Many years ago, before I came to a better, and well, more accurate understanding of Muslim women, it was hard to fathom why this group of ladies would cover themselves with so much cloth.
Their dress-code was a glaring image in one impressionable one that had been brought up in a society where it was not only normal for women not to cover, but for women to reveal, as part of a social status.
Women were paid to entertain, to have careers that flaunted their beauty, to behave in a primal fashion in public. So it was hard to understand why a group of women would dress so modestly, and in public to boost.
Confusing Misconceptions on Muslim Women
But that was a long time ago, and I crossed many horizons with my bewilderment as to why Muslim women behaved in a certain way. From staying at home, to raising many children, to putting their careers secondary to their families… What was with this culture that turned women into slaves of their families?
It has been a long time coming though, and that’s exactly what I am doing today; and Insha’ Allah, I am paving my path in the right direction. Stories abound of women finding Islam were certainly inspiring to me; as well as having many good Muslim friends and learning about their own journey to Islam, even as born Muslims. And in the process, many stereotypes were quickly abolished.
The diverse lifestyles of Muslim women, as long as they bode well with Islamic principles painted a landscape of understanding of Muslim women and there were stories abound of success in different measures.
But I still see the misconceptions, valiantly plaguing the media – the Muslim woman who is enslaved with children; the Muslim woman who is widowed forever, and has to barricade herself in her own home, for fear of causing temptations. These are still impressions galore.
At the end of the day, it’s easy to lean upon misconceptions; but we do it at a dangerous angle, taking big risks because leaning on misconceptions drowns out our inner fitrah, in listening and understanding what God has designed for us.
Media Role in Prevailing Misconceptions
It’s so easy to follow the route of the mainstream media that calls fouls upon Islam; that is so grossly maligned by groups of Muslims and non-Muslims who only have interest in defaming Islam.
Muslim women have been on the brunt of such abuse for the longest time ever; it normally starts with their outward appearance, of being covered from head to toe, save for their hands and faces. Of course, there are those who cover their faces too – and that calls for even more prejudice.
The real problem of the stereotypes lies in judging women on their outward appearance and not making an effort even to know them from the inside.
What are women’s thoughts of their own dress codes? Why do they believe in the way they dress? What are their names, aspirations, dreams? And what are their principles in life? What do they do in their free time, after working hours, or after their children are in bed? How did they meet their husbands? Where are their careers heading?
There is so much more to getting to know a group of people than reading headlines in the mainstream media, or shaping stereotypes based on a negative and biased story.
Simple stereotypes can be eradicated; if we learned more upon knowledge and make a conscious effort to debunk myths that we garner from those in power of the media.
And of course, there is always the Quran and Hadith to learn about Islam, Muslims, Muslim women in particular. It never hurts to take time to pick it up and take a read. It opens doors to belief with full understanding.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)