wood turtle is about sharing experiences in Islamic and Muslim feminism(s), modern motherhood and just about anything else that’s on my mind or in the news.

I’m a believing Muslim, a woman and a feminist. This means that I believe in the tenants of Islam, I am concerned with issues affecting women in relation to my religion, world culture and in general — and I believe that much of religion has been interpreted, written, commanded, used, abused, and seen through the male lens.

Feminism is an intrinsic part of Islam as much as patriarchy. Islam teaches equality, but it was revealed to pagan Arabs in “a language they would understand.” That language was predominantly male-centric, and has since been used by men (and women) to help promote patriarchy and oppressive realities for women. Which is why I also believe that it is necessary to have continued feminist readings and interpretations of the Qur’an.

I’m frankly a little tired of the majority of the Western world not understanding Islam and Muslims — especially considering the events of the past decade. But I’m also a little tired of some Muslims not understanding the West and of being terrified of Western concepts — especially considering Muslims have lived in the West for  at least a century and is creating a unique expressions of Islam within western contexts.

A Muslim Feminist should not be an oxymoron. So this blog is also about dispelling myths and stereotypes from both sides.

I have two baby girls — Eryn and Ivy — and I’d like to bring them up without these hangups.  So I write about them. A lot.

As for the name “wood turtle”: One day I saw that Eryn loved looking at a wood turtle doorstop we have in the second bedroom. I moved the turtle closer to her and in a deep turtle voice said, “Hello Eryn”. She laughed. She laughs every time she sees the turtle.

If you’ve ever heard a baby laugh, you will understand the power of the wood turtle.

After weeks of crying, sleeplessness, sore nipples, mind-numbing in-law politics, battling through post-partum baby blues, the sound of a baby laughing is like glass shattering. The world stops. Your heart leaps. Silence ensues. And a smile shines across the universe.

31 Responses to “about wood turtle”

  1. Anji Says:

    I’ve just discovered your blog and I’m loving it so far! I was wondering if you’d mind me putting you on the blogroll at one of my blogs, Mothers For Women’s Lib?

  2. woodturtle Says:

    Absolutely! I’d be honoured, and can’t wait for your next Carnival! (I’ve added MFWL to my roll as well)

  3. Arianna Says:

    I’d love to recommend reading Shabir Ahmed’s rendition… “The Quran As It Explains Itself”. His interpretation of the Quran, using other passages of the Quran instead of outside sources is really very refreshing.


  4. [...] A guest post by Wood Turtle [...]

  5. nightingaled Says:

    Hi! I really like your blog and was wondering if I could put it on my blogroll? I just started a blog of my own about my experiences with sexual and emotional abuse. As a Muslim feminist woman I feel these things are not discussed openly enough, there is nowhere for survivors to share feelings.


  6. This is such a fun blog…an absolute delight to read! I’m glad you created a space for yourself because you were sick of the stereotypes and misunderstandings and religio-political correctness out there, and rest assured that your blog really does give me a relief from all of the above :)


    1. Well more religio correctness (being afraid of saying the wrong thing and wanting to play it safe all the time) as opposed to political correctness.

    2. woodturtle Says:

      I’m glad you like it here — and that I found yoru blog in return!

  7. nida Says:

    Salam, I recently discovered your blog and I’m loving it so far :) Every time I tell someone I’m a Muslim Feminist, they really do react as if I’ve just stated an oxymoron so its refreshing to find others out there who don’t see ‘Muslim’ and ‘Feminist’ as two diametrically opposed labels :P I hope you won’t mind me adding your blog to my blogroll :)

    1. woodturtle Says:

      Wasalaams nida! And welcome! I’m glad you introduced yourself — you’ve got quite the little firebrand blog. Makes for an enjoyable read :)

      Can’t wait to read more.

      1. nida Says:

        JazakAllah Khair, I’m glad you liked it :) I usually end up writing only when I’m really frustrated or pissed off by something and I’m afraid that frustration/anger seeps into the writing and I don’t want that: I don’t want this to become another emo-rant! lol.. InshaAllah I’m going to try writing more often so I can capture a wider range of emotions :P

        Thank you again for the kind words! AH

  8. nida Says:

    Salam, I’ve nominated you for the versatile blogger award, please check out my blog for more details :)

    http://knida.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/never-look-a-gift-award-in-the-mouth/

  9. Ummi Says:

    Glad to discover your blog!


  10. Um…wow.

    I confess that if you asked me for my opinion yesterday, I would’ve been one of those people who say that Islam (or any other organized religion) is incompatible with feminism.

    As it is, I am currently cringing in embarrassment at the fact that I could have been so naive as to think of something in such black-and-white terms, when the twenty one years of my existence so far have repeatedly taught me that it’s not the brightest thing to do.

    Just out of curiosity, though, how do the more traditional people in your circle react to this? Are you accused of not being, you know, Muslim enough? Are you accused of not being a good parent?

    I live in India right now, and my views do tend to make me the target of all sorts of chauvinists. I refuse to accept chauvinism, which often motivates the more traditional people to claim that I’m not a REAL Indian or even a REAL male (whatever THAT means). :)

    I guess we all define our identity ourselves. External labels are meaningless to the self-confident person, and the entire medley of thoughts and beliefs of an individual are far too complex to be summed up in a form of communication as crude as language.

    1. woodturtle Says:

      Nice thoughts on labels!

      I was actually thinking about that the other day. I tend to go back and fourth between identifying myself only as Muslim or as a Traditional Muslim (I don’t call myself a Moderate and not a Progressive — even if I share certain ideas with these “groups”). I’m “just a Muslim.” And a feminist. But calling me a Muslim Feminist (as I sometimes do) is also limiting because it brings certain stereotypes to mind that do not represent me at all, and overshadow who I really am.

      I have a close circle of associates (volunteer organizations, friends, colleges, prayer/study circles) and we all see ourselves as “Traditional” Muslims — meaning we all follow the Qur’an and the intent behind the Prophet’s way of life. I have other friends who see themselves as “Traditional” Muslims who are more “conservative” in their practice.

      But, for example, my niqaabi friends have never suggested that I am a bad Muslim for not wearing niqaab (conversely, I have a niqaabi friend who has multiple piercings and hits the clubs on the weekends). Even people who have openly disagreed with me, or CORRECTED me publicly have never voiced the opinion that I am a bad Muslim.

      But I’m sure it’s implied.

      I’ve never been accused of not being Muslim enough. I’m a convert and that gives me a magical cloak of “excuse” — so when others feel I am “misguided” or “in the wrong” it can be attributed to either my western arrogance or my ignorance as a convert (even if I am over a decade old in Muslim years). I probably just don’t know any better.

      Really, the only people to ever make comments are those who tend to be high on their own selves — or are really, really concerned with the state of the Muslim community being tainted by Western evil ideologies.

      Thanks so much for your comment and welcome!

      1. charmedshiva Says:

        I think traditionalism in Islam is defined as following the methodologies and rulings of the chains of scholarship that comes before us, and following the 4 remaining madhabs. Do you identify with that tradition, or is your definition of traditional Islam different from that?
        Wearing or not wearing niqab isn’t a matter of traditional Islam vs. non-traditional Islam, it’s just a matter of more conservative vs. less conservative interpretations of Islam, or a matter of one’s own desire to wear it vs. not wear it.


  11. [...] not sure where this post is going or where it’s gone. I’ve written it in response to a recent comment just before running off to my work Christmas [...]

  12. Scriptor Obscura Says:

    I just thought that you might be interested in this blog that I found here:

    http://badassmuslimahs.tumblr.com/

    1. woodturtle Says:

      Thanks! I’ve seen it before. One of my favourites.

  13. Katie Chowdhury Says:

    So, I was telling hubby (Rashed Chowdhury) that I found this cool Muslim blog, and he saw it up on the computer and said, “Uh…you know that’s so-and-so’s blog (not sure you’re giving your name on here!).” And I was all, “Huh?” And he was like, “Yeah.” And I totally went, “Cool.”

    1. woodturtle Says:

      Haha! That’s an awesome story. Thanks :)

      You’ll be one of very few people who know it’s me. I’ll be in MTL the first week of June if you want to meet up and let our babies pile on top of each other. Will you be around?


  14. Salaams sister. Sharing everywhere. Much love. http://www.mpvottawa.com, http://www.mpvusa.org Wish we knew your real name. xox

  15. rockachika Says:

    Salaam. Just found your blog and as of now, I am officially hooked! It is nice to read about Muslim feminism and motherhood, especially when it is from outside the perspective of my own culture.

    I am from Malaysia, and also a mom to a beautiful 19 months old daughter, and very pro-breastfeeding :) I blog here, http://yunayuni.blogspot.com. If you ever find time to drop by, please say a little hi! :)

    Keep on writing, will definitely be coming back for more!

  16. michaelk15 Says:

    Just come here read and discuss :)


  17. I have only just found you after being encouraged by a friend during an argument. I told her that feminist mother is an oxymoron, let alone religious feminist mother–which I am! She’s right that there are a few out there, but it is still a small place (growing, I know). Can I add you to my slowly growing blog role? I blog at wildemama.blogspot.com and “preach” at You Are Loved (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sam-wilde)–and interfaith program. The blogosphere has more of us than my home town!

  18. Metis Says:

    Salaam Woodturtle, I’m writing to request you to please email me. You have my address now through this comment. I’m including a review of your blog in my study and want to share with you what I’ve written about it – if you like/not like it, want to change it etc. Many thanks in advance.


  19. Salaams Wood turtle, when you gave me your card this evening, I had no idea it would be so fascinating or that I would spend the better part of my evening reading through the archives. I love your blog. So well written and what you are writing is so necessary. Thank you for sharing this with me!

    1. wood turtle Says:

      Wasalaams Mama needs chai! It was a pleasure meeting you! I think your voice is extremely strong and it’s so wonderful that you’re sharing your story online.

      Lets meet up for that play date soon, okay?

  20. stop shirk Says:

    lots of haraam music sister, delete. also we do not celebrate xmax
    feminism was also invented to break up families, family values and also increase the big mans pocket by allowing to get taxed, it’s all a dream. wake up


  21. this is beautiful! I love the last blurb about the smile :). I’m in a muslim mom/female blogger group…do you want to join us on facebook? don’t know your info…

  22. Hyde Says:

    Without having read your blog yet, I have trouble understanding what feminist interpretation of the quran could be…Mantisi, Manji ? What about homosexual interpretation, Kugal…where do we go from here?

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