The past few months have been an interesting affair. I’ve been requested to speak about Muslim women in Islam at several Universities for Islam Awareness Week, which lead to me developing a deep passion for this subject. The more I’m learning, the more I’m impressed and amazed by our Islamic history.
I had originally envisioned it would be quite straightforward and the story began. I began to construct my lectures based around the status of women in Islam, the rights given by Allah and answering the question: does Islam liberate or oppress women? However, much to my surprise I came across a paradox. I would stand in front of many individuals and discuss how Islam liberates women, but, reality speaks otherwise. I began to unravel this paradox and it led me to the understanding that Islam does indeed liberate women, but the Prophetic vision and Qur’anic vision in some respects are a thing of the past.
In societies all around the globe we notice a trend of the decline of women, especially in female scholarship. There are women who succeed academically, however these educated women are faced with a question mark; will you choose your career or your child?
It seems we have done away with the legacies left by the Messenger of Allah and the Scholars of the past, men and women. This being said, we cannot disregard the importance of family, because when we weaken the foundation of the family and the essential development of the early life of children in the name of gender equality, we will jeopardise society in the long run. On the other hand, when we deprive women from an education and work opportunities our societies won’t develop, nor will they become dynamic and fully functional.
This leads me to put forth a discussion; in the past the Muslim community experienced a vibrant female scholarship, but now there’s hardly anyone we can name. What has changed? Is it as one scholar stated when I put forth my desire to him:
“No woman has the capability to become a Scholar in this day and age.”
Or is it as his statement suggests that we’re dealing with a culture which will not allow a woman to flourish to her full potential? This being said, all our discussions should stem from the Qur’an, Sunnah and be based around the teachings of Islam.
I believe it’s time we discuss this matter in depth and start thinking – how can female scholars flourish once again? How can we tackle this culture of partiality?
Let me know your thoughts below.
Alima Ashfaq is the founder of I am Alima and hopes to transform it into the forefront of assisting women come closer to Allah (swt). She is the author of a number of publications, most notably Du’as of the Superstars.