I didn’t follow my script exactly, of course, but here’s what I wrote, along with some helpful links.
When we talk about Islam, what inevitably comes up? Terror against us. Violence. If we bother to wonder about violence against them, we lament the mutilation, the rape, the child marriage. The crimes those turbaned, bearded men commit against “their” women. If we bother to go any further, we wonder how we can empower those poor women, save them from those terrible men.
The Quran is addressed almost exclusively to men. Even the verses that make demands of women often command men to tell their women about them.
We leave the wondering about what those women think at “how could she believe in something so oppressive” then go on to analyze the motives of men who tell us that they act in Allah’s name, attribute their actions to the economic, the societal, the privilege.
Muslim women do believe it, some believe in it all, fervently, wholly.
That there are heavenly maidens that Allah has already predestined to marry their husbands after they die.
That these women are perfect as per the beauty myth circa 600 BC: eyes with dark pupils and clear whites, glowing with fairness of both kinds, and forever virgins.
That, like Aphrodite-Venus, they were created with the utmost in carnal knowledge paired with that ever alluring, ever-renewing virginity.
That, when an earthly wife refuses or displeases her husband, those virgins scold them from up on high, reminding them that the man is only to stay with them temporarily.
That, if an earthly wife refuses sex with her husband, the angels curse her all night.
That the hour al-ayn, luminous and numerous like scattered pearls, are promised to their husbands.
That the earthly wife has to be called by him to join her husband in heaven.
That if the earthly wife isn’t called, there’s no promise of sex for her.
What do Muslim women make of it?
What do they make of how, when they get to heaven, they’re supposed to be more beautiful there even than the harem of heavenly virgins their husbands will have could ever be – but they aren’t guaranteed sex in heaven.
What happens to a girl who dies pure but still wanting it pretty badly?
She is only revered as a mother
Her seductiveness is so feared
that she’s hidden away
like a pearl
to protect her from tempting the poor men
As decreed by words sent from up on high
She is crooked and so much less intelligent than them
None of the commands or edicts
are actually addressed to her
But they’re still applied to her
she constantly needs guidance
she’s deficient in faith so she needs more rules to help her
the overly-emotional fool
She gives men no choice because
her voice alone seduces them
She should stay mute as much as possible around them
We wouldn’t want them to get crude
to make lewd comments at her
These degenerate modern times
so fraught with crimes against the weaker sex
Her eyes are shielded from shameless things
She’ll never be surprised by anything
For she’s kept from the world
she’s inept in the world
All that she’s called to do in her life:
to be a daughter, a sister, then a mother and wife.
When I was that girl, pure but wanting it oh so badly, I asked them what would happen if I died and still wanted, as I put it bashfully, “a husband.” The room was filled with long-wed older women. The presiding matron looked at me, laughed, and said condescendingly yet somehow still in a motherly way, that by the time I died, I would be tired of “it.” That I would love to have a break.
The studious room broke into laughter. I went home wondering if she had ever cum.
Eternal celibacy just might be appealing if your husband can’t make you cum – but what if you want to? What about the woman whose husband forgets to call her to join in his heavenly harem?
will he forget
after we both
Those heavenly pupils
like clearly delineated dark suns
shining from white, white albumen
that so strike the hearts of men
he sees their perfect symmetry
their eternal virginity
and of course, he forgets me
How can I compare?
And now I live in this land
a place without agony or sorrow
Today is as happy as yesterday
so what’s the point of tomorrow?
If I were allowed to have one unhappy thought here
It would be envy.
As it is, all I can do is wonder
How can they be better off than me
if this is the best that could ever be?
To be made
A maiden in waiting
for my man to die so he can come to you?
What’s it like?
What’s it like?!
I was made
To wait for my man to die
and leave you behind
to come to me because he actually belongs to me
for all eternity
Instead of being happy that he will have his reward in me
you call me a male fantasy
a clear marker of patriarchy
Allah made the universe a certain way. There are the sexless angels, slaves to Allah’s will; the animals who aren’t smart enough to rebel, the trees that obey even as they sway in the breeze and recite His name.
Then there are the free-willed creatures: female and male jinn, men and women.
You’re one of those.
Everything is Allah’s will, right?
If you didn’t believe that, you wouldn’t be here.
And here you are.
You had a lifetime with him
you could have made him want you to join in with us
but instead you refused him on occasion
so the angels cursed you all night
You could have possessed his body
the body I had to wait your whole life for
after marrying the man I was made for
you said no
willful creature that you are
still, in spite of all that
you made it here
you made it here, and all you can do
is sigh about me?
Your palace made of jewels and gold
your rivers of milk and honey and wine
your lovely serving-boys
they are all your own
Muhammad got it right about women:
even when you have the best that could ever be
no wonder more of your kind burn in hell
while their husbands
frolic with my kind
We fulfill all that he could ever want
yes, that thing. In there. Whenever he wants it.
Even that other thing that you don’t know the name for
We aren’t just fine with it, we were made for it
Instead of you having to disrupt your day
make your way out of your pretty palace
past all those handsome serving-boys
crossing all those rivers of wine and milk and honey
and into this place to do what’s so odious to you
We have it handled for you
Instead of straying for what he wanted
he stayed with you for what he wanted
so that he could have it here with us
He stayed true to you so that he could have us
You worked so hard to entice him
to spice things up, to make it fresh
even when you could never be what he actually wanted
I don’t even know why you tried.
It was bad enough to have to compete with modern beauty ideals, limited as they are by reality and Photoshop. But to compete with heavenly sex-bots? Creatures whose alluring charms I heard described in the very verses I recited during prayer, that five-times-a-day ritual that was supposed to make me feel connected to Allah, not make me feel insecure? Denizens of paradise whose specific traits I had to know in detail in order to earn that A+ in Islamic Studies?
Looking back, I don’t even know why I tried.
I know exactly why I tried.
I’m just grateful I don’t have to try anymore.