So apparently today is the first Muslim Women’s Day ever. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that until I clicked on the trending hashtag on Twitter, and then I was promptly disgusted. There are so many misconceptions, so many views depicting Muslim women as beaten-down creatures that are basically slaves to men, so much sarcasm about how it’s sooooo great to be a Muslim woman on this day.
As a Muslim woman, I have a few things to say. This rant bubbling inside me just won’t die.
I’ve never spoken about my religion on this blog, mainly because I like to keep my religious and political views out of my writing and “public persona”, but here goes nothing.
There was never a time when I wasn’t a Muslim. My parents are devout Muslims, and I grew up in a conservative household. I wore my hijab at the age of 9, and I’ve never taken it off for 19 years now, even when it’s boiling hot outside. I’ve never missed a daily prayer. I fast for 30 days every year during Ramadan. I also refrain from physical contact with unrelated men, alcohol and gambling.
At the same time, I have attended school, graduated from university and have been enjoying a growing career since I was 21. Currently, I work in an environment where the male to female ratio is horribly skewed, but yet enjoy a perfectly normal relationship with most of them. Nobody has forbidden me from working and earning money. Nobody has forced me to get married and play the dutiful wife, and nobody can. I can choose to remain single and child-free for the rest of my life, and nobody can make me do otherwise.
I wear whatever I want. I do not have to cover my face. I live alone in an apartment all to myself, far away from my family. I go out whenever I want, sometimes coming home at extremely late hours of the night. I travelled to Italy last year with my friends and I’m planning on hitting Europe again this year. I’m even planning on going sky-diving on my birthday. I have been involved with someone romantically and I have had my heart broken. I have male friends I go out with.
Most things a non-Muslim girl does, I can do too if I want to.
And yes, yes I am aware that not all Muslim women enjoy all these freedoms, I know that men remain dominant in several aspects of Muslim countries, but that does not mean we’re all miserable. That does not mean we’re oppressed creatures who cannot speak for ourselves. That does not mean we’re not humans who feel upset when they’re painted in a negative way on social media, when the ignorance comes in tidal waves that drown out all our voices.
It’s also worth pointing out that this treatment of women is not based in Islam (which actually places women on a pedestal), but in the culture, just as many non-Muslim cultures also mistreat women. People just conveniently decide to forget that.
If you have any questions, by the way, I would be more than happy to answer them.