When it comes to alleviating the effects of the patriarchy in Muslim communities, appreciation can't be extended to religious preachers, some of whom seem to do more harm than good. Muslim women are not having it.
During Eid Al-Adha, many Muslim women, particularly those from Saudi Arabia, took to Twitter to call out sheikhs who degrade women and promote sexism in their Eid sermons. Such preachers reinforce an image of women as second-class citizens whose entire life purpose seems to be satisfying their male counterparts (though women are treated less than equal compared to men). Women are objectified, held accountable for men's transgressions, and subjected to tougher standards in comparison to men.
Here's how some Twitter users weighed in on the matter:
From outdated gender roles
"How can I file a complaint against our mosque's imam? His Eid sermon revolved around how a woman should stay at home for the sake of God and how she should not mingle with men at work. He added that female employment has led to negative results, decreased work opportunities for young men, and caused family disintegration. This kind of talk is disturbing and heartbreaking. #Eid"
To full-fledged objectification
"#Eid_Adha_Mubarak2019 We attend Eid prayer to enjoy it, only to be met with insults and conversations about our private parts? I have to ask, is there anyone holding them accountable for such talk?"
Double standards are in full force
"#Incitement_By_Preachers Why do most preachers focus on a women's chastity, honor, modesty, etc. Okay, let's assume a woman is indecent, why are there no sermons addressing men and teaching them about chastity, modesty, decency, and lowering their gaze? They always talk about women, but these duties are not exclusive to the latter. Evaluate your own self, brother."
"Incitement and hatred against women"
"This is not the first Eid sermon of its kind. All Eid sermons include incitement against women, rather than valuable advice. It's not even addressed to women, but instead to men in order to incite discrimination against their daughters, wives, and sisters. No words can describe this except incitement and hatred against women. #Preacher_Advises_Women"
Aren't there more pressing topics to cover?
"Today, during the Eid sermon at Sheikh Moussa mosque in Hay Al-Nuzha in Riyadh... Of course, the imam forgot all the issues affecting society and went on to criticize the new laws related to ending male guardianship. He believes this represents debauchery and degeneration.
So, when rights are returned to their rightful owners, it is considered debauchery and degeneration!"
There's a long way to go when it comes to female empowerment
"#Preachers_Incite_Against_The_State A women's life is still preachers' focus point. One incites hates, another discusses women's private parts... Does this comply with women's empowerment efforts?"
Even men agree the sermons are problematic
"The discourse addressing women during Eid sermons in our mosques needs to be reviewed in form and content. The Eid sermon should come in line with rules governing social change, so we address people in terms they can rationalize and so our speech does not lead to conflicts."
"They forgot to fight oppression, poverty, ignorance, extremism and hatred"
"They fought against her education, her employment, her revealing her identity, her independence... They fought against everything involving women, except the oppression the latter face under the pretext of protecting the society. Amid all that, they forgot to fight oppression, poverty, ignorance, extremism, and hatred! I'm speaking about some of the preachers. #Preacher_Insults_Women"
Users are demanding strict government interference
"#Incitement_by_Preachers Authorities should monitor preachers and specify the mosques where sermons take place, rather than allow whoever feels like writing a sermon to spread his nonsense. As if this world only revolves around women and inciting discrimination against them."
Saudi authorities take action
A widely-shared video captured a Jeddah-based preacher criticizing female employees and addressing them with degrading terms during Eid.
"We are in dire need of chaste women who sacrifice wealth and luxury for the sake of pride and honor, rather than being negatively influenced and becoming a vendor who mingles with men," he said.
"The free woman shall die, rather than eat with her breasts."
In response, Minister of Islamic Affairs, Call and Guidance Sheikh Dr. Abdullatif Al-Asheikh condemned the preacher and said the latter is most likely unauthorized by the ministry. He added that the incident will be investigated and the necessary measures will be taken against the preacher in question.