Asalamu aliakum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatoo,

Niqabis Studying

Imagine. 20 girls jumping up on their desks, screaming because a mouse just went scurrying across their classroom. Do you see it? Do you hear it? The shrieks, the laughter, the confusion? Yeah, it was utter chaos, but it was a lot of fun, too. It really happened to my class back when I was in high school. And gosh, I miss those days.

Now, I’m in university. And yes, I am perfectly aware that there are perverse stalkers on the internet, which is why I’m not usually one to speak about my private life online. But, today, I’m going to be a little daring and say a detailed fact- I live in the UAE and I attend a segregated university. You’re thinking, “big deal”? Pretty ordinary. Well, it is a big deal. I finished 12 years of schooooool…a big deal to me! No, seriously, it’s more than that. It’s a bigger deal than that because a lot of the world has this image of Muslim/Arab girls being the oppressed daughters, the lowly wives, the uneducated girls…And you know what? We’re not.

In fact, hmm…well, wait. Are you ready for this? Are you sitting down because we wouldn’t want you to faint…

Thousands of Muslim women attend university. In the UAE, there are even universities made exclusively for women, such as Higher Colleges of Technology for Women. Think about that. Universities just for women. What does that mean? It means that women must be attending university, must be learning, graduating, getting degrees…if women weren’t going to the universities, the universities would have to have been shut down because let’s face it- in the end, universities run on the tuitions of the students, don’t they?

But that’s not all. Going to university isn’t really the “big deal.” The big deal is when we, Muslim women, earned our rights to get an education.

Take a wild guess…

A couple more guesses….

Okay, enough guessing. Time to spill the news. Wait, I just have to check one more time: you’re still sitting down, right? Sitting properly in your chair? Not balancing on only one leg of the chair? Good, good. You’re ready!

The truth is, we, Muslim women, were empowered more than 1,400 years ago.

We were given the right to an education more than a thousand years before Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Virginia Woolf’s novel A Room of One’s Own was published. The Prophet Sallah Allahoo Alyhee wa salam said:

The pursuit of knowledge is a duty of every Muslim, man and woman”.

With that statement, Islam empowered women, breaking free the shackles that had chained them down. It pushed them forward in to a world of knowledge.

And it did that centuries before the feminist movement began. Islam declared women as scholars, seekers of knowledge 1,000 + years before schools in non-Muslim countries would even allow girls in. Aisha, Radiya Allah Anha, was known to be knowledgeable in fiqh, and it is quite known that the Companions (Radiya Allah Anhum) went and learned from her. They took her— a woman and many others- as their teachers.

A’isha bint Sa’d bint ibn Abi Waqqas, the daughter of the famous Companion (Radiya Allah Anhoo wa Anha), was so very knowledgeable in Islamic sciences that Imam Malik,
Hakim ibn Utaybah, and Ayyub as Sakhtiyani, the famous jurists and
scholars of ahadith, were her pupils.

Fatima bint Qays (Radiya Allah Anha) was so thoroughly educated and knowledgeable she discussed a juristic point with Omar (Radiya Allah Anhoo) and ‘A’isha (Radiya Allah Anha). Imam Nawawi said regarding her, “She was one of those who migrated in the early days, and possessed great intellect and excellence.”

And Muslim women didn’t justknow their hadiths well. They did much more than that. Take Fatimah Khanum. By the year 1557 A.D., the Zubaydah canal (the cannal which brought water to Makkah from distant springs) had become quiet impaired. The canal was packed with sand and stones and the wells had dried up. Yet, our heroine, Fatimah Khanum, decided to tackle this problem and rebuild it.

” The rebuilding of the canal was extremely difficult ad involved Egyptian, Syrian and Yemeni engineers and masons. On the canal’s route, there was a large rock 50 feet wide and 2000 feet long which looked as if it was going to stop the efforts. The chief of the project lost heart in fear of not being able to overcome it. Fatimah refused to accept this as a permanent obstacle. In this time period dynamite did not exist, rather the only way to cut through such large rocks would be to heat them up with coal to high degrees and then to cut the stones with sharp tools. It took hundreds of workers, who burnt millions of tons of fuel. In 979 AH (1571 AD) the rock was conquered. Soon afterwards water again began to flow to Makkah on the repaired Zubaydah canal. The event was celebrated with a great feast. Due to her commitment to rebuilding the canal, Fatimah was nicknamed ‘Zubaydah Thani’ (Zubaydah the second). ” (qtd. From

There are more examples, but for now, let us end with what Ameer Al Mu’mineen, (a khalifa, ruler of the Islamic state) Omar bin Al Khatib(Radiya Allah Anhoo) was known to have said (*paraphrased*) regarding Umm Salama “Never have I seen a brain like hers.” A brain- of a woman! This was said by a man, who before Islam, buried his baby daughter alive. You see, Islam had changed him. It had taught him that women had the same rights to live and to learn as men did. Islam changed him.

But it did more than that. It changed every man’s outlook on women.
And in doing so, it changed women.

It liberated them.