March 8, 2007

Educate, Empower, Enlighten

International Women's Day is but a reminder. Everyday should be women's day, and child's day, and human being's day. Everyday we should recall the millions of women who cannot afford to feed their children. The millions of women who do not have access to education. The millions of women living in war torn countries. The millions of women living under oppressive dictatorships. The millions of women being abused by their governments, their employers, their husbands, their parents, their children, and even their fellow woman.

Injustice is not something preserved for women, but women are disproportionately affected by war, poverty, illiteracy, and various forms of abuse.

Women are forced into prostitution, women are raped as a tool of war, women are used to sell cars and chips.

Today I am reminded that no matter how much I complain, I am a lucky woman. I am a woman who did not live in poverty, did not live in fear, did not live in a war zone, or a refugee camp. I have had access to the best education my whole life, and my future is promising. I have not been forced to bind my feet. I have not been genitally mutilated. I have not been forced to marry someone I do not know or do not like. I have not been sold into marriage for political or financial gains. I have not been attacked for endangering my family's "honor".

Today I am grateful for being a Muslim American woman. I could have said that I am grateful for being a Jordanian or Arab woman, but I do not believe that either affiliation has granted me much. I am at times ashamed to be an Arab, ashamed to be Jordanian. I am at times also ashamed to be American. But I'm never ashamed to be a Muslim woman, although in this day and age, it is difficult to disassociate myself from the many who have misused and abused Islam.

I'm ashamed to be a Jordanian woman because my children cannot be Jordanian like me. Not even half Jordanian. I cannot pass my citizenship on to them because I am marrying a non-Jordanian man.

I'm not ashamed to be a Muslim woman because I have been able to practice my religion in the United States without provocation, and without achieving any less than if I had not been Muslim. I do not feel that I have been stripped of any rights or constrained by any religious requirement. I feel empowered by Islam's call for me to educate myself, to be an active member of society. Islam has not limited my freedom. Arab and Jordanian customs have sometimes limited my freedom. American capitalism has sometimes limited my freedom.

I am ashamed to be an Arab woman because my sisters in Iraq are being raped while the Middle East is silent. I am ashamed to be Arab because our mothers in Palestine are starving while women in Virginia and Riyadh are competing over the most expensive handbags. I am ashamed to see that Muslim women are not as educated as their counterparts around the world. I am ashamed to see that my Muslim brothers are not up in arms when one of their sisters is murdered by a raging relative claiming that his honor lies between her legs. I am ashamed that we don't stand up for our own God given rights.

This is what I think about today, and what we should think about everyday.

Let us...Educate, Empower, Enlighten.

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At 1:30 AM, Anonymous Jenny said...

Salam Alaykum

I was very touched by your writing Sister. I was born and raised in the U.S. and raised a "California Girl." I too, sometimes feel a sense of shame over the treatment of some women in the world. I often remind myself that I am lucky to live here where I may practice Islam in peace. I just wanted to tell you that your words here really do count for something important.

At 3:11 AM, Blogger Sakura Kiss said...

Very touching, I'm glad China has eliminated that practice. I mean, how can you make your foot look a lotus bud??

Yes, there are many problems being faced by women and girls, especially in societies where girls are undervalued. So heartbreaking.

At 8:25 AM, Blogger moi said...

Jenny-- wa Alaykum Assalam, thanks for your input and your kind words. Welcome to my blog :)

Sakura kiss-- "societies where girls are undervalued" can also include the US in many ways...single moms who receive no assistance, young girls stripped of their innocence as they emulate famous pop stars, and even female CEOs who still do not receive equal pay.
Heartbreaking, indeed.

At 12:25 AM, Blogger الفلسطينية said...

wow really powerful....and i agree. but sometimes i'm ashamed to be a muslim woman too- not that the religion has done me wrong- but because there are muslim women out there who are also suffering. then of course, there are some women that just put themselves down, or do things that i feel really sets 'us' back. i mean the whole idea of an international women's day is kind of problematic- its just one day....and its as if to say that all women everywhere are the same, that we are one collective entity, when we are not. sure, we all struggle...but there's so much more to use than our x chromosome. so how then do we convey our message, to muslim men, arab men...and well, all of society? i dunno...just a few thoughts.

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Abed Hamdan said...


I would like you to participate in helping AlAqsa with us!!

Bloggers are sending the same email message to human rights organizations...the message and details on my blog.

please participate, we need your voice!

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous sayed said...

...and she's back.

Can we expect at least a post a day now? Maybe two? Keep it up.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger nuh ibn zbigniew gondek said...

As salaam alaikum.

I am sure that most of you know about the struggle of Manal and Nour, the mother and child being held in a Israeli prison.

The following is a poem I wrote about this issue please share it with everyone you know:

Wa salaama,

nuh ibn

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous beesh said...

Very Powerful. Thanks for a great post!

At 5:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very powerful indeed, but I don't quite see why you should be ashamed of being Jordanian because you can't pass it on to your kids? and Congratulations on your marriage;)

At 1:40 PM, Blogger moi said...

Anon-- Because I feel that my children should have the right to have the Jordanian nationality if they wish. They should not be treated like foreigners when visiting the country their mother was born in. It's not about the advantages of being a Jordanian, but the principle in and of itself. Thankfully though, Jordan hasn't reached the point of stripping a woman of her citizenship if she marries someone of a different nationality.

At 9:24 AM, Anonymous Shop said...

Very interesting!

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