Woman was made of a rib out of side, not made out of his head to rule over him or under his feet to trample upon but by his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected and near his heart to be loved – Mathew Henry. One of the most misunderstood areas in Islam is that of the position of women in the religion. The general perception in the West is that Muslim women are subjugated and almost seen as property. Even the hijab is seen as a tool of oppression. Meanwhile, not all Muslims deal with women as inferior. This is unfortunately true in some areas in the Muslim world and this treatment is supposedly justified by the religion. However, when we look at the basis of the religion; the Qur'an, we see a very different picture. In the Qur'an, Allah (SWT) made it very clear that men and women are equal. Aisha (RA) had an important role in early Islamic history, both during Prophet Muhammad's life and after his death. She was an active figure in numerous events and an important witness to many more. Aisha contributed to the growth, development, and understanding of Islam. Being a role model to a significant amount of others added to her attributions as a consultant regarding Muhammad's prayer and practices, soon introducing herself into a world of politics. Aisha was the highest collector of hadiths and also followed the prophet to the war-front. Quran 3:194 “I will not waste the work of a worker among you, whether male or female, the one of you being from the other”. Our History in Nigeria is replete with stories of women heroines such as Queen Amina, Moremi Ajansoro, Lady Idia, Emotan and Tinubu. These were women known to have used beauty, bravery, wisdom and intelligence to liberate their people and are still celebrated today. No man in that era could have done what they did, the power of a woman can never be under estimated. There was the story of a man who bought a house in the name of his only son, his other children were females. He believed the females would soon be married off and become their husband's property. At the end of the day, the boy used the house as collateral for some shark loans even before his father’s demise. Allah said in several Qur'anic verses again that what a man can possess can also be possessed by a woman ranging from property, wealth, power and even manual labours depending on individual strength. “And they (the wives) have similar rights to their obligations in just manner” (Q2:228). The role of women in the society is not far-fetched even in government. Women can perform better due to emotional strength and compassion. The president of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at this year Nigerian Centenary celebration describes women empowerment as a means of combating insecurity and building a peaceful nation. The world is finally opening up to women and the girl power movement is real. Even academically, there has been marked increase in professions previously reserved for men such as medicine and engineering. Engineering is still playing catch up to medicine, but there has been improvements in the number of women practicing as engineers compared to the last decade. Recently, the Guinness book of records featured the world's youngest doctor - a Palestinian refugee from Lebanon - Iqbal El Assaad, she was Muslim. Also, the youngest Nigerian doctor is also a 21 year old Muslim female too. Allahu Akbar! The essence of female in our society and the future of every nations can never be under estimated. One of the most powerful things that we as Muslim women can do is to (rightfully!) identify ourselves as feminists. We need to inject ourselves into feminist movement and start to redefine empowerment and liberation on our own terms – not the ones already defined for us. It’s our responsibility to create a voice for ourselves in the mainstream feminism. Superiority among human beings in Islam is not measured through gender, race, colour but by the closeness to Almighty Allah and piety. 'O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant'. (Q49:13). To follow Islam is to be a feminist – naturally, on our own terms. Maa Salaam. Ganiyah Kareem is a scientist and a staff writer at 1one4.com
The 1one4 team. 1one4.com is a digital hub for the Muslims in Nigeria and the diasporas. It is a veritable platform to share useful and valuable information and connect as a community.