By Islam Channel Presenter Shahina Khatun and a graduate of Journalism. She is passionate about having the Muslim woman’s voice heard on issues ranging from race, religion and politics. She is also an up-and-coming poet and believes poetry to be a beautiful and powerful medium to connect with people.
Follow Shahina on Twitter: @shahina_media and visit her blog www.lyricallyspeakingsite.wordpress.com
As descendants’ of some of the greatest women to walk the earth, we, Muslim women need to step up to such a legacy. At a time when Islam is inundated with attacks and Muslim women are misunderstood and misrepresented, Muslim women need to ensure that their voices are heard. And whilst doing so, they need to be the ones to lead on the narrative about Muslim women and Islam.
Once upon a time, it would have been extremely difficult for a woman to be given a platform to speak and have her honest opinion heard without it being edited or dictated. However, we now live at a unique time, where social media has opened up an enormous amount of doors to platforms that have the ability to reach people all over the world. Where once, ideas were required to be pitched to the mainstream media in order to have an article published or months of internship were required before being employed as a junior writer; social media has enabled people to have their work published at the click of a finger. Whether it is blogging, vlogging or just writing brief comments, experience is not required to have our opinions published, as it was in the past. All of this can be done from the comfort of one’s home. It is also not always necessary to access the laptop or computer to do this, as most, if not all of this can be done via smart a phone (which is good news for mums!). The ease at which we can reach these platforms makes it all the more necessary to grab onto these opportunities.
There are also Independent Channels and radios set up by Muslims, therefore Muslim women can now play a massive role in broadcast. There are a growing number of women’s programmes, such as discussion shows, covering many areas and topics ranging from; social, political, religious and lifestyle. A few years ago, this was unheard of and impossible for a Muslim woman to appear on television in ‘Hijab’ (headscarf) and ‘Jilbab’ (long and loose-fit coat or garment) and discuss from her perspective on issues that were discussed by men, only. In addition, when issues relating to the Muslim woman were discussed, whether it is her Islamic dress or her place in Islam, others were invited to speak about her rather than speak with her. Muslim women who were the centre of such discussions were rarely given the platform to represent themselves. And she certainly was not invited to host discussion shows.
For those who are not inclined to write articles and are blessed with other creative abilities, such as writing poetry, then that is certainly another blessing. Poetry is a powerful tool in enabling our voice to not just be heard; but poetic styles particularly spoken word has the capability to reach minds and touch hearts. It has the power to connect with people in a manner that discussions and debates and even articles are not always able to. Poetry has so many elements; it can be charming, graceful and elegant. It can grab the heart and pull at emotions that reduce its audience to tears. Its words can overwhelm and more importantly, it can inspire and motivate people. So, rather than just igniting the heart and creating a moment of emotion, poetry can also wake the soul into action. A message carried with such attributes and elements is rarely bound to fail in reaching its destination with colossal impact. Muslim women
have many messages to send to the world and many misconceptions to clarify. Therefore, poetry is one of those beautiful and powerful styles that do that.
The important point that we as Muslim women should remember is that there are so many means and styles that are at our disposal. It is incumbent upon us to respond to negative stereotypes associated with the ‘Muslim woman’ and Islam, in general. The responsibility of defending Islam and portraying it as a just way of life does not only lie on the shoulders of men but also women! We need to join them in the frontline and help each other in getting our opinions heard in an effective manner. Although, sometimes we may differ in our opinions, we need to unite together on common grounds, as first and foremost, we are Muslims. Our differences should not divide us.
Islam raised women to a position of respect and honour, at a time when their value was such, that it was common occurrence in Arabia to bury them alive when born. Islam led women to achieve great things and paved the way for a better society, where they were no longer viewed as a burden. Islam has raised women to a position where, as a mother, Paradise for her child (son and daughter) lies beneath their feet.
Muslim women became scholars and led in various fields of sciences and specialised professions. They were poets and mathematicians like Lubna of Cordoba. They were warriors like Nusaybah bint Ka’ab (may Allah be pleased with her), a companion of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), who fought along him and protected him during the famous Battle of Uhud. They raised many of the greatest scholars, single-handedly, in the Muslim world, such as Imam Shafi’i (may Allah have mercy
upon him). They had rights that women in the rest of the world could only dream of. They were women like Fatima Al-Fihri, the first woman to establish a university in the world, in Fez, Morocco. Not to mention one of the greatest scholars of Islam, A’ishah Bint Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with her), who narrated two thirds of ‘Ahadith’ (recorded traditions in Islam) that exists today.
This is just a tiny glimpse of the calibre of the women we have descended from. These are heights that we can reach again. We need to take hold of the reigns and utilise the styles at our disposal. We just need to pick up our pen and write; or be it the mic and speak, and pave the way for a new legacy.
Tune into Womens Am live at 11am Monday to Thursday. Repeat 11pm Monday to Thursday.