Anila Sadiq - Women In Islam

As a young Muslim college student, I am asked so many questions every now and then about my hijab and my outfit and about women’s status and rights in Islam.

One of the most common questions I am asked is why do I wear the hijab and am I forced to do it? Well! I would like to say that my hijab is my identity and I am never forced to do hijab. This is my own choice and it’s my pride. I observe it to please God and in obedience to His commandment. On the contrary, without my hijab I would not be comfortable at all and I never want to lose my identity of being a proud Muslim woman.

The Qur’an says that “There is no compulsion in religion” (2:257). This verse signifies that no one can be coerced into accepting the faith. Unfortunately, many non-Muslim authors have claimed that Islam was spread by the sword. However, when people do accept Islam then it is incumbent on them to accept all the commandments that God has laid out in the Qur’an. One such commandment is that Muslim women should cover their heads with a scarf and wear loose modest clothing. Thus, they follow this guidance to obey God without being coerced by any male or female member of her family. Every single teaching of Islam is there for a reason; women are to cover themselves to maintain their modesty and their chastity. Personally speaking, I can say when I am more fully covered I feel very comfortable and I can feel the freedom of religion. But it should be noted here that God has actually commanded the men to lower their gaze first and then He instructed the women to do the same. Therefore, it is clear that men also have the responsibility to restrain themselves and be modest as well as chaste (Qur’an 24: 31-32).

I would like to share a brief conversation between a non-Muslim and a Muslim man. The non-Muslim posed the question as to why do Muslim women have to cover themselves and the Muslim man gave an amazing answer. He said that if you are offered two candies, one wrapped and the other one is unwrapped, which one will you pick? The reply was, the wrapped one. After hearing that, the Muslim said that this is the case with our women. They are wrapped in clothes and protected from the dirt of the outer world.

I strongly believe that the beautiful teachings of Islam are there for our protection, to guard our chastity, and to provide us an amazing path to live a life. However, when I’m told that I shouldn’t be wearing what I choose to wear, then I feel as if people are trying to snatch my freedom of practicing my religion. Freedom of religion is what America stands for. Then how can anyone justify interfering with someone’s preferences of living peacefully according to their religious preferences?

A woman’s status in Islam is way higher than what those who have never met a Muslim would think or those who never search the truth and remain biased would think. As a young woman, I am given all the rights, especially of education which is one of my passions. The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said “The pursuit of knowledge is a duty for every Muslim, man and woman.” This saying tells us that in Islam both men and women are equally treated even in the matters of education.

Those who oppress women are not the true Muslims because they’ve forgotten the true peaceful teachings of Islam and are just misrepresenting Islam. The Qur’an upholds equal treatment of both men and women and says, “Men shall have the share of what they have earned, and women shall have the share of what they have earned. And ask God of His bounty. Surely, God has perfect knowledge of all things” (4:33).

The freedom that I am given through my religion, Islam, is all that a woman could wish for. I’m living a peaceful, happy and satisfied life through the freedoms and respect my religion granted me.

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