|What comes to your mind when you think of a Muslim woman? A mysterious, veiled victim of male oppression, awaiting Western liberation? A slogan-shouting terrorist? An uneducated foreigner with whom you have little or nothing in common? Unless your social circle includes Muslim friends and acquaintances, the chances are that your impressions of Muslim women have largely been formed by negative media stereotypes – images that usually have little to do with real life, and may have been designed to attract more viewers, sell more products, or gain support for someone’s political agenda.|
|How much do you really know about Muslim women’s lives or views, and why does it matter? Well, for one thing, Muslims account for 20-25% of the people on this planet, and Islam has become the second main religion in Europe. But did you know that the majority of European and American converts to Islam are women – not men? Would it surprise you to learn that many women in the Muslim world feel sorry for Western women and view them as being victimised? Have you ever stopped to consider why Muslim women who immigrate to the West usually maintain their identity and strive to pass it on to their children? A thinking person may well ask, if Islam is as oppressive to women as some journalists would have us believe, why aren’t Muslim women running away in droves? What it is about Islam that attracts any followers outside its heartlands? In this brochure we aim to look beyond sensationalistic or alarmist stories to take a glimpse at what Islam has to offer educated women in today’s world, and understand why so many (men and) women of every race, colour, and social class have made Islam their choice. The truth, like real life, is beyond propaganda and stereotypes.
The Islamic view of women
First of all, women are portrayed positively in the Qur’an and the Hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad). The Qur’an is the only book of world Scripture in which women are frequently referred to alongside men, and both are described as being friends and partners in faith. The following verses are just a few notable examples:
The believers, men and women, are protecting friends one of another; they promote the right and forbid the wrong, establish prayer, pay the poor-due, and they obey God and His messenger. As for these, God will have mercy on them. Surely God is Mighty, Wise. God has promised to believers, men and women, gardens under which rivers flow, to dwell therein, and beautiful mansions in gardens of everlasting bliss. But the greatest bliss is the good pleasure of God: that is the supreme felicity. (Qur’an 9:71-72)
Surely for men who surrender to God, and women who surrender