5 Powerful Women in Islam and Their Inspiring Impacts. The world of today is one in which the biggest stages are being dominated by men. They are seen as natural leaders who are superior and born to rule over women. The socio-economic, political and organizational sectors are naturally headed by men.
Africa which is a deeply patriarchal society is greatly characterized by this practice and hence attach more value and importance to a male child than to a female child.
This traditional African value system coupled with some Islamic doctrine is believed to limit women from participating in world changing acts. This believe which hovers in the mind of many women of today make them nurture an inferiority complex and make them think of themselves as lesser beings.
It is noteworthy to mention that being a woman is not a limit to achieving great things as recorded in various medieval and early modern history where women achieved great feats in different aspect of world civilization.
Islam further confirms that both men and women are equal in the sight of God as stated in the Quran that, “…indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you” (Q49:13).
He further stated that, “To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to their best of actions” (Q16:97)
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) also declared that the pursuit of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim – male and female. This is well buttressed by the numerous recorded engagement of women companions of the prophet in many activities which further stamped the existence of the Islamic religion.
In the world of business, Khadija Bint Khuwaylid who was the first wife of the Prophet (PBUH) was an elite and central figure. She was a successful merchant who was well known in Mecca for her exceptional business skills.
In the world of education and knowledge, Aisha Bint Abu Bakr – another wife of the prophet was known to be one of the most influential scholars of Islam.
After the death of the prophet, she continued to play a major role as a transmitter of Islamic teachings.
Nusayba Bint Ka’b Al-Ansariyya, Khawla Bint Al-Azwar, Zaynab Bint Ali amongst others are names of great women who participated in wars and took leadership roles across different phases of Islamic religion establishment.
Women of today have lost that confidence and self-esteem to step into the big scene and rise up the pedestal. They are victim of social stereotyping and oppressive rule. This post however brings up 5 amazing impacts of women in Islam which can inspire the modern women to take a bold step, be belligerent and broaden their tent.
1. Sabiha Gökçen
Sabiha Gökçen was a Turkish aviator. She was the first Turkish female combat pilot at age 23. She was only 12 years old when she expressed her wish to study aviation in a boarding school.
As at that time, girls were not being accepted by the War College in Turkey so Sabiha was provided with a personalized uniform and attended a special 11 months education program as ordered by her adopted father who was the head of aviation.
She received her flight patents (diploma) and trained to become a war pilot. She improved her skills by flying bomber and fighter planes.
Throughout her career, she flew 22 different types of aircraft for more than 8,000 hours, 32 hours of which are active combat and bombardment mission.
She was recognized as the first female combat pilot by the Guinness Book of World Records and was elected as the only female pilot for the poster of the “The 20 greatest Aviators in History” published by the United States Air force in 1996.
The Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Istanbul is named after her. She remains an inspiration to young Muslimahs who would be looking to build a career in Aviation.
2. Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman
Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman is a Yemen Journalist, politician and human right activist who became the second youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date. She is the second muslim woman to win a Nobel prize.
She leads the “Women Jiurnalists Without Chains” which she co-founded in 2005. She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab spring uprisings.
She has been called the “Iron Woman” and the “Mother of Revolution” by Yemenis. She lead series of protests and many peace building works. She co-received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize along with Ellen Johnson and Leyman Gbowee for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights for full participation in peace-building work.”
She was a leader and a confident representative of her people in the face of oppression and stampeding of their human rights. She was able to achieve these great feats without violence and was geared by her great self confidence and boldness.
3. Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad is an American sabre fencer, who is of African-American descent. She is a member of the United States fencing team and is best known for being the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics.
In individual sabre at the 2016 Summer Olympics , She earned the bronze medal as part of Team USA in the Team Sabre, becoming the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics.
In 2014, Muhammad and her siblings launched their own clothing company, Louella, which aims to bring modest fashionable clothing to the United States market.
She is also a sports ambassador, serving on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative. She has traveled to various countries to engage in dialogue on the importance of sports and education.
Who would have ever thought Muslim women would take their turn in fencing until Ibtihaj Muhammad set the ball rolling for others?
4. Maïmouna Guerresi
Maïmouna Guerresi is an Italian multimedia artist working with photography, sculpture, video, and installation. She was born in Italy to a religious Catholic family but converted to Sufi Islam in 1991.
Her work presents an intimate perspective on the spirituality of human beings and their relationship to their inner mystical dimension. Guerresi’s images are delicate narratives with fluid sequencing, and an appreciation of shared humanity beyond borders – psychological, cultural, religious and political.
Through her hybrid visual language she communicates the discomfort and beauty of cultural diversity and contemporary multiracial issues. Her photographic work often depicts the mystical figures of Islamic Africa
Guerresi lives and works in Verona, Milan, Italy, New York City and Dakar, Senegal. As of February 2016, she lives in Dakar, Senegal.
Through her art, she propagates in depth the beauty and culture of Islam in Africa and hence is a source of inspiration to young Muslimahs who are planning to ply the road of artistry.
5. Dalia Mogahed
Dalia Mogahed is an American scholar of Egyptian origin. She was selected in 2009 as an advisor by U.S. President Barack Obama on the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships becoming the US’ first Muslim woman in the White House.
She is the Director of Research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) in Washington, D.C. She is also President and CEO of Mogahed Consulting, a Washington, D.C.-based executive coaching and consulting firm specializing in Muslim societies and the Middle East.
Mogahed is former Executive Director of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies, a non-partisan research center that provided data and analysis to reflect the views of Muslims all over the world.
With the current events regarding western involvement in the Middle Eastern conflicts, governmental influence on our lives is now bigger than it has ever been and to have a Muslim woman influence a part of this is an achievement.
As a renowned speaker and writer, objective and credible in her speech and actions, she continues to inspire young Muslimahs to create an identity, make impact and stay true to their passion.
I hope this beautiful compilation will serve as a tilt to gearing young Muslim females out there to brush off the idea of being a lesser being. To inspire them to take on the big stage and make it their own.