In today's society, where so many people have different beliefs, the more understanding there is the better people can get along, speaker Zainum Bahadshah said in the Center for Undergraduate Education Thursday.
“In Islam, the better term is equity instead of equality,” Bahadshah said. “Islam doesn’t believe that men and women are equal in the sense that they’re the same. Islam sees men and women as distinct … there is equality in the spiritual realm … but in terms of on this earth, there is that distinction, and that is believed to be divinely ordained because society runs better that way.”
Bahadshah was brought to WSU by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) to talk about the perspective on how Muslim women are treated, said Abdur Rehman, junior electrical engineering major and communications officer of the MSA. The group wanted to clear up cultural misconceptions. For instance, Muslim women do not wear the Hijab because they are forced to, but because they choose to and are religiously obligated.
“The word veil is not the word Hijab, Hijab actually means petition or barrier,” Bahadshah said. “There are common misconceptions that Hijab means headscarf.”
People react and respond to others based on the way they are dressed, she said. Whether that is fair or unfair, that is the reality. People tend to see women in a Hijab the same way they would see a nun.
“What Islam teaches is (the Hijab) will take away the focus from you as a sexual object,” Bahadshah said. “That’s the point ... What I have to say should be what matters and what I do, whether it’s good or bad. I’d rather be judged on that because I have control over that as opposed to the images I’m trying to chase in society.”
The presentation lasted for an hour and a half and featured a PowerPoint slide show displaying information and facts about women in Islam, followed by supportive evidence from the Qur’an. More than 35 people were in attendance.
“What I had hoped to see was more of a turnout from non-Muslim students and community members so that there would be a more interesting question and answer,” said Evan Davies, a University of Idaho sophomore history major. “The overall presentation I liked, and I felt that it’s something that more people need to know about because there are a lot of stereotypes and generalizations out there that aren’t necessary true.”