Muslimah Source is a new site that is geared towards Muslim women. When I visited the site, I was hoping for something a little different from the norm. Usually sites catering to Muslim women have sections on relationships, health & beauty, motherhood, how to emulate female companions (sahabah) of the Prophet (saws) and dress (i.e. hijab). Most of MuslimahSource.org does not stray from this formula. There are a couple of essays on marriage and what to look for in a mate and an essay on why Miss Universe shouldn’t be our ideal and why the Prophet’s sahabah should (does anyone really look up to Miss Universe?). Additionally, there was an essay on Palestine that wasn’t really related to Palestinian women, but to Palestine in general. I didn’t object to the essay. I agreed with the points made but I did wonder why it was on the site and why almost every Muslim site has a story related to Palestine. There was also a short story on an abused woman as well as an essay on women being prevented from attending ‘Eid in Turkey.
The mission of Muslimah Source is awesome and commendable:
MuslimahSource.org was started by a group of friends with the intention of serving as a resource and as a tool to empower Muslim women. What do we mean by empowerment? We mean helping women embrace and demand the rights guaranteed them by their Creator through the religion of Islam, building the capacity of Muslim women to engage their communities, and helping them overcome barriers to greater empowerment. Women play an equal if not greater role than men in shaping communities and societies. God willing, this website will serve as a hub of information and ideas on the issues facing Muslim women. It’s hard to be a woman in today’s world, and Muslim women in particular face many challenges. From egotistical, insecure men who hide behind a façade of religiosity to violence and discrimination, from exploitation and commodification to culture and women who are hesitant to claim their rights, from lack of purpose to low self-esteem, obstacles abound. But this site isn’t just about problems, it’s about solutions.
Education . Support . Guidance.
We hope to learn about Muslim women’s needs and hardships, and help address them. This website is the initial, online phase of what we hope and pray will blossom into a full-fledged organization that works to achieve the same ends.
I do think some of the pieces on the site work toward this goal. In “An ‘Eid gone awry“, Roberta D. discusses how women in Turkey traditionally do not attend mosques for Friday or ‘Eid prayers as well as her own experience of being expelled from a masjid in Turkey on ‘Eid (Zeyno Baran, are you reading this?). Roberta writes that despite the fact that the government controls mosques and religious education, women still continue to be denied a space in mosques, even when they voice complaints. Roberta then urges women not only in Turkey but everywhere to become more conscious of their rights and to begin to demand them. This isn’t usually easy, especially when you’re outnumbered by men who insist on either keeping you out of the mosque or putting you in some God forsaken hole in the mosque because of your gender. However, Roberta’s point is well taken.
Another piece that I was impressed with was “Beaten in The Name of God“, which is actually a fictional piece written by Cindy A. It once again highlighted some huge issues that some Muslim women have to face including abuse as well as economic inequality. In the story, a woman is verbally and physically abused by a husband who wants to be scholar and thus, does not work. He forces his wife to work while constantly berating her. I have to say this story, although fictional, seems to be the story of a lot of Muslim women I have encountered. Yet, it is a story that doesn’t really get discussed on mainstream Muslim sites or sites dedicated to Muslim women.
While, I thought those two pieces were the highlight of the site, I thought other pieces on the site were standard fare for sites that are focused on women. One piece titled “Finding Mr. Right” warns Muslim women from expecting a “perfect” husband and to have realistic expectations when choosing their spouses. I have to admit that this piece did rub me the wrong way somewhat. Yes, there are women who expect their men to be like men from romantic comedies, but I don’t understand why there are so many essays warning women to not have “expectations” when looking for a spouse. Not having expectations or high expectations can lead to settling and weak relationships. This isn’t to say that compromise should never come into a relationship. But what is wrong with a woman who wants a husband who prays five times a day but also enjoys, say, indie films or books on theology? Why is this expecting too much? One good point that I thought the essay made was that happiness doesn’t come from a guy: the happiness has to be with you before you get into a relationship.
Another piece, titled “One-Room Falling-Down Fixer Uppers” was also about relationships, what to look for in a brother, how not have to expectations that are too high, and how there should be more marriage counseling among Muslims. There was nothing I disagreed with in the essay. If was just that the points are things I have heard for some time, so I didn’t really find it engaging. In general, I’m not really a fan of “relationship” sections on sites for women, Muslim or non-Muslim, because it just assumes that being in a relationship is one of our top priorities.
All in all, I think Muslimah Source has a lot of potential and I am looking forward to seeing what the sisters there will produce in the future. The site is still relatively new, so there isn’t a lot of content up yet. However, I think with more content the site will be even better and hopefully the range of topics will become more diverse.