It may seem trivial, but I think it's an issue worth highlighting. Our sisters in Islam are an amazing resource we are missing out on. We need role models for our young sisters to look up to and emulate. Sisters AND brothers need to understand certain issues from a woman's perspective. When men try to speak for women, they aren't always accurate. There were so many stereotypes about women I learned from male speakers, that I only realized were not true until I was married. I was like "What?! You're not like that?!"... ok it wasn't that bad.
From my experience, the most prominent leaders and role models of the Muslim community in the United States are the speakers. With that in mind, it seems like the solution would be to put more Muslim women leaders into the spotlight, have them speak at large lecture event, put their speeches on Youtube, but it's not that simple. A few days ago, I was watching a lecture given by a sisters to an audience of men and women. The first comment in response to the video requested evidence that it is allowed for a woman to speak in front of a mixed gathering, without providing any evidence that it is not allowed. He then compared allowing women speaking in front of a mixed gathering to a mosque that accepts homosexuality and allows men and women to pray next to each other. My wife experienced this when her MSA received an e-mail complaining that they allowed a woman to speak on stage, when she was only emceeing and was dressed according to Islamic standards. It made me think of this:
Another complaint I hear more commonly is that the sister who is speaking would be a temptation to the men sitting in the audience. A comment I saw in response to another lecture given by a sister was that the video should have been audio only, because men would have a hard time lowering their gazes. Maybe the solution for him would be to do the same thing women do in that situation. Let's not act like women don't feel any attraction toward a male speaker. We shouldn't be so anxious over potential attraction that we close doors to legitimate opportunities and communication. I've heard plenty of stories where sheikhs were in a situation in the picture below, but it doesn't mean we should stop sheikhs from speaking in front of sisters.
|Sheikh Bohot Acha is sometimes even a fitna for some brothers...|
So what do you guys think? Is this a real issue? What is the solution? Who are the Muslim women leaders you know of?