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Growing up I spent most of my time reading novels and watching television. In all of the stories I read and all the shows I watched. I never really saw Muslim women. The only time I saw Muslim women were in the news, which I barely paid attention to. In all of the stories I read and all the shows, I watched Muslim women appeared only as extras or second to lead characters. And always they were depicted in the same way: meek, subdued women bound to the servitude of family and marriage life. With not many Muslim women in my life, this perception of Muslim women stayed with me.
My first encounter with Feminism was in the clip of Chimamanda’s speech played in Beyonce’s “flawless”. As I listened to Chimamanda’s voice calmly describe this revolutionary concept I fell in love with it immediately. Afterwards, I went in search of this word that seemed to hold the key to a utopia. I was 12 at the time, but I knew that I was going to be a feminist. Being the eldest of three boys. I grew up in a home that had muddled gender roles. I would do certain things, like wash cars and help with turning on the generator. And my brothers would cook and clean. This made it easier for me to accept feminism. Although my mother discouraged me from it saying it was the antichrist agenda. I still gravitated towards it. I read a lot of Chimamanda’s works. Hoping to learn anything I could from her and her work, because she was the only feminist I knew at the time.
When I resumed Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. I was still a Feminist and somehow becoming a writer, so when I was invited to join a creative writing club I accepted it and went to the meetings. Now I had started meeting and making friends with a lot more Muslim women. Being in Zaria meant that a lot of them were from the north. My perceptions about Muslim women began to expand. I met women like Hauwa Saleh and Hassana Maina. Both were strong Muslim feminists and both these women changed how I looked at Feminism regarding Islam. While in 100 level I started practising Islam more than I had growing up. Which meant I was learning a lot more about religion than I did growing up. At the same time. Reading more on feminism and writing articles and thinking pieces on my WhatsApp status about it. Learning more about the religion I realised that Islam’s teachings do not allow for the discrimination of women, Muslim women can make money on their own. They have the right to inherit property from their parents, they don’t need to take on their husband’s last name and can divorce their husbands when there is ill-treatment.
As the years went by. I met more Muslim feminists like Nana Sule and Wardah Abbas. I was shocked every time I would discover more and more how Islam was in a way a feminist religion. A lot of Muslims would not want to agree with this. Muslim men especially make it seem like Muslim feminists are wasting their time trying to fight for rights that Allah has already given women, but the reality is a lot of the teachings of Islam regarding the liberation of women isn’t followed. Muslim women are still oppressed and these teachings are disregarded. Muslim Feminists want a world where the rights of Muslim women and women, in general, are upheld.