Shgoofa Rahmani, WAW Case Manager, speaking at the Queens Solidarity Rally two weeks before the Muslim Day Parade. In her speech at the Solidarity Rally, Shgoofa said, “No matter how they got here, the immigrants we work with are hard-working, law-abiding citizens.” Shgoofa added, “We have every right to be here, just like all of the immigrants who came before us.” (Read more here.)
On Sunday, September 24th, our communities gathered with joy and pride at the 32nd Annual Muslim Day Parade to celebrate the New York community of Muslims that contributes to the dynamism of the broader landscape of our city.
Women for Afghan Women (WAW) was invited to speak at this rally that brought together hundreds of New York’s Muslims of every age, ethnicity, color, and gender. A reflection of this incredibly diverse city we live in, our community is dynamic in its own diversity and its unity in its diversity.
I was especially grateful to the organizers of this parade for giving me the opportunity to speak on behalf of WAW, and decided that this was a unique chance to talk to our community about how Islam empowers women, and to emphasize the amazing contributions that New York’s Muslim women have made. I was also glad that I made this subject the focus of my speech, as no one else mentioned anything about Islam and women’s rights or about how great Muslim women are!
Everyone inside and outside the Muslim community is preoccupied with the perception of Islam in our current social and political climate. However, with this keeping us all busy, I feel that the accomplishments of Muslim women in America and abroad have been severely overlooked.
I wanted to remind all of us that there are women like Linda Sarsour, dynamic activist and co-chair of the Women’s March in D.C. earlier this year; Sarah Sayeed, senior advisor to the Community Affairs Unit at the New York City’s Mayor’s Office; Debbie Almontaser, educator and CEO and founder of the Bridging Cultures Group, and Manizha Naderi, the Executive Director of our own incredible organization, Women for Afghan Women. Manizha was not alone but supported by thousands of other Muslim women to turn our organization into the largest organization in the world that fights and advocates for Afghan women’s rights, and the largest women’s organization in Afghanistan, today.
Women for Afghan Women has changed the mindset of hundreds of thousands of Afghans through our Women’s Rights ARE Human Rights Training, which also focuses on enlightening others on the rights that are enshrined to women under Islamic law.
Muslim women are the very pulse and heart of our community. They have done and are doing incredible work, not only in our local communities, but at the global level. The women I mention, here, are the role models of our community and are the examples of what it means to be Muslim. They are advocates and fight for the rights of other people, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, and gender, like our organization, Women for Afghan Women, does every day.
This is what Islam teaches us, to love and respect each other.
Moreover, we need the world to know that Islamic law EMPOWERS women… and gives us equal rights not only under Islamic law, but also in the eyes of God! Islam equates a woman’s freedom to a man’s. In Islam, it is required that girls are as free to receive an education as boys are. There is no gender disparity in Islam; and, Islam was the first monotheistic religion to give women a lawful share in property, in inheritance, and the right to divorce.I want you all to remember that in the Holy Qur’an “the mother’s place is higher than the father’s” and that “Heaven lies under the mother’s feet!” Islam gives dignity, respect, protection, and EMPOWERMENT to women.
I am so impressed by the Muslim Day Parade and the way that it gathers together people, who, despite all the tensions, have stood up to hate and have shown this city that we are here to stay, and that we are united. That is why the Muslim Day Parade is so important and why it is so important that we all remember, every day, that we have every right to be here, just like everyone else.
Together, united, and in loving each other, and standing with each other, we will always conquer hate.
I will end this letter to you all with this small verse from Surat al-Ma’idah from the Holy Qur’a: “Strive then together as if competing in good works” (al-Ma’idah 5:48)
So, Muslims, be GOOD! Be good to one another. Show our city, our country, our fellow citizens, our neighbors, and everyone, everywhere that being Muslim means we are here to compete in GOOD WORKS, with true love and compassion for every living thing… as everything and every being are manifestations of God in this world.Peace be upon you… Asalamu Alaykum sisters and brothers!