International Women’s day was celebrated on March 8, with a lot of fervor and promise, especially for young Muslim women like me but these current events beg a discussion about Feminism and how best to promote it.
First there is the issue of faux-feminism on International Women’s Day by marketers and advertisers as they use this day to heavily promote their companies. Another is the Nike Pro Hijab, which landed at Macy’s earlier this December which has spurred much debate. This is hypocritical because their advertising messages contradict their own business practices that allegedly range from unequal pay to uneven representation, to sexual harassment. Events such as these beg a discussion on how faith protects the rights of women, gives them their rightful status in society and prevents their exploitation.
In the western society, the hijab (veil) for Muslim women is misunderstood for the true purpose it gives women. It’s mistakenly criticized to be backward, traditional, suppressive, and preventing women from reaching their full potential. However, this false notion has been proven wrong by many great Muslim women achieving high status in society back in early Islam and even today, standing as equal to men.
In Islam, women are treated as sacred and honorable, like the qualities of a precious gem. If an average person wouldn’t display their precious gems and expensive jewelry out in the public for fear of catching the wrong eye, Islam views women in that same level of respect. Islam has given women dignity and respect to continue living the life she pleases and stand equal to men without having to worry about being judged by her appearance. The veil is also a reminder to all men to respect women and not to objectify them but to lower their gaze. In fact, the first commandment of hijab in the Qur’an is given to men, to restrict their lustful glances. It’s after this first commandment to men that women are then asked to safeguard themselves from such men by covering their hair and wearing lose garments that cover the body when they go out or are in the presence of any men who are not their immediate family members. Islam has given women respect and freedom to live in a dignified manner.