Empowerment of Women Speech

When the companion of the Prophet, pbuh, entered a town to bring them the message of Islam, he put it very beautifully. He said, “I have come to free you from the servitude of the slave and bring you to the servitude of the Lord of the slave.”

Within this statement lies a powerful treasure. Locked within these words, is the key to empowerment and the only real path to liberation.

You see, the moment you or I allow anything, other than our Creator, to define our success, our failure, our happiness, or our worth, we have entered into a silent, but destructive form of slavery. That thing which defines my self worth, my success and my failure is what controls me. And it becomes my Master.

The master which has defined a woman’s worth, has taken many forms throughout time. One of the most prevalent standards made for woman, has been the standard of men. But what we so often forget is that God has honored the woman by giving her value in relation to Himself—not in relation to men. Yet, as some ideologies erased God from the scene, there was no standard left—but men. As a result the woman was forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing she had accepted a faulty assumption. She had accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man: the standard.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army. When a man smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol, she wanted to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Often she wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had them.

What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness–not in their sameness. When we accept men as the standard, suddenly anything uniquely feminine becomes by definition inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a full-time mother—a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigned supreme.

As soon as we accepted that everything a man has and does is better, all that followed was just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it—we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead prayer too. Somewhere along the line we’d accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.

But a Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as the standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man to do this.

Given our privilege as women, we only degrade ourselves by trying to be something we’re not–and in all honesty–don’t want to be: a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men, and value the beauty in our own God-given distinctiveness.

And yet, in society, there is another prevalent “master” which has defined for women their worth. And that is the so-called standard of beauty. Since the time we were little, we as women, have been taught a very clear message by society. And that message is: “Be thin. Be sexy. Be attractive. Or…be nothing.”

So we were told to put on their make-up and wear their short skirts. Instructed to give our lives, our bodies, our dignity for the cause of being pretty. We came to believe that no matter what we did, we were worthy only to the degree that we could please and be beautiful for men. So we spent our lives on the cover of Cosmo and we gave our bodies for advertisers to sell.

We were slaves, but they taught us we were free. We were their object, but they swore it was success. Because they taught you that the purpose of your life was to be on display, to attract and be beautiful for men. They had you believe that your body was created to market their cars.

But they lied.

Your body, your soul was created for something higher. Something so much higher.
God says in the Quran: ‘Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous’ (Quran 49:13).

So you are honored. But it is not by your relationship to men—either being them, or pleasing them. Your value as a woman is not measured by the size of your waist or the number of men who like you. Your worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale: a scale of righteousness and piety. And your purpose in life–despite what the fashion magazines say–is something more sublime than just looking good for men.

Our completion comes from God and our relationship with Him. And yet, from the time we were little, we, as women, have been taught, that we will never reach completion until a man comes to complete us. Like Cinderella we were taught that we are helpless unless a prince comes to save us. Like Sleeping Beauty, we were told that our life doesn’t fully begin, until Prince Charming kisses us. But here’s the thing: no prince can complete you. And no knight can save you. Only God can.

Your prince is only a human being. God may send him to be your companion—but not your savior. The coolness of your eyes—not the air in your lungs. Your air is in God. Your salvation and completion are in His nearness—not the nearness to any created thing. Not the nearness to a prince, not the nearness to fashion or beauty or style.

And so I ask you to unlearn. I ask you to stand up and tell the world that you are a slave to nothing—not to fashion, not to beauty, not to men. You are a slave to God and God alone. I ask you to tell the world that you’re not here to please men with your body; You’re here to please God. So to those who mean well and wish to ‘liberate’ you, just smile and say: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Tell them you’re not here to be on display. And your body is not for public consumption. Make sure the world knows that you will never be reduced to an object, or a pair of legs to sell shoes. You are a soul, a mind, a servant of God. And your worth is defined by the beauty of that soul, that heart, that moral character. So, you don’t worship their beauty standards; you don’t submit to their fashion sense. Your submission is to something higher.

Therefore, in answering the question of where and how a woman can find empowerment, I find myself led back to the statement of our Prophet’s companion. I find myself led back to the realization that true liberation and empowerment lies only in freeing oneself from all other masters, all other definitions. All other standards.

As Muslim women, we have been liberated from this silent bondage. We don’t need society’s standard of beauty or fashion, to define our worth. We don’t need to become just like men to be honored, and we don’t need to wait for a prince to save or complete us. Our worth, our honor, our salvation, and our completion lies not in the slave.

But, in the Lord of the slave.

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73 Comments

  1. Allahu akbar!

    • Masha’Allah:)) 100% Agreeeee!!!!

  2. Beautiful.

  3. inspiring…absolutely true, Islam has honored women, we should proud of that. Islam is our way of life,we are so beautiful that’s why Allah asks us to cover our aurah..

  4. alhumdulilliah =)

  5. MashaAllah you are something else ;) so great may Allaah preserve and protect ya Ustadha! :)

  6. one fault in this article: didnt mention the name of the companion.

    • we should already already know it.. and also shouldn’t depend on others to always tell us it.. :)

  7. SubhanAllah!!! This is some heavenly way of making us understand our worth!! Allah has blessed you with an extraordinary way of understanding and expression dear sister!! may He protect you always!! Many thanks and lots of love!!!

  8. ALways. Beautifully said and Always from the heart of a great muslimah. Mashaallah. I thank God for the gift that Allah gives you. May Allah reward you my dear sister.

  9. Women are very fortunate to be Muslimah…

  10. …But your body, your soul was created for something higher. Something so much higher.

  11. Its a state of mind and they try to control it by all that, which takes us away from Allah (swt) and His commands in the name of modernism, fashion or liberalism..

  12. Great article Yasmin, thanks. We need this kind of analysis to remind ourselves of whowe are.

  13. Very inspirational and so true.

  14. Assalam-o-alaikum wa rehmatullah e wabarakatuho!

    Jazakillah khairan kasira for sharing this its really motivating. May we become true slave of Allah!

    Aameen ya RabilAlameen!

  15. MashAlla, This is truly inspirational. With eloquent words, you open up our eyes to VERY important issues in our society today. Well-said sister enshAllah we have more and more people adopt such a mentality of true freedom rather than the so-called liberation. Simply beautiful-
    …And so I ask you to unlearn. I ask you to stand up and tell the world that you are a slave to nothing—not to fashion, not to beauty, not to men. You are a slave to God and God alone. I ask you to tell the world that you’re not here to please men with your body; You’re here to please God. So to those who mean well and wish to ‘liberate’ you, just smile and say: “Thanks, but no thanks.”
    Favorite quote…Thanks, but no thanks!

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed this piece mA. it was:

    1. RELEVANT
    2. interesting
    3. spiritual
    4. well flowing

    very rare combination

  17. MashAllah wow omg wow. This made such a big difference for me and I hope it will for others as well. It’s an aspect of Islam people tend to overlook or are blind to, thank you so much for this. May Allah Reward you.

  18. what a beautifully expressed thought……..

  19. you’re one of the people that inspire me the most, yasmin jaan.

  20. Cannot be more pertinent to our issue at hand than this. Women do have a struggle….from the men who wish to enslave them, to the society who looks for conformity but mostly the struggle comes from within…..as women we must fight our own demons to break free ….with God’s guidance and blessing.

  21. Thank you … may Allah increase for you.

  22. Salaam alaykum roomate, it was a pleasure meeting you at the retreat. This is the first piece I’ve read on your beautiful website. Mashallah, very beautiful described and very inspiring. May Allah protect you and ease your affairs. Please keep me in your dua.

    • Wa alaikum assalam Kelly! It was my pleasure meeting you! May Allah bless you and your family in this life and the next!

  23. Glad you except your inferiority to us men. Keep up these article;I enjoy reading them while my wife makes me a sandwich.

    • to mr iqbal: the whole point of this article is that nobody is superior or inferior to anyone. Please try not to publicise your idiocy and male chauvinistic attitude.
      FYKI: Allah hates pride and arrogance, its also mentioned in the quran that nobody
      is superior to anyone except in terms of taqwa.

  24. to mr iqbal: the whole point of this article is that nobody is superior or inferior to anyone. Please try not to publicise your idiocy and male chauvinistic attitude.
    FYKI: Allah hates pride and arrogance, its also mentioned in the quran that nobody
    is superior to anyone except in terms of taqwa.

  25. @ Muslimah: He said, “Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?” They replied in the affirmative. He said, “This is the deficiency in her intelligence.”
    A truer statement could not have been implied to anyone more then you.

  26. Salaam Yasmin,

    Very nice article mashAllah.
    I disagree with the part about Western Feminism. They did not agree that the standard is men. They claimed the right to choose, the right to be treated as equally as a man. To have the same rights that the man has. So if a woman wants to go to the army, she should have the right to go to the army, not be banned from it based solely on gender. Their standard was not the men, their standard was being a human being, and having equal rights accordingly.
    Similarly, if muslim women want to be Imam of a mixed gener, it is not because the Imam is closer to Allah, nor because they want what the men have, but because they believe it is inherently their Islamic right to do that. Many might disagree with them, that’s fine, but those who disagree can simply not pray behind them in congregation. There should be no need to discredit them simply because they disagree, nor impose intentions on them that they might not agree with.

    I hope this wasn’t too offensive.
    Wasalaam.

    • A Muslim woman can not be an Imam. If you are a Muslim then you believe that Islam is superior than Western Feminism. If you are a Muslim then you believe that Islam is the perfect way of life. If you are a Muslim you believe everything the holy, pure, perfect, and infallible Prophet Muhammad (SAW/Peace be upon him) has taught us. Islam is unique, better, and different than 20th century Western ideologies like Feminism. Feminism is flawed and ignores the bio-chemical, physical, emotional, psychological, and overall differences of men and women. Women may have the right to an education, but a woman does not have the right to have four husbands or to be an Imam. Why? Because that is destructive to her own nature and destructive towards society.

      As a Muslim you must accept Islam. You are a hypocrite if you claim to be a Muslim and then ignore fundamental Islamic teachings. It is a fundamental Islamic teaching that only a Muslim man can be an imam.

      Also, the nature of Salath is completely different. We use physical movements that are quite unique. Any decent woman can tell you that she would not feel comfortable or be able to focus towards God if there were strange men right behind her, to her left (shoulder to shoulder), and to her right (shoulder to shoulder) making physical movements like bowing down and prostrating (head and nose on the floor, and bum up). To protect the dignity of women Muslim men and women pray separately. To protect the dignity of women, only MEN can be an Imam. The nature of men and women are different. These differences should be embraced. Western Feminism is not in accordance with human nature.

      On the other hand Islam is perfect and the Islamic belief of only men being Imams is a perfect belief as well.

    • Salaam Sister,

      I do not mean to offend you in any way, but I feel these are merely opinions and in Islam we should try to steer away from opinions and try to understand the teachings. If a Muslim women wants to be an imam of a mixed gender, that means she will lead them in prayer being in the front rows when we know Islam teaches us that praying in the back rows is better for us women, and that is how we receive more reward from our Lord. When I think about practicing my religion, I want to try and maximize the reward I get and by doing so I only do things that are pleasing to Allah swt in which I can find when I continue to study Islam. I think that when we start to bring our own opinions into our religion is when we find ourselves deviating from the true Quran and Sunnah teachings. That is why it is obligatory on every Muslim to acquire knowledge of our deen.

      I hope InshAllah I did not offend you and if I said something wrong then it is from my own mistake. JAK.

      Salaam

    • beautiful comment..i also had same thoughts on this matter. I hope she addresses them.

    • Salaam Zeina Shaaban,
      I see your point of view, women and men have equal rights BUT they are not the same.They have DIFFERENT rights due of gender difference. A woman has to be respected by every single muslim guy. God explained so many ways of how to respect a woman. But are there any for men? Women have a more superior and beautiful place given to them by God. Allah saved women from such hardships because he asked everyone to treat muslim women like a queen. and THE QUEEN does not do hard jobs. Allah has a beautiful reason and fact in everything if u do a deep study of QURAAN, HADITH AND EVERYTHING ELSE u ll understand what sister Yasmin really meant.

      No offence meant.
      Wasalam.

    • It seems so apparently but it is not the case. Men DID become the standard and you will realize this when you see that all the “claims” were very masculine. We always saw women trying to go to army, or right to be treated “equally as a man” but we never saw men saying we also want to sit at home and bring up children. We didn’t see any banners carried by them we are not being “treated equally as women” because we want to stay home and cook food and become babysitters. All the focus of equality WAS actually focused towards men. Yes, Man was the standard though it wasn’t claimed openly but knowingly or unknowingly man did become the standard.

  27. Mashallah sister! Your article has left an uplifting imprint in my mind. I needed inspiration today, especially as a woman. Last night I listened to Abdul Nasir Jungda speak about the strength of B.B. Khadijah’s character. And today I find your link on Pearl-daisy’s fb fan page. Both of these strong leaders lead me to your blog. I thank Allah for creating inspirational writers and speakers like you all. May you continue to use your talent for the sake of Allah. And may it continue to inspire the youth.

    Jazak Allah khair,

    Khadijah Naveen Khan

  28. Excellent mashAllah! Jazaki Allah khair b Firdous al daryan and all of us wa al
    Muslmeen Gam3an
    Amen ! :)

  29. wow beautiful article! very interesting and you truly prove what you preach through the article itself. Very inspirational and thought provoking. May Allah (SWT) bless and protect you.

  30. I think it’s myopic to blame the West alone for making women reach a point that she envies what men have. How many of us come from cultures that used to, or still do, deny a woman a say in who she marries, a right to vote, a right to speak, a right to separate from her spouse, a right not to be beaten or violated or killed or blamed for her aggressor’s actions, a right to safety and freedom from harm, a right to an education, a right to be loved and cared for? We say Islam freed women, but if its tenets aren’t being applied, what good do they do the Muslim women? Can you blame women for wanting what men have, when men have been given rights that are unjustly denied to women? We say the West are kufr, what is the excuse of the Muslim men in the East?

    • I don’t think that sister Yasmin is blaming the west alone. This seems like a general note to all muslim woman from all over. You can apply this to so many cultures, its not just the west. For example, sisters not living in the west and living in the middle east have stronger bonds at time to culture rather than religion. Women fantasize about companionship, and treat there husbands like kings (mashAllah which is excellent) however, not in an excessive manner. You have to be able to differentiate the slave and the Lord of the slave, we completely submit only to him (like sister Yasmin stated) . Women get beat, are in abusive relationships, and still bow down to their husband because thats all they ever knew. It is a common cycle in the middle east. Like you stated in your comment about women not voting, separating rom spose ect. You can’t blame it for anything other than lack of knowledge or implementation of the deen. We have to seek knowledge, and then implement it correctly. If a Muslim woman is familiar with her deen and has knowledge of her deen (do’s/don’ts,ect) than she doesn’t have the need to want what men have, because she knows what she can have, and she WILL have it. I blame culture for that though, rarely ever has to do with deen.

    • I think sister Yasmin is using a western women as an example, because a western women is viewed as free, liberated and not oppressed. I agree with you aswell ARcharabia and I thank you for pointed that out aswell. We all need to get over societies ideaologies of what a women should be and focus on or worth and true value. We as women have so much power and are so vital to society that we shouldn;t let society and culture dictate us. We are society and culture, knowledge and empathy, love and kindness, and so much more.

    • exactly what i wanted to say..

    • yup… this is exactly the point… there were abuse by Muslim community too… whereby they claims to be Muslim but adhere to the tradition that they have been obeying ages before they becoming Muslims… an inherited culture… I believe this is a result of incomplete understanding of the religious teaching which brings to the abuse of women rights introduced by Islamic teachings…

  31. Just wanted to say that, by Allah, you are an inspirations. Everytime I read your lectures I feel liberated, inspired and motivated. May Allah give you all the blessing for this world and the next. Jazak Allah.

  32. Very good piece. However, it is very disturbing to notice that many muslim women fall in the same trap as being denounced in the article. Just have look around you and see the fashion in hijab, the tight jeans, the make-up…The concept of modesty will not be fully understood if you don’t link it to a whole way of life, like the respect of the environment, the eating habits, the consumerism…

  33. JazakAllah Khair

  34. I am in awe. This is truly empowering. I wish women the world over realized this.

  35. Most Muslim women I meet do not know this empowerment to being a woman and not the norm.

  36. MashaAllaah, i really love you for the sake of Allaah. May Allaah keep you from all evil and reward all your good deeds. Keep it up, You are on my list of favorite speakers/writers. Salam from Holland!

  37. I’m out of words, seriously! I’m so amazed by this speech, mashAllah! :) THIS IS SO TRUE AND INSPIRING!

  38. Absolutely correct. I wish all women subscribe to your thoughts which will make this world a better place to live in. Without being bombarded by billboards, magazine covers and advertisemts with semi-clad and almost naked woman posing alongside commercial products seducing men and women.

  39. Masha Allah very empowering indeed!! :]

  40. Mashallah, I wish an article something to this effect would be posted in the mainstream.

  41. thanks for this piece. but i think we should first tackle the issue of women empowerment in relation to what is pertaining in the muslim communities. since application of islam in our communies is defficient and does not display the beauty of islam.

  42. As salam aliqum,wonderful and so true, jazaakAllahkhairyn to the writer.
    respectfully R Abdullah.

  43. I want to become your new best friend. I love this. :)

  44. Beautifully said, mashaAllah

  45. OMG THIS IS SO TRUE…from now on..”So to those who mean well and wish to ‘liberate’ you, just smile and say: “Thanks, but no thanks.” ”

  46. may I ask for Ustadha’s permission to share this post inside our sister’s blog. jazakillahu khairan kathira :)

    • Dear Muslimah,

      Yes, you can definitely share. Please just mention that it was published on this site.

      Yasmin

  47. Wow mA this piece is just amazing, and carries so much weight in the meanings behind every sentence! I am thankful that I came across this, and read it from start to end! :)

  48. God bless U sister Yoasmeen….

  49. great article….and to all those who wants jannat ll betta focus on dea soul rather commenting on article unnessarily wich does nt hv ne valid point…betta read quran den oly u ll understand….sister yasmin is possesed by QURAN….whoeva possesed by quran ll become his slave n ll obey allah command nt ne man made command…
    sister yasmin great peice f writing ..may allah swt give u a higher level f JANNAT..

  50. very good article!!!. sister can you explain me to understand this paragraph “But a Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as the standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man to do this.” . Are you suggesting , we can keep god as the standard… or God given standard. i am not sure we can keep God as the standard in islam. but then i may be wrong.

  51. Mashallah…very contemporary issue….i really appreciate..for your grat work & thoughts

  52. Salam sister Yasmin,
    I loved this article so much. I agree with everything you said and how you said it.
    I would like to translate this to Hebrew and post it on my fb page so others can read and benefit from it. Do I have your approval?

    Salam,
    Lina

    • Dear Lina, yes that is fine. Thank you.

  53. women should b given = importance

  54. Thank you so much for this article sister. So many times we attach our worth to men. Even if they are husbands. If the husband doesn’t approve of us or love us enough it can shatter our sense of security and confidence because we have allowed him, the man to define our worth. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    • Very true, sister. Very true.

  55. I did not see any mention of the “West” in Yasmin’s speach. This seems to be an assumption of the reader that she is describing an issue that is a pathology only to this “Western” region or culture. I saw this more broadly.

  56. MashAllah! This ist such a beautiful article, barakallahu feeki! And this in such a situation I am right now. Thank you sister, really, thank you! May Allah bless you and your family.

  57. i was tearing when i read this. thank u sister yasmin, may God bless u more and more!

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