A few years ago some very disturbing allegations and counter-allegations circulated on the net about the spiritual abuse of some women by some well-respected teachers. I had it in mind when I wrote the slightly flippant blogpost “Groucho Marx, the Borg and Me“.
This very thoughtful, balanced and courageous article by Ustadha Zaynab Ansari tackles the issue head on, from her own experience of dealing with the victims.
“How can our leaders recite platitudes about women’s empowerment and status in Islam publicly, while privately undermining those very rights they claim to cherish? How is it acceptable to publicly proclaim respect for women, while privately deeming them little more than sexual conquests?
It has recently come to my attention that there are well-known individuals who are using their platforms for more than the dissemination of Islamic teachings. There is evidence demonstrating that these individuals are using their positions in circles of sacred learning to groom, recruit, and entice female followers with promises of marriage, access to Shuyukh, study abroad opportunities, and entrée to exclusive socio-spiritual networks. Under the guise of mentoring, these individuals are engaging in private, unsupervised conversations with marriageable members of the opposite sex. These conversations, carried out in the relative anonymity of cyberspace, appear to run the gamut from fairly innocuous exchanges of biographical information (à la pen pals in the pre-computer era) to material that is merely suggestive to thoughts and sentiments that are wildly inappropriate.”