Bundled into the term "marginalized" is the message that people who belong to those groups don't have their voices heard enough. In American society in the Trump era, there are few groups more marginalized than Muslim women — so now is the perfect time to elevate their voices. Here are seven quotes from Muslim women to inspire you today, in honor of the very first Muslim Women's Day.
This is a very diverse group of individuals, representing numerous countries, cultures, and periods of history. They have their religion in common, but as you'll see, that is hardly their single defining characteristic. They come from all sorts of backgrounds and work in a wide range of different industries. And as you can see, they're capable of inspiring you in all sorts of directions.
If you are a Muslim woman reading this, then use today to exercise your own unique, inspiring voice. If you're not, then, like me, educate yourself. Read something written by a Muslim woman, or learn about the multitude of ways that Muslim women have added to society. Elevating and appreciating marginalized groups is the best way to fix the problem of marginalization, so this work is necessary now more than ever.
Rab'ia al-Adawiyya was a poet and a saint, so it's no surprise that her work is full of the sort of quotes that can still be meaningful, even a millennium after she wrote them down. This one is only scratching the surface:
Shirin Ebadi is an important voice for women everywhere, and her life is a textbook example of how people can reach great heights against all obstacles. Once a Chief Justice in Iran, the 1979 Revolution took her out of that position. Instead of backing down, she continued fighting for equality and human rights and eventually won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts in 2003. Did I mention that she was the first Muslim woman to do that? Her quote is one that the world would be better of for remembering.
Daisy Khan, an Indian immigrant to New York City, has become a faith leader in the local community and spokesperson for Islam across the country. She has a lot to say about how her faith drives her and what it's motivated her to accomplish in her life, but she's also said a lot of things that can be applicable just as general life lessons.
Anousheh Ansari made the news for accepting the Best Foreign Film Oscar this year on behalf on behalf of Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, who declined to come to the ceremony in protest of Trump's travel ban. Before that, however, Ansari was already a household name in some circles because she was the first female space tourist and the first Muslim woman in space. And as it turns out, that experience was a pretty meaningful one.
For any immigrant feeling left out in Trump's America, Ilhan Omar is your girl. The first Somali-American legislator in the country, Omar's life is definitive proof success is always possible and that refugees are a boon for the country they escape to instead of a burden. The quote below is from an interview that she did with People.
The vitriol, venom, hate on the #MuslimWomensDay hashtag tells you why we need to celebrate Muslim women. Keep shining ladies ⭐️— Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) March 27, 2017
Linda Sarsour is one of the Women's March organizers, and one of the great side effects of the movement is that now she has a platform where people will actually hear her brilliant voice. She's shaping herself into one of the political voices of her generation, and we're beyond lucky to have her. She spelled out her brand of feminism in an op-ed for Women's Media Center, and this is just one detail of it:
Its not my responsibility to be beautiful,I'm not alive for that purpose.My existence is not about how desirable you find me _ Warshan Shire— olga septemba (@PaintMeCrimson) February 24, 2017
Warshan Shire, a Somali-British poet who stole at least part of the show on Beyoncé's Lemonade, is responsible for the quote above. She's everything — female, feminist, Muslim, creative, pro-refugee. She's the current Young Poet Laureate for London (and the first one, to boot), and she's only 25. Start getting to know her now.
Feeling inspired yet? I definitely am — and that's only seven quotes in. This is the beauty of Muslim Women's Day — it brings voices to the table of women who you definitely should have heard of before, and everyone's better off for it.