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Inspirational Muslim Women

February 17, 2014 a woman was named editor of the Saudi Arabian newspaper the Saudi Gazette. She is the first female journalist to achieve such a public position. The man she replaced, Khaled Almaeena, said he was proud Somayya Jabarti would take over at the helm of the paper.

Also just this week in St. Paul, Minnesota Kadra Mohammed became the first Somali woman to graduate from the police academy.

Stories about women in Saudi Arabia often focus on human rights violations, on their inability to drive. But Saudi women are so much more than their restrictions. Muslim women across the globe are often depicted exclusively by their clothing, sometimes even faceless, as though their clothing was their most important and definitive feature. A simple photo search for ‘Muslim women’ reveals a shocking array of offensive pictures.

I find this infuriating and ignorant. While non-Muslims slam countries like Saudi Arabia for their treatment of women, these same non-Muslims perpetuate this treatment in photographs and journalism by continuing to focus on the oppressed and the veil. There are real, true, and horrible human rights issues in Muslim countries. This is also true of non-Muslim countries.

Women all over the world are accomplishing incredible feats, like breaking through the glass ceiling in Saudi Arabian journalism. Let us celebrate their successes and be inspired by brave, intelligent, creative, everyday Muslim women.

For the purposes of this slideshow, I have used primarily well-known women. However, here are links to articles filled with more links featuring more incredible Muslim women.

Challenging Stereotypes Part 1 and Part 2

Muslims Wearing Things

Click through the slideshow to see athletes, political activists, Harley-lovers, actresses, and normal/everyday Muslim women, and more.

  • Muslim Women 1 of 17
    Djiboutian wedding
  • Human Rights Activist 2 of 17
    Ebadi

    Shirin Ebadi is an Iranian lawyer and human rights activist. In 2003, she became the first Iranian to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her work among in human rights and democracy, specifically focused on women, children, and refugees. She is included in a list of the 100 most influential women of all time.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Politically Involved 3 of 17
    political-opinions

    Muslim women around the world are passionate about politics. They participate in protests, vote in elections, sit in parliaments, and engage in campaigns. They have strong voices and are being heard by their governments.

    *image via Wikimedia

  • Actresses 4 of 17
    shorhreh-aghdashloo

    Iranian-born American Shohreh Aghdashloo was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in The House of Sand and Fog and won a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role in House of Saddam in 2008.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Doctors 5 of 17
    yemeni-doctor

    Muslim women around the world are trained as medical professionals. This is a Yemeni doctor. During my second pregnancy, I had either Somali or Yemeni midwives and delivered my daughter with a Somali midwife.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Athletes 6 of 17
    muslim female athletes

    Fathia and Nasra lifts weights as part of their training in the weeks leading up to the Djiboutian National Track and Field Championships.

  • Models 7 of 17
    Iman_Abdulmajid

    Iman is a Somali-born model, actress, humanitarian, and entrepreneur.

    *image via Wikimedia

  • Artists 8 of 17
    afghani-art-students

    Afghan women take painting classes at the Center for Contemporary Art in Kabul, Afghanistan.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Authors 9 of 17
    irshad-manji

    Irshad Manji is a Canadian author who advocates for reform and a progressive interpretation of Islam. She produced a documentary for PBS called 

    "Faith Without Fear", chronicling her attempt to "reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom."

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Businesswomen 10 of 17
    muslim businesswomen

    Djiboutian women work hard as entrepreneurs and savvy businesswomen. They sometimes receive small loans and turn the money into thriving market stalls or small shops.

  • Spokeswomen 11 of 17
    malala

    Malala, an inspiration to the world, has become a spokeswoman for Muslims of her generation. Her words challenge people from the Taliban to President Obama.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Leaders 12 of 17
    benazir-bhutto

    Benazir Bhutto was a Pakistani politician who eventually led the nation as Prime Minister, the first female to be elected leader of a Muslim country.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Teammates 13 of 17
    muslim female athletes

    Muslim women are footballers, volleyball players, Olympians, weight-lifters. No, the scarf does not hinder them, and yes, they participate with men or women team members. Here, Fadouma high-fives her teammate after scoring a point.

  • Olympians 14 of 17
    muslim female athletes

    Zurah, in red, ran for Djibouti in the 2012 Olympics in London, the third female sprinter to represent Djibouti in the Olympics.

  • Police Officers 15 of 17
    Police Officers

    The Afghan women here are trained as police officers. Somali women also serve in Modagishu as members of the police force; Djiboutian women work at all levels of the protective arm of government. Around the world, Muslim women take part in keeping the law and in protecting their people.

    *image via Wikipedia

  • Harley-Lovers 16 of 17
    harley

    I'm not a Harley fan, but plenty of Muslim and non-Muslim women are.

    *image via Pari Ali

  • Vacationers 17 of 17
    vacationer

    I don't know why, but many non-Muslim women assume the headscarf is restrictive. I don't see that stopping women from swimming, running, working, or jet-skiing.

    It is time to stop seeing a veil or even a religion and to start seeing a person. Whole and complex and intelligent and creative and … inspiring.

(I don’t know the personal faith convictions of these women, so if some of them are no longer Muslims, they are from families, cultures, or countries in which Islam is a dominate religious system)

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