Monday, March 8 marked International Women’s Day. It is not uncommon to hear Muslims proclaiming during such times that every day is women’s day in Islam. No doubt, our deen has given women an elevated position alhamdulillah.
Nonetheless, it would be short-sighted and even irresponsible of us not to evaluate whether we are practically implementing the rights, ideals, and responsibilities that Islam has afforded our women. Are we giving our best to our sisters, wives, mothers and sisters in faith? Are our homes havens where their rights are safeguarded and they have room to fulfill their roles with support and care? Are our masajids, schools and community organizations spaces where our sisters feel represented, heard and valued?
We cannot deny the presence of certain ills within some of our homes and communities that have diminished and oppressed women and denied the very rights entitled to them by their deen. This may be due to a lack of understanding of the deen, cultural biases that conflict with Islam’s teachings, or misconceptions and misinterpretations of the Muslim woman’s role.
As seekers of knowledge, we should especially pay attention to the education of our sisters. Islam has given women the right to learn their deen – providing adequate access, resources, and encouragment to ensure this happens is essential. We should also support the growth of female Muslim scholars – especially in light of the presence of so many in the early generations who were formidable forces in the preservation and transmission of knowledge. Consider the intellectual contributions of the mothers of the believers like Aisha (ra) and other women, and that the first university was sponsored by a Muslim woman Fatima al-Fihri, and then look at our current state where in many communities here in the West there is a huge scarcity of female Muslim academics, or producers of religious materials. Consider that in some Muslim communities globally, the education of girls still takes a back seat. We see that we have much work to do.
And work we should, especially because of a great eagerness among our sisters to learn – many can attest to the high percentage of sisters compared to brothers in many Islamic courses. Here are just a few things we can do:
1. Establish scholarships that promote Islamic education especially among sisters
2. Give Muslim sisters who are qualified the opportunities to teach classes or host circles of knowledge in our masajid and organizations
3. Support our sisters’ efforts to take courses that give them a firm grasp of the basics of the deen or help them memorize and understand the Quran (this support could be something as simple as helping out with the kids while a mother attends a halaqa).
May Allah make our sisters beacons of Islamic knowledge.