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Can You Hear Us Now: An Ongoing Movement to Raise the Voices of Muslim Women

#CanYouHearUsNow: During the 2016 presidential campaign, this hashtag surfaced in response to Donald Trump’s comments about Ghazala Khan, mother of a slain Muslim-American soldier, who supposedly wasn’t “allowed” to speak at the DNC. This was my response. 

My fellow Muslim women: according to the oh-so-authentic words of Donald Trump, women in Islam aren’t allowed to speak. Oh, and apparently, it’s up to our spouses in that respect — when we can talk and what we’re “allowed” to say. Can any one of us vouch for that and say that that’s what our religion preaches? That this is a “man’s world” and we only exist for their service and pleasure, that we don’t have a voice?

Say that to the brave and brilliant wife of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) who is a source of inspiration and wisdom for all women in Islam. Khadijah (R.A) was a businesswoman; an entrepreneur who made a name for herself and earned a noble reputation in 7th century Arabia. She was a strong and liberated woman with both beauty and brains who made her own choices, like who she’d employ for her trade and even who she’d call her future husband. Keep in mind that she lived in a society where customarily, newborn daughters were buried alive because their biggest crime was that they were not born male. Here we have an example of a self-taught business professional, a pious woman, a wife and mother who did it all — stood up for herself, her husband, her family and did not allow cultural standards to dictate her way of life. She spoke, and she was heard.

Say that to Fatima (R.A), the daughter of Khadijah (R.A) and the Prophet Muhammad; who constantly bore witness to her father being mistreated, insulted and humiliated by people who refused to believe in or respect his preachings. When the Prophet was praying one day, a group of Quraish thugs joined together to throw filth and dirt at him while he was still prostrating. Fatima saw this and had enough — she removed the filth from her father’s shoulders and stood firmly and angrily before the thugs and defended him. She spoke, and she was heard.

Say that to Maryam (Mary), the mother of Isa (Jesus) who remained steadfast in her faith and stood up against accusations of the vilest sins; say that to Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh (one of Egypt’s most powerful, arrogant and tyrannical rulers) who was selfless and took in the Prophet Musa (Moses) when he was just an infant regardless of the disgusting comments she knew she’d have to face; say that to Nusayba bint Ka’b Al-Ansariyah, one of the first advocates for the rights of Muslim womenThey spoke, and they were heard.

Say that to Ghazala Khan, the mother of a fallen US army captain, who defended her choice to stay silent in front of the camera more eloquently than Trump can ever hope to do himself: “I cannot walk into a room with pictures of Humayun. For all these years, I haven’t been able to clean the closet where his things are — I had to ask my daughter-in-law to do it. Walking onto the convention stage, with a huge picture of my son behind me, I could hardly control myself. What mother could? Donald Trump has children whom he loves. Does he really need to wonder why I did not speak?” But she did. She spoke when she really didn’t need to utter a word, and she was heard.

Say that to the millions of Muslim women around the world who fight against this injustice and ignorance every day, who speak up for themselves and their faith and their fellow brothers and sisters in Islam. Say that to the Muslim women who are destroying stereotypes and making a name for themselves in the medical world, the engineering world, the fashion industry, the business industry, the media. They have spoken, and they are being heard.

Islam is the best thing to ever happen to us Muslim women. It is the most liberating thing to ever happen to us. Women in Europe were not allowed to own property until the 19th century, and when they were married that property was transferred to their husband and they were not allowed to dispense of it unless they had their husband’s permission. More than 1,300 years earlier, when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, this was one of the verses clearly stated in the book: “For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned.”

Islam gave women rights when they had none. It gave them a sense of belonging and fulfillment, it gave them hope, it gave them assurance. And it still continues to do the same today.

So Mr. Trump, do you see how wrong you are? How trying to talk about an issue you in no way understand results in this unison of voices coming together to shut down stereotypes and celebrate identity? We have spoken. We ARE speaking. Can you hear us now?

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