It seems nowadays the religion of Islam is becoming more and more under the spotlight within western society, whether it’s because people are generally curious about what the religion offers or because people have been brainwashed into believing that Islam is a barbaric religion that has no place in the modern world, either way talking about Islam within the western world can often be perceived as rather controversial. As a proud practising Muslim myself I am no stranger to the debates that seems to follow Muslims about and however difficult these debates are for me to have with non-Muslims they can be 10 times harder for our sisters. I wanted to address some of the myths that have been created by the west about Muslim women and hopefully demonstrate how strong and powerful our sisters are within the religion.
Men and women are not equal
This is a myth that has been going around for as long as I can remember and I have actually lost track of how many times I have had this debate with various people over the years. The statement of men and women are not equal in Islam is simply not true, they may have different roles to play both within the religion and within the community but as far as being treated as equals is concerned Islam is very clear that men and women are seen as equals in the eyes of Allah (god). There are various examples of how women should be treated as equal to men and in some circumstances they actually have a more important role to play. In the Quran, chapter 4, verse 124, Allah says “And whoever does righteous deeds, whether male or female, and he/she is a believer – they will enter the Garden, and not the least injustice will be done to them.” which clearly demonstrates that men and women are seen as equal in the eyes of Allah. Also in the last sermon that the Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) (peace and blessings be upon him) gave he said “O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”, again highlighting the value that is placed on a woman in Islam. One of the most famous quotes from the Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) which demonstrates unequivocally the importance of women in Islam was when he said “Paradise is at the feet of your mother”, this not only demonstrates the significant role of a mother in Islam but again demonstrates the importance of women within the religion and completely crushed the argument that women are not seen as equal in Islam.
Women have no rights
Mainly used by modern-day feminists in order to bash Islam around the head the argument that women have no rights in Islam is complete and utter rubbish. There are various laws within the religion that are specifically designed to protect women in Islam, everything from what she’s entitled to in the case of a divorce to what she’s entitled to inherit if there is a death in the family is all covered in the Quran. Western society seems to have this messed up idea that they were the first society to give women their rights but in actual fact Islam addressed the issue of women’s rights 1400 years ago. A very good example of this was the Prophet Mohammad’s (s.a.w) first wife Khadija (r.a) (May Allah be pleased with her,) born to a father who was a very successful trades merchant in their Quraysh tribe of Mecca she became involved very highly in the family business and when her father passed away she assumed control of the business becoming what would be now known as the CEO of the company. Not only was she able to carry on the business but she also expanded the business and was able to take trade to Syria and Yemen. In fact when the Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) met her it was through work as he got a job at her company through his uncle and was working under her. After the couple got married and the Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w) received revelation from Allah regarding his prophethood Khadija (r.a) took it upon herself to try and educate the believing women at the time, setting up what you could call the first women’s university. While all this was going on in Arabia, in the west there was a top meeting amongst leading scientist in the western world to discuss if they thought a woman actually had a brain, this is not a joke it’s an actual thing. So while Islam was liberating women the western world was oppressing them. Even the right vote, which wasn’t given to women in this country until 1918 and that was after the suffragette’s movement, where women had to fight and literally die in order to get the right to vote. Whereas 1400 years ago there were many examples of women in the community giving council and advice. The Prophet Mohammed (s.a..w) himself would regularly take advice from his wife’s and there is also a passage in the Quran which states how bad it is to deny people council and knowledge, because the right to vote is seen as an opportunity to gain knowledge many scholars agree that this means that even back then women were given the right to vote and didn’t have to fight for it unlike in western society.
Yes, yes, yes, I’ve heard this all before, you oppress your women in Islam because they are forced to cover up. Again used by people with a lack of understanding about Islam this argument mainly refers to the fact that most Muslim women wear the hijab (headscarf) and jilbab (robe), as well as in some cases wearing the burka (veil). For starters the argument is floored right from the get-go, in most cases our sisters are not forced to wear anything that they do not wish to, they have the right to make that decision of their own free will. Yes, Islamic clothing is designed to cover the body however what is conveniently missed out in these sorts of arguments is this applies for both men and women. As a Muslim, no matter what your gender covering the body is a fundamental part of the faith and like I said this applies to men as well. It is designed to protect us as well as highlighting the fact that nobody has the right to look at our body apart from our families and love ones and in a society where people like to get every bit of skin out in public the minute the sun decides to pop through the clouds no matter how cold it might actually be I don’t see why covering up is such a bad thing. it guards us against our chastity and protects our modesty in a way that I feel is lacking in western society. Everybody nowadays wants to show and bare all and while that is their choice it often doesn’t lead to the best first impression and actually neglects the fact that everyone might not actually want to see what you have to offer. In today’s society I feel this is extremely important especially when it comes to our sisters. Women in general are being targeted more and more and you would hope that by wearing sensible clothing that covers your body our sisters might be more protected from these sort of attacks, unless the attack is racially motivated, then that is a different story. However there is also another element of Islamic clothing that I feel is very important to discuss, in a society that is obsessed with body image and is constantly telling us how we should look and what we should wear, especially for women, the hijab and the jilbab empowers women by enabling not to conform to the pressures of body image that is placed on us by western society. According to the charity Anorexia and Bulimia Care, over 16 million people in the UK are estimated to be affected by an eating disorder, one of these eating disorders is anorexia which is most common in girls and women. A recent survey suggested that as many as 8% of women have suffered from anorexia or bulimia at some point from the age of 16 to 40. Now obviously an eating disorder is no joke and there are various different reasons why a person might suffer from one of these illnesses. However, with the pressure that western society puts on women especially to look a certain way and be below a certain weight is it any wonder that the figures for anorexia and bulimia are so high. Wearing a jilbab especially can protect women from feeling pressured to look a certain weight, by not being able to see the body you are not able to see whether that person conforms to what society deems as an acceptable weight and therefore our sisters can be protected from the pressures of society. So Islam doesn’t oppress our sisters but I think that the real question is does western society oppress women? If you think about it, it does. Then there’s the argument about hitting women, people are very quick to highlight that there is a passage in the Quran that says that a husband is allowed to hit his wife. I did my own research into this as I wanted to understand what the passage was saying because I know there was no way our beautiful religion would ever allow such behaviour. The best explanation I could find was by Nourman Ali Khan on one of his YouTube series called “That’s Messed Up”. Nourman Ali Khan is a well-renowned scholar in the Islamic world with a wealth of experience in Quranic studies. If you want to watch the full video I will include it under this paragraph but in short he talks about the chapter where this one verse is situated in. Basically, the verse talks about if a husband catches his wife cheating and if in that fit of rage he lashes out at her, only in that extreme circumstances will Allah let you off, the verse doesn’t actually say you are allowed to hit your wife like people are led to believe.
Banning the burka
This argument absolutely rials me and really winds me up as I personally feel this is about freedom of choice. The burka is a veil that covers the face apart from the eyes and is worn by some our pious sisters who want to obtain a closer connection to Allah. They take the decision that nobody apart from their immediate family should have the right to see any part of their body. The keywords here are their decision, it is their choice because it is their body and in the same way someone might want to have plastic surgery done to their body to enhance their appearance these sisters should have the right to choose who sees their face and body and who doesn’t. There are selective groups and organisations, most of them racist, that are actively campaigning to have the burka banned in this country and most of this is coming from a racist agenda that is being carried out by the far-right in this country. Unfortunately, a lot of people are just following this racist narrative which is being projected on to us, I went to watch John Barnes give a talk at the De Montford University on racism and inclusion in sports and society. In this talk Barnes refers several times to the term inclusive racism which basically refers to people being racist without realising being racist and unfortunately I would say about 50% of the people that are against the burka fall into this category. They are just being blindly led by society because This Morning has done a couple of debates about it that in my opinion were not debated equally. This Morning has an agenda of wanting the burka banned in my opinion and every debate they have had on the burka has fed into this agenda. One of the main arguments against the burka is that it apparently looks very scary, even our prime minister has referred to women that wear them as looking like bank robbers, a comment that has led to an increase in Islamaphobia attacks in the UK by 375%. The implication of this argument is that the burka scares children and to be quite honest I’ve never heard so much rubbish in all my life. Firstly I know some women who wear the burka I’ve never heard of kids being afraid of them and secondly if this is the case should we not be educating our children? If we can spend so much money and resources on implementing same-sex marriages into our national curriculum so children can understand this concept why can’t we do the same for the burka? Is it because no one has thought of it or is it more down to the fact the burka doesn’t fit into the narrative that western society wants to ram down our throat? Is this more about us being enslaved by society and not allowing us the freedom to come to our own decision? We should ban the burka because everyone wants to ban the burka not because of what we think. People need to wake up and see the game that is being played here, the argument isn’t really about the burka because let’s be honest it doesn’t affect the people that are arguing against it, if they see a woman in town wearing a burka how does that have any relevance to their life’s? The argument is about not letting us think for ourselves so everything we think and say is the same because we are being indoctrinated by society.
I hope I have managed to clear up some of the common misconceptions surrounding Muslim women enabled you to see how powerful and strong our sisters are.