In my conversation yesterday with Norhayati Kaprawi, the program manager of Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian women’s rights advocacy group, I got a feeling of déjà vu. So much of what she told me about the group’s efforts to educate and empower women about their rights reminded me of what American women went through in the sixties when we begat a social revolution just by talking with one another around our kitchen tables.
Even the resistance the Malaysian women have encountered from men sounded familiar: offices raided, computers stolen, the women branded as “Zionist agents” and “infidels.” But then, this morning, in my conversation with Asifa Quraishi, I got my comeuppance. She told me over the phone:
What bothers me most is when Western women assume this condescending attitude when they see Muslim women fighting for their rights that they’re just behind them and in the process of catching up. What they fail to realize is that we were the first to have property rights, the first to have inheritance rights, and so forth.
The truth is Muslim women were ahead of Western women hundreds of years ago. Now that’s a perspective we don’t hear much about in our media, which we hope to tackle in our show that airs live today at 3 p.m. CST. Visit the radio show page for “Women and Sharia” to leave your comments and find out how to listen.