What women can do for women in Muslim countries

1. Knowledge is power

It's often assumed that only feminists have the answers to how women's status can be improved. Not true. The women's revolution came to Islam over 1400 years ago, and that's no cliche. Read the Quran and Sunnah and the information you need to prove this is all there.

Knowledge of what the Quran and Sunnah say about women's rights is crucial. Start by educating yourself. Read Gender Equity in Islam by Dr. Jamal Badawi as a starter and work your way up from there. As well, don't just stick to the basics. Read about real live Muslim women, the female Companions of the Prophet, to see how Muslim women lived Islam.

  1. Teach Quran Class in your home for girls: A big percentage of girls in some Muslim countries don't go to school. If you also stay home, start a free Quran class for few hours a week. This will be your vehicle to teach the basics of Islam and life to these girls.
  2. You can start a basic literacy class for adult women of your neighborhood in your living room. Or visit their living room and have them invite others to learn as well.

2. Moms: use your power with your kids

Mothers play a very powerful role in Muslim societies, where the family unit is still more intact than in other places Alhamdu lillah (Praise be to Allah). But many moms indirectly or directly favor their sons over their daughters. Just as it's wrong for fathers to do this, it's also wrong for mothers. Treat your sons and daughters with love and respect, and do not put one child down while praising the other.

3. Moms: use your power with your sons

For most men, the woman who has the most power and influence over them is their mother. Use this power Allah has blessed you with to raise sons who are Islamically conscious and who understand women's rights in Islam (and of course, who respect them!).

4. Encourage marriages on the basis of Taqwa

Encourage daughters, nieces, etc. to marry a man who truly fears Allah and will give them the respect they deserve as Muslim women. Marrying because someone is rich, good-looking or smart are nice, but they do not guarantee this man will treat his wife with respect. If women are strong enough to establish and stick to Islamic guidelines of marriage, and are supported for this choice by at least a couple of family members, especially mothers, this will benefit the woman in question and set a necessary example.

5. Teach what you know

Do you know only a few Surahs (chapters) of the Quran by heart? Teach this to your kids, especially daughters. Does your daughter need help in math or English? Get an Islamically educated female tutor. Doing this will have a number of benefits, one of which is that your daughter will have a female role model who knows her Islam, and can help orient your daughter in that direction, even if she's teaching her math or English.

Also, hold dars in your house, even if you're not teaching them. Get a qualified female teacher to come and teach women at least the basics of the faith. Do the same for reading and writing. Start a literacy circle in your home.

6. Speak out using the Quran and Sunnah

Speak out against unIslamic, unjust attitudes and practices using the Quran and Sunnah. Remember that for Muslims, this is the strongest source of authority, and many Muslim men and women with incorrect ideas on women's rights are at least willing out of respect, to hear what the Quran and Sunnah say.

7. Praise "traditional" women's work

In an era where women are being told their only step towards liberation is in taking up jobs outside the home, even if it's not needed or wanted, praising women's work in the "traditional" sphere is a necessary step. This will serve to remind them that their work is valuable, and it's not for nothing. It will also remind women (and men) that work that is not compensated in dollars (or dinars or rupees) is just as, if not more valuable than work that is.

8. Appreciate the Islamicity of girls

Boys are often praised for memorizing Quran and are encouraged to pray. Not so for many girls. Women's practice of Islam is often given scant attention in Muslim cultures, while emphasized more strongly for boys. Praise girls who try to practice Islam, whether it's for praying, reading Quran, giving Sadaqa, etc. This support, especially when they are young, can serve as positive encouragement which is likely to stay with them for the rest of their lives.

9. Praise men who treat women Islamically in your home

Does one of your sons or nephews or brothers treat female relatives with the respect Islam orders women to be treated with? If so, hold him up as an example and praise him for this. Your support will serve as an encouragement for him and hopefully send a message to the other men of the family, Insha Allah (God willing).

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