Occam’s Razor

One of the mediums I have to catch up on the happenings of Muslim women around the world is through Muslimah Media Watch. I can at one glance view and explore the options on the news available to read-up on what Women are doing or what is being done to them in the various Muslim and Non Muslim countries and the social impact of these actions and in-actions.

Lately, or rather as usual, we have been commenting, battling, hiding, or what ever it is we chose to do about violence to women in general. For those of us who are Muslim we may tend to focus on what happens to our women in our cultural-religious sphere of Islam. Some of us within may focus outwards; sometimes to point to the injustices done on non-Muslim women as a form of apologetic defense mechanism to explain the possible inexplicable. Others to point to glories past of being granted rights and privileges we don’t see modeled in our societies now; but serve as a fly-swatter against those who would say we are barbaric in conduct.

Those of us who live on the outside fringes of Islam; by that I mean “not living in an all inclusive Muslim society”; but where we practice our religion within the framework of the culture and society we find ourselves in -are also divided into camps…the types are as varied as from those within…Some can understand the outcome of a woman’s lack of place in Muslim societies as a result of what men do -not what Allah prescribes- whether it is right or wrong is not my intention to judge- I can only speak for myself since I have experienced being a Muslimah from various sides, inside and out- as just a Muslimah, and as Moorish Muslimah- again two very different things depending on where you are standing.

Which is why as I think on Occam’s Razor, I wonder on the theory and how it applies to us Women. And this is not an exercise on whether Allah exists or not –that is not the point here. What I want to know is if indeed the premise that if… “Today, we think of the principle of parsimony as a heuristic device. We don’t assume that the simpler theory is correct and the more complex one false. We know from experience that more often than not the theory that requires more complicated machinations is wrong. Until proved otherwise, the more complex theory competing with a simpler explanation should be put on the back burner, but not thrown thrown onto the trash heap of history until proven false, is a viable statement.

Are the theories of what a woman is, part of the underlying conversation of her capacity to be? Yes we have to go there, because when people write about humans as a varied species it only makes me wonder if people still don’t get we are One Race with two genders-social or physical, and that those to the North are not of a different species as those of the South:  You know, like in ancient times when women had their teeth counted to find out if they were human or another type of mammalian animal (or reptilian judging from the comments made down through history)? The residual question seems patently present. Is this whole concept of species (believed or perceived) within our human race what informs how we react to violence in all its forms against women?

Irfan Yusuf says,Men of all denominations really have only two choices when it comes to violence against women – speak out, or condone the perpetrators through silence.   These human perpetrators who view women as other than human or of a different species; who rule for or against a woman’s place in the world as they would on stopping the extinction of the whale or the white tiger; who would cage us like the Chinese Panda in the hopes that we will behave in a manner prescribed by them and therefore continue to breed in certain anonymity.

On the other end of the spectrum are Women, who again depending on where they sit on the human species theory, tell us that “look it is in our best interest to fight against violence”; or shut up and take it because we should; or the in between ones with the “Laws state it should not be but our cultural men do otherwise” cop-out apology.

when you have two [or more] competing theories that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better.”

So are we getting anywhere?

Not until we realize we are all human of the same species, one race…the Neanderthals are not a separate camp among us…


9 Responses to “Occam’s Razor”

  1. 1 INAL
    September 14, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    Thank you, a valuable lesson.

    I am not where you are, I am behind you. Perhaps in that place where other Saha’s of the world inhabit.

    The intentions was not to take away your experience but to state there are more than just one experience and perceived feelings attached to the experience. Put in the same situation, since I am not at that level, I am not sure I would react the same way -but it would not take away the feelings or the experience regardless of what anyone thought or said.

    I do not take offense.

    Along the way even our thoughts may offend others- for this I apologize to you in particular, since mine became words that touched someplace inside you.

    My question however still remains- are our experiences as women informed by what others believe or think we should be?

  2. September 14, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    Aren’t all of our experiences as human beings effected by what others believe or think we should be, our parents, our children, our neighbors, our teachers? We see ourselves reflected in a thousand colored mirrors, but it is up to us to decide how we will see our self. And once we decide how we wish to see ourselves, then the task is to try and create that reality.

  3. September 15, 2008 at 12:53 am

    Salam INAL, I’m glad that you don’t take offense, the internet is tricky sometimes, words often seem harsher than they are. Really it was the paragraph that began
    ‘These human perpetrators who view women as other than human or of a different species; ‘
    that raised my heckles, because I had really tried (generally in the blog, perhaps not so much in this post) to show that the scholars in Tarim do not do that.

    It seems that Tarim is quite a different city to most in Yemen, and really I think it is the fact that it is a city of religious learning that makes it different. I don’t imagine that it is immune to some of the kinds of social problems (and dare I say it, idiocies) that you have discussed in your own blog, but I don’t think they are as prevalent. The local women that I met were literally glowing with nur, they didn’t act like women who felt disempowered or abused, quite the contrary really. They came across as very sure of themselves, their roles, and proud of their country.

    But in Tarim, there is a chance to be more than a wife and a daughter-in-law. Of course they are still these things, and these things are important, but there is the ongoing opportunity for learning, for development of the self (true self through God consiousness).

    You said ’since I am not at that level’…oh boy, I hope I don’t come across as sanctimonious. I’m not at any level either. I really hope and may Allah forgive me if it comes across otherwise, that I don’t portray myself, as something that I am not. I write a lot about what I would like to be, how I understand reality and the world of the spirit intellectually. But over and again, I try to explain that this is for the most part still just mind-knowledge. My inner being is only just coming alive, the slightest spark!

    In response to your question, I think it’s already been answered well by Alajnabiya, and I’d add, that precisely because of these thousand coloured mirrors, instead of choosing one reflection or many, it is more rewarding to step behind the mirror itself! The truest part of self is that spark of God-consciousness, everything else is simply a false reflection. But that’s a life work(for most, anyway

    I do think that women tend to internalize other’s perceptions of us, more than men. We are taught from an early age to be responsive towards other’s attitudes and demands. So perhaps it means more to us, what others think. But in the end, men inhabit the same hall of mirrors.

  4. 4 INAL
    September 15, 2008 at 2:30 am

    Wa Alaikum Salaam Saha wa Alajnabiya

    Yes Tarim is by far a different world from the rest of Yemen…because it is a learning center; that alone sets it apart. Remember, outside of Tarim the literacy level in Yemen is atrocious for women…and their capacity to learn their language and their religion is extremely limited and skewed. I have been to town after town where not one woman goes anywhere near a Masjid. And to those I have spoken about religion with, would greatly benefit from a thousand Tarims.

    I have found that the word “Human” tends to put a few extra hairs to rise in a lot of people…Say Homo Sapien Sapien and you’re on death wish :(…I come from another type of experience so I always wonder what’s so difficult about those words…And that was what framed my question really…being perceived other than as a human woman because of the atrocities committed on us -are we objects, things to be used abused and then discarded? I say us because I have to include myself, even if my experience pales in comparison next to others -this is what made me ask the question…

    However, those mirrors- boy, do I wish they could be destroyed and be done with. It would make life for women a tad less complicated, or at the very least a bit more realistic…

  5. September 20, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I’m in a real rush so I’ll comment on this when I get home, but can I just say that I spent six weeks in Tarim this summer (check out my blog) and it is categorically different from what you believe.

    And I’m one of the contributors on Muslimah Media Watch.

  6. 6 INAL
    September 21, 2008 at 3:54 am

    Salaam Ethar

    Welcome to my humble abode. Thank you for sharing your blog; like in Yemen Journey your words of praise for Tarim ultimately show how different it is from the rest of Yemen. A model to be emulated. And like I stated before the rest of Yemen would benefit from a thousand Tarims.

    And keep up the good work on Muslimah Media Watch.

  7. 7 Ethar
    September 23, 2008 at 11:11 pm


    Ok, I’ve finally gotten around to really reading the posts and the responses..sorry for the misunderstanding!

    I’m going to really look around your site now, so far I’m really enjoying what I’m reading 🙂

  8. 8 INAL
    September 24, 2008 at 3:21 am

    Come as often as you like!!!

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