Disclaimer: I do not speak for all Muslim women. These are my thoughts, my own opinions. This is not meant to offend or speak ill of Islam as I, too, am a Muslim woman. This is to highlight the differences amongst us and the privilege some of us have against the other while creating some awareness and maybe even acceptance towards each other’s choices, experiences, and ideas.
Most of the world sees us as hijab-wearing, oppressed by our men and Islam, and also a threat to western culture. But that is not all of us. We have been placed into this compartment, all lumped together that when all of us are different, it’s such a big deal when it shouldn’t be because we are individuals too. Muslim women aren’t just Muslim women.
Not all of us think the same, look the same, feel the same, share the same ideas either. We come from all over, different lifestyles, different cultures, and heritage. India, Pakistan, America, Canada, Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Syria, Palestine, Europe, North/South Africa, Greece, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Australia, New Zealand, and so on.
In these countries, some of us are majorities, some of us minorities, some of us oppressed, and some liberated enough to live by our own rules. We don’t all come from Saudi Arabia, nor do we all come from the Middle East, nor are we all Arabs.
We each have our own culture, our history to own, tell, and show.
Some of us have left Islam, some of us believe but do not, some of us make Islam our lives, and that is okay.
Some of us are privileged enough to have been able to choose to wear the hijab. Some of us have been forced to. Some of us are privileged enough to roam freely around the country we live in, and others are suffocating at the hands of Islamic laws and rules. Some of us are accepting of other Muslim women who do not fit the stereotype, whereas some judge others harshly.
Not all of us want to wear hijabs or get married or love Islam. Not all of us are conventional Muslims or believe in segregation or end up with Muslim men. Not all of us want to wait until marriage to have sex or refrain from eating non-halal food and drinking alcohol. And it should be okay. Maybe not accepted, but should be seen as okay, because we can make our own choices, we are individual women who have our minds.
But then, on the other hand, not all of us are privileged enough even to have these thoughts.
A Muslim woman living in Saudi, oppressed by the male-guardianship, might have a totally different outlook on life, men, Islam than a woman living in let’s say, America, where they are able to go out on their own, wear what they like, be amongst whoever they like unless their families are very strict and controlling.
That is another issue. Muslim women who come from very staunch Islamic families and Muslim women who come from more accepting Muslim families- it is a huge difference. Of course, not all Muslim women are affected by it or feel oppressed, no. But some of us do. Some of us do feel shackled by this religion, and it’s people. Some of us do want out; some of us are tired of being ruled by the men of this religion and the rules.
Therefore, it is time we recognize our privilege over our other Muslim sisters living in places or homes where Islam rules very strictly over their every move. Where it is used as a reason to oppress them instead of speaking over them, telling them that it is not so bad, that this isn’t the true Islam, we also need to give them a voice, and we also need to accept that Islam has that side to it. Or Islam has been used this way against them. We cannot keep covering up how they feel or what they say by our thoughts or experiences when we’re all so different.
If you, as a Muslim woman, have never been oppressed at the hands of other Muslims who use Islam against you, then that is amazing for you. If Islam has never been forced upon you, then that is great for you. If Islam gives you strength, then I am so happy for you. If waiting till marriage to have sex is what you want or your choice, then woohoo, do it! But if it is your choice to be sexually active, then go ahead, just be safe and make sure it is YOUR choice!
If wearing a hijab is your own choice, then that is a great choice. And if it is your choice not to wear it, that is also great! If being a modest Muslim woman is what empowers you, then yay for you! If being a Muslim woman who lives by her own rules, doing whatever you wish is what you want or is doing, then that’s great for you! Truly, that is amazing for all of you. And I am so happy for you. And I wish you happiness, always.
If you, as a Muslim woman, have been oppressed by other Muslims who have used Islam against you, I want you to know that you are not alone and your thoughts, your feelings are valid. If Islam has been forced upon you, you are not alone, and whatever decisions you make is entirely up to you, and you should never feel guilty for doing what’s right for you. If being in this religion, is not what you want, or you’re unsure about your feelings towards Islam, that is okay! Don’t let anyone make you feel like you have to be so sure, you’re okay.
If you’re a trans/bisexual/lesbian/asexual/gender fluid Muslim woman, then I want you to know that you are beautiful and loved, and you are not wrong or a sin or disgusting. You are accepted, and if you have not come out yet or if it unsafe for you to be who you are, take your time, and I hope one day, you will be able to be who you are in all your glory.
If you have been forced to wear the hijab, I am sorry that this is happening to you, and I really hope one day you will be able to do what you wish. If you have been forced to live as a Muslim, while not believing in Islam, I am truly sorry, and I hope one day, you will be able to live freely without any worries, pain, or shackles around you.
We, as Muslim women, are so beautifully diverse, but there are two sides to every coin. And we need to see that, and we need to accept that. We have to stop looking down on the other just because the other isn’t what we want a Muslim woman to be.
Before we convince the world of us, we need to solve the issues within our religion and learn to be more accepting of each other because if we don’t, then how can we expect the world to be?
No matter what you do or what anyone says, you ARE a Muslim woman, until you yourself say that you aren’t. Don’t let anyone take that away from you. Be it another Muslim woman, or the world.