We are so happy to have the Everyday Muslim Podcast guest blogging this week! Tonight we have the second post from the team! Saba Awan, Founder and Producer of the podcast shares a gorgeous open letter to her son …
To my dearest son,
I know this letter may not mean much to you at age four (mostly because it doesn’t come with pictures or weird rhymes) but I really hope that as you grow older, God willing, this letter will mean the world to you as it comes straight from your mother’s heart.
So let me begin.
As you have probably noticed, big people have already started asking, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”(Note: big people love this question, probably because they are still trying to figure out their own answer and are looking for ideas). Coming from South-Asian heritage, you will be told on repeat (from older community members) that your only viable career options are Medicine, Law or Engineering but ignore all this noise my son and read closely. There’s only one thing I want you to be when you grow up and that’s a Muslim Feminist.
Now I know being a Muslim Feminist might seem scary, quite simply because in these strange times, it can be a recipe for social Siberia in the playground or even bullying. However, please know that being a Muslim Feminist is less about what you say you are and more about who you are.
Above all else, being a Muslim Feminist is embodying the Islamic principles that you have grown up around such as generosity, compassion, kindness and living a life, which draws on the example of the first Muslim Feminist: Prophet Mohammad (peace be a upon him). This is a man who dedicated his life to helping others, seeking knowledge and striving for social justice and gender equality.
My son, as you may already know, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) advocated for equality and status for women at a time where in both Arabia and Europe, women were basically second-class citizens. Through revelation, Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) provided women the right to: own property, employment, education, inheritance, choose whom they wanted to marry and live safe from violence. These were among many other rights for women the world had not yet realised.
I know this must all sound like a fairy tale when you see the heartbreaking circumstances that some Muslim women face around the world today. However, please know that Islam is not to blame, for if it was, why does domestic and sexual violence, discrimination, harassment and gender inequality exist everywhere on Planet Earth? Clearly these are human problems and are diseases from which no society is immune.
So what can you do as a Muslim Feminist you may ask? Well I know the burden may seem heavy my darling but the possibilities are endless. Here are some of the things I hope you will do:
You will value and respect women as your equal.
You will speak out about sexism in all its forms.
You will reject attitudes that lead to violence against women.
You will always let women speak for themselves.
You will stand up against the sexualisation and commodification of women’s bodies.
You will listen to the experiences of women around you.
You will use your male privilege to benefit others.
You will never be a silent bystander to injustice.
Based on your beautiful loving nature, I am confident that God willing my hopes will be realised.
So to my dearest son, be proud of who you are and my hopes for you. Also take solace in the fact that you are not alone and that there are countless Muslim Feminists around the world today who are working tirelessly to achieve equal rights and opportunities for women that align ever so beautifully with our faith.
Before I sign off, I wanted to end with this verse that I hope will always motivate you toward making a difference in this world:
“Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has faith – We will surely cause them to live a good life, and We will bestow on them a reward according to their actions” (The Holy Qur’an).
With all the love in my heart,