By: Hadiya Abdelrahman
Muslim women have always been strong members of the Islamic society for centuries. They have been scholars, teachers, soldiers, merchants, and in highly respected positions throughout Islamic history. Then why is it that Muslim women are regressing in roles in today’s Islamic outlook? Every time I listen to a lecture geared towards Muslim women, they are spoken about in roles limited to motherhood and being a loyal and loving wife. We repeatedly hear the hadeeths of the value of a mother and a wife, yet we never hear the value of an educated Muslim woman who also works for the bettering of the Muslim Ummah. Are they not also important players in the making of this Ummah? Is Aisha not one of the most important figures in the Prophet’s life? Is she not the one that brought us the many narrations of Hadeeth that help us lead our lives in the footsteps of the Prophet (SAW)? We have many stories of women who stood up for what they believed in, women who fought and were killed for standing firm in their faith, women who stood firmly next to the Prophet when their whole family stood against them, women who sacrificed everything for the cause of Islam and never looked back.
Women who seem to be buried in our books.
Growing up, I learned about these brave and strong Muslimahs in elementary and middle school. As I got older and more mature, they began to fade away from my textbooks and replaced by stories of a Muslim women limited to the home. Don’t get me wrong, a successful home is what makes a successful nation. It all starts at home. Yet, when a Muslim woman, who is known to have fought in battles, known to have participated in the first community’s decision making, is only known to be nothing more than a machine made for the home, seems very disheartening. What happened to the great women we were encouraged as kids to follow? Khadija bint Khuwaylid, Aisha bint Abu Bakr, Ramla bint Abu Sufyan, Asma bint Abu Bakr, Fatima bint Muhammad, Nusayba the great warrior, the Shaheeda Sumaya bint Khubbat. And many more.
We are not defined by our marriage and our children alone. We, Muslim women, are defined by our strength, our bravery, our wisdom. Muslim women were integral at the start of Islam. Many were forced to sacrifice all that they loved for the message of Islam. They had to leave their families, their husbands, sometimes, their own children just because they uttered and believed in, ‘La Illaha Illa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah’. Their strength is admirable and desirable.
Muslim women and men must realize that the woman’s legacy in Islamic history is very important. She is not only confined to the realms of the home. A Muslim woman’s strength is one that illuminates the public but with her wisdom, helps light her private home. Muslim speakers have to start recognizing their contributions to history and speak about them more often. How will the Ummah ever rise when one of their most important foundations is still far behind?