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.
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 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.
“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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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?