From the beginning of the advent of Islam, Muslim Women have played a very important and discerning role in the society. However with deliberate media and perception campaigns run 24×7 to tarnish the image of Muslim women, more so in the past few decades, many ills have started getting tagged to the Muslim women across the world. Cropping up have been the many xenophobic assumptions – that Muslim women are oppressed, need to be saved, forced to wear headscarves or hijabs out of fear and so on. Such labels though remain far from reality.
Contrary to played up media image of a Muslim women as a demure un-empowered female, all hiding behind her burqa and sheltered by her men folk, today’s Muslim women are actively engaged in leadership and business roles across the society.
However most of these are far from reality. The phenomenal progress being made by the Muslim women in the world is amazing. Muslim women at the forefront are debunking these orientalist myths while at the same time constantly working to combat the ills within the community.
To cite a few examples, ruling since decades is the Prime Minister of Bangladesh Ms Sheikh Hasina Wazed. Also the Prime Minister of Mali Ms Cissé Mariam Kaïdama Sidibé is a charismatic Muslim women. Similarly, President of Kosovo, Atife Jahjaga, is the world’s youngest women president, while being her country’s first female Muslim president and the list goes on. So whether it be sports, entertainment, fashion, business or politics, Muslim women continue to climb the ladder and challenge the views, that belittle them otherwise.
As a tribute to the endeavors of the Muslim women of the world, N4M media surveys comes up with a list of the world’s Top Muslim women everyone should know about.
On September 18, 2006, Anousheh Ansari’s name was everywhere as she became the first female private space explorer. During her time in space, she wrote a blog that enabled readers to share her literally cosmic experience with her. Ansari described intricate details on her blog and garnered more than 50 million hits from readers around the globe. A successful entrepreneur on Earth, she truly is a remarkable woman.
Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi
Saudi Arabia saw women vote and be voted for in the 2015 Municipal Elections. The first woman to be elected was Salma bint Hizab al-Oteibi, who won a seat on the council of Madrakan, a region in the holy city of Mecca. She beat two other women and seven men to the spot. This was a victory for not only women in Saudi Arabia but for women all around the planet, as we saw women rise up over the attempts to repress the female voice. She has inspired countless women in her land and outside of it.
Amna Al Haddad
At the young age of 26, she has made history by being the first Emirati and GCC national to compete in the Asia Regionals and the first and only Muslim woman to do so in a headscarf. She is also a part of Nike’s campaign Inner Strength. In the film, Haddad speaks about how it’s never too late to get up and make a change in your life, as long as you stay devoted. She inspires women everywhere to push themselves to the limit.
Who hasn’t heard of the power girl, Malala Yousafzai? Born in Pakistan, the schoolgirl defied the Taliban and demanded that girls be allowed to receive education. She was shot in the head for doing so in 2012, but emerged victorious as she became the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. An activist for female education and human rights advocate, she is fearless and inspirational, today and everyday.
Have you seen the first hijab-wearing character by Barbie that gained a lot of buzz? Ibtihaj Muhammed is the face behind the revolutionary doll meant to normalize hijabi women for little kids. The 31-year old sportswoman rose to fame at the 2016 Summer Olympics, where she became the first female Muslim-American to earn a medal at the games, and the first American woman to wear a headscarf while doing so. Quoting Barbie, “Ibtihaj continues to inspire women and girls everywhere to break boundaries.”
Ibrahim, 48, was waiting to board a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii en route to Malaysia in 2005 but she was told she was on the no-fly list. She was eventually cleared to fly to Malaysia, but her visa was revoked afterward and she was unable to return to Stanford. She sued the government in 2006 to find out why. She won the no-fly list ruling and is a standing victim of government wrongdoing, as well as an example of courage and determination.
Dr Amina Wadud broke 1,500 years of tradition when she became the first woman to lead mixed-gender Muslim prayers in the UK and delivered the Friday sermon. Wadud received death threats and condemnation but she stands by her views, saying “This is not a movement, it is just a reality.” Most people disagree with what she’s doing, but she proves that Muslims aren’t just one monolith community. It has faces and controversial opinions, and she’s rightful for representing so.
Meet Daisy Khan, the Executive Director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality (WISE). Khan, who was the former Executive Director of American Society for Muslim Advancement, is now the voice behind countless cultural and religious programs, all in harmony with Muslims as well as non-Muslims. The non-profit organization dedicated to clear misunderstandings about Islam and promoting the ethical values of Islam.
This Libyan-American journalist, activist, motivational speaker and model first stood in the spotlight after appearing in the Playboy magazine’s October 2016 issue. Not only was she the first Muslim woman to appear on Playboy magazine, she was also the first woman to appear on the magazine wearing a hijab. Advocating for a “bold case of modesty” and breaking stereotypes, Tagouri received a lot of support as well as criticism around the globe. Whether you agree with her views or not, it’s clear she’s one of the bravest among all.
Known as “The Mother of Revolution”, Tawakkol Karman is the first Yemeni,the first Arab woman and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 32. Karman gained recognition for her work in the nonviolent struggle for safety and rights of women in Yemen. SA journalist by profession and human rights activist by nature, she is a fiercely committed woman, determined to bring about change, all while inspiring others to do so.
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