Thursday, January 21, 2016

Muslim Women and Feminism

I saw an article yesterday that inspired this post - Teen Vogue named two Muslim women as part of the new faces of feminism. How awesome is that? One is MuslimGirl founder Amani Al- Khatahtbeh and the other is Sonita Alizadeh, an activist and rapper. They were giving their statements among other influential women such as actresses, activists, and writers. I remember being in middle school flipping through the magazine interested in the content but never being able to fully relate to the mainstream culture as it didn't necessarily include me. I was fine with that because I knew I was different. Today, a young Muslim girl flipping through the magazine and see that she is represented among the new faces can feel a part of the culture. It adds to the sense of unity and belonging that I hope to see as a common theme in society one day. 

Muslim women and feminism - a contradiction to many. There is a large group of people who view Muslim women as opressed beings who are in need of liberation. As if there is only one way to be "free" and that is by conforming to a specific mood that is acceptable to society. Doesn't sound like freedom to me, more like a contradiction. If you study the era before Islam in Arabia, many cases of oppression against women are apparent. Before Islam women were treated like belongings of men and given the status of slaves. They were inherited as if they were objects. They were not given a voice in any matter. Baby girls were looked down upon and in many cases killed. Islam came to this place abolishing these ignorant practices. It educated the people on the status and respect of the female gender. They were then granted equality in religious freedom, the right to obtain knowledge and marry and divorce upon freewill. This was way before the feminist movements that started just a century ago. The status of a wife and a mother is one of utmost love and respect. It was taught that women are people and not sexual objects and deserve to be treated in the most honourable manner. If these are all religious teachings, why is feminism necessary for us today?  Today women are being raped, abused, tortured. In some cultures and families ignorant practices still take place in the name of Islam. Women are being forced into marriages, stripped of their right to education and free will. We need to stand up for what we believe in and be the voice for those women who don't have one. This is why we as Muslim women should be among the faces and voices of feminism. As Amani, the founder of MuslimGirl said in this feature of Vogue said: "By reclaiming our narrative, we hope to empower Muslim women, combat negative stereotypes, and influence policies that impact us."

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