Aisha Rahman is a American-born Muslim raised in a small town in Tennessee, where her father was a doctor at a small hospital. Her family had emigrated earlier from Pakistan, and from the sixth grade until college, she followed “hijab,” dressing modestly and covering her hair with the traditional headscarf that women of her Muslim faith often wear.
Her first year of college was in 2001 – and after 9/11, she and her family decided her safety was more important than wearing the headscarf, so she reluctantly took it off.
Rahman went on to law school and is now executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based organization known as Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. She was in Missoula recently to participate in the annual Mansfield conference on women’s leadership and development held at the University of Montana.
“Karamah” means “dignity” in Arabic, and the organization’s website says its goal is to advance the view that Islam does not require a choice between human rights and faith. They’re working to educate the public about how the tenets of Islam promote equality for all, including women. She says the phrase “Muslim feminist” is not an oxymoron.
“To be Muslim is to believe in women’s rights and the dignity of men and women and all races,” Rahman said. “And so to me, more than an oxymoron, it would just be a redundancy of language.”
Editor’s note: In my view, Islam (like all major religions) does not allow not to wear scarf, rather it does not force anyone. Everyone has a free will to choose between the right and the wrong.