According to Islam, taqwa is the singular superiority, and it is something that all humans can attain. There is no superiority based on race, ethnicity, lineage, gender, or any other basis besides taqwa. On the other hand, there are numerous domains of excellence that some people have more than others — physical strength, intelligence, beauty, talent, etc. These are all inherent in some degree, with it being noted that each of those can be enhanced by individual effort. But only a very small number of men have the athletic ability to play in the NBA. Not too many people can pursue successfully a competence in astrophysics. This is the diversity that is inherent in the human condition.
We are told in the Qur’an, “…and do not envy what Allah has bestowed on some of you more than others. For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned…” (4:32). What is earned, in the sight of Allah, is taqwa (e.g., God-consciousness; love and fear of Allah; virtue in word and deed). Recognizing the diversity of aptitudes and talents is part of a mature mindset. Indeed, there are hierarchies of skill, attainment, and excellence. Yet hierarchies are formed on a foundation of equality which starts with the God-given worthiness of every human individual. Then human society must aim to provide each and every one with equal human rights, with equal opportunity and equal protection by the law. American society falls far short of that, as does every existing society, some more, some less. Nonetheless, the objective is clear and in many ways the U.S. has been better at providing that than many other nations. Equality of human worth, equality of opportunity, and equality of protection by the law align with Islamic doctrine.
‘Power, Dominance, and Oppression’
Equality, however, is not good enough for the radical far-left. It has replaced the understanding of equality with another idea and named it “equity.” This idea, while promoting itself as a remedial necessity to fix discrimination against people of color, women, and other groups, camouflages a deeper intent — to dismantle not just normative categories but the institutions that represent the American ethos, and even the entire system itself that is said to support the continuance of discriminatory relations of “power, dominance, and oppression.”
The radical far-left wants to address and eliminate sexism but do so in a way that renders masculinity as “toxic.” They want to proscribe homophobia by demanding that we stop seeing heterosexuality as the norm. The acronym LGBTQIA+, which most people know as LGBTQ, is continually expanding the gender territory it purports to cover. The fullest rendering of the acronym that I could find is this: LGBTTTQQIAA; it stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two spirit, queer, questioning, intersexed, asexual, and ally. And there are other “identities” that have not yet made it into the acronym, including pansexual, agender, gender queer, bigender, gender variant, and pangender.
Taking note of this confusion is not encouragement, instigation, or incitement to hate, discriminate, or do violence. The intent is simply to recognize what is unfolding in front of our eyes and try to make sense of it. For Muslims, the intent is also to “enjoin the right and forbid the wrong.” Verse 9:71 in the Qur’an stipulates that men and women are “awliya” of one another. Awliya is the plural of wali and signifies friends, supporters, allies, guardians, protectors. All those meanings connote the idea of closeness and loyalty. Therefore, any attempts to render men and their nature “toxic” is rejected. And the verse also tells us that men and women, as allies and protectors of each other, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong. That, of course, can be complicated, for who is the arbiter of what is right and what is wrong? For Muslims, though, that is easy. Allah SWT provides the criterion. So, the normative model of two biological sexes, and of heterosexuality, are reality for Muslims.
The loudest voices of the “woke” worldview and their approach to fixing what they see as systemic racism and sexism reveal the radical and harmful dynamic at the core: anyone who thinks outside the acceptable boundaries of this belief/worldview is instantly considered close-minded, reactionary, a backward rube, or a low-information conservative, and is to be censored and even “cancelled.” The “woke” social justice advocates also take an approach to improving things in a way that sees all reform as incrementalism that will always fall short and always hide a true intent of continuing the systemic power monopoly and elite dominance.
Erasing Biological Reality
Radical progressives go so far as to argue that gender cannot be assigned at birth, that only the individual knows if they are male or female, that a female can just declare that she is male, or a male can just declare that he is female and that we all have to abide by their declaration. Further, even adolescents and teens, having so declared their trans identity, are offered chemical and surgical alterations to their bodies. A foretelling of what is happening today, as the “woke” movement aims to deny and even to erase biological reality, was posited in the 1970s by some radical, second-wave feminists. Shulamith Firestone is one such feminist. She wrote in The Dialectic of Sex that, “The special tie women have with children is recognized by everyone. I submit, however, that the nature of this bond is no more than shared oppression. And that moreover this oppression is intertwined and mutually reinforcing in such complex ways that we will be unable to speak of the liberation of women without also discussing the liberation of children, and vice versa.”
But she goes further:
“And just as the end goal of socialist revolution was not only the elimination of the economic class privilege but of the economic class distinction itself, so the end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally. (A reversion to an unobstructed pansexuality Freud’s ‘polymorphous perversity‘ — would probably supersede hetero/homo/bi-sexuality.) The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by (at least the option of) artificial reproduction: children would be born to both sexes equally, or independently of either, however one chooses to look at it; the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general, and any remaining inferiority to adults in physical strength would be compensated for culturally. The division of labour would be ended by the elimination of labour altogether (through cybernetics). The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.”
Equality of Outcome Rather than Equality of Opportunity
Acknowledging that there are diverse schools of thought within feminism and not all feminists tend toward the radical, and that there are many legitimate issues that feminists have brought forward, it still is helpful to understand what is going on today by looking at the radical theories that have been put forward over the decades. If Shulamith Firestone wants to “eliminate the sex distinction itself,” then she is proposing an outcome that contravenes human nature. Islam is very clear about the differences between men and women. And the findings of modern-day Western psychology have underscored these differences. While men and women are more alike than they are different, there are nonetheless differences in personality and interest. But the radical leftist agenda aims for equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity and that cannot be achieved unless differences in people are seen as simply social constructs rather than human nature in its diverse manifestation.
In an article in Science, Relationship of gender differences in preferences to economic development and gender equality, the researchers found that in the most egalitarian countries, which are the Scandinavian nations, the differences in the interests of men and women did not narrow, they widened. The authors write: “What contributes to gender-associated differences in preferences such as the willingness to take risks, patience, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity, and trust? Falk and Hermle studied 80,000 individuals in 76 countries who participated in a Global Preference Survey and compared the data with country-level variables such as gross domestic product and indices of gender inequality. They observed that the more that women have equal opportunities, the more they differ from men in their preferences.”
The preferences include educational decisions and occupational choice. Women choose to work in fields that involve people; men are more inclined to work in fields that involve things. Iceland is a good example and an article at bigthink.com, based on a study in the journal PLOS ONE, reports:
“Iceland consistently has been ranked as the most gender-equal nation by the Global Gender Gap Index (GGGI), which is an annual report on women’s empowerment based on gender ratios in political representation, economic participation, duration of formal education, and health measures. Iceland is also the nation where men and women are most likely to pursue sex-typical jobs.”
So, men typically choose STEM areas of study and work and women typically choose nursing, teaching, and other people-centered study and occupation. The PLOS ONE study abstract states, “Women’s empowerment is associated with relatively high levels of national wealth and this wealth allows more students to aspire to occupations they are intrinsically interested in.”
But, again, the far-left agenda is to achieve equality of outcome. That would entail pushing women to fill roughly 50 percent of STEM positions. Seeing every person as the same, with no inherent differences, requires denial of biology and also denial of reality. The only way to get equality of outcome is to force every person into sameness. So, to achieve that, you have to level everyone up or you have to level everyone down. A dystopian short story written by Kurt Vonnegut in 1961, “Harrison Bergeron,” is set in a future time in which “equality laws” aim to make every citizen equal to every other citizen. But the only way to do that is to level everyone down since biology and genetics do not cooperate in leveling everyone up. So those who are more intelligent than the average person must be equipped with a “handicap,” in that case an earpiece that blares loud noise into the ear so that he or she is not able to think deeply about anything. A physically strong or athletic person must wear a heavy weight around the neck to restrict and impair any physical advantage greater than the average. An attractive person must wear a mask at all times to block their beauty. These “handicaps” are required by law. No one is permitted to be anything greater than the average.
A thought-provoking article by Tomila Lankina, a professor of international relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science, speaks of the challenges the Bolsheviks faced after the 1917 revolution in Russia regarding this issue of creating a full-blown egalitarianism. It was not just the materialist, economic inequality that had to be addressed, it was also the inequality of human capital such as intelligence, education, knowledge, technical skills, communication skills, work ethic and other character traits, etc. Interestingly, the Bolsheviks, like the radical left these days, looked to abolish all hierarchies. Her article is interesting in that one sees that in the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution, hierarchies quickly re-established themselves.
In fact, hierarchies are well-positioned within Islamic doctrine. Those with knowledge, for example, are esteemed (the knowledgeable one without taqwa, however, without moral character, is not esteemed). If three or more Muslims are traveling or coming together for any project, they are to select an amir, a leader, based on his or her qualifications and taqwa. The Prophet (s) said, “If three people are traveling, then appoint one from amongst you to be the amir” (al-Tabari). The point is that structure, order, authority, and hierarchy exist and are necessary to avoid chaos. But that is balanced beautifully by the advocacy of consultation. All are essential for functioning in an orderly way and for support and protection of the common good. This is foundational to a society that lauds a moral way of living.
Writer John Eidson states, “Identity politics is used as a political bludgeon to deceive Americans into believing their country is an incurably unjust place where things can be set straight only by killing off its existing economic and governing systems.” The United States needs many reforms but we should be wary of those who have a Marxist approach to social justice. There are many social justice advocates, including some Muslims, who call for “tearing down” the existing social order and its institutions. As already mentioned above, they tend “to see all reform as incrementalism that will always fall short and always hide a true intent of continuing the systemic power monopoly and elite dominance.”
The far-left despises gradual reform and calls for a tearing down of the system. Yet, as Dr. Wael Shihab states in a 2011 article, “In addition to comprehensiveness in the approach to reform, it is also important to recognize that sudden, drastic reform is not workable and will mostly fail. Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him), the ideal model for reformers, gradually, with utmost patience and perseverance (sabr), brought change to the people of his time. He (peace be on him) was able to inspire and facilitate the personal and social changes that led from corruption and misery to righteousness and well-being; from polytheism to true faith in One God; from ignorance to the light of knowledge; from pervasive social injustice to goodness, compassion, and benevolence.”
He continues, “Moreover, Ibn Ashur stresses the necessity of a gradual and resolute approach in reform, saying, ‘Human beings have a natural propensity for perfection. However, their actual achievement of perfection develops only gradually in tandem with their spiritual purification and moral uplifting. Indeed, we have in the gradual development of Islamic legislation from the beginning of the Prophet’s call to the post-Hijrah period a sufficient guide concerning the strategy of the Shariah for achieving its desired reform (islah).’”
The far-left agenda today ignores morality in its attempt to create its own vision of utopia. It pulls from secularism, post-modernism, new age, and other “do as you please” ideologies. Indoctrination fills the head with “you have your truth and I have mine”; “you do you”; everything comes down to what the individual likes or dislikes as “there is no truth, just personal narrative.”
“But if the truth were in accord with their desires, the heavens and the earth and whoever is within them would surely have fallen into ruin” (Qur’an 23:71).