion: Saqib Mausoof

Against the motion: Sabahat Ashraf

Saqib Mausoof For the Motion

US should stop military aid to Pakistan. It is seen as a tactical waste by the US lawmakers and blood money by the populist Pakistan media. Some of this aid also bolsters Pakistan’s covert nuclear armament program and extraneous benefits for the top military brass. Very little of this approximately $2.5 bn annual aid trickles down to the Pakistani people. Investing this money at home in the USA for public services and infrastructure upgrades is better use. Eventually, divesting from Pakistan Army will enable US law makers to see Pakistan without the perception of an “ally from hell” but as an independent nation that is not subservient to US interests only.

Since 1948, US have provided $55 bn in Aid to Pakistan and most of it has gone to the Pakistan military. This aid has created an oligarchy which is controlled by various Military foundations. It has further ruined democratic institutions like the judiciary and the parliament. Since early 1950’s, when the Dulles brothers, John as Secretary of State and Allen as head of CIA, snubbed Pakistan’s civilian leadership under then premiere Liaquat Ali Khan and gave Field Marshall Ayub Khan special treatment, Pakistan has served as a “Sipahi” state for American policy makers. The first rectifying treaty on this was the Baghdad pact or CENTO signed between Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Turkey, UK and US in 1955.

This relationship was fully intact in 1960 when Gary Powers flew out of Peshawar airbase his ill-fated U-2 spy plane which was subsequently shot down by a Russian SAM missile. It continued with Prime Minster Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto negotiating President Nixon’s secretive visit to China, and probably climaxed under Gen Zia’s “Jihad” which created the Mujahedeen’s as a religious force to fight off the Soviets occupation of Afghanistan. During that time, the heads of the Haqqani clan were called the “moral equivalent of America founding fathers” by President Ronald Reagan. A case can be made that successive American administrations have always supported and preferred a military ruler in Pakistan rather than a civilian leadership.

The first decade of the 21st century under the military leadership of Gen Pervaiz Musharraf had seen an increasing amount of US military aid to Pakistan. The offering of the aid carrot was accompanied by a big stick in a not so subtle threat by the US deputy secretary of State Richard Armitage, who told President Musharraf that Pakistan should be prepared to be bombed “back to the stone age” if they refuse to fight against Al-Qaida and the Taliban. The subsequent agreement between the two governments created a complex aid package that constituted of four buckets, Military assistance, Economic Assistance, USAID projects, and coalition support funds.

Continue reading

Obama’s Takedown of Republican Economics + Commentary

Click here for President Obama’s Full Speech – http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/07/full-text-barack-obama-speech

Barack Obama speechs on the economy in Kansas

Now, a commentary from author and journalist Terin Miller:

“The original Democratic party economics closely followed those of John Maynard Keynes. It worked pretty well, until Republican president Richard Nixon, on advice from a young guy named Alan Greenspan, took the U.S. currency off a bi-metal standard (backed by both silver and gold, in other words, more than just “the full faith and credit of the United States Government,”) and imposed price controls on commodities.

As almost always happens, the lifting of price controls, the cost of the never-declared war in Vietnam, and followed by a manufactured “energy crisis” as middle eastern oil countries realized they could control, and increase at will, the cost of the price of oil extracted from their lands, propelled the economy to double-digit inflation.

Now, if all things stayed constant–if wages kept pace with inflation–inflatiin is relative. But they didn’t. Next, Ronald Reagan and the Chicago School of supply-side economics most clearly advocated by Milton Friedman swept into power, comparing the U.S. budget to a personal checking account and insisted on balancing the budget while cutting taxes (revenue) on “enterpreneurs” and removing regulation actually set the groundworkfor the recent collapse (arguably). Paul Volker, not Ronald Reagan, nor Milton Friedman, nor Alan Greenspan,.actually saved the country, by slamming the breaks on inflation with high interest rates and trying to enforce existing (remaining) financial regulations.

Volker was replaced by–yes, Greenspan–as Reagan, who had created more government, rather than less, and spent more money than either Nixon or Carter, despute complainingand campaigning against “tax and spend” Democrats, actually began increasing deficits with his borrow-and-spend policies. Note: you can’t really balance your checkbook by borrowing money to pay your bills Ultimately, you go bankrupt, not able to default like a country.

Glass-Steagal was removed under Bill Clinton, the first “centerist” Democrat after Reagan and GHW Bush convinced some that Reaganomics–called rightly “voodoo” economics by GHW Bush before becoming Reagan’s VP, and admittedly so when he had to go back on his word to not raise taxes, Clinton’s removal of Glass-Steagal, which prevented insurance companies and others from entering banking, also helped lead to the current problems in the U.S. economy. But, despite that, with tax rates on the wealthy near 50 percent, under Clinton’s economic policies–tax, but not spend as much–we actually had a budget surplus. That surplus nearly immediately evaporated when GW Bush returned supply side economics to the country, pushing for still more cuts in taxes on the wealthy, and more deregulation.

It was not Obama who brought Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to tell people about the original Troubled Asset Relief Program, essentially declaring “Give me $750 billion and ask no questions or the economy gets it…” The “Great Recession” did not begin in 2008. It began, economically speaking, with two consecutive quarters of negative growth–contraction. Beginning in the last quarter of 2007. Imagine winning a vote to go to the bottom of a pit.

That’s essentially the economy the Democrat Barack Obama inherited. How do you get out? Keep policies as they are, making the whole deeper? Or ask people to take dirt originally in the hole from the surface–borrowing cash you don’t have–and drop a bit at a time bavk in so you can eventually climb out? The Democratic Party ,Keynsean economic policies of borrowing to “prime the pump” by putting cash in peoples’ hands to spend.

Our economy, in case Black Friday didn’t convince you, only runs when people spend money. You can’t spend money if you’re out of work. The desire for greater and greater profit had killed the very part of the economy it depends on–consumers. Also known as the happily, gainfully and more than subsistance earning employed. It’s not the Dmocrats whose economic policies have proven wrong.”