I felt her anguish, pain and confusion.
I couldn’t tell her off for uttering those words. Neither could I bring myself to present her with those old images that attempt to exemplify the status of women in Islam.
As a Muslim woman she felt that she was under the spotlight, all the time. Whatever she says and does is under scrutiny. Whatever she doesn’t say and doesn’t do is also under scrutiny. She felt like a damned creature by her fellow human beings.
In her attempts to practice Islamic teachings her shortcomings were pointed out first or her strict adherence criticised instead of being encouraged and advised in a gentle manner. In her attempts to fulfil her roles as a daughter, sister, wife or mother, she is told that she could’ve done better rather than being told what she was doing well. In her attempts to be part of society and greater community she was seen as oppressed and someone who needs liberation rather than being appreciated for her actions and willingness to participate. She was expected to be fluid enough and transparent enough to fit into any situation without disturbing the status quo.
Among this confusion she ended up becoming so fluid and transparent that she no longer had a sense of who she was. She had become invisible but in reality that was not what she wanted. She wanted to be acknowledged for the human being she is. To feel that she is loved and accepted with all her flaws because in her heart she knows that no one can attain perfection.
My dear sister, know that you are loved and honoured by your creator Allah. He has made you in the best of forms and he has placed you on this earth for you have a great purpose. A purpose that is great because it will give you satisfaction and closeness to your Lord. Seek not the approval of others because you are right in that no one can attain perfection. Instead, seek the Perfect, the Wise and All Merciful Allah.
Know that what he has given you of talents, skills and abilities are for you to draw nearer to him. Know that when you shine bright in service through him you are acknowledging and being grateful for what he’s given you. Know that when you listen to the lessons your ‘shortcomings’ and past drawbacks are teaching you you’ll be able to hear lessons you’ll use on the journey ahead.