What Islam really says about women | Alaa Murabit

What Islam really says about women | Alaa Murabit

So on my way here, the passenger next to me and I
had a very interesting conversation during my flight. He told me, “It seems like
the United States has run out of jobs, because they’re just making some up: cat psychologist, dog whisperer,
tornado chaser.” A couple of seconds later, he asked me, “So what do you do?” And I was like, “Peacebuilder?” (Laughter) Every day, I work to amplify
the voices of women and to highlight their experiences and their participation in peace
processes and conflict resolution, and because of my work, I recognize that the only way to ensure
the full participation of women globally is by reclaiming religion. Now, this matter is vitally
important to me. As a young Muslim woman,
I am very proud of my faith. It gives me the strength and conviction
to do my work every day. It’s the reason I can be here
in front of you. But I can’t overlook the damage that has
been done in the name of religion, not just my own, but all
of the world’s major faiths. The misrepresentation and misuse
and manipulation of religious scripture has influenced our social
and cultural norms, our laws, our daily lives, to a point where we sometimes
don’t recognize it. My parents moved from Libya,
North Africa, to Canada in the early 1980s, and I am the middle child of 11 children. Yes, 11. But growing up, I saw my parents, both religiously devout
and spiritual people, pray and praise God for their blessings, namely me of course, but among others.
(Laughter) They were kind and funny and patient, limitlessly patient, the kind of patience
that having 11 kids forces you to have. And they were fair. I was never subjected to religion
through a cultural lens. I was treated the same, the same was expected of me. I was never taught that God
judged differently based on gender. And my parents’ understanding of God
as a merciful and beneficial friend and provider shaped the way
I looked at the world. Now, of course, my upbringing
had additional benefits. Being one of 11 children is Diplomacy 101.
(Laughter) To this day, I am asked
where I went to school, like, “Did you go to
Kennedy School of Government?” and I look at them and I’m like, “No, I went to the Murabit School
of International Affairs.” It’s extremely exclusive. You would have
to talk to my mom to get in. Lucky for you, she’s here. But being one of 11 children
and having 10 siblings teaches you a lot about
power structures and alliances. It teaches you focus; you have
to talk fast or say less, because you will always get cut off. It teaches you the importance
of messaging. You have to ask questions in the right way
to get the answers you know you want, and you have to say no
in the right way to keep the peace. But the most important lesson
I learned growing up was the importance of being at the table. When my mom’s favorite lamp broke,
I had to be there when she was trying to find out how and by who,
because I had to defend myself, because if you’re not,
then the finger is pointed at you, and before you know it,
you will be grounded. I am not speaking
from experience, of course. When I was 15 in 2005,
I completed high school and I moved from Canada — Saskatoon — to Zawiya, my parents’ hometown in Libya, a very traditional city. Mind you, I had only ever been
to Libya before on vacation, and as a seven-year-old girl,
it was magic. It was ice cream and trips to the beach
and really excited relatives. Turns out it’s not the same
as a 15-year-old young lady. I very quickly became introduced
to the cultural aspect of religion. The words “haram” —
meaning religiously prohibited — and “aib” — meaning
culturally inappropriate — were exchanged carelessly, as if they meant the same thing
and had the same consequences. And I found myself in conversation
after conversation with classmates and colleagues, professors,
friends, even relatives, beginning to question my own role
and my own aspirations. And even with the foundation
my parents had provided for me, I found myself questioning
the role of women in my faith. So at the Murabit School
of International Affairs, we go very heavy on the debate, and rule number one is do your research,
so that’s what I did, and it surprised me how easy it was to find women in my faith
who were leaders, who were innovative, who were strong — politically, economically,
even militarily. Khadija financed the Islamic movement in its infancy. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for her. So why weren’t we learning about her? Why weren’t we learning about these women? Why were women being relegated
to positions which predated the teachings of our faith? And why, if we are equal
in the eyes of God, are we not equal in the eyes of men? To me, it all came back to the lessons
I had learned as a child. The decision maker, the person
who gets to control the message, is sitting at the table, and unfortunately,
in every single world faith, they are not women. Religious institutions
are dominated by men and driven by male leadership, and they create policies
in their likeness, and until we can change
the system entirely, then we can’t realistically
expect to have full economic and political participation of women. Our foundation is broken. My mom actually says, you can’t build
a straight house on a crooked foundation. In 2011, the Libyan revolution broke out,
and my family was on the front lines. And there’s this amazing thing
that happens in war, a cultural shift almost, very temporary. And it was the first time that I felt
it was not only acceptable for me to be involved,
but it was encouraged. It was demanded. Myself and other women
had a seat at the table. We weren’t holding hands or a medium. We were part of decision making. We were information sharing.
We were crucial. And I wanted and needed
for that change to be permanent. Turns out, that’s not that easy. It only took a few weeks before the women
that I had previously worked with were returning back
to their previous roles, and most of them were driven
by words of encouragement from religious and political leaders, most of whom cited religious scripture
as their defense. It’s how they gained popular support
for their opinions. So initially, I focused on the economic
and political empowerment of women. I thought that would lead
to cultural and social change. It turns out, it does a little,
but not a lot. I decided to use
their defense as my offense, and I began to cite and highlight
Islamic scripture as well. In 2012 and 2013, my organization
led the single largest and most widespread
campaign in Libya. We entered homes and schools
and universities, even mosques. We spoke to 50,000 people directly, and hundreds of thousands more through
billboards and television commercials, radio commercials and posters. And you’re probably wondering how
a women’s rights organization was able to do this in communities
which had previously opposed our sheer existence. I used scripture. I used verses from the Quran
and sayings of the Prophet, Hadiths, his sayings which
are, for example, “The best of you is the best
to their family.” “Do not let your brother oppress another.” For the first time, Friday sermons
led by local community imams promoted the rights of women. They discussed taboo issues,
like domestic violence. Policies were changed. In certain communities,
we actually had to go as far as saying the International
Human Rights Declaration, which you opposed because it wasn’t
written by religious scholars, well, those same principles
are in our book. So really, the United Nations
just copied us. By changing the message,
we were able to provide an alternative narrative which promoted
the rights of women in Libya. It’s something that has now
been replicated internationally, and while I am not saying it’s easy —
believe me, it’s not. Liberals will say you’re using religion
and call you a bad conservative. Conservatives will call you
a lot of colorful things. I’ve heard everything from, “Your parents
must be extremely ashamed of you” — false; they’re my biggest fans — to “You will not make it
to your next birthday” — again wrong, because I did. And I remain a very strong believer that women’s rights
and religion are not mutually exclusive. But we have to be at the table. We have to stop giving up our position,
because by remaining silent, we allow for the continued persecution
and abuse of women worldwide. By saying that we’re going
to fight for women’s rights and fight extremism
with bombs and warfare, we completely cripple local societies
which need to address these issues so that they’re sustainable. It is not easy, challenging
distorted religious messaging. You will have your fair share
of insults and ridicule and threats. But we have to do it. We have no other option than to reclaim
the message of human rights, the principles of our faith, not for us, not for
the women in your families, not for the women in this room, not even for the women out there, but for societies
that would be transformed with the participation of women. And the only way we can do that, our only option, is to be, and remain, at the table. Thank you. (Applause)

100 thoughts on “What Islam really says about women | Alaa Murabit”

  1. As an ex muslim I tried to keep an open view on her speech and tried to hear her opinion. But her entire speech is filled with so much misinformation and blatant lies about the religion.

    Yes every woman isnt opressed in islam but islam does provide a socioreligious basis to undermine the freedoms and rights of women. The personal experiences of each women differ based on the family and local culture they grew up in.

    She says she uses scriptures but she fails to mention the facts that scriptures allows for women to beaten by their husbands. I guess that would be too uncomfortable to talk about. I can go on and on about the issues with the religion but its pointless, you either get it or you dont. Unfortunately she disregards the opportunities she recieves in Canada just to cling on to her heritage which i guess is hard to dissacciate from and look at critically.

  2. She talks big but religion is the biggest problem recognize or not it's the problem. don't car how much you think it's doing good it's hasn't done anything worthwhile on 2 thousand years or more

  3. I wonder how she explains and accepts that the Quran allows and even demands that husbands may be violent towards their wives. Or that apostates of Islam or homosexuels and adulteres should be killed. Or that Quran demands that Muslims must fight Christians and Jews until they submit to Islam and pay protection money whilst being humbled. Did her parents not know this? Or did they just "forget" to teach her these "nice" aspects of Islam?

  4. All this may b true.. But in real women r slaves.. Men r officially rulers dictators n controller of a, womens soul… As mentioned by Allah talah as well besides him if any one else is to b worshipped that vl b her husband… So She clearly has no right to think no right to take decisions.. Just accept her fate as a slave…

  5. I see all these comments saying that's cuz you don't love here or there but what does that have to do with Islam? Islam is a faith not culture or geographic location. You people are simple.


  7. Generally speaking, Men are cowards. They like to use and abuse us women and leave us for a younger lady when they lose interest in you. They are an absolute disgrace to the society and they should be crucified. I rather maintain my youth and strive to look gorgeous so that if my future husband decide to bang someone else, I would be able to have option. Most of them are so fucking ugly that you cannot use them as a backup option. 😋🧸💕

  8. I am nearly 70 years old Japanese man, I have a brother and two sisters,the other day we had met altogether…Topics was They spent a lot of money for hardly bending knees and loosing memories…20 years ago they laughed at me Convert to Islam


  10. Sorry but, it is super hard for a muslim man to actually hear they have duties towards their wives (besides being the bread winner). Seriously, all of them get defensive immediately, and resort to all the sunnahs and hadiths they can, just to prove how women, at the end, to please Allah, needs to first serve their husbands, and this "serve" has a high range. And even for the ones who says "women should serve but man also needs to honor them"… Well, it just looks very good on the paper because in reality, you see tones of women being mistreated, abused or even being hit by their husbands and when they talk with their shaiks, immans, what they have in return is "try not to make him mad and continue to be a good, patient, compassion wife bcs Allah is gonna grant you a high place on heaven for you marital jihad". Everything looks beautiful on speech but in reality….well women have no much saying aside obeying the men in their lives.

  11. I love how Muslim spend more time telling non-Muslims about what is the REAL Islam rather than telling other Muslims that portray the FALSE Islam. Why is that?

  12. I see a lot of women in my community who have your optimism.. I used to be like that too.. I thought I could convince them with scripture or hadith but honestly they will just accuse you of heresy. Women will never have a seat at the 'religious' table. Just the other day I saw a Facebook page for an Islamic scholar who had her picture up.. normal picture of her face nothing special, and the comment section was honestly disgusting, from both women and men. It's sad really and you don't see comments like that on a singer's or actress's profile. It's truly baffling how pious people get toward women in these fields, but act completely normal toward women who don't engage with religious topics.

  13. Yall know that woman rights came after islam came and after islam came slaver stopped -people who where slave were bought by Prophet Muhammad and his friend and the people that were slaves are freed and they were not slaves anymore so you islamophobe keep talking with no knowledge

  14. I like how everyone in the comments is saying "wow islam is correct abt women" they should the quran and actually understand it then they will actually get the full picture
    Understanding the quran is what made me an atheist afterall

  15. I like how the worst places in the world for womens rights are all Islamic. Why? Because Islam oppresses women. Not saves them

  16. Islam treated and commanded what make women safe and protected and her rights preserved enemies of heavens who made it look in this highly misunderstood images and that to keep no muslim of knowing the truth so they stay in dark to be able to control them and use them in their wicked purposes , there nothing wrong with hollybooks and God way is the ideal way for a human to live a healthy current life in whatever it counts and ultimate blessed other life God didnt creat man kind to torment them it is people who torment and bring pain to their selfs with their ignorance and raging against lord system or way and negative thinking of him .

  17. Islam is wrong about everything , that's why it requires faith , and the Quran clearly states a women's voice is worth half that of a man . And I know that Muslim women that get subjected to marital violence , are told 90% of the time to grin and bear it , the male offender is always protected and never wrong .

  18. Did any of you asking her where she's giving the talk even watch the video? She is talking about the work she did in Libya to educate the people on the rights of mankind and women in particular in the Quran.This is in a place where regressive cultural norms are promoted erroneously as Islamic teachings.

  19. https://www.facebook.com/LearningIslamFirst/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel&eid=ARCd3RdNKdnVXs5L6OO6xP5FMz_q9XE9fTzTm5hd7YJ9xNzuxUOklt1IQ4ZBo7yFSDQmyqZsBi9bnY3-

  20. #AWESOMEwithoutALLAH

  21. 👍🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰🇱🇰👍👍❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️👍👍🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹🌹👍


  22. Canadian freedom…bet you wouldn't be talking if you lived in one of the two the epicenter of Islamic theology. Iran and Saudi Arabia. Sorry kid, way to many words on that awful book about everyone else being the enemy and needing elimination. Don't say the keepers of your faith are wrong in their English interpretation. What you see is what you get.
    Your freedom comes from Western Christian men..Muslims don't go anywhere else to escape it seems.

  23. the verses about women were the meccan verses when muhammad preached peaceful and moral verses.
    then when he moved to madina and gained power and an army, he contradicted all the peaceful verses and actually abrogated the peaceful ones so they are inferior and irrelevant

  24. Islam says paradise is under the mother's 🦶 feet.

    Every child 🧒 can never pay the blame to their own mother. Three times more than to the father !

    Honor father and mother even if they have a different religion!

    Believe in the caricature of the West on Islam !
    But by chance Islam is the only religion that is accepted by God !

    If you want to live well go to America ( Formerly !)
    If you want to go to paradise go to Islam !
    Everyone would have to shoulder his sins. No one would be able to take away the sins of others with a blank check, even lose weight !
    As far as God helps me🤚

  25. Sharia, aka The Reliance of the Traveler, is a holy book of Islam. It has very little good to say about women. The same is also true of the Koran. This woman is cherry picking verses out of context and does not know Islamic literature, or she is lying.

  26. The Prophet said "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."

  27. lets get this right ! mo was the perfect man ?? mo was a war lord !? mo was , according to modern measures , a mass murderer , a pedophile , a rapist , a racist , etc according to the koran !!! mo was up there with stalin , hitler , mao , etc ! this is a very sick , deluded woman ! do yourselves a favour , read the " koran " and tell me thats " god " . and then treat others as you would have them treat you ! thats God ! keep it simple !

  28. The woman is doing "taqqia"
    Lying so much and hiding
    Let a woman from Saudi say the same!

    If anyone wants to defend me, I have Quran verses that defame women

  29. Blah, blah, blah…….bullshit, HYPOCRITES. The quran says: "do not be friends with people who are not muslims and do no live in the domain of other powers except muslims".

  30. Was this really religious doctrine? Er, yes. In 2009, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development released a report on Gender Equality and Social Institutions. The study concluded that eleven of the twelve countries with the highest levels of discrimination against women were Muslim-majority countries. A similar study in 2014, conducted by the World Economic Forum, concluded that 19 of the 20 countries with the largest gender gap between men and women were Muslim-majority countries.

    Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means. Therefore the righteous women are devoutly obedient, and guard in (the husband's) absence what Allah would have them guard. As to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (Next), refuse to share their beds, (And last) strike them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them Means (of annoyance): For Allah is Most High, great (above you all). — Quran 4:34-35

    Once you have finished (lightly) striking your woman, you can 'plough' her if you want: Quran (2:223) – "Your wives are as a tilth unto you; so approach your tilth when or how ye will…"

  31. I saw some commenters down here were acting like they do critical thinking and give constructive comments for the sake of humanity, but it turned out they're only people with islamophobia. I honestly felt the second-hand embarassment. Wise people know their limits. They'll stay silent if they think they don't have enough knowledge about the issues.

  32. To that commentary about why she moved to Canada, don't jump to conclusions. Please do some research. Culture is the crust of society in the middle east, not Islam entirely. Come to Malaysia, a Muslim country where the government has more than 15 ministerial that are women, the vice prime minister is a woman. High court judges and policymakers, there are women. Equality is based on merit not gender centric. We are at the worst time, where 3 major Abrahamic followers, divided at the highest level.

  33. It starts with not putting yourself in a victim position. It all depends on how you look at it. From which perspective. It can't be that you demand an equal position as a male CEO of a big company just because you are a woman. You need to be better than the guy and that should be measurable. Not just because you think you deserve it makes you deserve it. You have to convince others inside that company that you deserve it. The real reason why men have leading positions in the world economy is because women have backlogs because they give birth to children. This is decided by nature or god. That is why women with leading positions often don't have children. Because their mother instinct takes over and they lose time that they spend by raising their children. This is a beautiful thing and you should accept it as it is. If you don't wan to accept it and want to go fully for your career then I suggest that you don't take children.

  34. Everybody giving hate in the comments to someone who dedicated their life to improve women’s rights. Speaks a lot about y’all misogynistic sick minds.

  35. So what's the spin on this?–> Quran (38:44) – "And take in your hand a green branch and beat her with it, and do not break your oath…"  Allah telling Job to beat his wife (Tafsir).

  36. I hate those kind of people,Islam literally killed my life why would you defend a religion who Insults women a religion who insults you absolutely disgusting,i’m a woman,i was a Muslim and my family are so Religious,they teach me Quran and Sunnah i know what islam really talk about stop defending a religion like this just to make Muslims feel right and good about their selfs

  37. Shame on you TED for posting this absolute nonsense. The number of women suffering terribly from Islam is this world is a travesty.

  38. pls study the language, and then go read the original Qu'ran before you make any comment.
    I did. 
    From my perspective as someone who doesn't believe in religion, What I see on the Qu'ran is almost poem like, and can be interpreted in so many ways. I do have a theory that Muhammad intended to make every message vague, enough that maintain the most essential ideas but vague enough to match everyones beliefs and values when the reader self- interpret.
    my theory is of course only my thought, from a non-believer's point of view.
    However, it is true that Muhammad's wife, a woman who was both socially and economically more powerful than him before the Qu'ran spread massively, supported him in every way possible when he was creating the Qu'ran and trying to spread the belief.

  39. So many Americans who themselves never put in real hard effort to learning and understanding something, whether culture religion or anything and anyone, can talk about any topics with incredible arrogance, believing that their opinion is always the most righteous and correct of the rest of the human beings on earth.
    No wonder you voted a joke to be your president. Thank god part of of Americans are black, so there is still hope

  40. Can a Muslim women marry any Non Muslim in Islamic Country while it gives men the permission to marry Non Muslim girls. That's literal BS and discrimination against Non Muslim men. That's why i hate Islam.

  41. honey, if you're gonna defend Islam, do it in front of them, not us… we already have your back. you're preaching to the choir…. you whine and whine in our country about your rights but don't have the balls to speak in front of those who read and believe the same book as you…..

  42. This title is misleading. Islams says both positive and negative things about women. She picked only positive ones. There are also many negative ones, which should also be inculded to give justice to the title "what Islam really says about women".

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