Archive by Category "Change The Script News"

Islamophobia: One Woman’s Experience

It was a memorable day for me, my daughter, grandson, in fact for my family. We were on our way to watch a film from South Woodford to Ilford. It is a trip we have made many times before. We were 10 minutes into our journey when we turned into a small road and as we were moving suddenly my daughter who was driving the car was unexpectedly forced to stop and attacked by a gang of thugs, four in one car and two on a motorbike. As we were about to cross through this small road, the car almost blocked my daughter’s exit and cornered her and was forced to stop with flashing lights.  Instead they stopped and cornered my daughter so there was no space for her to move out and they pulled out what seemed to be a huge iron ball and smashed it against the driver side of the window where my daughter was sitting. They were shouting “let’s smash the car”. They then moved to the side and my daughter rushed out quickly.

I was completely in shock, the window was shattered, I thought it was a gun. My daughter’s face, hair and clothes was blasted with tiny pieces of glass fragments. Glass shattered to my side where I was sitting opposite my daughter. I thanked God that my daughter did not stay in one spot and slowly moved on to the main road.

I cannot comprehend what would have happened if the men had come back and hit out the second time. She parked on one side and my grandson called the police. Police asked if we noted the car number and we hadn’t. This was due to the flashing light and the deep shock we had clearly experienced. Even more shocking was the fact that the Police refused to come to where we were and informed us that they would come the following evening.

I was utterly distressed once I had got home. I reflected on this experience and compared it to our earliest times during the period of 1975 to 1978 when we lived in Canning Town. I remembered vividly the number of times my sons were attacked on their way to and from school. So concerned was one teacher that they had to accompany my sons home. So horrific was the brutality of raw racism of the 70’s that whilst my children were asleep, stones would be thrown through our window and my children would wake and  scream out of fear. One night someone put burning paper through our letter box and our door started burning. What happened recently to my family however was a distasteful reminder that I myself was beaten up by 14/15 year old boys in front of other people who simply stood outside the pub and watched. No one came to help or stop it. I was screaming.

Thankfully a priest and a woman came running out of the nearby church and took me inside the church and gave me water to drink and help me calm down. These three and half years were traumatic for my family alongside the handful of Asian families that lived on our estate. We received no attention or sympathy from the Council and they took no account of my situation as a single mother with five young children. I tried everything. To the best of my knowledge local officials were fully aware of the severity of racism directed against my family and a handful of others, but nothing was done. The local MP visited me but refused to speak to the Council. I learnt that there was one Housing Association willing to look at my case and accepted we were in danger. I was truly grateful to them as I was moved to South London. Police did nothing then just as they did nothing in 2017.

Outrageously police had the galls to ask me if I had known them or whether I knew where they had lived. The victims become the accused.  This incident enraged me to think of all the horrors of racism I had experienced could come back and impact me and my children once again. What really made me cross was that my grandson had to witness this level of hatred.

Alas, I am despondent to say it’s happening again at this day and age, despite laws and despite so many of us having made this country our home. We must stand up against such attacks. Although I feel devastated to have witnessed this incident and felt as helpless as I did, I want to say that I am as courageous as I was then and proud to say I will not let any bullies deter my peaceful coexistence.

Social Media: To Use or Not To Use?

Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, nearly all of us are using at least one of these if not all and I think it’s safe to say that the word sharing encapsulates best what these platforms do. Thinking about it, the saying “sharing is caring” comes to mind, but how much of this “sharing” has been elevating the opportunities for Muslim women and how much of it has been not “caring” in the least?

I explored how using social media has been instrumental in putting Muslim women on the map, working to challenge many preconceived notions about them and Islam. However, some of the darker realities of these open platforms became very apparent. That doesn’t mean to say the downsides have been a deterrent in every case! Especially when you look at those building careers through social media, using it as a podium for their voices to be heard. Sadly though, it seems to have a resounding impact on how and who is using them in a number of ways. The recent negative press about Amena Khan’s L’Oréal campaign highlighting her comments made on Twitter in 2014, illustrates this point exactly. Suffice it to say that due diligence probably wasn’t done thoroughly on L’Oréals part, nonetheless, it ended up with Amena taking most of the backlash from Muslims and non-Muslims alike. On the other hand, there are plenty of those who are going very far with the use of social media and taking full advantage of its benefits. Look at Dina Tokio, Nabila Bee, Zukreat, Huda Kattan, Habiba Da Silva, Nadia Hussain and those are just to name a few.

In order to make the most of these platforms, Muslim women have to create the fine balance between deflecting the negative and actively participating.

We all have a multitude of opinions and social media allows for these to be heard. Working on the campaign Change the Script has given me the scope to understand why some Muslim women are often reluctant to use it nowadays. For most, it’s about the current icy climate blustering in the direction of Muslims. How can you blame them? When you put yourself on these platforms, it’s a given that you will be thrown some kind of abuse no matter who you are. Putting it simply, people can be very mean. The thing is not everyone you come across in life will like you, and I think that’s just the point. That concept spreads through social media like wildfire. It’s even more apparent because of needing to have that “like” button pressed to attract adequate amounts of attention to in order to establish your online presence. Because of this, we spend a lot of time singling ourselves out. When you consider the current state of affairs in the UK, singling yourself out isn’t just an exercise you practice on your own. It is placed upon you. That is because the media seems to think that being Muslim comes hand in hand with being an irate extremist owning nonsensical beliefs. We know that is far from the case, and demonstrating that through social media is quite possibly the best way to tackle that absurd narrative.

In order to create the balance mentioned before, here’s what I have come up with lately – the three steps you ought to take is to accept, deflect and utilise.

Accepting the negative sides of social media isn’t about condoning the unwarranted attention you might get, instead, it gets you further by showcasing your identity just as any non-Muslim would. This is especially the case when you take into consideration that it will challenge the very stereotypes which attracted that negativity in the first place. Deflecting the negativity won’t make it go away, granted, but being exposed to it when using social media shouldn’t be a reason to stop you. It’s a tool you can use to show how determined you are! Lastly, utilising the hell out of it is important whether it’s to endorse and build your career or simply as a means to live as human being in the 21st century. Oh, and all of this acts to serve as a platform to challenge the narrative the world has placed on Muslim women, which is most certainly not our own.

Amira Hasan is the Resident Writer for Change the Script. She has a passion for writing, style and design. In her spare time, she writes short pieces and blogs on lifestyle.

Why the Media should deal With ‘Humans as Humans’

The media has generally caricatured Muslim women as meek, passive, oppressed and in need of liberation. This formed a cluster of stereotypes that are a hallmark of our generation. Nevertheless, much of this has changed recently. However, the change, in my opinion, has not been completely positive. We are seeing Muslim women, with hijab, on ads and even on TV shows (including the newsroom). Yet, much of this has been a shift from stereotyping to playing identity politics. The complexity of the issue surrounding Muslim women intersects with issues of religion, politics and their interaction in everyday civil society.

What overshadows some of the positive aspects of the portrayal of women in general, and Muslim women in specific is the constant need for justification. Muslim women always need to prove themselves, whether in a Nike advert to show themselves as active or to participate and break some ceiling of what is expected of them. This does not help solve the problem of their representation but exacerbates the problems. This is a natural process of globalisation that seems to rob women in general of their sense of autonomy. To conform to some global outlook that is dictated by a given company. The narrative of everyday women of faith (Muslim in this case) is ignored. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind how much we have moved on in the discourse from misguided representation to a place where we can discuss this as an issue rather than deny its existence.

There are also economic aspects and the much ignored colonial gaze that seems to still be present in how Muslim women are portrayed. 2017 was a tragic year in terms of the abhorrent attacks taking place across the world, both from terrorists and institutional state based wars. At the forefront of these events are the slow but certain rise of the far-right (as seen from the recent elections in Germany) and the normalisation of violent rhetoric from many groups. With the Burka ban in Austria, we can see how fear of the ‘other’ is building. Yet, in all this, we don’t have a space in which true expression of grievances can take place, for all sides.

The media, unknowingly or knowingly, is engineering a clash by not dealing with humans as humans, but seeing them through the lens of identities. Muslim women are the new frontier for exploration and patronising activism that lacks touch with the reality of individual life. We are not victims, we don’t wish to be victims nor do we appreciate being turned into victims. We wish to be portrayed as we are in our daily lives; we are not exotic beings who need to be discovered. If we wish to break the pattern of self-righteous rhetoric, then an appropriate structure and framework for dialogue need to be constructed. An environment in which we solve our problems through knowledge, acknowledgement and progressive dialogue. That is, to be simply human beyond all other labels.

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Noor Inayat Khan, An Unsung Muslim Hero

That’s where Noor Inayat Khan, an unsung hero as it were, comes in.”

 When we think about World War II the images that are generally conjured up are that of Nazi Germany, bombs, air raids, spies and trenches and not anything remotely related to a woman at war let alone a Muslim one. That’s where Noor Inayat Khan, an unsung hero as it were, comes in. There are a number of reasons why you probably haven’t heard of her before, and a lot of them remain the same reasons why established Muslim women aren’t spoken about in British society today. Nonetheless, looking at a historic figure like Noor tells us that having a Muslim female inspiration is entirely tangible.

“She was sent to Paris to work as a radio operator, making her the first woman with this job in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.”

Noor was born on the 1st January 1914 in Russia to an Indian father and American mother, a direct descendant of Tipu Sultan, an 18th-century Muslim ruler of Mysore. She was brought up in both Britain and France making her the perfect mesh of bilingual and multicultural, ready to be plucked by the elite Special Operations Executive in 1942 set up by Winston Churchill. She was sent to Paris to work as a radio operator, which made her the first woman undertaking this job in Nazi-occupied France during World War II.

The thing to remember about Noor is that she did not take on this position with the notion of fighting because of her love for Britain, it was instead her zealous aversion to fascism and dictatorship that ultimately led her to her tragic death.

“Codenamed Madeleine… She continued to single-handedly work six radio operators.”

Codenamed Madeleine, she was also to be known under the false identity as Jeanne Marie Renier, a governess from Blois who had moved to Paris. Within the first week of the operation, many of the top operatives had been captured by the Gestapo (the official Nazi secret Police). After some time laying low with another agent, word was heard from London instructing Noor to return. She, however, refused to do so. She requested to stay on after realising she was the only British operative remaining and continued to single-handedly work six radio operators.

“Her last word; ‘liberté’.”

After three months of tirelessly having to change her appearance and alias in order to continue sending intercepted radio messages back to England, her name had been compromised. An act of betrayal from a colleagues sister, Noor was caught and taken to the German prison Pforzheim in 1943. Her refusal to divulge any information led to 10 months of beatings, torture, and starvation being taken to Dachau concentration camp where she was tortured further. On the 13th September 1944, Noor Inayat Khan was led to her execution. Her last word; “liberté.”

Her piece of history doesn’t stand alone. It highlights the importance of Muslim women being bold in their beliefs, but more importantly, it exemplifies the 1000’s more stories of Muslim women and men who had participated, fought and lost their lives in WWII who are all, like Noor, truly ‘unsung heroes.’

Amira Hasan is the Resident Writer for Change the Script. She has a passion for writing, style and design. In her spare time, she writes short pieces and blogs on lifestyle.

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What Does It Mean To Be Young, Muslim and Feminist Today?

I am young.

I am a Muslim.

I am a feminist.

These beliefs have become second nature to me. However, many will question my feminism, and many will further state that my faith is incompatible with gender equality. This reality provides many young Muslims with fear of openly displaying and discussing faith in academic circles and in the workplace.

We should strive towards eradicating the narratives that have been handed to us. We are told that we cannot practice the Islamic faith and be feminist, that we are oppressed just for the simple fact that we are Muslim. There is a constant attempt to band together every Muslim under the same experiences and to create an overarching definition of what it is to be a young, Muslim woman. Is that not oppressive in itself?

There is no simple or universal definition of what it means to be a young, Muslim feminist.

To be young in the 21st Century is, unfortunately, to be growing up in difficult times. Generation M is to face the highest levels of debt, fewer opportunities than generations before us and we are witnessing the worldwide political chaos. That being said, I’m still proud to belong to this generation. In the wake of political unrest, and the rise of hate crime, the sense of unification has been overwhelming. Many young people are now beginning to engage in politics, and are becoming aware of the impact that policy has on their lives. In London, the mass majority of youth will not stand for hate and bigotry.

My definition of what it means to be Muslim, may coincide with some but differs to many. Every single person has an individual relationship with their faith. It is something which is deeply personal and private. Every declaration of faith is valid.

To be able to call oneself a feminist, one must simply believe categorically in gender equality. It means believing in gender equality and recognising that it currently does not exist. Whether you choose to shave your legs or wear a burka or not should have no impact on the way in which you are a feminist. To be feminist means being unapologetically female, in which ever way you deem suitable, while demanding equal rights and respect.

As a young, Muslim feminist, I feel oppressed. But the only oppressor I face is the society which tells me I cannot possess egalitarian ideals while still holding on to my faith.

Rihana Osman is a postgraduate in Global Ethics and Human Values and a bachelors in Law. Rihana is an advocate for gender equality and social justice.

change the script

Muslim Women: Falling Behind In The Workplace

Research completed at the University of Bristol shows that Muslim women are 71% more likely than white Christian women to be unemployed. This study was made by comparing women with similar language abilities, education, marital status, number of children and strength of religious belief. It is a very sad fact that Muslim women are problematic to most Brits, whether they say it out loud or not. David Cameron made his views loud and clear when he announced that Muslim women should be taught English to tackle “backward” attitudes. Our very existence is a rejection of the mainstream discourse which perpetuates a view that in order to be liberated you must wholly subscribe to western values. So, Muslim women must work twice as hard as their white, female counterparts to be taken seriously in the workplace and not be written off as the ‘other.’

“Muslim women are the most economically disadvantaged group in British society, according to a report by MPs. They are three times more likely to be unemployed and looking for a job than women generally and more than twice as likely to be economically inactive” Says The Women and Equalities Committee, BBC News 2016

The Muslim women I have grown up with are strong, powerful and influential. They are patient, aspirational and brilliant and have shaped who I am today. This might come as a surprise, as it is very rare to come across Muslim female role-models in the media. I was first introduced to a leading Muslim woman in a dusty history book passed down to me. In this book, I read about Khadija, a prominent and hugely successful merchant of her day. She was influential in pre-Islamic Arabia which was overwhelmingly patriarchal and made a name based on her own merit; a true example of a powerful Muslim woman and what the roles they are truly meant to take. The view that all Muslim women are passive, withering wallflowers is a western social construct. It is a dangerous label to give which derives from a lack of cultural understanding and often Islamophobic views. Dealing with this label is draining and impedes our growth and ability to flourish in the workplace.

Perhaps it is about time we stop underestimating Muslim women and take a long, hard look at ourselves in the mirror… and ask “when is the last time you made a judgment on a woman who just so happens to be Muslim?”

Maymouna Osman works in the Education sector and blogs in her spare time 

My Mother, My Role Model

I am often asked whether I have a female British Muslim role model. My mother is a British Muslim and happens to be my role model. She’s inspired me to be a strong and motivated. I’ve also drawn a lot of strength and good values from her and I’m probably not wrong here when I say that most Muslim girls will talk about their mother this way.  But when considering whether or not I have a role model who exists in the public sphere, and in sectors of which I have always had a personal interest in i.e. politics I sadly have to say that I did not have one growing up.

This is not to say that there aren’t amazing, driven British Muslim women making their mark and having successful careers, but they simply have not been given the platform to be able to be seen as role models for young women. Many people do not seem to see this as an issue, for as long as you have a role model in the field you feel passionate about, why does it matter they do not reflect who you are? However, not seeing people that represent you, and all you stand for in the public sphere is highly damaging, especially on young developing minds. It creates the belief that people like yourself don’t belong in these institutions, therefore the barriers are too entrenched to attempt to break through. It leads young people from various ethnic minorities to consider themselves as unworthy, or incapable.

Additionally, it can lead people from ethnic minorities to change who they are, suppressing their cultural roots in order to appear more ‘palatable’, or simply more alike to their white colleagues. A young British Muslim woman may simply begin to refer to herself as a British woman, as she knows most of her role models, or people in the field she is attempting to break into, are also simply British women.

As Dr. Line Nyhagen, from Loughborough University, states that some organisations such as Parliament, the BBC, churches and mosques “have particular barriers to the inclusion of women”. With this gender-based barrier set before them, “women from minorities face triple discrimination on the basis of gender, ethnicity, and religion”. When seeking to gain statistical evidence to show that in fact, Muslim women are not represented in positions of power, it became clear that almost no data of this kind is being collected. It is hard to paint a clear picture of the situation, due to how diversity is usually examined. Ethnic diversity (rather than religion) and gender are the characteristics which tend to be reported. However, in light of the recent rise in Islamophobia, hate crime and that British Muslim women are “70% more unemployed than white women”, does the way in which data is collected need to be revisited?

The reconsideration of diversity data collection is one way of attempting to solve the issue of the absence of British Muslim women in powerful positions. Another way of combating the issue is to provide women who are currently fighting to break these barriers with a platform. Change the Script’s research into exemplary British Muslim women has led us to discover some remarkable and inspirational women. By providing these women with a nationwide platform, not only do they finally have their success acknowledged but they also become examples to young women and girls in demonstrating these barriers can, in fact, be broken, and there are role models in which they can personally see themselves in.

Rihana Osman is a researcher, with a postgraduate degree in Global Ethics and Human Values and a bachelors in Law. Rihana is an advocate for gender equality and social justice.

Media representation of Muslim

Media Representation of Muslims: Why We Need Change

Simply entering the words ‘British Muslim women’ into the News Google Search will provide you with clarity on the issue of misrepresentation in the media. The search comes back with articles based on the topics of oppression, terrorism, submissiveness or simply the words of British Muslim women attempting to defend themselves against hateful rhetoric.

Fauzia Ahmad links the rise in the Islamophobic hate crime following terror attacks to the way in which the media creates a narrative of the events. She explains that the media creates a divide between the public, it becomes a battle between ‘“modern/Western” values and “traditional/Muslim” dichotomous frameworks’. In 2016/2017, 62,685 race-related hate crimes were reported (a rise in 27%) and 5,949 religious related hate crimes (a rise in 35%).

The phrases and terminology used by the media, such as attacks on “British values” and failure to integrate make Muslim women appear to be the enemy, and subsequently make them easily recognisable targets. The splaying of images of women in traditional Islamic dress across papers following attacks or on topics of terror creates a lingering link in minds of the public. The suspicion and vilification. Ahmad additionally views the terms ‘moderate’ and ‘extreme’ as problematic. To use these terms is to say that Muslims are ultimately grouped together with terrorists, they simply practice to different levels.

Aside from the representation of Muslim women in the media leading to hate crime, there is also the on-going narrative of submissiveness and oppression. Women who chose to wear religious clothing are branded as brainwashed and controlled, people cannot fathom that it is the woman’s own choice- they must have been coerced. Although sadly, some women do not have a choice, these women are the minority. Some people go as far to say that a woman cannot call herself a feminist if she calls herself a Muslim.

The focus on negative and damaging representations of British Muslim women allows their success to be ignored, ‘the successful, well-socialised Muslim woman is completely invisible’. With the accomplishments of British Muslim women being largely ignored by the media, it appears as though she is not permitted to have positive existence in British society, she remains as the ‘other’. Female Muslim narratives should not only be permitted in the media when they are speaking out against their narrow representation, they should instead be permitted to inclusion- eradicating the perception of ‘them’ and ‘us’.

Rihana Osman is a researcher, with a postgraduate degree in Global Ethics and Human Values and a bachelors in Law. Rihana is an advocate for gender equality and social justice.

change the script

The Invisible Others

Growing up, I was an absolute bookworm. I still am, but over the years I’ve been faced with the realisation that the formation of my identity was through literature. Literature and film play a role in forming young minds. People from ethnic minority backgrounds are largely absent* from both, so how do young people from ethnic minorities form their identities through these mediums?

Literature

Darren Chetty’s chapter in The Good Immigrant: ‘You Can’t Say That! Stories Have to Be About White People’ explores the effects of underrepresentation of BAME characters in children’s literature. He believes that it links to something so much bigger than beauty. There is the expectation that children are “colour blind,” so therefore it has no longstanding impact on their development whether they are represented in literature. Critics of Chetty’s thoughts will state that children are simply too young to be considering ‘race’ issues and it is not something that they consider when reading.
Young children, who are not yet able to grasp the concept of racism, do not think of themselves as representative of success or power. When given the task of writing their own short stories, the descriptions of their characters were worlds away from what they are and did not necessarily culturally represent themselves. This, in turn, has an effect on the way in which BAME children feel about their own success, and even exploration, as their ‘own life does not qualify as subject material.’
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie explains the effect that literature had on her own work as limiting, ‘because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify.’
“When you’re young, you translate yourself through representations of people that look like you.”

Film

Reni Eddo-Lodge’s chapter in The Good Immigrant, ‘Forming blackness through a screen’ explores the issue surrounding the lack of British black people on Television. “When you’re young, you translate yourself through representations of people that look like you.” Eddo-Lodge speaks of television shows such as The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, although this was not a British show, it was the closest thing many young people viewed as BAME representation. Comedian Shazia Mirza relates, describing family excitement at Trevor McDonald appearing on the news as “he was the closest thing we had to a British Asian woman at the time.”

‘a rare acknowledgement of our existence in the U.K’

Wei Ming Kam, co-founder of ‘BAME In Publishing,’ recalls her mothers reaction to seeing a culturally representative person onscreen. It was something which she assumed to be excitement, but came to realised it was simply shocking: “I’ve noticed our long, gaping absence from the cultural landscape and come to recognise the mix of shock and curiosity at seeing a face like mine onscreen, a rare acknowledgement of our existence in the United Kingdom.”

‘Long, gaping absence from the cultural landscape’

The large absence of positive depictions of familiar faces on screen does not mean that they are not displayed entirely, however, the existing displays are usually negative. The display of black women is as loud, angry and rude. Arab and Asian women as docile and submissive, the illiterate African and the suspicious Muslim. A British actress who is of African heritage should be able to easily play the role of doctor, princess, mechanic, lawyer, and vampire. The basis of her casting should not be, “we need an African, to play an African.” A character is a character and an actress is an actress.

*This does not mean that I am blind to the recent rise of BAME writers, actresses, poets, photographers and models. By largely absent I am referring to the bigger picture, in which if you were to see all works in one space, the work from BAME creatives would be overshadowed.

< https://www.thebookseller.com/news/diversity-drive-track-call-more-bame-authors-318340 >
< https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story>

Rihana Osman is a researcher, with a postgraduate degree in Global Ethics and Human Values and

Karl Magnuson

Three Awesome Muslim Women From History

Nusaybah bint Ka’ab, Fatima al-Fihiri, Razia Sultan. These are three extraordinary Muslim women, amidst many, in history whose stories are more than just exemplary; they are awe-inspiring and most importantly empowering. All three played pivotal roles in their communities as a warrior, educator, and ruler. These roles of monumental power that Muslim women held centuries before us should be used as examples to encourage a continuance of empowerment today.

A Brave woman

Advocacy of women’s rights isn’t anything new in Islam, in fact, Nusaybah bint Ka’ab is said to be one of the first to note to have done so, being one of only two women to have pledged her allegiance to Allah and his messenger in the religions early years.  Her most notable role was her defence of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at the Battle of Uhud. When he was left vulnerable by archers uphill leaving their post in a moment of false victory, she was the first to his defence from the Quraysh acting as a shield, utilising bow and arrow to protect him. She was wounded 13 times in the process. This bravery wasn’t just demonstrated on the battlefield but in her questioning the Prophet about why only men were mentioned in the Qur’an. It was because of this that Ayat 35 of Surah Al’Ahzab was later revealed, where women are first mentioned in the Qur’an.

A pioneer

Education and academia being of significant importance make it striking to note that the worlds oldest operating University was opened by a Muslim woman in 859 AD. AlQarawiyyin in Fes, Morocco is recognised in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records’ as the oldest institution in the world that operates as a university which grants degrees. The library itself holds a 9th century Qur’an still in its original binding. The woman behind it? Fatima Al-Fihri, a Tunisian who migrated to Fes. After the death of her Father, Fatima used the money that she inherited to establish what was first a Mosque and later became a university. It was one of the first in the Islamic world. The subjects available were diverse, ranging from mathematics to music, encouraging people from all over to study there. It remains today as one of the most respected universities in Morocco, where both women and men can study.

A strong leader

A Mamluk Ruler in the 13th century, the first and last that Delhi saw of that kind; a Muslim female. Her name was Razia Sultan. She is one of the few females in all of Islamic civilisation to have held magnanimous a role as this. Ordinarily, the females were referred to as Sultanas, meaning wife or mistress of the Sultan, but she refused to be known as either. During her reign from 1236 to 1240 she broke away from conservative Muslim tradition by adopting male attire and not wearing a veil, having coins minted in her name as “Pillar of women, Queen of the times, Sultan Razia, daughter of Shamsuddin Altumish.” Even though she broke religious traditions she remained not only respected but also her faith did not falter; establishing schools and public libraries that taught the works of the Qur’an. Despite not having a female ruler since the time of the Mamluk dynasty, her example demonstrates how the role of a woman in Islamic society is contrary to peoples perceptions today.

Growing up, I wasn’t taught about the role of women in Islam from a historic stance. At 24 years old the ability to learn about the religion has not only played into my love for history, but it’s also allowed me to rediscover Islam on a personal level as well as understanding the roles I have as a woman. The past makes the present, and with examples like these, there is hope to inspire Muslim women to challenge current societies and break stereotypical perceptions.

Amira Hasan is the Resident Writer for Change the Script. She has a passion for writing, style and design. In her spare time, she writes short pieces and blogs on lifestyle.