Gender & Identity, Life

I don’t want to see another all-male Muslim panel, ever again

Isn't it time Muslim men heeded their Prophet's words and stopped ignoring women?

Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him, was a feminist. That is not a matter of opinion, but rather fact based upon all the information we have available on the Prophet, including both religious and academic text. He valued women, their words, and their work. Sometime over the last 1,400 years we seem to have forgotten his message allowing our communities to become subject to misogyny and patriarchy.

1,400 years ago at a time and in a culture where female infants were being buried alive, wives were severely mistreated, and women in general subjected to the status of a slave, Islam’s holy prophet took it upon himself to liberate them, promote their rights, and in doing so raised the status of women to equal that of men. He listened to the women, their complaints, and spoke to the men of his communities about how important the women in Islam and in general truly are.

It was due to the Prophet’s message that female infanticide was outlawed and that women in early Muslim history became public speakers, intellectuals, teachers and leaders. Yet these days, despite being surrounded by so many amazing Muslim women, I rarely see them on panels, lectures, and even in mosques.

Muslim women are behind many of the movements in the Islamic community that work to further better the status of Muslims in America. They are educated, intelligent, fierce, and are continuously giving all of themselves to their communities. Still, many of us do not know their names. We have forgotten them.

After an event poster featuring 16 men and no women was posted, Muslim women and their male allies took to Twitter to express their frustration with the lack of recognition in their communities. The Twitter discussion #NextTimeRememberHer called upon all organizations to commit to becoming more inclusive in their work.

But it’s not just about panels and speakers. It’s a deeper issue that we, as part of the Muslim community, have to become better at discussing. Why do we have such a difficult time listening to women, supporting women, and promoting women? Why is that the women, who are doing most of the work, are never recognized, paid, or even credited for their work?

If Islam gives rights to women and if the Prophet supported women, why are the men of our communities refusing to do the same?

The answer, of course, is fairly simple. We’re not supporting women because we do not view them as important as men.

We, as a community, are refusing to acknowledge the equality of women that was dictated to us by the Quran and promoted by the Prophet. The Prophet Muhammed once said, “The world and all things in it are valuable, but the most valuable thing in the world is a woman.”

Isn’t it about time we took heed of his words?