Friday, February 19, 2010

So...what’s it really like to be a Muslim woman?

The media seems to know, all types of books from novels, to academic books claim to fact, now that I think of it, it seems everyone these days knows what’s it like to be a Muslim woman!

We’ve heard it all, all the opinions, the theories, discussions and discourses, the comments about Muslim women. What we don’t hear often enough though is what a Muslim woman thinks it’s like to be a Muslim woman. Ironic, isn’t it?

It can become extremely frustrating listening to these people. I can’t help thinking, ‘Oh gosh! Not another person who doesn’t have a clue what it’s like to be a Muslim woman, talking about Muslim woman’. I mean, seriously, could you imagine what it would be like if I went around talking about, I don’t know, say, what it’s like to be a European male, when I have absolutely no idea what it’s like at all. It would be ridiculous right? People would question what makes me an expert in the field and they would undoubtedly argue that I cannot possibly know what it’s like to be a European male.

So why the double standard when it comes to talking about Muslim women?

Yes, sure it can be argued that research has been done on the issue and thus people are given leeway to talk. I have to agree that there is some research that is accurate, but surely every person talking about Muslim woman today has not taken the time to make an intense inquiry and rigorous examination into this topic before talking about it. It would be impossible for every person to do this given the fact that it’s extremely time consuming, costs quite a bit of money and requires the proper expertise.

So, does the saleslady in the shop who had to mention to my sister how sorry she feels for Muslim women wearing the headscarf, all the while abusing the word “shame”, qualify to make statements about us? Or, do the group of men who had to comment on my friends complete Islamic attire as we walked passed them in the shopping centre qualify to make statements about us? Have these people dedicated time to learning about the lives of Muslim women by spending time with us, or have they even just bothered to ask us our opinion? I think not!

So, what’s it really like to be a Muslim woman? Well, for starters, it’s really frustrating that we have to hear everyone and anyone talking about us like they’re experts in the field. What’s more frustrating is that they’ve got it all wrong! And it’s irritating that they hardly ever come to us to ask us what we think or how we feel, instead they’ve just taken it upon themselves to “liberate” us, when we don’t even want the “liberation” they’re offering. And, while we have come to love the way we dress because this makes us feel closer to our Creator, they’ve decided to take up issue with it, expecting it to be natural for us to want to shed the clothing that we’ve come to love. And what’s worse is that even when we try to speak to them, when we try to show them that we are educated and intelligent and perfectly capable of engaging in conversation with them, they turn their backs on us, and hear only what they want to!

So, I think it’s time we speak for ourselves, and so I’m saying with absolute conviction (and I promise you, no male oppressor is holding a gun to my head forcing me to say positive things about being Muslim), - so on my own accord I’m stating that I absolutely love being a Muslim woman! I love the clothes I have chosen to wear and when I go out in the street it makes me feel good to know that I don’t have to bother about males staring at me in the wrong way. I love the headscarf covering my hair, and I enjoy choosing which colour I’m going to wear with which outfit. I love that my religion, Islam, has afforded me enough respect and honour to insist that I be treated as a human being, and not an object of male desire. I love that people address me with respect, Muslims as their sister and non-Muslims as a virtuous woman. I love that I don’t have to go out and work because the males in my family know that it’s their duty to provide for me; at the same time, I love that I can go out and work because as a Muslim woman I am respectful of myself and others and I will thus behave in a fitting manner. I love that as a Muslim I am encouraged to gain knowledge in all areas as far as I possibly can. There are many things that I love about being a Muslim woman, but the thing I love the most is that owning up to my identity as a Muslim woman has brought me closer to my Creator, and in that way I am beginning to learn what true love is all about.

www.hickerphoto.comAdmitting that I am a Muslim woman, a Muslim woman in this time when all eyes are on us, makes me feel happy because being a Muslim woman is really not about dressing in a certain manner, or staying indoors, or whatever else people have reduced it to. Being a Muslim woman is about being a whole person, a person who can find harmony between her spiritual and physical self, a person who knows that her intellect is as important as her outside beauty. I have not chosen to be a Muslim woman, I was fortunate enough to be born a Muslimah, but I have chosen to assert my identity as a Muslim woman, and if I was to choose again, I’d make the same choice, over and over and over again, because being a Muslim woman is simply marvellous and anyone who disagrees with me has either not understood Islam properly, or have been unfortunate enough to be around people who have not understood Islam properly.

So, there it is- a simple answer to what has seemingly become a very complicated question. What’s it really like to be a Muslim woman? ... In one word- It’s Great! (Alhamdulila- Thanks to Allah)

If you really want to see how it’s possible for me to say this, then keep reading this blog, I pray that eventually you begin to understand!


  1. I am so happy to read this. I am a French Christian Woman but on a spiritual path right now and a bit lost to be true. But that's another story.
    I am so glad, as I have always been living with people who think that Muslim woman are oppressed and have no personality or can't think by themselves. And I heard this 2 days ago as well. I am always standing against people who think like this, but it's hopeless most of the time, as they always answer me "you don't know what it is - look at the woman who are fighting in the Arab Countries - they can't talk or say what they think.....".

    And your testimony on what it's alike to be a muslim woman is just a wonderful one. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am so grateful I read it today.
    May the Peace and Love of God be with you always.

  2. Dear Marie

    Thank you so much for your comment, I must say that I am extremely humbled and I am so glad to see that there are still open-minded people out there who don't just accept whatever they are told, but decide to find out the truth for themselves.

    I pray that God Most High, the Creator of you and me, always blesses you with peace and helps you in your spiritual path.

    A lot of the negativity surrounding Muslim women comes from negative media, and most people still believe that whatever they see in the media is the ultimate truth. This is very sad, because the media tends to seek out the negative. There are Muslim women who do feel that they are opressed, etc, but this is a small percentage, just like you'll find women in other religions feeling the same way. There are much more Muslim women who love being Muslim and who don't feel opressed at all, but very often, these women's voices are not heard.

    Islam is not a crazy opressive religion that people make it out to be. Neither is it extreme, as Muslims we believe that Islam is the perfected religion, basically an extension of the other religions, like Christianity and Judaism, as God revealed it and not as people have changed it. This is why we believe in all the previous Prophets and we love them as well (Moses, Jesus, Noah, Abraham, etc).

    The point is that Islam offers a moderate way of life and its not somethign strange or different. It's the same message that God has been sending to people throughout the ages. Worhsip the One God,The Creator of all things, and do not ascribe partners to Him. Allah has ordered us to be modest (in our actions and our dress), to be respectful of all, to have a good family life, treat others well, be kind, generous, etc.

    The rules regarding women in Islam are most often distorted, but if you know the truth about Islam you will see that this fits in perfectly with a modest, respectful and honourable society. There is nothing extreme or unnatural about it, especially since women have been modest, covered and respectful for years, and this is not only Muslim women, but women of all faiths. I'm sure if you look at how Mary (May Allah be pleased with her),is portrayed you will notice that her dress is just like the dress of a Muslim woman. Look at any other woman from the past and you will see the same.

    It is the concept of modernization that has a problem with Muslim women. I'm sure that most people of faith and understanding will agree with me.

    I have so much more to say but obviously cannot say it all here, please stay in touch. It's great to hear from you.

    You can also e-mail me if you'd like-

    May God be with you alwways and may He help you to discover truth in everything, as your mind already seems open to understanding the truth.

    Stay well:)

  3. Thank you so much Zarina for this explanation. Islam is such a beautiful religion I think , the way you explain and live it - every Muslim I met until now has opened my eyes on what their real life is, far away from what the media are showing us.

    To read your blog is helping me a lot to broaden my vision of the world and accept people without judging them depending on the colour of their skin or on their religious beliefs, as we are used to do a lot in Europe. Mostly by fear of the unknown.

    You're right, being modest and covering your feminine attributes is present in all religions/faiths (I wrote a post on this, as a couple of years ago there had been a huge controversy in France on the young girls who were wearing the Hijab at school and it – this sounds strange as most women of my grandparents and even my parents generation had their head covered and if you enter in a church you have to were correct clothes and as you say the Virgin (God bless her) and the saints are all covered – same for the nuns)
    The difference with Christians for example is that less and less people are reading the Bible and that we only take what suits us in the religion and leave on the side what does not suit. We think that fashion and religion does not match together. It seems wrong as I look on Muslim websites and discover lots of beautiful clothes I would be delighted to wear, instead of the ones I grew up with.

    Thanks again for everything. May God bless you for being so nice and sharing all these beautiful lines with us.
    Warm wishes and I will make sure to contact you if I have any question or would like to talk more on a particular subject.

    Look after yourself

  4. Dear Marie

    I can't tell you how good it is to see someone with an open heart and mind, someone who truly wants to find things out for themselves. You have clearly been openly discussing things with other types of people for some time now and I pray that God always makes your path easy for you.

    I am also thankful to God that you are finding this blog useful, because it is only through the will and power of Allah that we can do anything at all.

    Today I was at a talk and the speaker reminded us that we need to recognise Allah in everything. He is our creator and sustainer and although many humans don't want to admit it, we cannot do a thing without His power. The speaker told me something that makes so much sense, he said that the answer to all our problems in life is to be thankful for what Allah has given us. If we remember God and if we are thankful for the countless bounties given to us by Him then we will never have a reason to be sad, depressed, despondent or lost, because the favours of Allah upon us far outweighs anything else.

    There are many people in today's world who want us to forget this important fact, because if we forget Allah then we will be weak and we will be a threat to those who want to control things in the world. Only with Allah will we find strength.You can see that this is true if you look around you. I work as a psychologist and I see too many people who are sad, depressed and who have given up on life completely. I'm sure you'll be able to agree with me.

    The reason that I'm telling you this is because it seems to me that you have already recognised Allah and that you too can see the deterioration of religion, all in the name of modernity. People want us to believe that life is not about religion, but when you truly look for knowledge and understand things, you will see that it is only about religion.

    The only reason that Islam is a threat to the modern world is because Muslims refuse to follow what everyone else is doing.Women dress differently, men look different, with their beards, etc, Muslims want to pray and fast. This goes against a modern world where people are all the same in many respects. I'm not saying that Muslims are perfect, we have our negativities because we are human, and only Allah is absolutely perfect.

    I don't know if you know this, but Allah says in the Holy Qur'aan that amongst the people of the Jews and Christians, there are those who truly believe in the Oneness of Allah and they submit their hearts to Allah and Allah is the Knower of what each person believes in their hearts.

    I pray that Allah, the only Creator, the One who loves and sustains all His creations, brings you closer to Him and grants you happiness and peace that can be found only in your relationship with Him.

    You take care of yourself my dear:)I really do hope to hear more from you!!!

  5. I'm really happy Marie tagged this post :)
    This is a wonderful post. I hope this message reaches the world :) I,too, am a Muslim woman and I love it...:D

  6. Litte=le Auntie- Alhamdullillah it really is great to be a Muslim woman. More people need to know that.