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  1. The following is an article written by Bint Assalaam and posted on Jamiatul Ulema (KZN) website: Is sisterhood dying? We hear it often, “By nature women are nurturers.” Just not always with each other. We easily speak about how men hate on women, but let’s talk about our propensity as women to hate on each other. And we do it frequently. Almost habitually, that unbeknownst to us, sizing each other up has become a skill we can perform in a matter of seconds. Women are often harder on each other than men. At home, at work, even at play, appraising and judging each other constantly. We have entered each other in a competition where the only prize on offer is an unfounded feeling of short-lived self satisfaction. In a never-ending pageant, we are contesting with and judging each other on our dress, marital status, occupation, smarts, social disposition, walk and talk. No matter how much girl power we profess to have over men we’re still insecure about it. We are strangely threatened by another woman possibly “stealing” our power that it drives us to wield that so called power over each other. A lot of women will tell you that they have either survived the torment served by at least one mean girl in their past, that girl who dismissed, belittled, or socially tortured them. There might be some who will tell you they are going through it right now. And chances are you’re actually the bully. Take for example that most mother and daughter – in – law relationships are based on mutual dislike or worse. The line between letting go and grabbing on too tightly is thin. Mother – in – laws are more often the ones abusing what’s meant to be a respectable seniority in these cases, to such an extent it results in the failure of some marriages. Most times these mothers – in – law suffered under the iron fist of their husband’s mother but instead of breaking the vicious cycle, they continue the “tradition”. One would think rearing one’s own kids would incline one to be more accepting of another’s. But instead power play has pushed some mothers – in – law to take out a hit on their new daughters. Because of this young women enter marriage with their guards up thinning the chances of a mother-daughter bond from forming. Sisterhood is dying. A recent study has found that two women are less likely to co-operate than two men when one is more powerful than the other. This contradicts the accepted notion that a woman’s nurturing nature makes it normal for them to help each other. Aside from this asphyxiation of one woman’s growth by another, the female newbie at a company undergoes all types of tests by those already there. If you’re too quiet, you’re labelled a snob. Speak up and you’re a big mouth. Take the initiative or push boundaries and you’re a suck up. Disagree with others views and you’re outcast and given the silent treatment. This happens with women in the same profession, of different professions and generally outside the workplace also. This strong arm tactic of mocking or shunning other women, and denying them a social connection works because according to experts, relationships are a source of solace and power to women and girls. But female bullying is not restricted to the real world only. Twitter and Facebook have opened up new arenas for it, with complete strangers slinging verbal vitriol at each other. Never mind that woman make silent deductions about other women based on their dress within seconds of meeting women across seas are openly typecasting each other. Social media has allowed women to betray, backstab and trash-talk each other without face-to-face conflict, to the amusement and glee of their friends and followers. It sets apart the real friends from the pseudo ones. Disagree with a woman on her status or tweet and you might earn the cold shoulder at work or even worse be unfriended. Constantly images of what the perfect woman should look like bombard us. It isn’t a surprise that the reason for women hating on women is self hate. Not being able to identify with this ridiculous slim, flawless, cellulite-free, and perfect image of beauty has created angry women. Envy, insecurity and feelings of intimidation drive women to knock other women down. More often than not these unhealthy feelings develop because of this visual assault, rather than a deep rooted psychological problem. Women with a strong sense of self and high self-esteem are less likely to hurt others, if they aren’t prone to making judgments about women of other cultures and religion. Sisterhood is drawing its last breaths. Unfortunately even amongst Muslim girls and women. We are choosing the wrong examples to direct our identities and so weaving flimsy friendships and relationships based on the superficial. If sisterhood in Islam transcended the surface levels of friendship, Muslim women could enjoy a very special bond with each other. As Muslim women we share a gift more special than any other, we share the belief in the Oneness of Allah SWT. This shared belief and testimony of faith should go beyond our differences of race, nationality, culture or language. Being a sister in Islam is one of many blessings but it also comes with a responsibility to each other. As Muslim women we are taught that there is great reward in loving each other for the sake of Allah SWT, that we should be trustworthy and show a cheerful face towards one another, that we should not abandon each other, that we should be faithful, forgiving, kind and tolerant to each other, that we should conceal each others flaws, and that we should love for each other what we love for ourselves. It’s fair to say the opposite is happening. We place each other in boxes of too religious, too modern, too pious,too quiet, too intelligent or too homely. The list goes on. We choose our friends based on the superficial and fail to make lasting friendships with other women because of our increasing envy, self-hate, insecurity and feelings of intimidation. If we are failing to build a strong sisterhood in Islam how do we expect that sisterhood to extend to women of all faiths to build a sisterhood in humanity.
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