Women’s Rights in Islam : Western Women Accepting Islam

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Regardless of the vicious politically motivated attack by some subjective western media against Islam (especially in issues related to the treatment of women) The Daily Mail, Dec. 2, 1993, p. 39, reported that more than 20,000 Britons were estimated to have accepted Islam as their way of life by that time. Most of them were middle class educated women. Why would these women accept Islam if they believed what the media was propagating? One of them reported that:

“Becoming a Moslem has transformed my life and brought me a lot of peace and contentment. I do not see what I’d done as going backwards, I see it as liberation.” (The Daily Mail)

Another revert who is a writer and the daughter a nuclear plant supervisor said in relation to the role of separation between men and women and the wearing of hijab:

“Unlike the confused messages of  Western culture – which encourages women to look sexy, yet condemns them for provoking men to rapehijab gave out a clear signal that women are not put on this earth to flaunt themselves.” (The Daily Mail)

When Mrs. Sisly Catholy an Australian lady who embraced Islam along with her daughter was asked: “Why did you embrace Islam?” She responded by saying:

“First, I would like to say that I embraced Islam because I was a Muslim inside myself without knowing it. Since I was a child, I had lost my faith in Christianity for reasons. The most important one was that whenever I asked a Christian whether he is one of those called the clergy or the public about anything of the church. “You have to believe in them.” At the time of believing in Christianity, I was influenced by what has been said to us that Islam was a joke. But when I read about it, the wrong ideas went away. It was not long when I started to look for some Muslims to ask them about the issues which were not clear to me. Here, the barriers between Islam and me were torn away. Whatever question I had, I received a convincing answer, the very opposite of that … which I used to hear when I asked about Christianity.After a long reading and study, I decided, along with my daughter, to embrace Islam, and we named ourselves Rashidah and Mahmoudah.” (Bawani)

Lady Avenin Zainb Cophand, an English woman, was also asked for the reason she accepted Islam. She reported:

“… as my study and readings about Islam increase, my certainty that it is very distinctive from other religions increases. It is the most suitable religion for practical life and it is the most able one to lead humanity to the path of happiness and peace. So, I did not hesitate to believe that Allah, the Almighty is one, and that Moses, Jesus, Muhammad (peace be upon them) and those before were prophets who received revelations from their Lord. ..We are not born sinful; neither do we need someone to take away our sins or to mediate between us andAllah, the Almighty. … It does not have any of the complex heavy theological doctrines…. (Bawani)

Margaret Marcus, a former Jewish American intellectual and writer, candidly explained the rationale behind her acceptance of Islam after discussing her Reform Jewish up bringing in a totally secular society by saying:

I did not embrace Islam out of any hatred for my ancestral heritage or my people. It was not a desire so much to reject as to fulfill. To me, it meant a transition from a moribund and parochial to a dynamic and revolutionary faith content with nothing less than universal primacy.

Each new Muslimah has gone through a trial and accepted many challenges to surrender to Allah. Amira, an American girl from Arkansas is just one of them.

I was born to American Christian parents in Arkansas in the United States and that is where I was raised also. I amknown as white-American to my Arab friends but alhamdolilah that Islam knows no color, race, or nationality. The first time I ever saw a Muslim was while I was in college at the University of Arkansas. I will admit that at first I stared at the strange clothing the Muslim women wore…. and could not believe that they covered their hair. But I am a curious person so I introduced myself to a Muslim girl in one of my classes the first chance I had. It was a meeting that would change the course of my life. I will never forget her. Her name wasYasmine and she was from Palestine. I would sit for hours and listen to her tell me about her country, culture, family and friends that she loved so much, but even more so was the love that she had for her religion, Islam. Yasmine had an inner peace about her like no one I had ever met. She would tell me stories of the Prophets (pbut) and about the one-ness of Allah (swt). This was when I learned that they didn’t worship some other God; it was just that in Arabic, Allah meant God. Everything she told me made so much sense to me and was so pure.

In a report by the staff writer for the Christian Science Monitor, Peter Ford, titled ’Why European women are turning to Islam?” a French woman explained her raison d’être for accepting Islam: Islam demands closeness to God. Islam is simpler, more rigorous, and it’s easier because it is explicit. I was looking for a framework; man needs rules and behavior to follow. Christianity did not give me the same reference points. (Peter Ford)

Haifa Jawad, a teacher at Birmingham University, indicates that some of the reasons behind European women acceptance of Islam are:

  1. A lot of women are reacting to the moral uncertainties of Western society.
  1. They like the sense of belonging and caring and sharing that Islam offers.

Karin van Nieuwkerk, who has studied Dutch women converts to Islam, argues that “there is more space for family and motherhood in Islam and women are not sex objects.”

Sarah Joseph, an English convert to Islam, argues that “the idea that all women converts are looking for a nice cocooned lifestyle away from the excesses of Western feminism is not exactly accurate.” (Ford)

Author : Abdallah H. Al-Kahtany

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