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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!