I remember in college that we were obligated to watch TedTalks. At first I didn’t enjoy watching, but later I found myself watching TedTalks voluntarily. I really liked the concept: short but inspiring videos. I watched several talks about digital trends but also about inspiring people.
So today I’d like to talk about a specific talk I saw earlier. About a young woman named Alaa Murabit. In the video she talks about a problem that I share with her. People confusing religion and culture and then using religion as an argument to forbid things to women. But you know that isn’t the vision of Islam about women. Despite of what the media say. She is the living proof of what Muslim women are supposed to be: inspiring, strong, and smart.
She starts her talk about her education. Alaa Murabit was raised by two parents who prayed and praised their blessings. She received a fair education. No difference was made between her and her brothers, and the same thing was expected by everyone.
When Alaa was 15 years old she went to Lybia. She found out that people were using the words “Haram” which mean religiously forbidden, and “Aib” which means culturally inappropriate. As if they meant the same thing. She found herself in several debates with teachers, colleagues, and classmates at a point where she started to question her own vision about religion and life. If her education has taught her one thing in life, it is that whenever you have a debate: do your research. And that is exactly what she did. “It surprised me how easy it was for me to find women in my faith who were leaders, who were innovative, who were strong,” she says.
In 2011 the Lybian revolution broke up, and she felt that finally the male domination was about to change. Women were encouraged to have a seat at the table. Women were allowed and able to make decisions. Women were crucial.
But after a few weeks, women were returning to their previous roles. Religious and political leaders were using religious scriptures as their defense. The misinterpretation and misuse and the manipulation of religious scripture became common for leaders to dictate their norms about the role of women in society.
That’s when Alaa Murabit started to use her defense as offense. “The only way to ensure the participation of women, globally, is by reclaiming religion.”
She started a campaign where she highlighted Islamic scripture. She used verses of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Because of her campaign, local religious leaders have been promoting the rights of women. They even talked about taboo issues, like domestic violence.
I recommend you to watch the entire video about this inspiring yet funny woman.