Feminism - Women are not commodities says Ayatollah Khamenei

As Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution said: “Men and women are no different when it comes to ascendance of spiritual positions, the power of leadership, and the capability to lead humankind.”

By Catherine Shakdam*


Hat makers must have seen their bottom lines explode this Sunday … I’m just wondering how many neoliberals and hardline feminists are eating their hats right now over Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s latest comments on women, and women’s role within society.


For all the many experts, commentators and otherwise labelled pundits to have hurled scathing criticism at the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Leadership, on account it is backward in thinking, Ayatollah Khamenei’s discourse on equality, and the manipulation that is uber-gender equality must have thrown a serious spanner in the work.


While I will not pretend to have anything to add to Ayatollah Khamenei’s comments, all most of us can do is quietly nod in acceptance and learn our place somewhere down the intellectual food chain, I will attempt - emphasis on attempt, to offer some context to the subject.


Why the long disclaimer? Well … I would not want well-to-do peers of mine to misconstrue my little analysis and pass it on as a covert attempt to promote a Western agenda. Anyway…


WOMEN! Empires have fought over them, movements were inspired by them, and civilizations were raised by their words and the strength of their arms. Call me bias but yes women matter and their role has not been negligible.


If I recall correctly it was the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who once said that if not for Khadija and Imam Ali Islam would never have survived. Women, we would do well to remember are in no way lesser than men - not in their religion, not in their station, and certainly not in their ability to serve. Whether as mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, wives or anything else in between, women are who they are and their worth should not be open to debate or tied to some temporal criteria.


Why argue equality when men and women are so clearly different? And who said that “different” automatically implies that one must be inherently better? What about we stop defining ourselves against others to embrace instead who we are, and what we could be if only we tried?


Is it backward to posit that men and women have different rights and obligations by the very nature of their differences? And if so, how so?

What is the argument behind feminism if not to deny women their gender to better transform them into commodities?


Why can’t women be offered the courtesy of their own choices and freedom? Why does society insist on defining women’s role in society, when it should call on women to define their own reality? Islam came to liberate women at a time when women were objects to be traded off, disposed of, owned and abused …


Very little has changed over the centuries!! And while different countries and different traditions may have put a different spin on it, while they may have argued religious criteria or the disappear of religions altogether, women have always been left holding the short end of the stick.


Women are more than hyper-active feminists dressed as pink bonbons screaming they can do it like a dude! Women are more than caretakers! Women are more than the definitions the West has given them or what Wahhabist Saudi Arabia has reduced them to … Women were born free! Women were honored by God to rise as mothers and see Heaven laid at their feet.


And if indeed you must label and use adjectives then label those women who sit above the fray and inspire us to be better … define feminism by those standards set by our Ladies for they have earned their place.


As Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, Leader of the Islamic Revolution said: “Men and women are no different when it comes to ascendance of spiritual positions, the power of leadership, and the capability to lead humankind.”


And: “Making women a commodity and an object of gratification in the Western world is most likely among Zionist plots aiming to destroy the society ...Today, Western thinkers and those who pursue issues such as gender equality regret the corruption which it has brought about.”

Why feminism? Why do we need again to define in exclusion when Islam taught us to embrace who we are and live according to the Word set forth?

I will say it again and this time I hope my words will sink somehow: women need not to be defined when God made them free.

Women are just as capable of excellence as men are - only differently. Can we compare Imam Hussain’s stand in Karbala to that of Lady Zaynab at Yazid’s court? I’m hoping that none will be as foolish as attempt to weigh the two and decide which is worthier of praise.

Both actions were the expression of piety and devotion to God. Both were extraordinary on their own merit, and both had a wisdom we can only ever dream to grasp fully. Both those characters were born from the same light, and both exuded the same love - why see gender when all there was to see was beauty.

Let’s not lose ourselves in terminology ...


* Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements. The Director of Programs at the Shafaqna Institute for Middle Eastern Studies, Catherine is also the co-founder of Veritas Consulting. 

The views, opinions and positions expressed on Op-Ed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or positions of Khamenei.ir .


  • Feminism
  • Gender_equality
  • Muslim women
  • Women


  • 2017-11-26 20:38
    I LOVE this article! Very well written! I am too trying to battle with the Western and Zionist implications of Feminism and what "gender equality" means in the Western world. One only has to read your article to try to comprehend the elevated status of women in Islam and in Iran. Khamenei is impeccable in his words. Thanks so much for writing this article.