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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.