By Sobia Javed
Girl power? Isn’t that something the Spice Girls introduced to women? Err, no… actually, girl power was introduced by Islam over 1400 years ago.
Muslim women empowerment is a topic which has been persistently discussed and debated. It is widely argued, especially in the West, that Muslim women “need liberating.” This could not be any further from the truth and is often a result of people confusing religion with cultural practices. Islam gives women the right to have an education, own property, inherit, work and be financially independent.
In England, before 1870, any money that a woman made through wages, investment, or even through inheritance, automatically became her husband’s property once she married. In contrast, Islam has always given women rights to their own money. These days we need to redefine those role models and better yet, become them for future generations. Ask any group of young girls to name some women that they look up to, and there would be very few female scientists, innovators, literary figures and revolutionists on their list.
Truly empowered women don’t allow themselves to be objectified to gain respect. For real role models, we should look to the genuinely inspiring women of Islam who were the
true embodiment of girl power.
One such example is Aisha bint Abi Bakr, wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She was a scholar of Islam, and many of the Prophet’s senior companions would go to her after his death in order to gain knowledge.
Another model is Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Any article about inspirational Muslim women would be incomplete without the mention of this businesswoman and single mother who proposed to the Prophet of Islam herself!
One of the issues almost always brought up regarding Muslim women is the hijab or covering. Yes, Islam requires Muslim women (and men) to dress modestly, but let not this modesty be mistaken for women being subservient to men. The hijab has been ordained by Allah to create an identity for Muslim women around the world.
Usually magazines advise you on how to achieve flawless skin or how to lose 10 pounds, and create an ideal image in women’s minds about what beauty is, or what they should strive to look like. Often, girls at impressionable ages peg their self-worth to this idealized image. It is more than a mere coincidence that with this objectification of women, there has been a rise in eating disorders, self-harm and depression rates. So, in essence, dressing modestly for women is freedom. It allows women to freely express themselves, and to be themselves without being subjected to predefined standards. When you’re covered, people don’t judge you for what you look like.
Ultimately, women need to break free from the patriarchal shackles put by others and focus on freedom given to them by Allah.