By Salma B. Ahmad and Khullat M. Khan:
We are proud Muslim daughters of parents who were blessed with five children. Despite financial constraints our parents tried their utmost to give us the best education available in Pakistan. We admire our parent’s relentless efforts in the pursuit of good education for us. We are horrified by the atrocities committed by extremist organizations such as Boko Haram that put obstacles in the way of women’s education.
While it may have disappeared from news cycle we must not forget that almost 200 innocent Nigerian school girls remain kidnapped by Boko Haram since a few months ago. A parent’s worst nightmare is when their child goes to school and never returns home. Our eyes fill with tears at the mere thought of it but this is the ghastly reality of life which numerous Nigerian parents are facing today. These kidnappings while being horrific and shameful are also a clear violation of Islamic teachings.
Boko Haram is similar to another extremist organization Taliban. These radicals share the same ideology. They both not only oppose the Western way of living but also forbid the female education. It is ironic that although “Boko Haram” literally means that Western education is forbidden yet its followers are using all kinds of Western-made weapons to further their violence.
Both extremist organizations misinterpret Islamic teachings, confine women to the four walls of the house, force them to only raise children and tend to their husbands’ needs. It is tragic that many of these kidnapped girls are forced into becoming camp followers where they are forced to do different chores and perform sexual services for these barbarians. Some of these girls have even been forcibly converted to Islam and married off to the Boko men.
As Muslim women we believe that Islam is a religion of peace and provides a charter of human rights. It elevates the status of women by stressing on the vital role women play in a society. Islam brought in an umbrella over the heads of the women who were earlier treated as chattels and slaves during pre-Islamic era. For the first time women were declared as equal to men with a right to education and to inheritance. Prophet Muhammad also made it compulsory for Muslim men and women to seek education.
If Islam has granted women such a powerful role then how dare fundamentalists like Boko Haram and Taliban strip them of their rights and privileges! It is time for Muslims to raise our voices together as one to “Free Our Girls” before it’s too late and our voices are silenced.