Having grown up in Western Society, I can say that the people who follow their mindset are incredibly limited. The way the ideal woman is portrayed is especially disconcerting. According to most of the world, a girl is influential only if she is dressed a certain way, skinny and beautiful. Even my nine year old cousin follows this mindset. A few years ago, she told me that “It’s in the rules: you can’t be fat and still be pretty.” And more recently, another nine year old girl told me I wasn’t a nerd because I didn’t “wear weird clothes and get bullied”.
On both occasions, my jaw dropped in horror. I happen to know several very beautiful sisters who aren’t unnaturally stick-like, and nobody should be judged by the clothes they wear (especially not ‘nerds,’ who happen to be very good company!). And this is just the beginning of the problem. I know countless Muslim sisters my age who choose their role models based on these shallow standards. Even worse, all of their role models are singers, celebrities, or fashion models.
When we choose role models, they reflect our own standards in life. The list above shows that girls all over the world have dropped the bar like stones. What makes these women better than us? What have they to make them so worthy of our adoration? Have they really flown so high? I would argue no: just by believing in the shahadah, we are a hundred times better than any of these women.
Who better to admire than the Mothers of the Believers, the strongest Muslim women this Ummah has ever seen? Allah I has made sure we know the stories of these women for a reason – He I has preserved their legacies so that we, a newer and potentially just as awesome generation, can take them as our role models. Instead of daydreaming about securing the spotlight in the modelling world, we should be striving to be like Khadijah t. She learned to balance her social and religious life and became not only a woman of Jannah, but also remained a respected and wealthy businesswoman.
Instead of admiring an actress, we should look up to Fatimah (RA), who fought valiantly, even as a child, against men like Abu Jahl who mocked her father and religion.
Instead of subscribing to the vapid image that pop stars have painted for us, we should remember ‘Aisha (RA), who was smart, quick-witted, and Islamically informed. If Muslim girls during this time period – while women in Europe were still considered property – were as informed as ‘Aisha (RA) was, why shouldn’t we rise to the same level of intellectual success?
We do not have to be limited to the Western mindset; Allah I told us Himself what constitutes a successful Muslim woman. We should rise to the standard He has set for us, not the standard set by people who have eyes for nothing but the dunya (worldly life).
A Muslim woman should not be afraid to show her faith; rather, she should be proud to have been blessed with a gift that will carry her through this world and the hereafter.
A Muslim woman should have better things to worry about than her weight or hair or clothes; she should be concerned for all non-believers who need guidance.
A Muslim woman should be strong like Khadijah (RA), who never once wavered in her faith, even though she was persecuted to the end of her days.
A Muslim woman should be spunky like Fatimah (RA), who was bold and brave and stood up for her faith in the face of challengers much older than her.
A Muslim woman should be intelligent like ‘A’isha (RA), who was among the best scholars of all time, memorised the Qur’an, and narrated as many hadith as any male sahabi.
A Muslim woman should not care about what is on the outside, so long as the inside is beautiful.
A Muslim woman should speak on behalf of her sisters; show them that we do, in fact, have a voice.
A Muslim woman should follow her dreams, no matter how far-fetched they are; prove that we are not limited when it comes to success.
A Muslim woman should never sink to the lowly standards of the rest of the world, because Allah (SWT) is the one who gives honour in the end.
We are meant to show the women of the West that we are the ones who are privileged, not the other way around. We are meant to be influential, like Khadijah, Fatimah, and ‘A’isha (RA). We are meant to praise Allah I for gifting us with iman (faith). We are meant to spread the love and faith and deen (way of life), because as Muslim women, it is our duty.
Rise high, because we are meant to be stars.
Safa Ahmed is a homeschooling high school student who loves history, current events, creative writing and all things nerdy and erratic.
Soap Box is the place for sisters to speak out on issues they feel strongly about. Do you agree? Disagree? Comment below or send your own original rant to firstname.lastname@example.org