In this very personal and insightful op-ed, Mariam Khan (author of It’s Not About The Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race) discusses the perceptions and misconceptions of Muslim woman, writing that the most “tiring thing” is that “before we can even go out into the world to establish our own identities, we have to deconstruct and unpick the identities that have been created for us.”
Here are some snippets:
— There is no one way to be a Muslim woman. We are allowed individual identities despite being part of a collective sisterhood. But even if we disagree with one another or have different perspectives, or come from different cultures, that doesn’t mean we can’t stand up together.
— Those of us who haven’t been the authors of our own narratives have become disenfranchised. To an extent, we have internalised a powerlessness that makes us feel like we don’t get to have a say, and that we have no choice but to live within the narrative, identity and story that has been created for us. Often this powerlessness manifests itself in impostor syndrome, a lacking of self-confidence or self-worth.
— I used to believe that in order to be a Muslim woman you had to wear a hijab. How could someone be Muslim and not wear a hijab? It wasn’t possible. And then I met Muslim women again and again who practiced their faith and prayed regularly, and it made me think about how and why the hijab, or any form of clothing a Muslim woman chooses to wear, has become the dominant factor in dictating her religiosity. Who started this thinking and who did it benefit?
— What people need to know about Muslim women is that we won’t fit into their neat little boxes anymore. It is unfair that it has, by default, become our role to educate those who continue to enforce their ill-informed understanding of Muslim women upon us, and others in the world.