The Messiah Complex: Muslim Women Don’t Need You To Save Them
When you think of the oppressed woman, the lowest level in everyone’s head is of one in a Hijab. The final imagery of self-ridiculing submission, the bed where patriarchy falls into a comfortable sleep. The Muslim woman who is so broken she celebrates her misery. It is then, naturally the job of every other person to come running and free her of her religious fabric, to protect her from Islam.
Naturally then, when a Zaira Wasim declares she will leave the glamorous film industry to find her connect with God, the world broke into shocked gasps, unable to see it is as her personal choice, dismissing it as another regressive, submissive path YET another woman decides to tread on. While it is true that most of these people intend to only protect her in their own way, the question remains simple - till when do we save women, and who made you their superhero?
Of Overzealous Activists
When we think of a Muslim woman, we think of someone who isn't educated beyond the literacy of her Arabic Quran. Point out to them that most women in Muslim-dominated countries are studying in higher numbers than men and they'll dismiss it as lying statistics. Tell them only so many countries in the world are actually enforcing the Hijab on women and that most women are doing it out of a free will, they'll tell you its the men in their homes making them do it.
My question is - why have we given ourselves the right to stand outside their seemingly transparent homes and take notes? Why is it so hard for us to believe the words coming out of a Muslim woman's mouth? Doesn't our dismissal of their choices and opinions instantly make us perpetrators and upholders of their negligible existence as respectable individuals in society?
Our ideas of Feminism are narrow goblets. Only a certain few ideas of womanhood are accepted and celebrated, a very westernised idea of a female body, a thinking brain only resides in that rigid image. Any woman who chooses otherwise is suddenly brainwashed, indoctrinated, conditioned. The view that a woman must adhere to, and uphold western ideas of liberalism is problematic, to say the least.
This doesn't just erode cultures and move us towards an extremely homogenized society that is liberal in its exterior but unwelcoming and non-inclusive in its root, it is also extremely condescending and insulting to them as individuals. In modern-day, the rampant Islamophobia makes Muslims and Muslim women (more specifically) the first target of its dissolution of identity - who stands next? The Hindu sindoor? The Sikh turban? Religion overall? The good part about modern society is that we have recognised the need for liberty and freedom. The bad part? We think only a certain few people have the power to give it to the rest.
Recognize, Reflect, Change.
Combating the problem isn't easy. Given that many see Islam through ISIS bride documentaries, it isn't surprising that they can't separate the real Muslim from the extremist. Fear is often an easier emotion to feel than bravery. Giving a possibility a chance is harder than banking on prevention.. But what we now need to do is realize our fears are forcing an entire community to be harassed, be unheard, be lost and forgotten.
We need to understand that we can't sideline the opinion of the oppressed when we are trying to "help" them. How is calling their beliefs regressive, silencing their voices empowering them? Stop dismissing them from debate about their own lives. Imagine this: Every introvert who hates socialising is dragged out of their homes and made to stand in the middle of a night club, just because everyone around them fervently believes that music and dancing is the ultimate idea of fun. Over-simplified? Maybe it is time to see things with basics.
Let’s undress our egos off their Superman suits.
Is not giving individuals basic respect, listening to what they have to say with a certain degree of respect the primary base of a civilised society?
We must stop using Muslim women as victims to make ourselves feel better about our own choices.
Stop ridiculing Muslim women. In an age when women are speaking out, demanding a podium to be heard, owning and parading the individuality of their personalities, we cannot pick and choose which voices deserve to be heard. When a Zaira Wasim posts an emotional note about why she is leaving the glamorous film industry for something she connects with on a spiritual level, applaud her decision. Give her the bravery to step back from her choice later on, if that is what she decides.
Stop being so insecure in your ideas of liberty that you can’t allow young girls to talk about their faith without calling them ungrateful. Stop saying "She should have quit without lecturing us about Islam." Allow people to love what they love. Accept people for the beliefs they hold. Stop playing saviours to a community that did not ask for your help - it is quite simple. When you see a woman walk in a Hijab, look at her with respect, not pity. Why have we started looking down upon people who want to celebrate their beliefs? Our ideas of liberty, freedom, and growth need not merge into one shade. Life would be colourless and dull then.
Have you seen lately? Even Hijabs glitter.
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