Somaya Iqubal Khan

My mindset has changed in how I perceive religion and how it is detrimental to women’s rights as a human being. Women are brainwashed and they become the carrier of patriarchy, they pull down each other. This creates a vicious cycle of manipulation and ‘gender crime’.

They have been committing this ‘crime’ unconsciously because that is how they have been nurtured all along. I have interacted with victims of domestic violence, violence of all kinds, and have understood how women follow a pattern of submitting herself.

They return to the same situation again and again because they were dependent on men for food and shelter, and most of them justified violence as a religious norm. This was disturbing but also learning that education is the only tool to fight back.

I have been raised by a strong mother and an equally proud father who do not shy away to call himself as a strong feminist. But, the society that I come from, and the extended family that I belong too has been orthodox and regressive. They have imparted lessons on how a woman needs to be everything but independent and educated.

I wouldn’t have been at this place today, if it was not for my mother’s one single dream and that was to give her children the best of education available. So, I have been fortunate and blessed that way, but it is not the case in general where thousands of dreams are crushed every day.

When it is about Muslim women, the first thing that you observe people talking about is her hijab, her modesty, her character and her role towards her husband & family. This has been misinterpreted by various maulanas & maulvis and fed in the name of faith & belief to women of the community for ages, and it has been learned with sweat and blood, so much into system that anything beyond that, looks evil and punishable to them.

In times when we should be talking about our education and our equal rights as women, it is sad to come across instances where some people preach in the name of religion that women should behave in certain ways. At the same time, there are people who will do moral policing of women on ‘such preached ways’.

No, religion is not about obedience, it is not about complying with your husband’s advances against your wish. At least it should not be about all this. It is not okay to take violence (verbal/emotional/physical) because you are meant to be. No woman is meant to be subjected to any kind of humiliation or disrespect. A Muslim woman is beyond her modesty and how she dresses up. Like everyone else, she has her dreams, ambition, future and a life that she wishes to shape by herself.

We know it is about patriarchy, it is about creating a power plot where one can suppress another, because power thrives on misery of another. And it is our responsibility to educate and create awareness on how to kill these power plots against development, against equality, which is again only possible through getting education.

Let us all deface those power plots, vandalize self-interests and revolt. Revolt against a feeble voice that occurs in our mind which, if not killed, kills our dreams and hopes.

Be stubborn on what you want and how you want, it is called taking control of your own life. If it requires to be ruthless to chase your dreams, then be ruthless. While on the way, there will be countless hands dragging you down, calling names/tags and you will be tired, you will feel it is okay to give up and just be engulfed by society’s demand or submit to mediocrity.

But, remind yourselves that if not you then no one can chase their dreams. If not you, then the whole generation after you will give up to something you could not fight. You must be brave, you must be brave for yourself and for everyone who will one day, be inspired by your change, who will learn how resistance is lived and won with resilience and determination.

And to do this, as I always choose to say, fight for your education, let nothing stop you to read through your victory. No religion, no politics, no power plots can tell you what to dream and what roles to comply. And yes, remember, whenever something or someone feeds you patriarchy in a silver spoon, spit it, spit it right there. Do not be the carrier.

P.S. I relate to this picture so much and feel equally blessed because you see women holding their positions loud and brave in every walks of life, around the world. And I have been fortunate & determined to be holding mine.