Can you name 5 inspiring Muslim women on the spot? Don’t worry if you cant, I can’t either. But why is that? Why is it that, as a young Muslim teenager, who’s need for a role model I an relate to is crucial, I don't even know one, let alone have one.
It goes without saying that there are phenomenal Muslim women around the world who fight their own injustices day in, day out, but they are never in the spotlight. If anyone was asked the opening question with the word ‘Muslim’ taken out of it, I’m sure they could answer without hesitation: Oprah Winfrey, Malorie Blackman, Michelle Obama, J.K. Rowling, Ruby Bridges. But why has no one heard of Ibtihaj Mohammed, Tawakkul Karman, Carolyn Walker, Nadiya Hussain, and Dalia Mogahed?
I’ll tell you why. The muslim community is never spotlighted on the good things they do: however what is focused on, is the extremist ‘Islamic’ groups, the ‘sexism’ within Islam and the ‘oppression’ all Muslim women face from their religious peers. For example, Ruqsana Begum is a world champion muay thai kick boxer. In a documentary made about her journey to be coming a famous sportsman, Islam was portrayed as the biggest obstacle in that path. However the true obstacle was culture and traditions within her family. Islam does not have an issue with women partaking in sports, but there are guidelines on what a woman should wear. Begum’s attire is not what resisted her; it’s her culture and the traditions within it. The media uses opportunities like these to blame it on Islam as usual. Why do they not use it show how it finally was not her religion that was the obstacle? The amount of women in today’s society who believe they have to compromise their religion to do their best is unbelievable. There are women who reach their fullest potential without doing so, and just because they are not spotlighted, does not mean they do not exist. The younger Muslim generation needs to know of these role models, they need to be educated on these inspiring women, they need a resilient, strong Muslim women to lookup to.