This festival marks the launch of the global Muslim Women’s Arts Foundation, set up by the founder of MACFEST, Qaisra Shahraz MBE to celebrate and elevate Muslim female artists across the globe.
A large number of Muslim men who advocate for women’s right to wear the hijab do not actually think of the hijab as a right. They are not fighting for the Muslim woman’s right to self-determination and freedom of choice.
We know that forceful penetration is rape. But what does one call a forced handshake? A forced hug? Or a forced kiss? In my opinion, unwillingness is the common denominator regardless of the action. And as such, it is just as shameful, as debasing and as ugly as rape.
She was no random coincidence. She was not an anomaly — ‘a woman who broke free from the ways of her culture to do something great’. She was rather the direct result of the very culture and community she grew up in.
Other young mums I spoke to would often hit me with clichés such as “everyone feels like this, it gets better with time” etc. I never truly felt like I was supported in any way by my family
if she pays no mind to fancy dressing. Then, she has liberated herself from the shallow needs of regular girls and is now on par with her male counterparts. This sentiment has given us oxymoronic slogans like “substance over beauty” and “beauty and brains” and “not like other girls”.
It’s how to change and go to the bathroom when public bathrooms make your skin crawl. It’s needing to pray without any private place to do it. It’s keeping your damn hair successfully tucked back without the waves constantly tugging it all out. How!
. Over time, I have become so hyper-aware of the issue of representation that I can’t help but make sure that shows that have brown and/or Muslim characters also avoid being complicit in harming our communities via our nation’s racist/xenophobic imaginations.
As a first-born Muslim daughter, I was neither sad nor happy. There were challenging situations, but there were beautiful memories too. I kind of feel like it has moulded me into a stronger person. I can handle a lot of things because of what I went through.
Fitriya Mohamed: Absolutely, but I did not let my difference stop me from pursuing sports. More so, with
my teammates, the love and support I received from them encouraged me to continue playing. On the other hand, I was discouraged on multiple occasions by members of my community and family members, because to them, “sport is for boys, not girls”. I was told to focus on other things that would get me somewhere. They tried to use religion to exemplify their reasonings but that did not make sense to me because deep down, I knew what I was doing was not wrong.
In the first scene where Ara took off her headscarf in Ben’s bedroom, I shut my laptop out of sheer exasperation. I agree that the about-to-unfold premarital sexual activity meant that a headscarf was out of place, but the visuals of her removing it were not what I was expecting.
But why do non-Muslim feminists in the West have such a hard time connecting the dots between Muslim women’s struggle to wear what they want, whether that be a hijab on a run or a burkini to swim, and Great Britain’s Paralympian Olivia Breen’s fight to wear the length of shorts that make her feel comfortable during her long jump.
The position of being held to the highest moral and social standards comes with a singular pitfall: women are afforded little to no grace in the catastrophic event that they make mistakes.
We do brunch together to catch up on life and laugh till our bellies hurt, drop off a dish we cooked and get something else in return in that butter tub. I can give them constructive criticism and advice with good intentions. I’m there to catch them or pull them up whenever they are about to fall.
For women who have good jobs and work really hard, it’s a question of ‘do you want to take five steps backwards by getting married and being relegated to doing all the chores without this correct equity in the marriage?
. “Our stories are universal,” says Cadar. “So we want to create an international community where we can have real talks and be inspired by one another”. She stressed that as Africans, black women inherited the art of storytelling from their ancestors, so the digital sisterhood is tapping into the incredible power of storytelling to change lives.
According to the photographer, she had a number of attendants and was dressed extremely finely in a “robe of rich Turkish tissue of silk and gold”. Her dress covered most of her face, with only her hand visible. The purpose of the visit had been to impress upon the young queen the advantages of becoming a French colony. But she vehemently resisted.
This online event recognises that Black people are not a monolith and aims to celebrate the beauty and diversity of the black experience. It also further reinforces the fact that cultures outside of the Occident matter a lot.
Culturally, cooking was “the thing”. There was no space to just like doing it. It was presented as a woman’s headache, so I had to unlearn everything surrounding it. I think my dislike for cooking also had to do with the weight and pressure my mother put on me to learn how to cook.
The burqa existed long before the Taliban, worn by Pashtun women to mark “the symbolic separation of men’s and women’s domains.” Although it could be argued that this reinforces patriarchal ideas of women belonging at home, we must remember that many saw the burqa as a “liberating invention”.
We have explained why “Why were you out so late?” and “what were you wearing?” are problematic responses to cases of violence. It communicates that women should be held responsible for their own safety and blamed when things go wrong. But have we ever considered that even well-intentioned instructions to “be careful” and “take precautions” can be energy-sapping and exhausting?
Many men rejected the verses in Wallada’s poems because they were not “womanly” but this pushed her to write even more. She was a woman who took criticism as a tool to come back stronger, making her poems passionately vivid and influential.
The way women are treated across the Muslim world; the way sons see their fathers dominate their mothers, and the way scholars and imams regurgitate age-old ideas of women’s positions in life are all things that not only need unlearning but clear accessible actions.
The pick-me attitude is both dangerous and deserving of compassion; dangerous because it is damaging to our collective existence as women and deserving of compassion because this game is unempowering even to the women who signal their virtues as distinct from the rest.
I remember my father telling me that I must not see the world from the perspective of a man, but from my own perspective which will only develop once I venture out into the world.
I’ve grown a lot as a single woman. Had I married earlier, I wouldn’t have been as patient or kind. At the same time, I had little understanding of my rights so it’d be easier for me to be taken advantage of.
We want to (rightfully) debate and critique Islamophobic establishments that bar our sisters from their rights to wear hijab. However, we will ignore the epidemic of the rising “spiritual leaders”, “scholars” and “holy men” in our communities who have been demonstrated to commit various forms of abuse against vulnerable women.
The inevitable comparison between the ‘real me’ and the ‘retouched me’ emerges. Of course, the natural image can never live up to what has been designed as a beauty mask.
I feel very strongly that we shouldn’t just have ‘sisters’ committees’ which are kept separate from the main decision-making Board. Women should be sitting with men and feeding into discussions and decisions that affect the whole community.
Asma Lamrabet offers a motivational reading of religious history where God repeatedly upholds the equality of women who are made of the same stuff as men. That’s a great place to start a conversation on how power is balanced between men and women within Islam.
Aleppo’s diplomatic position was never as strong as it was under the rule of Queen Dhayfa Khatun. Besides her diplomatic strength, however, Dhayfa took a special interest in architecture and sponsored learning in Aleppo where she founded two schools.
As a queen, Al-Khayzuran improved the condition of women. She was committed to removing the harmful structures that prevented women from living their full lives. She was also very charitable, especially to women.
Society tells women a million ways, how to avoid being harassed, how to dress modestly, how not to walk alone at night, how to be extra careful, how to be a nun practically and live in the forest or disappear. No one preaches hard to men to refrain or endeavour to look away as enjoined in the Qur’an. It’s really not about dressing. It’s about power dynamics and zero consequences.”
Muslim women are starting to understand that working on themselves emotionally is the first step to finding a suitable spouse. That culture does not always respect what our beautiful religion has taught us, that it’s okay to stand up for your rights when that happens, that it’s more important to invest in things like pre-marital counselling than in an extravagant wedding.
I acknowledge that once upon a time, our “aunties” were once Muslim girls, who unfortunately were subjected to the same experiences bedevilling young Muslim women of today. Due to the sexist structures put in place to uphold their oppression, they were unable to adequately navigate and dismantle their predicaments.
The knowledge that once upon an Islamic empire, in a golden city of wisdom, walked a woman who wove law and algebra together with utmost perfection that her history couldn’t be completely obliterated gives us hope that what once was, could definitely be again, and perhaps has started to become.
In the exercise of individual ‘choice’, ‘freedom’ and ‘agency’, this new image of the neoliberal female subject has become an autonomous consuming subject, for even while loving our bodies, we need to ask ourselves whether patriarchy and capitalism have a right to profit from it?
I think artists should create what they feel passionate about. Sometimes I don’t feel like creating artwork around activism – sometimes I just want to draw a pretty picture. People reach out to me about creating artwork around other topics – that don’t quite relate to the experiences I’ve gone through or seen.
We don’t need men explaining the concept of equality to us. Women are not a group of dumb, confused individuals who have no sense of what they’re talking about and no idea of what they want. When we demand gender equality, we are demanding that irrespective of differences, the intrinsic equality of all human beings be recognised.
These couples all have such a wealth of knowledge and advice to share, I appreciated the opportunity to document their journey through life amidst the turbulence and the smooth sails. I really appreciated each of their candidness and brevity, it’s not easy to share the challenges in one relationship.
It is okay for me to change my views as I grow and develop from an impressionable, fearful girl into a self-assured young woman. My strength of faith is not and will not be defined by how I choose to dress. If anything, it is a reflection on your behalf if you judge me based on the amount of hair on my head that is showing.
One of my absolute favourite things about the show is that not a single one of the three major love interests, Zarina, Abdullah and Ahsan are white. And, not a single one of WLP women takes off their hijab or sheds their faith for a lover muslim or otherwise. And the sky did not fall down. Phew!
At some point in my sessions, I decided to show up only mindlessly, registering my displeasure by scowling and asking fewer questions. I reached this decision after the diminutive counsellor had said “Husbands forcing themselves on their wives is not rape”. I had afterwards asked him to define rape. He was angry at my audacity. He did not appreciate being questioned.
I always say, “each country holds a piece of you waiting to be discovered, and travelling is the key.” All 24 countries I either lived in or visited for a short period have exposed new personality traits in me.
My decision is to not let him walk all over me anymore. My decision is to be free. My decision is to be happy. My decision is to erase him from my life. My decision is to free myself from the judgements of his family and him. My decision is clear now more than ever. This is the best decision that I took for myself in my life.
Çambel’s intellectual capacity had always been running in front of her academic identity as an archaeologist. She may have written fewer publications than many, but has left behind monumental institutions, trajectories in managing, and, more significantly, a generation inspired by her vision.
As a brown woman in a traditional South Asian Muslim home, there was much I bristled against almost constantly. The unacknowledged labour was not just expected but demanded from me. The requirement to keep my mouth shut in deference even if an older person, especially a man, was disrespectful, discriminatory, or just plain wrong in their frequent pontification.
We are tired and angry that men use our labour to prop themselves up in positions of influence and leadership. We are angry that our voices keep getting silenced. We are angry that our feedback and calls for accountability are continually ignored.
Women need not be held to the unrealistic standards of the Ideal Muslimah, who by the way, is a fictional character with roots not unrelated to passive misogyny. The Ideal Islamic culture is not one of cancel culture, but one of constant repentance and improvement.
Obviously a child with pink glittery heels is not going to want to go outdoors and jump in puddles and catch ladybirds in the garden, be it a boy or a girl. Put boys in those shoes and see how many are suddenly not running around anymore. Put girls in good shoes and see how many are no longer playing with Barbies and cooking with a toy kitchen set.
It is at socials like these, where exclusion towards Muslims is often heightened, with drinking culture being mostly to blame. In the corporate field, it is no surprise that drinking is the primary way teams socialise. It boosts staff morale, strengthens personal relationships and in some cases, even gives employees a deeper insight into the business and clientele itself. But for non-drinkers like myself, these occasions are approached with dread. I sometimes feel my seniors are closer to the other juniors in our team as they regularly join them for after-work drinks, whereas I do not. Consequently, causing me to worry that my career progression will be negatively impacted.
What stands out to me about ‘Lady Parts’ as a show is that it exemplifies Muslims as not being a monolith. Instead of being reduced to one stereotype, they’re allowed to exist freely as who they are, accurately reflecting the melting pot of different individuals that form the religion. This subsequently allows Muslim women to reclaim their power — they’re allowed to just be, beyond their religious identity.
I hope the day will come when you will be free to hold your head up and claim what you believe or support without fear of being “dragged”. I pray for the day when being a Muslim woman – especially being visibly so – is not seen as an open invitation for others to have an opinion on how we choose to live our lives. Until that time, and unless you choose other
Islamophobia exists in Canada and it has existed for a long time, to the point that it has become normalised, whether people realise it or not. This is why we need to have laws protecting people from acts of hatred. Because children are not responsible for having to recognise acts of hatred and speak out against it.
For what it’s worth, it’s important to discuss the sex scenes in ‘Bridgerton’ and analyse whether or not they are a representation of what good sex should look like. In this writer’s humble opinion, ‘Bridgerton’ sex is terrible and should never be a model or a “how-to” manual for sex. This is especially in relation to female orgasm because as women, we deserve better. Bad sex scenes are unfortunately common in a lot of TV shows and ‘Bridgerton’ is not an exception.
On one incident, during Hajj, she asked the Prophet (PBUH) why he was still in Ihram, when he had instructed the sahabah to take off their Ihram.
I had grown up in an environment surrounded by non-Muslims. My teachers, classmates, and friends were non-Muslims. I was, in fact, the only Muslim girl in my class. People made awful comments about my religion. Friends deserted me because I was Muslim. I vividly remember when a friend brought a book, which portrayed Islam in a bad light, to school. I cried bitterly that day, wondering why I was Muslim…why I couldn’t be like everyone else, why I couldn’t live without the risk of being judged or ridiculed on the basis of my faith.
What makes it more difficult is that the attitudes of Muslim men and lots of Muslim women always run contrary to the egalitarian values of Islam that you have told non-Muslims about. So it feels like we’re just making things up to protect this religion and make it look good. This is in addition to being sidelined by close friends and family for believing that you, as a Muslim woman, have God-given rights. People constantly try to ostracise you, telling others to avoid you if they want to keep the faith. Being an activist feels really lonely.”
Hidden behind her layers of disappointment was a sense of rebellion which was expressed when she made her complaint to God: ” My Lord! I have given birth to a girl “. The emotions evoked were those of sadness and confusion. She knew that the environment in which she lived did not value the female child, practically forbidding women from having access to the sacred realm. Deep inside her, she wanted to trust in God, that in spite of having a female child, her wish for her child to be dedicated to the service of God could still materialise,
Belonging at the margins of society without any facilitation or channel, more visibly Muslim women are finding themselves at the receiving end of the growing Islamophobia and the perils of it. They feel unsafe both at the hands of the liberal who finds it a responsibility to rationalize them with modernity and to the far right-wing which views them as objects of fascination to be subjugated if they ever raise their voices.
I didn’t have a name for what I was going through. My trauma vocabulary didn’t include domestic violence, spiritual abuse, victim blaming, or power and control. But it sure was full of self-loathing and blaming, helplessness, and hopelessness. I had internalized every woman-hating khutba (sermon) that echoed outside of my apartment once a day, if not more, at the nearby mosques.
When people pontificate on my freedom or lack of it because of my burqa, this is the reality that none of them sees. For all the love of revolutions and disruptive activism, we forget to acknowledge a nuance where not everything is a violent disruption. There is a ‘quiet activism’ where we change things from within. It is impossible to embody values that stress a community and then expect them to reform in any way. Nobody trusts an outsider.
As the conversation about racism once again takes centre stage amongst Muslims on social media, acknowledging the existence of these issues rather than sweeping them under the carpet is the first step to tackling them. Imams, scholars and leaders of Muslim communities must be willing to be held accountable by showing a commitment to working through this beyond paying lip service, turning the tables around, playing the blame game and glossing over the pain of actual victims of racism.
In Muslim circles, it has been appalling to hear people assert that the concept of Mahr – which is a compulsory marital gift that a groom must give to a bride – makes women the object of a transactional marital relationship. In other words, the husband purchases the bride in exchange for sexual and domestic services as well as unconditional obedience to him. If this is not a deliberate distortion of the true spirit behind the Mahr to pander to misogynistic cultures, then I do not know what it is.
There is surely something to learn from the power that women can have from being free of the shackles of being an object catering to a man’s every desire. We are not walking fantasies. We are people who should be able to spend our brain cells and precious time pursuing things beyond making our shells look as shiny as possible.
In 1947, the UN decided to divide Palestine into two separate states- one for Jews, “Israel” (55% of land) and one for Arab Palestinians, “Palestine” (45%) and claimed Jerusalem to be a neutral religious zone. Arabs were furious with this proposal because they were the majority but were to be controlled by a Jewish ruling body. They saw it as another attempt of colonialism by the West and a move to eliminate the Palestinian identity.
Muslims around the world have since wondered what action to take, feeling helpless and guilty about the situation. If you’re wondering what you can do to support Palestinians, here are five ways to show your solidarity.
The current beauty game is not an individual-based problem. It’s a manifestation of a broader toxic dynamic. For someone as powerful as an influencer to state that concealing a perfectly normal feature of her face and/or body is empowering isn’t just a statement of personal empowerment, especially when their brand is catered to a specific audience which includes young women in their teens and early twenties. It no longer feels valid to hide under the umbrella of “personal choice” or claim ignorance when your contribution to toxic beauty standards hurt young Muslim women who cannot live up to these ideals.
It’s understandable that some girls are forced to wear the hijab. Assuming but not conceding that the hijab ban is to protect these girls, how is it that France bans the hijab for under-18 girls and in the same course of events, lowers the age of consent to 15? The audacity to think women can handle being 15 and have to right to consent to anything but can’t be under-18 and have the right to wear the hijab.
Al Aqsa was awe-inspiring but deteriorating from neglect. A big behemoth of a staircase challenged its foundations from the vantage point of the Wailing Wall weakening them as part of archaeological efforts to uncover ancient Jewish holy sites.
In this world where it sometimes seems that the only thing that matters is whether you’re a nice thing to look at or not, then I don’t want to be a thing to look at. Give me the choice of being the art or the artist, and I’ll choose the artist. Covering myself from head to toe is my liberation from the prying eyes of the public that expect something beautiful in return for the place I demand in the world.
Hijabis can’t do this, sit like that, joke about this, or try that. Hijabis must do this, sit like that, talk about this, listen to that. Hijabis are hijabis before they are girls, before they are people, before they are human. And, above all, hijabis must endure. I understand endurance of pain, loss, fear, hardships. But of deteriorating esteem? Of waning expressiveness? Of a noticeable loss in femininity? Of a dwindling perception of the self?
As a Muslim, I try my best to talk about Islam in the way I believe it to be true and not in the way that the media would like to portray me as. I remember somewhere in the conversation, she mentioned how when she went to Dubai, couples were not allowed to hold hands and how she found that to be backwards. I told her, it is their culture and it is their country and if you did not like it, you do not have to go there.
Women who don’t become pregnant have been presumed to have weak morality and stereotyped as promiscuous or masculine. From the snide comments about her chastity and medical history to the explicit confrontations about whether or not she has had an abortion in the past or has been using contraceptives to avoid getting pregnant, the issue of infertility is a leading cause of anxiety and mental health issues for many women.
The way the scenes were written especially with the characters who defended the rapist and the characters who stood up for Janna was extremely eye-opening. As Muslims, this book serves as a daily reminder not to put scholars and hafidhs on a pedestal. Do the research and listen to the victims when they try to speak up.
Almost two years ago, I wrote a long twitter thread explaining what a Muslim marriage contract entails and why I think every young person looking to get married should get one. The reactions from many young Muslim men were quite appalling. Many of them interpreted this gesture as an attack on the male gender, some said it was a sign that couples don’t trust each other and many others said it was a means to sneak liberal ideologies into Islam.
In ‘It’s Not About the Burqa’, Muslim Women, as a minority group in the West, tell their various points of view in their various essays, while focusing on one main goal: How Muslim women can overcome their struggles for identity amidst the multiple layers of oppression and injustice confronting them today.
‘Super-Hijabi’ is the kind of representation Muslims can trust. It is an unapologetically Muslim superhero movie that features a young Muslim girl as its main character. According to Muslim Kids TV, “‘Super Hijabi’ is the kind of movie that has been missing in mainstream media and we are here to fill the gap.”
Women’s voices are still struggling to be heard unfiltered even when they bring up their own grievous stories. They still come out mixed up with judgment and fear, they receive the request to be polite and they often collide with society’s will to cut out the most unsettling parts. Hence the very popular choice of silence instead of voicing violence, racism, and homotransphobia. Marginalized people do prefer keeping silent than seeing their stories thrown in the public sphere with little chance of a truthful narrative.
Does men’s worship supersede that of women? And Is cooking a feast a substitute for prayers? How does a person who has spent a large part of their day doing chores have reserved energy for the actual purpose of Ramadhan?
It goes without saying that women were the primary narrators of the customs related to matters pertaining to women. However, there are many instances where women narrated on general issues. One renowned Ḥadīth is narrated by al-Rubayyi’ bint Mu’awwidh in which she describes the Prophet’s wuḍhūʾ. Her knowledge on this was so accurate and detailed that various scholars travelled to great lengths to hear this Ḥadīth from her.
In our modern world, this incident would have an entire community swearing and condemning a woman for daring to leave her marital home in a state of anger, let alone staying at her aunt’s for a period of four months. Muslim women today, are told that to step foot outside their matrimonial home without their spouse’s permission is tantamount to stepping into the fire of hell. There is a lot of oppression and spiritual blackmail going on in our communities against women and if these issues are not addressed, they’re going to have a devastating effect on our ummah.
Growing up, I thought I had to suppress my identity as a Muslim because I felt like it made me stick out like a sore thumb. I grew up watching Disney Channel and Cartoon Network, where Muslim characters were non-existent. As I got older, I only saw Muslims portrayed as terrorists. At 22 years old, I am yet to see a Muslim woman in a TV show or movie, who has not been forced into the Hijab or felt trapped by her religion and family. I am yet to see a Muslim woman who is happy, thriving, and living life to the fullest, like so many of the Muslim women I know personally.
Hind bint Umayya asked questions that God responded to by way of revelation. She once asked the prophet why men were always mentioned in the Quran and not women, and God answered her question by revealing the famous ayah 35 of surah Ahzab.
Over time, I found that the questions couldn’t be shushed anymore. Whenever I was around women, these questions would come to me. “Do you ever consider taking it off?” I would ponder. “Now that you are wearing it, how did you get to this stage? Who are you wearing it for?” These questions demanded answers. These are topics we should be able to discuss at great length, but these subjects, whenever brought up in conversations, are met with stark disapproval and resignation, as though they were blasphemy.
It is no secret that girls and women need special care during menstruation. Some girls and women can go through it without a lot of intervention but majority of girls and women do need some sort of special care. Add girls and women who have conditions like PCOS and Endometriosis into the mix and it becomes even more nonsensical that we have to hide it from the very people that we love.
As Ramadhan approaches, TMWT presents a list of carefully curated soul-lifting and empowering books to help every Muslim woman through the month. This list contains a translation of the Qur’an, the biography of the Prophet (PBUH), non-fiction books, fiction and memoir. These books will help you fall in love with your faith and reconnect with your Lord as you’ve never done before. You’re sure going to love them!
“In Her Words” is a big conversation starter. African women have come a long way but there is so much further to go. Books like this are vital for Africans, non-Africans and those seeking to understand feminism in Africa. It will also add to an already rigorous body of writing about this topic. While these essays promote a courageous and bird’s eye view of African women on the African continent, most of the writers agree that collective acceptance and solidarity is best achieved by promoting diversity even while fighting for the same cause.
The utopia unfolds to reveal an entirely flipped gender duality, with women at the frontiers of productivity, science, and innovation, and men tucked away in the oppressive comfort of their homes with little agency. Destruction of the binary rather than this reversal can seem more mature on the surface, but what is mature is rational, closer to the cognitively acceptable. It is in the unapologetic and blatant reversal of the gender hierarchy, then, instead of a meek and sober dissipation into equality, that we are estranged from the real-time and space of the narrative in a classic science fiction motif.
It seems that Zainab’s relationship with, and conversion to, Islam had an effect on the relationship with her family and more specifically, her marriage. She and her husband separated in 1922. Following his death in 1929; she began seriously pursuing the prospect of being able to perform Hajj. Zainab became the first Muslim woman born in Britain to perform Hajj; not only this but she also wrote a book of her accounts and this was published — Pilgrimage to Mecca. Zainab was aged 65 when she performed Hajj in 1933.
Art enables me to express my creativity and add beauty to the world through beautiful designs, and every time I look at my art, I reconnect with it in a beautiful way. My art is what it is at that moment and what it will be thereafter. There are challenges, and there will always be, especially if you are trying to monetize your work and trying to get yourself out there as an artist. But don’t get deterred by these challenges.
It made me think about how many Muslims go through degradation and ridicule in America? Especially post 9/11? I believe what struck me the most was my cousin. I love my cousin, he knows that but what he said first stung a little then confused me. He stated, “Go learn that lesson then take it off ASAP. And make sure they ain’t teaching you how to wrap explosives in that head wrap”.
This week, Thursday, 18th March 2021, we are having our second real-time conversation around the topic “Modern Muslim Women in Academia and Literature”. Conversations will be shaped by Wardah Abbas, founding editor of The Muslim Women Times, Salimat Bakare, Assistant Architect at Crystal White Architects and Maryyum Mehmood, an academic, analyst, Producer of The Shift with Maryyum, Co-host of Diasporastan Podcast and Centre facilitator at The Edward Cadbury Centre for the Public Understanding of Religion, University of Birmingham.
I knew that people would look at me and think that I was liberated. I didn’t want to explain myself anymore, because that was all I ever did as a hijabi, and I wanted to escape the cycle where my body as a Muslim woman was perpetually a public affair. I was so tired of defending myself at the cost of myself, and it struck me as terribly cruel that the hijab would continue to define me by nature of its absence after I took it off.
My rap ‘Accept Me Please’ holds the most sentimental value to me because this was the first rap that I wrote. When I wrote this, I knew that I wanted to perform it – that’s when I knew that I wanted to be on stage and transform my written poetry into spoken word.
Women within the system of patriarchy have internalized the trauma of sexism, and have generations after generations, had to adhere closely for their own limited participation, approval, survival, and recently a point of anti-Western cultural rhetoric, to the extent that they then become fierce gatekeepers of what has become facts of life.
What I often hear from most people is that the spaces I created, are the first time they’ve had to learn about sexual health in a comfortable, comprehensive, non-shameful way. And I think that if this makes me feel happy, it also makes me feel sad, that a lot of women have not had empathy and compassion and information that empowers them to think and learn about their bodies.
From, Al-Tabari’s account, Al-Zabbāʾs all-consuming quest for revenge renders her a tragic character, which is evident towards the end of the play when ʿAmr captured Tadmur and walked into Al-Zabbāʾs room. However, in Maḥmūd Diyāb’s very recent account of this history, although al-Zabbāʾ is perfectly resigned to her fate and is ready to poison herself, ʿAmr refuses to kill her for one reason.
Poetry provides a profound way to understand something as elusive as the truth in a world that is designed to mask it- the truth of Islam, the truth of who you really are- so this is why I have taken to this form of self-expression as it helps me to hold onto it. My writing also covers Africa and the politics of blackness as this is such a foundational part of who I am and what I believe in.
It is more heartwarming that we are taking ownership of our past and present narratives and allowing the phenomenal women of the past to shape our present and future. According to Arzoo Ahmed, founder of Muslim Women Histories, “The story of Islamic scholarship is a story of men and women, in which women were left unacknowledged.” TMWT is committed to unearthing and spotlighting the stories of these women and while this is fundamentally the goal of this platform, we will be more focused on producing content centred around celebrating women’s history in women’s history month.
This event celebrates Black (African & Afro-Caribbean) Muslim women who were trailblazer scholars, academics, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, warriors and artists. Through his talk, Ismael challenges the ignorance, misconceptions and negative perceptions in society.
We created a membership club on the Clubhouse mobile app to host and entertain conversations around social issues affecting Muslim women around the world. This is an avenue to meet key influencers, activists and policy shapers and have salient dialogues on diverse issues in real-time. If you haven’t downloaded the Clubhouse app, this may be a good time to do so. Search for TMWT – The Conversation and click on the follow button.
What a way to
Drown out the her-stories of History.
Deemed her legacies unworthy,
Severed the lineages of our identity.
Removed our communities agency.
As I got more and more responses that detailed joy in ibadah, in our hijab, in serving our family and friends, in helping, in giving back; and very few responses about joy for the sake of it or finding the same emotions in things that revolved about us, were about us; I do wonder. Are we truly this altruistic and giving, or have we been taught that our worth was in the value we bring, so much so that we can barely find joy in ourselves, for ourselves, and just because? Do we really not feel joy outside of these roles or are we just scared of owning that, possibly of being judged as not Muslim enough?
Muslim women are especially expected to do more with less; to handle multiple demands, to run lean. We see this all the time in the way we have to multitask at work and at home. We know who we are. We are brilliant and we can do anything we put our minds to. But how do we start to make a movement culture in which the workload is truly shared?
The struggles of Muslim women across the globe cannot be exhausted. What makes the load lighter to carry is community and reassurance that she’s not alone. It doesn’t end there, the wins of Muslim women seem to be magnified when shared with a community. It’s always beautiful and gratifying to sit in the audience and watch the Community bond and connect and let themselves be vulnerable and pick their sisters up — Alhamdulillah.
Having fulfilled all the requirements for the Ribaat Teacher Certification, sixteen women from diverse parts of the world graduated from the Ribaat Academic Institute, a women-only madrasah that offers a comprehensive curriculum of courses in traditional Islamic Sciences, the Arabic language, and the Tajwid of the Holy Quran to women around the world.
For a while, the heroes of the decade were people whose mind and matter were not white, Fidel Castro in Cuba, Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Malcolm X in America, Ben Bella in Algeria, Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, amongst many others. Suspend your politics of left and right or your views on violence and non-violence as a means for liberation for a second and consider that for a period, people tried to put the oppressed people first.
The Qur’an’s description of Queen Bilqis is undeniable proof that a woman can be a head of state and that her femininity would rather serve her well by bringing her closer to her people and their daily realities. In Queen Bilqis’ example, her logical reasoning prevailed in managing the affairs of the state.
I was a different person in college. I was me. I found my voice. I found the education I needed to open my mind; the strength I needed to voice out ‘inequality’. It was some sort of training my parents didn’t anticipate. We were taught to be independent, to never depend on men, or their opinions. It’s also where I learnt that “We”, as women are so much capable, individually and collectively. Thanks to this education, I gathered the courage to be financially independent. I called off a wedding, decided to stay single and adopted a kitten when my hormones started acting up.
What we’ve done with the Qur’an is unforgivable. It has taken the backseat in our daily lives while controversial issues have taken over. We don’t study the Qur’an enough. We don’t study the message conveyed in beautiful poetic synergy, the history of past nations, the scientific miracles, all of it. We take it all for granted. We don’t reflect upon the sunnah of the prophet, which is the lived practice of the spirit of the Qur’an.
Today, Jackie has more than 190 primary patents, 41 of which have been licensed to multinational companies and start-ups in the field of nanomedicine, drug delivery, medical implants, cell and tissue engineering, and medical devices. She remains a powerful inspiration for Muslim women everywhere in the field of science and technology, encouraging many more women to study and work in the ever-growing and important field of STEM.
As a Muslim, Arab-American I have encountered different types of prejudice and racism throughout the ten years that I have lived here. The scarf that I wear on my head had caused people to give me many belittling looks, sarcastic laughs, and hurtful words, and my identity, which I have always been proud of, became a barrier standing between myself and many people in this country.
It was really appalling to discover that these sisters would mock other sisters who were trying to wrap their hijabs after salah. They referred to themselves as the “no-hijab-pin” ummah. After all, if you needed to pin down a scarf, then it was not a hijab!
It is essential to spread more success stories of Muslim women to not only end misconceptions and damaging stereotypes but to reinforce the truth that Muslim women have the unfettered freedom to be whoever they want to be. This month, Time Magazine announced the Next 100 leaders to watch in the world, amongst which are these three powerful Muslim women.
In the early years of her activism, many women in northern Nigeria observed purdah, a form of social seclusion, Gambo went from house-to-house to speak to them. This displeased the Native Authority in Kano and, in 1952, she was hauled before the conservative Alkali (Magistrates) Court, on charges of “drawing out women who were in purdah”. The court sentenced her to three months in prison; the first of 16 prison sentences she would serve during her lifetime.
In South Asian culture, people seem to expect that every of a girl’s life will eventually tie into her future marriage. (We’re good at structuring our lives around male privilege like that.) When I was in college, people would tell me that I needed to learn to cook – not because it’s a life skill and I would die if I didn’t learn it, but because “you’ll need to feed your husband someday!”
Seeing the challenge that lay ahead of her, Najah wiped her tears and got to work. She was not about to allow an exclusionary rule stand in the way of her ambition, With the support of her school and the American Muslim Advisory Council, she was determined to change the rule with the hope that no Muslim athlete wearing the hijab in Tennessee or elsewhere, would encounter the same obstacle.
It had been my dream for years, to create a space where Muslim women could be seen and heard; where our pains could be felt and our shoes left empty enough for others to step in and see just how or how not it fits. I wanted to create a platform where Muslim women could be the diners at the table and not the menu on the plate; a space where we could be in charge of our narratives and take back our agency.
Through their activities, they brought a lot of revenue to Tichit and enriched many families. This was perhaps the reason for the popular Mauritanian proverb, “The woman is the man’s trousers” (Limra’ sirwal al-rajul), for it was a testament to the fact that the women of Tichit were providers and protectors for their husbands and, by extension, their family.
The rule of Usman Dan Fodio was revolutionary, improving the status of women and ensuring that they had equal rights as their male counterparts. Little wonder Nana Asma’u, his daughter became the epitome of women’s liberation at the time. West African Muslims glorify her, celebrate her efforts in expanding the rights of women to intellectualism and to active participation in the affairs of society, reasserting rights that had been selfishly snatched away in preceding generations.
Since time immemorial, women have been shamed for absolutely everything about their bodies. If they’re not being objectified and hyper-sexualised, then they’re body-shamed and mocked, and even blamed for men’s fetishes and obsessions. From the distasteful jokes to the innuendos and the lust-driven songs sung about them, everything about women has been public domain.
Daisy is a representation of the marginalisation of women and their existence as possession in the 1920s; her trophy wife status, beauty and lack of intelligence highlight a lineage of societal gender expectations on a woman. All of this as we are well aware of is an abstract image that still lives on today, built by males to manipulate and design the idea of the perfect woman. A mute, submissive and pretty woman.
Unfortunately, there’s still an uproar from many Muslims today when women choose to exercise this right from Allah and suggest conditions that are completely halal and acceptable. Men are able to divorce women on a whim, when angered, out of boredom, or because their wife is infertile, but women are dragged through hell and back just so they don’t die at the hands of their abuser. If a man can leave his wife because he so desperately wants children, why is a woman seen as heartless for the same thing?
As my work slowly evolved from being just a hobby to something more commercial, I’ve had more need to be discovered. No one can know what you’re capable of if they don’t see it. For someone that’s a social recluse like me, it has been tough. I used to be shy and anxious about sharing my work, I still am but I have coping methods now.
Women have been made to feel and believe that they are not allowed to do anything with their lives apart from cooking. They have been made to believe that it is a religious obligation and by so doing, they have been condemned to the kitchen. This goes against the lifestyle of the Prophet (PBUH) himself who was fully active in doing household chores.
Hymen does not equal virginity. Contrary to the narrative that has been stressed through our lives, being a virgin means that a woman has not had sex with a man, yet. The bleed-test is not accurate for many reasons. First of all, many women don’t bleed the first time they have sex because their hymens could have torn earlier in their lives during exercise or bike accidents without them even knowing.
Nafisi fails to separate Islam from Muslims, the actions of the men seem to represent Islam in her writing. She under-handedly supports the Islamophobic views of Islam’s outdatedness, barbarity, and anti-feminism. Her Western education and nationalist Iranian loyalties, highlight her lack of knowledge on the rights of women in Islam, as well as her general ignorance of the globality of Islam.
What motivated me is knowing that there are many myths about sex and these myths need to be dismantled. I also know there are many toxic negative beliefs about sex within the Muslim community and these beliefs actually go against the nature of Islam so this motivated me to put things right.
We were taught that being vulnerable, wild, and feminine was inferior and not desirable when in actual fact, our wild feminine was deeply feared by society. In order to understand how to reclaim our power as women, we need to understand why, in the first place, femininity was suppressed and vilified.
Umm Ad-Darda’ was held by Iyas ibn Mu`awiyah, as an important scholar of hadith of the time and a judge of undisputed ability and merit, to be superior to all the other hadith scholars of the period, including the celebrated masters of hadith like Al-Hasan Al-Basri and Ibn Sirin.
At the very root of this vague and incorrect notion that either Respect or Love should be served based on gender is sexism. Men are conditioned to suppress their human emotions, the need to be cared for, listened to -but to aspire to Hardness, violence, and toxicity.
I learnt early in life through watching my mother, observing the men in our family and around us, that sometimes girls and women just have to roll their sleeves up, tackle the hard stuff and get things done. I come from a community of broken homes, so all I ever saw growing up was women playing both roles.
This is what they told mothers who were abandoned to the street with vulnerable children, literally having to beg for help from local communities. Many mothers simultaneously put up with the shame of being poor and asking for aid. Did these mothers see value in their motherhood at this point? Did they feel the sweetness of giving as freely as sunshine and rain?
You cannot receive healing from the very person who has oppressed you. You cannot sit there and pray without “tying your camel”. You know you’ve waited long enough, you know he’s never going to change. You know if you keep staying, you will lose every single bit of yourself.
Seeing the need to create an alternative solution, Muti’ah Badruddeen, a Saudi-based physician and Author of three books founded The Muslimah Virtual Parlour, an open, honest, relaxed and non-judgemental arena to share our ideas, views and experiences on matters that affect us as Muslim women in today’s world.
In retaliation, the patriarchy did what the patriarchy does best. It fought and rallied for the disappearance of women. Many fans of female reciters and other female Sheikhas protested against the fatwa but to no avail. Radio stations soon stopped playing Sheikha Munira and other Shiekhas’ recitations. The Sheikhs refused to rescind their fatwa even though some scholars saw it as a form of intellectual regression.
Muslim women telling our own stories is empowering and necessary, since we’re all aware of the perverse misrepresentations that can occur when our stories are told by others. If you look at the great cultures and societies throughout the history of the Islamic tradition, you will find a strong history of artists, craftspeople, and distinct artistic styles.
Patriarchal studies along the years had relegated her work as emotional, typical of a woman, and even hysteric and obsessive. However, in a world, where Arabs believed themselves the fathers of poetry, her poetry would not have risen to popularity let alone survived had it just been emotional or beautiful.
Coming to terms with the truth that it will never be enough, no matter how much I do, renders me powerless. But now, it just makes me want to do my part even more while resting in the knowledge that other humans are holding up their ends of the sky.
In a particular tradition, the Prophet (PBUH) stressed that a man should make sure his partner achieves orgasm before himself. He also gave glad tidings of reward for partners who had sex and satisfied each other, stating that pleasurable sex was an act of Sadaqah. According to him, sex is an integral part of spirituality.
It particularly surprised non-Muslims to learn that women, living under an Islamic legal system, could be scholars, holding the authority that comes with being knowledgeable about what Islam commands, and therefore making them sought after and deferred to for their fiqh, for their fatwas, and for their tafsir.
It is important to state that what this essay does is to highlight the theoretical framework of polygyny. It is not a reflection of the realities of Polygyny in Muslim societies. It is only a reflection of the “intent” of the shari’ah and not polygyny as practised.
Freecycling is an act of sustainable conscious living, and it challenges the concept that the act of giving is not only a Top-to-bottom activity done between the haves and the have nots, but can be done by people within the same class as well.
In the age of unparalleled freedoms to live our lives as we wish, it’s unfortunate that women still allow beauty and the illusion of its inevitable fading to lurk around and threaten the fringes of women’s progress.
For much of history after the advent of Islam, multitudes of figures arose who wrote several invectives against the Prophet, yet none of them had any problem acknowledging his marriage to Aisha (RA). It just was not a concern until the early 20th century.
Documentation from Ibn Hajar indicates that Zainab bint al-Kamāl never married. It also tells us that she suffered from ophthalmia – an inflammation of the eye, though it did not seem to impair her career.
Is this the truth of Islam? That a man can only leave behind a legacy when he has sons? That a woman, in herself, wholly and independently, is nothing but a trophy?
While most mothers admit that having children is a lot of hard work and sacrifice, they are quick to point out that the rewards outweigh the challenges. For a number of women across the world, this is not the case.
At the heart of rape-apologism is the narrative that hijab protects women from predatory men. I wish it were that simple. I wish that the countless reports about rape victims in full hijab and niqab weren’t true. I wish there were no reports of sexual abuse against old women who have lost their youth; that the narrative about infants and school-age children being raped simply didn’t exist. I wish covering up was the magic wand to stopping men from these crimes.
There has been a troubling rise in Islamophobia and racism in the city. “They’re being targeted by their identity, what they show,” Suri said. “These are hijab-wearing women whose identity is very visible, and what is happening is happening out of hate.”
The legislation did not specify that the ban referred to headscarves. Instead, it forbade the wearing of “religious clothing that is associated with a covering of the head”. The Austrian court thus found that this legislation was clearly aimed at Muslim headscarves, contravening the principle of equality in relation to freedom of religion, belief and conscience.”
He had a spreadsheet with all the family’s bank details and passwords and would enter our online accounts to check our banking activities. When eventually I could no longer tolerate living with my father. I left. He thereafter used my bank activity to trace me and followed me in the streets.
Modern analysis on Rabi’a often plagues her spiritual legacy by placing her in contemporary debates of feminism. Without falling within the paradigms set out by Western feminism and the notions that string along with it, Rabi’a focused on the inward unseen immaterial rewards in her life.
Wasn’t it both amusing and ridiculous that something as simple as a bicycle could hold that much significance when it came to the virtue of women. I finally said to myself, I’m going to buy a good bicycle someday and I’m going to start cycling.
Her students came from faraway places, and among them was Al-Shafi’i, the man behind the Shafi’i school of Sunni fiqh. She financially sponsored his education.
Each time a non-Muslim says Islam is oppressive to women, I choose to channel my energy inwards, to observe the referenced situation, to see the unbiased truth/untruth of the matter. I refuse to counter with the clichés that are usually employed to patronize Muslim women. I choose to call for the much-needed change within the community.
The more addicted I got, the lonelier I became and the more I hated my body in ways I didn’t think was possible. I directed so much hurt and vitriol to my body for not looking like what I watched.
I am tired of having to explain to grown men that random, unrelated women do not want your opinions and judgements on the choices that they make in their lives. Not unless they ask for it. That accosting and deriding a woman for her choices cannot be explained away as “enjoining good and forbidding evil”.
“Sitt” at the time was a title attributed to women rulers or women of that calibre. The queen of the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt in 980 bore the title Sitt al-Mulk. There were also female chief qadis who were addressed as Sitt al-Qudat, for their expertise in the fields of hadith and fiqh in Damascus during the 14th century. Transmissions of the hadiths from Sahih Al-Bukhari.
The issue is that those who are afraid of losing hold of power often resort to using spiritual abuse tactics in order to maintain their grip. That is rather damning and must be confronted by academics and activists in alliance with influential and sympathetic scholars.
Women are afraid that they will be shut out of the community if they talk bout Gender-Based Violence. They will rather speak in hushed tones or not speak at all.
The fact that these points are all taken and understood out of context, and that they cannot be found in the Qur’an and Sunnah as the only markers of the status of women in Islam must make one wary of lists like this.
women don’t have to do something major like save a nation or participate in politics to have their battles acknowledged. We are all Kim Ji Youngs; faceless young women, battling daily misogyny in our lives from our houses to schools to workplaces.
Contemporary historians failed to do justice to Lubna’s legacy. The why can be easily answered by the fact that she was a woman. A woman no less who earned her right to fame through skills and hard work. A woman who wasn’t the wife of someone influential, nor the daughter of a famous man.
“Are there women who are forced to veil? As much as there are women forced to do a number of things in different parts of the world. Islam isn’t a bunch of rules and restrictions, but a way of life. A guide through every hardship and joy.”
And although men understand that broad statements about gender roles are no longer acceptable, there exists an unspoken expectation that women will do all the domestic chores.
I do not, cannot and will not understand why I must reduce my capabilities as a wife to elevate yours as a husband. When bullying occurs in religious settings, you find out that men and women, although different, are very much similar.
There is a sense of defensiveness, of not wanting to acknowledge the diseases that we have within our community, because to do so feels equivalent to admitting to the non-Muslims that we are not as perfect and pure as we claim, or that we are as bad as they make us out to be.
Each time you shame another woman because you believe she rates lower than you on the scale of male desirability, you expose your deep lack of self-love and self-esteem. And to achieve a gender-equal world, where women are respected and valued as humans and not objects, rhetorics that define our humanity based on patriarchal standards must end.
“The history of men’s opposition to women’s emancipation is more …
I fought to stay alive. I fought back so hard, struggled to get my hand on something (I can’t remember what it was for the life of me) and whacked it over his head. He looked shocked and bewildered for a moment, then he got up and left. He has not touched me since that day. It was the first time I fought back.
The TMWT team did a blog tour to handpick 16 books in commemoration of 16 days of activism. Enjoy!
On one hand you have these religious authorities — who do the service of not sugar coating or engaging in apologetics — and their women-bashing, women-oppressing statements and rulings, and on the other hand you have feminism with all its welcoming love and appreciation towards women. Where do you expect Muslim women to go to seek the care, appreciation and validation they need away from the oppressive norms of traditional patriarchy?
Conversations around the struggles faced by Muslims every day are …
Recent developments concerning the unearthing of women figures in Muslim …