Here’s to strong women:
May we know them,
May we be them,
And may we raise them,
This post was inspired by lots of different things that I came across on social media recently. With International Women’s Day came different quotes and interesting conversations that piqued my interest. The one quote that seemed to be ubiquitous was this one below and it got me thinking.
As you can imagine, this quote is very popular and thus very likely to generate lots of “likes” and “re-tweets”. However, I wanted to go further than to just wish for these things, so I decided to ask the question “How”?
“May we know them”: First of all, what is the definition of a strong woman? As you can imagine, ‘strength’ means different things to different people. For me, as a Muslim woman, first and foremost I look to the lives of the women whom we see as pioneers in our faith. Women who were smart enough to run their own businesses and dominate the market and yet humble enough to never emasculate their husbands who were perhaps not as wealthy as they were¹ ² .
Women who were brave and confident enough to ask for a man’s hand in marriage (yes, it really happened) and kind enough to refuse the proposal of the ones who didn’t appeal to them instead of stringing him along¹
Women who were smart and intelligent enough to teach a group of men technical and judicial aspects of the religion and command respect from the said men ¹. Women who were brave enough to ask uncomfortable, female-related questions because justifying ignorance with shyness or ‘coyness’ has no place in our religion¹. Women who knew to train,nurture and look after their minds and bodies but also realised that true strength lies in the power of the mind and not in the display of their bodies.
This is just a few of the examples of the exceptional women in the history of Islam. So, you can imagine how much it breaks my heart to see or hear that Muslim women are oppressed or repressed or forced into marriages, barred from education, not allowed to drive, etc. These practices are so far removed from the teachings and essence of Islam that I sometimes wonder if we all still read the same Quran and Books of Hadith. Pioneer Muslim women lived a well-balanced life. They were not doormats who dared not have a thought before consulting their husbands, nor were they man-eating/hating feminists who spat at the mention of any man. These are the women that we need to read about, “follow” and “re-tweet” their sayings.
Of course, there are loads of women today who embody and inspire strength in every sense of the word. Women who show us that marital relationships and education or career success are not mutually exclusive situations, if you truly want those things ¹ .Women who also show us that you can take it one-at-a-time if that’s what floats your boat. Women who show us that no particular profession is made for ‘men’ or ‘women’ and that we are definitely not the weaker or inferior sex ¹ ². Women who remind us to take pride in our jobs as home-makers and that we are never ‘just stay-at-home-mums’¹. Women who are comfortable and confident in their lives as spinsters, divorcees or widows. And finally, women who are strong enough to admit their own weaknesses and not blame everything on sexism.
If you are a woman who has come across this quote before, I urge you to go beyond the ‘like’ or the ‘retweet’ and find out about these women, research their lives and learn from them. Because, the only way to be a strong woman is to know one, and the only way to raise one is to be one yourself.
So, here’s to you:
May you be a strong woman,
May you raise one,
And may you know one.