As a muslim woman, I love my religion pt 1

I suspect this will be the first of many posts I write about why I love being a Muslim so this is part one but the topic I want to write about is something I have experienced that both muslims and non-muslims get wrong. And that is the characteristics of a muslim women.

I can only talk about my own experience as a muslim woman and the situations I have faced but I am assuming that I’m not the only woman belonging to a religious group who has experienced this.

So ever since I can remember I was told that a woman particularly ~ a muslim woman~ has to be soft spoken and gentle and essentially be adaptable to any and all situations. This was said to me by family members of both genders. The thing is…I am not soft spoken. And this isn’t by choice. My voice is just loud and if I try speaking quietly, it just turns into a whisper and I cant even hear myself at that point. And I’m not “gentle”. I am energetic and playful. This is also not by choice. I mean I’m not going around the room breaking things so I don’t exactly know how much more “gentle” I can be. But it was never enough. I was never gentle and soft spoken enough. And it took me along time to accept that this is just how I am. I’m not rude or arrogant or aggressive. But I am also not timid and shy. Which is okay.

I know what I like and don’t like and what I will put up with and what I won’t. Im not the kind of person to publically humiliate another person. But if I dont like something someone did, I will let them know. They will know. And apparently that’s a bad thing. Apparently that is very threatening… why? If you read the above sentences and felt threatened or uncomfortable… why? Why is me being direct so wrong? Isn’t it good if a person knows their likes and dislikes so they can communicate it to others? Isn’t it good if a person can communicate/ knows how to communicate their likes and dislikes to others instead of burying it up inside. Because I can tell you that just because a person doesn’t state their true feelings doesn’t mean those feelings go away. They pile up. They fester. They become poison and turn into something else: resentment.

And I see this with a lot of the same people who tell me that muslim women HAVE to fit this one mould of being soft spoken, gentle and adaptable. And this description is just code for saying that a muslim woman is someone who has no boundaries; someone who takes care of everyone else’s needs before theirs. I know this because too often I have heard of a woman who everyone “thought” was gentle and outspoken but turned out to be the opposite.

And what I found was that actually the woman was still soft spoken and gentle. But she just put her foot down about a matter and all of a sudden she became “bad”. And the people who were calling her bad were people who themselves were tired of being taken advantage of by others. And then there were women who tried their best to fit into this mould of a “good muslim woman” but were resentful of their life and their kids and their spouses. Yet they were also the ones judging others who either were not fitting into this mould or were trying to get away from this mould. It was a very sad and humorous realization for me. I did not want to be that kind of person.

But I found comfort in the stories of the early muslim women. I found comfort in the story of Khadijah who was the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She was a business woman in a society where girls were so undervalued that parents buried their baby daughters alive, just for being a girl. She was the one who approached the prophet for marriage. And it was her money that funded the muslims in the early days of Islam. The prophet’s mother was a single mother because his father passed away before he was born. The person who narrated the greatest number of hadiths was another one of the prophet’s wives: Aishah (ra). Aishah(ra) was also childless and you will never hear from anyone that she was any less of a woman because of that. The first person to die for Islam was a woman: Sumaiya (ra).

There are so many different moulds that muslim women have. And I can understand non-muslims getting confused about muslim women and what it means to be a muslim woman. But it is sad and infuriating when muslims themselves undermine and narrow the scope of the characteristics of muslim women. In my opinion, muslim women shouldn’t try to find freedom away from Islam. Because no one is really free in this world. We’re all enslaved to something: political ideals, fashion, money, etc. I feel much more centered and stable being enslaved to god and his commands. I feel much more empowered saying the right to an education is my God given right that no human can take away from me. I feel much more empowered to say the right to choosing my partner is my god given right that no human take away from me. I feel much more empowered to say that the right for me to separate from my partner is my god given right that no one can take away from me. I can say that the right to own property is my god given right and no one can take that away from me.

And the ability to choose the kind of life I want for myself is my god given right because there is no compulsion in religion. (Surah Baqarah, verse 256)

We don’t need people telling us what a muslim woman is supposed to be like. There isn’t only one kind of muslim woman. I pray that I stay on the right path, i pray that my fellow muslims stay on the right path and I pray that many more women discover the beauty of Islam.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: