At a time where Killing baby girls solely for being a female; At a time where women were given no right to education, inheritance, voting, choice in marriage; At a time where women were seen as possessions; At a time where men were seen as the “superior” sex was the norm all over the world in the seventh century. The Prophet( Pbuh) brought down the message of Islam, which came down to truly liberate and honour women by restoring their rights and dignity.
When the companion of the Prophet, pbuh, entered a town to bring them the message of Islam, he put it very beautifully. He said, “I have come to free you from the servitude of the slave and bring you to the servitude of the Lord of the slave.”
Within this statement lies a powerful treasure and message. Locked within these words, is the key to empowerment and the only real path to true liberation.
The moment we allow anything, other than our Creator (Allah), to define our success, our failure, our happiness, or our worth, we have entered into a silent, but destructive form of slavery. That thing which defines your self worth, your success and your failure is what controls you. And it becomes your Master.
The master which has defined a woman’s worth, has taken many forms throughout time. One of the most prevalent standards made for woman, has been the standard of men. But what we so often forget is that God has honoured the woman by giving her value in relation to Himself—not in relation to men. Yet, as western feminism erased God from the scene, there was no standard left—but men. As a result the western feminist was forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing she had accepted a faulty assumption. She had accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man: the standard.
When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army. She wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had them.
What people didn’t recognize was that God dignifies and honours both men and women in their distinctiveness–not in their sameness. When we accept men as the standard, suddenly anything uniquely feminine becomes by definition inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a full-time mother—a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigned supreme.
As soon as we accepted that everything a man has and does is better, all that followed was just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it—we want it too. Somewhere along the line we’d accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.
But a Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as the standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man to do this.
Given our privilege as women, we only degrade ourselves by trying to be something we’re not–and in all honesty–don’t want to be: a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men, and value the beauty in our own God-given distinctiveness.
And yet, in society, there is another prevalent “master” which has defined for women their worth. And that is the so-called standard of beauty. Since the time we were little, women have been taught a very clear message by society. And that message is: “Be thin. Be beautiful . Be attractive. Or…be nothing.”
So women were told to put on their make-up and wear their short skirts. Instructed to give their lives, their bodies, and their dignity for the cause of being pretty. They came to believe that no matter what they did, they were worthy only to the degree that they could please and be beautiful for men. So they spent the lives on the cover of Cosmo and they gave their bodies for advertisers to sell.
They were slaves, but they taught them we were free. They were their object, but they swore it was success. Because they taught them that the purpose of life was to be on display, to attract and be beautiful for men. They had them believe that their bodies were created to market their cars. But they lied.
A woman’s body, A women’s soul was created for something higher. Something so much higher.
The image of a woman wearing a veil from head to toe, these days is considered to be “ Oppressive”. But in fact, when a woman puts on a headscarf out of her own free will, it is a unique moment in which her private relationship with God is manifested in a very public way. Unlike prayer, fasting or even reading the Quran, when a Muslim woman chooses to cover herself she is suddenly putting a piece of her religiosity on display. In Islam, women are honoured. But it is not by the relationship to men—either being them, or pleasing them. The value of women is not measured by the size of their waist or the number of men who like them. Their worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale of righteousness and piety. And the purpose in life–despite what the fashion magazines say–is something more sublime than just looking good for men.
God says in the Quran: ‘Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous’ (Quran 49:13).
Islam teaches women that they are a soul, a mind, a servant of God. And that their worth is defined by the beauty of that soul, that heart, that moral character.. As Muslims our submission is to something higher.
As Muslim women, we have been liberated from this silent bondage. We don’t need society’s standard of beauty or fashion, to define our worth. We don’t need to become just like men to be honoured. Our worth, our honour, our salvation, and our completion lies not in the slave.
But, in the Lord of the slave.