Lunch & Learn: The Role of Women in Islam
On Tuesday, April 14, 2015, we hosted the second event of our Lunch & Learn series in partnership with Go Eat Give. Ms. Azizah Kahera, COO of Azizah Magazine was the keynote speaker discussing the role of women in Islam. Fun fact: in case you were wondering, the magazine was not named after Ms. Kahera; instead, “Azizah” is Arabic for precious or dear and its meaning does not change across the Islamic world, while many other Arabic words differ depending on which region it is spoken.
Ms. Kahera began her lecture by discussing that according to Islamic beliefs, men and women were initially created in the same essence. In other words, the Qur’an does not specify whether man or woman was created first. This suggests that men and women are equally responsible and equally rewarded for their services to their Creator.
She then went on to discuss the fact that in America, there is a negative slant placed upon Muslim women that has been put into effect by the media; one great example was the media's overemphasis of Muslim women who speak out against all the issues within Islam. She then explained how this negative slant leads to the internalization of inferiority of Muslim women. As a more positive conclusion, Ms. Kahera shared some inspiring profiles of Muslim women who have been featured in Azizah Magazine who work to reverse this negative slant - such as the Muslim female journalist who works with Al-Jazeera.
After her lecture, a great discussion opened up with the audience. The dialogue focused on the difference between the cultural components of Islam, as well as, the spiritual components of Islam, and Ms. Kahera delineated a perfect portrayal - she suggested that Islam is fluid, like water, and when you place the water in a blue vase it may appear to be blue, but it is still just water. This bit of wisdom that came about after the lecture was very insightful and telling of the religion and how and why it is so commonly misunderstood.
Overall, Ms. Kahera imparted a great deal of knowledge about the actual role of women in Islam and the fact that it is no different than the role of men in Islam, and she thoroughly explained why and how the reality of Muslim women has been so manipulated in our society.