Yesterday saw a Twitterstorm with #TraditionallySubmissive trending. This was in response to comments made by a Downing Street adviser that the Prime Minister David Cameron thinks that Muslim women are traditionally submissive. It got Twitter going. It was good to see people reacting to this, both, Muslim and non-Muslim. There were some really funny tweets, which proved that submissive or not, Muslim women do have a very good sense of humour.
But on a serious note, I find this suggestion offensive. To suggest that somehow this particular group of women is submissive because of their religious values is wrong and far from the truth.
Islam is a beautiful religion and especially so for women. It is also a way of life. You will find answers to all aspects of life in the Quran and, contrary to the popular belief, Islam teaches a very balanced way of life. There is no extremism in Islam. The actions of some deviating extremists do not represent the true teachings of my religion. People who think otherwise will probably have their knives out but this is the truth. The true Islam that I know and follow is a beautiful religion.
The Holy Quran which lays the foundation of Islam, clearly at many, many, points addresses Muslim men and women alike. All the covenants are the same for both genders and similarly the rewards are the same too. Yes, their roles are different but aren't they in reality too? Anyone who says that men and women do not have separate roles as well as common ones in society is in my opinion quite ill-advised
Our biological differences also dictate different roles, of course a man can neither carry nor truly nurture a baby. It's a woman's role. And a Muslim woman is as proud of this role as the rest of half of the world population!
Islam encourages education, secular as well as religious and does so for both men and women. I have seen many #TraditionallySubmissive Muslim girls who outsmart their 'traditionally oppressive' brothers in education! I know of many Muslim mothers who are more concerned about the educational achievements of their sons compared to their daughters, because the daughters are performing extremely well. I don't have to enumerate a list of professions that Muslim women are excelling in but you can see for yourself. Every year at the annual convention of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the head of our community Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad gives out medals for high academic achievements to men and women. The amazing academic achievements of these Muslim women vary from a multitude of A*s at GCSE and A levels to PHDs and masters, contradicting the premise that they are traditionally submissive.
You will find Muslim women working in all sorts of fields making commendable achievements alongside men. But then we do have our most admirable role and that is as mothers. Islam puts a lot of emphasis on this role and why shouldn't it? Even the Prime Minister himself recognised the fact that a mother plays an important role in shaping the life of her child. Islam teaches that if we raise our children well, we make their lives paradise in this world and gain one in the world after. The Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be on him) also said that if a father raises his daughters well and educates them he will be granted paradise.
Being a mother is empowering to all women. If the Prime Minister needs evidence he only needs to go and visit primary schools up and down the country at pick up time and meet those hundreds of thousands of British women who chose to stay at home and look after their children. Some of them give up very lucrative careers; because it's natural and instinctive to nurture and care for your children and what a privilege we women have! We get to shape the future generation. What could be more powerful and empowering than that!
Islam recognises this important role that women play as mothers and guides them in this quest, what is wrong with that? Islam gave rights of inheritance , freedom of expression and rights of education to Muslim women hundreds of years before the rest of the world.
Just because Muslim women are seen wearing the hijab or are covered modestly, does not mean that they are being manipulated or controlled by men. Items of clothing do not represent oppression. If that was the case there would be no oppression, no abuse and no discrimination against women who choose not to cover up. Women worldwide are fighting for their rights, like equal pay, gender inequality and sexual harassment. If the Prime Minister has actual figures which prove that Muslim women are more oppressed in this country than non-Muslim women, he should publish them. Yes, there must be Muslim men who do oppress their women, just like men belonging to other races, religions or cultures but that does not make all Muslim women submissive.
Just like the Prime Minister will never remark that all Muslims are "traditionally terrorists" he should not have suggested that Muslim women are "traditionally submissive". Remarks like these only cause division in society. Instead we should be focusing on our common human values and living in harmony, respecting each other's differences.