Muslim Women Fill BBC’s 100 Women List: Are These Our Role Models?

Image: Providing comfort is worth appreciation. (source: author)

Those first months after graduation were a stressful struggle between my values and career choices.

It wasn’t until a year had passed that I decided to let go.

I realized I was mainly pressured by that job title on LinkedIn, and all that that entails. After all, as a Muslim female, I had the right to be provided for, and I owed nothing to the world. There was no need for the rush.

This isn’t an argument against making money, but rather against prioritizing titles. So long as titles are not pursued, you have a wider pool of career choices that are more aligned with Islamic regulations (e.g., gender separation).

The reality is, women have an illusive freedom of choice because staying at home is such a mental struggle. The competition to prove one’s worth is real, and it’s partly because of those “accomplished women” lists that the media spotlights.

Broadcasted Is Appreciated

The BBC has “thoughtfully” compiled a list of achieving women in 2021. Skimming through their legacies, I couldn’t spot many – if any – of those women being praised for a basic vital role.

Taking care of your old parents or raising a handicapped child is not worth highlighting, because apparently, everybody is doing that. Or rather, nobody will be doing that if we all aim to be on the list.

A closer look at feminist demands will reveal that they’re basically about equality in recognition. This stems from a disbelief in the day of judgment, which is one of the six pillars of the Muslim faith. You’re recognized if you work as a caretaker, teacher, or chef. But, you’re worthless if you silently provide the same service to your parents, children, or husband.

The BBC didn’t forget to mention this marginal project Nasrin Husseini contributes to.

She also collaborates with the Bookies youth programme, which promotes reading and storytelling among Afghan children.

Promoting reading is worth the mention, but the mothers doing the storytelling itself are ignored. Of course, we can’t expect any system on Earth to be able to fairly reward all those women. This brings us to the next point: man-made is deficient.

RELATED: The Sharia’s Superiority in City Planning: Conflict Over Chicago’s Crystal Gardens

The Islamic Reward System

The following Hadith comprehensively explains how deeds are justly rewarded in Islam. No intention is overlooked.

The Prophet (ﷺ) narrating about his Lord I’m and said, “Allah ordered (the appointed angels over you) that the good and the bad deeds be written, and He then showed (the way) how (to write). If somebody intends to do a good deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write for him a full good deed (in his account with Him); and if he intends to do a good deed and actually did it, then Allah will write for him (in his account) with Him (its reward equal) from ten to seven hundred times to many more times: and if somebody intended to do a bad deed and he does not do it, then Allah will write a full good deed (in his account) with Him, and if he intended to do it (a bad deed) and actually did it, then Allah will write one bad deed (in his account) .”

Sahih al-Bukhari 6491

While all sincere good deeds are rewarded, Allah encourages the intentionally concealed deeds.

To give charity publicly is good, but to give to the poor privately is better for you, and will absolve you of your sins. And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.

(Quran, 2:271)

Islam is also very strict towards showing-off efforts (Riya’) and considers it a form of Shirk (i.e., polytheism).

The thing I fear most for you is the lesser shirk (polytheism), showing-off (of good deeds).”

~Hadith by Ahmad

In all cases, Allah has guaranteed equality in reward to both genders in several Quranic Ayat including (3:195), (4:124), and (33:35). Contrast this with the modernist system that only achieved gender equality in burden, while still underpaying women.

Accomplished Women in Islam

We must not forget that Islam has reached us due to the accumulative efforts of women working behind the scenes. Those who have brought up the reformers, or copied the valuable manuscripts at home, or educated male scholars from behind wooden lattice screens, have all been seen by Allah. The widowed mothers of Al-Bukhari, Al-Shafi’i, and Ahmad ibn Hanbal raised those notable scholars without receiving much credit.

Those were women with a clear perception of Who they should please and, thus, aligned their ambitions accordingly. Their foundational contributions to Islamic literature are their long-lasting rewards after their deaths. And, what awaits them in the hereafter from The Most Appreciative cannot be any less.

RELATED: The Virtues of Muslim Women According to Prophetic Hadith

While lists of accomplished women might seem to value them, they depreciate and pressurize numerous others. For this reason, seeking less credit than deserved is an act of empathy.

Whether your work was recognized or not doesn’t affect its weight in Islam, as long as it was for the sake of Allah. Islam ranks people based on piety.

O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.

(Quran, 49:13)

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N M

I absolutely loved this! Reading this has put my heart at ease.. JazakumAllah khair!!!

Aya

An excellent article, as usual, jazakom Allah khayran. The “illusive freedom of choice” is so obvious, you get to choose which career you want to but Not to stay “unemployed”, and we don’t even need such lists of the “accomplished”, it’s already deeply absorbed in womens’ minds.

Baz

Maybe someone such as a fan or ideological ally of Muslim skeptic, could write their own rival list of 100 great example role model women, which includes the wives and mothers of great imams/oulemaa, khulafaa and the old Islamic empire’s all-conquering army generals.

But the problem is that this alternative rival list will start to look a little bit boring and monotonous and repetitive because the description of every single woman from #1 to #100 looks almost identical since they all do only the exact same set of things as each other; cooking, cleaning, washing, child-rearing, praying, fasting, reading Quran, teaching children basics of the Deen and life, serving husband intimacy, and almost nothing else.

Sulaiman

The same sterotype from the media, Many became mothers afterwards, but still before and after they were surgeons, scientists, teachers, business women….

https://muslimheritage.com/muslim-female-physicians/ (Scroll down and u will see that these females did not write books instead they were “doers” who invented medicines to save lives, who did surgery to save lives… )

https://www.1001inventions.com/feature/womens-day/

https://muslimheritage.com/womens-contribution-to-classical-islamic-civilisation-science-medicine-and-politics/

…And there are many other websites and links so get that steroytipcal idea from the media out of ur head!!

Baz

I appreciate what you say and we are proud of all those Muslim women who made those contributions. However the issue is that throughout this blog, the Haqiqatjou couple is strongly condemning and constantly bashing professional careerwomen (without saying anything good about them or giving them any appreciation or gratitude) as if they are all some kind of haram sinners or criminals who deserve to be criminalized or jailed or whipped or executed just for doing something other than housewife and stay-at-home mom which he seems to think is the only halal occupation for ALL women.

When the commenter above Sulaiman who responded to me showed the examples of Muslim women contributing to sciences maths technology arts literatures (etc., things which are not housewife and stay-at-home mother) Sulaiman and Ms Verses supporting him are directly contradicting the Haqiqatjou’s teachings by teaching that women doing anything other than housewife and stay-at-home mother is halal when Haqiqatjou implies that it is haram crime.