5 Rights Islam Gave Women Before Western Feminism Did

5 Rights Islam Gave Women Before Western Feminism Did

Muslim women have always been empowered and will continue to be.
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The video above was created by Neghena Hamidi.

As an American-Muslim woman who's worn hijab for upwards of eight years, I've heard it all when it comes to people's opinions about my religious head wrap. I've received both loving support and ignorant hate from family, friends, co-workers and peers. The most aggravating comment from those uneducated about Islam is that the hijab, and Islamic rules in general, are oppressive towards women. As a feminist and a Muslim, it disturbs me to think people actually believe this.

1,400 years ago, Islam gave women more rights than western women have gained in the last century. Below are just a few you probably didn't know existed.

1. The right to vote




Islam gave women the right to vote and historically, Muslim women were politically active. They helped shape societal rules and regulations. Women in leadership positions are mentioned in the Quran on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, in America, white women could not vote until the 1920's, while black women couldn't vote until the 60's.

2. The right to own property and wealth





In America, women were denied the right to own property until 1848. They became the property of their husband after marriage along with everything they owned. The Quran not only granted women the right to own property, but also acknowledged that women were not the property of their husbands. Muslim women are not obligated to spend their earnings on anyone, while men are responsible for financially supporting their family.

3. The right to an education




Education is heavily emphasized in Islam for men and women equally. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "Seeking knowledge is mandatory on every Muslim." In 859 CE, the world's oldest standing university was founded by a Muslim woman, Fatima al-Fihri, in Morocco. In America, women didn't start regularly attending universities until less than a century ago.

4. The right to work (or not to)





Islam gives women the right to work and earn a salary. Anything she earns while working is entitled only to her, not her husband or family. This independence is seen in Kadijah, the first woman to accept Islam after it was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Before she married the prophet, she was a well-known, successful and respected businesswoman. Equally important, Islam gives women the right not to work, if they choose.

5. The right to modesty




Contrary to popular belief, the religious meaning behind hijab is female empowerment. We choose to cover because we respect ourselves and consider hijab a form of worship. Islam teaches us that a woman's self-worth does not revolve around physical beauty or approval from men. Islam raises women above all that and frees us from the need to conform to the societal definition of what women "should" look like.

Most importantly, hijab is for god and god alone. How a woman chooses to dress, her decision to wear hijab or not, is between her and god - not her father, brother, or the law.

These are a small sample of rights Islam granted women 1,400 years ago. Western society is still trying to catch up. Islam recognized women as equal in status to men, 1,400 years ago. The Quran says:

[3:195] Their Lord responded to them: "I never fail to reward any worker among you for any work you do, be you male or female - you are equal to one another."

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9 Queer Pride Flags That You Probably Didn't Know About

The rainbow flag is certainly the most recognizable, but it isn't the only Pride Flag there is.
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It's Pride Month yet again and fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies are celebrating. Normally around this time of year, we expect to see that all-too-familiar rainbow colored flag waving through the air, hanging from windows and sported on clothing of all types. Even when not strictly a flag, the colors of the rainbow are often displayed when showing support of the larger queer community. But what many people do not realize is that there are many, many pride flags for orientations of all kinds, so Natasha and I (Alana Stern) have created this handy guide to some others that you may not yet be familiar with:

1. L is for Lesbian and G is for Gay

The most recognizable letters of the entire acronym, L (Lesbian) and G (Gay), represent the homosexual people of the LGBTQ+ community. Homosexuality is defined as being exclusively sexually attracted to members of the same sex. Again, although the rainbow Pride flag is easily the most iconic and recognizable, there is a Lesbian Pride Flag as well. Specifically for "Lipstick Lesbians," this flag was made to represent homosexual women who have a more feminine gender expression. Here are the Lesbian Pride Flag (left) and Gay Pride Flag with the meaning of each stripe (right).



2. B is for Bisexual

Bisexuality is defined as the romantic and/or sexual attraction towards both males and females. They often go unacknowledged by people who believe that they cannot possibly feel an attraction for both sexes and have been called greedy or shamed in many ways for being who they are, but not this month. This month we recognize everyone and their right to love. Here is the flag and symbol that represents the big B!


3. T is for Transgender (Umbrella)

Gender identities are just as diverse as sexual orientations. Transgender people are people whose gender does not necessarily fall in line with their biological sex. That is to say, someone who is born male may not feel that calling oneself a man is the best way to describe who they are as a person; the same can go for someone who is born female or intersex (we'll get to that in a bit). Someone born female may feel that they prefer to be referred to as a man. Someone born male may feel that they don't mind being referred to as either a man or a woman. And someone may feel that neither term really fits. Identities can range from having no gender, to multiple genders, to having a gender that falls outside of the typical gender binary of man/woman, to anything in between. The colors of the flag are blue (the traditional color for boys), pink (the traditional color for girls) and white (to represent those who are intersex, transitioning, or have a gender that is undefined).


Okay! Here's where we get into the lesser-known letters of the acronym. You may have heard of some of these before but didn't quite know what they meant or how they fit into the larger queer community, or you may not have heard of them at all. Either way, we'll do our best to explain them!

4. I is for Intersex

Intersex people are people who are have a mix of characteristics (whether sexual, physical, strictly genetic or some combination thereof) that would classify them as both a male and a female. This can include but is not limited to having both XX and XY chromosomes, having neither, being born with genitalia that does not fit within the usual guidelines for determining sex and appearing as one sex on the outside but another internally. It is possible for intersex people to display the characteristics from birth, but many can go years without realizing it until examining themselves further later in life. Here is an older version of the intersex flag which utilizes purple, white, blue and pink (left) and a more recent one that puts an emphasis on more gender-neutral colors, purple and yellow (right).


5. A is for Aro-Ace Spectrum

The A in the acronym is usually only defined as Asexual, which is a term used to describe people who experience a lack of sexual attraction to any sex, gender, or otherwise. People who are asexual can still engage in healthy romantic relationships, they just don't always feel the need or have the desire to have sex and are not physically attracted to other people. If that's confusing, think of it this way: you are attracted women, but not men. You may see a man and think, "He's kind of cute" or "That's a pretty good-looking guy," but you still would not feel any desire towards that person, because that's not what you're into. Asexual people generally feel that way about everyone. That's the "Ace" half of "Aro-Ace."

"Aro," or Aromantic, is a term used to describe people who do not experience romantic attraction. Aromantic people still have healthy platonic relationships, but have no inclination towards romantic love. The reason Asexual and Aromantic are together is because they are very heavily entwined and oftentimes can overlap. Underneath that spectrum are also other variations of asexuality (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are asexual but experience sexual attraction in very rare circumstances, or only after they have a romantic connection) and aromanticism (including but not limited to people who still feel as though they are aromantic but experience romantic attraction in very rare circumstances).

Below are two versions of the Aromantic Pride Flag (top and middle) and the Asexual Pride Flag (bottom).





6. P and O are for Panseuxal and Omnisexual

Pansexual and omnisexual people are not limited by gender preferences. They are capable of loving someone for who they are and being sexually attracted to people despite what gender their partner identifies as. The word pansexual comes from the Greek prefix "pan-", meaning all. Pansexuals or Omnisexuals will probably settle for whoever wins their heart regardless of that persons gender.


7. But what about the Q?!

The Q can be said to stand for Queer or Questioning, or both. "Queer" is more of a blanket term for people who belong to the LGBTQ+ community or who identify as something other than heterosexual or cisgender (a term that has come to describe people who feel that their gender does fall in line with their biological sex; i.e. someone born male feels that he is a man). It is also possible for someone to identify as queer, but avoid using it to refer to specific people unless you know they are okay with it; some people still consider it insulting. Questioning means exactly what it sounds like: it gives a nod to those who are unsure about their sexuality and/or gender identity or who are currently in the process of exploring it.

There's no one flag specifically for the letter Q, as all of the above sexualities and identities technically fall underneath this term.


This list is hardly comprehensive and there are a number of other flags, orientations and identities to explore. Pride Month is still going strong, and there's always more to learn about the ever-changing nature of sexuality as a whole and the way we understand it. It's a time for celebration, but also a time to educate and spread the word.

For a more in-depth description of different types of attraction and how they work, click here.

For more complete lists of gender identities throughout history, click here or here.

For a general list of commonly used words in the LGBTQ+ community and their definitions, click here.


Now go grab a flag and fly it high--you've got a ton to choose from!

Cover Image Credit: 6rang

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Exclusive Premiere: LGBTQ+ Artist, Linnel, Releases Stunning Visual With A Strong Message For The Community

Pride month just got that much better

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Made to feel ashamed of who he was, Linnel has only recently been able to accept and explore his queer identity. "I'm Sick" is the culmination of self expression that had been suppressed for 18 years. The song came out a few short months ago and today the world finally gets a chance to see the video that changes the narrative of the song entirely.


What at first sounds like a love song, is really an anthem for the LGBTQ+ community. The video, directed by Madi Boll, is centered around a boy named Leyton, played by Pierson Carlson, who is interested in wearing makeup. But when his mom and sister walk in on him putting lipstick on he is made to feel ashamed and a "disease" begins to take form on his skin, alluding to how being gay used to be listed in the DSM. While the gay community has made many improvements in equality, the trans community is now experiencing similar discrimination.

Feeling insecure about his identity, Leyton goes on a walk to clear his head, but finds himself at a party where Linnel is singing "I'm Sick" and everyone there is confidently displaying signs of the same disease. It is a place of community and togetherness, where everyone is welcome. By the end of the party, Leyton's "disease" has fully taken form, but feeling confident in himself, he goes home ready to fully embrace just that. The hope for this video is that it serves as an opportunity for all intersections of the queer community to reclaim the idea that being queer, and/or any other part of the LGBTQ+ community, is a "sickness" or "disease."

Being queer himself, the message of this video is incredibly important to Linnel not only as an artist, but as a person. In the weeks leading up to the video Linnel hosted a "Question of the Week" series on Instagram that consisted of different topics within the LGBTQ+ community. Topics ranged from internalized homophobia to favorite queer art and the responses came pouring in. It enabled people to have a platform to speak out on certain issues/topics that aren't generally brought up in the mainstream media. The responses from all different people brought to light many similarities in regards to why people don't or wait to come out, what they love about their queerness, and how they feel about their own internalized homophobia. For more on this, check out Linnel's Instagram story highlights under "QOW".

Linnel is only just getting started. The "I'm Sick" music video has made a statement about the kind of behavior and morals that he stands for. Linnel hopes to continue to shine a positive light on the LGBTQ+ community, while making music that brings people of all mindsets together to start a conversation.

Cover Image Credit:

Linnel

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