Malaysia: Feminism and Internet lead women to neglect their families, says Islamist group
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Malaysia: Feminism and Internet lead women to neglect their families, says Islamist group

FEMINISM and the Internet are having a negative effect on women, and are to blame for them choosing work and social media over their husbands and children, said a Malaysian Islamist group on Tuesday.

According to Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) president Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman, even though Muslim women can pursue careers, they should still prioritize the needs of the household.

“I believe that Asian women, especially Muslim women who still hold on to the principles, know that the main priority of the woman is at home,” he was quoted saying by Malay Mail Online during the keynote address at the ISMA Women’s Forum.

He added that feminism has a negative impact if it’s not filtered by culture or religion, as feminism in its current form was more appropriate in Western countries, but not a Muslim-majority country like Malaysia.

At the press conference following the event, he said that women should not put their careers before their basic roles as family caregivers.

“If this is to continue, then there will be an extraordinary void in our family institutions where children will not receive the love and attention they need from their mothers,” said Abdullah Zaik.

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The religious scholar said that maintaining a household and raising successful children are among the most important roles women hold, adding that many women are now allowing these duties to go by the wayside due to their careers as a result of feminism.

“(Women working) will create an emptiness in (children) that is very extreme for the next generation. And they will try to fill the void with other things that may happen irresponsibly and may affect the development of their character,” he said.

Abdullah Zaik asserted that feminism has also given women too much “space”, allowing them to take over jobs that were traditionally meant for men.

“Unlike before, when some fields are done by men and cannot be done by women, today women can enter all fields; in fact some women are considered more competent. Women can enter all fields and this constricts the space for men to function and there are no longer fields specially for men or specially for women,” he said.

He went on to suggest that women should instead be allowed to work for only half a day so that they would have the time to focus on their families.

“If we reduce their workday to 6 hours or half day but same salary we can save the family institutions,” he said.

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Abdullah Zaik also attributed women’s increasing Internet use as one of the root causes of unhappy families, elaborating that some women have become so absorbed with social media that they neglect spending quality time with their husband or children.

“So many divorce cases have been reported because women are immersed in their social relationships online until they forget their duties at home like forgetting to communicate with their children and husband,” he said.

Following reports of Abdullah Zaik’s opinions, several feminists offered their counter-arguments via social media:

Other Muslim scholars tried to come to Abdullah Zaik’s defense, saying that what he meant was that women are naturally inclined towards child-rearing compared to men.

Associate professor Dr. Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar of Islamic Sciences University of Malaysia (USIM) told Malay Mail Online that women are instinctively nurturing and caregiving, so therefore they would prefer to hold that role, even though they are working.

“The feminist groups are saying that we are trying to say that women should stay at home, women should not work at all. What we are trying to say is how to balance working women, with childcare,” she clarified.