Although western governments don't have the right to rethink Muslims' constructions of an ideal femininity, every Muslim has a responsibility to reshape and restructure the discussion of women's rights in Islam. It is no longer sufficient to appeal to outdated rhetoric about how Islam gave women the right to vote and inherit centuries before western countries. Today, in 2009, Muslim women represent some of the most oppressed and suppressed women in the world. This must change if Muslims are to have any real positive impact on the world today.
Our mothers are our first teachers -- as the Prophet Muhammad reminded us -- and as a community we will not move forward until our women are allowed to develop socially, intellectually, and religiously. Integral to this development is Muslim women's integration into society as equals. Muslim women must be allowed to move freely, and to think freely, without the constraints of patriarchy disabling their mental and spiritual potential. And, because Islam is currently under the world's microscope, until we begin to address and disassemble the underlying issues of gender inequality in our communities, the rest of the world will continue to presume that they have the right to do so on our behalf.
A shorter version of this article was originally published at the blog Goatmilk
Rabea Chaudhry is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah
Reprinted with permission from Altmuslimah.com