Badriya Yasmeen Dowe, thestar online - The Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) is currently holding an exhibition on the role of women in the Islamic world. The image of Muslim women was, to some extent, set in the 19th century when they were depicted as less than real individuals in art and literature.
Today, the view held by many in the West is that Muslim women are second-class citizens, trapped in their homes and hidden behind the veil. While this latter view is true in certain countries, it is by no means the norm as often the oppression of women is due to cultural rather than religious traditions.
Since the beginning of Islam, women have played important roles in society. Khadijah, Prophet Muhammad’s first wife, was the first convert to Islam. His third wife, Aisha, was a great contributor to the sayings of the Prophet (hadith), which went on to become a component of the shar’ia (Islamic law).
The deeds of these women secured them a place in the annals of Islam and it would be hard to find a single Muslim that did not know who they were.
Unfortunately, the same acknowledgment has not been extended to the many women who were able to attain the exalted position of sovereign. Occasionally, in Islamic history, women ruled jointly with their husbands, but they have also governed their own territories outright, having their names mentioned in the Friday khutba (sermon), and inscribed on coins.
One such woman was Yemen’s Arwa binti Ahmad al-Sulayhi. She was born in 1048 in Haraz, Yemen, a member of the Sulayhid dynasty, vassals of the Fatimid dynasty in Cairo.
Arwa was taught that in Yemen, the wife of the ruler shared power with her husband and was not meant to stagnate in the harem. At 17, Arwa was married to her cousin al-Mukarram. After considerable upheaval, al-Mukarram passed his power on to Arwa, and retreated from public life.
Queen Arwa focused her attention on the welfare of her people, building mosques, roads and fountains. She also took a deep interest in cultural and religious studies and set up several centres for education. Arwa ruled Yemen for over half a century, never losing the support of her people, who affectionately called her Balqis al-Sughra (Young Queen of Sheba).
In the Indian subcontinent, Nur Jehan may be less famous than Mumtaz Mahal, but her fame among the Mughals was far greater. Born Mihr-un-Nisa (Sun Among Women) in 1577, she was a handmaiden at the palace.
Prince Selim (Jahangir) fell in love with her when he spotted her at the palace bazaar in the spring of 1611, but his desire to marry her was thwarted by his father, Emperor Akbar.
Eventually the two were married and she was given the honorific title Nur Jehan Begum (Light of the World Queen).
Nur Jehan brought the emperor under her influence, concentrating real political power in her hands. Using the emperor as a puppet, this wily individual ruled in his name for 11 years, from 1616 till 1627. She became a legend, sitting on the throne alongside the emperor, with firman (pronouncements) and coins issued in her name.
Women have been among the most significant factors behind the success of Islamic empires since the 7th century. Their faith, intelligence, influence and beauty have been central to Islamic history. Their role in religious, military and social affairs was acknowledged as early as during the time of the Prophet.
Why then is so little known about these extraordinary women?
The reason for this is the scant attention they were given by contemporary and later historians, who either completely omitted them or downplayed their significance. Though Islam raised the status of women and ensured them certain rights, the society they lived in was still extremely patriarchal. And there were those within society who found no pride in being ruled by women.
The two above-mentioned queens are just a sampling of the plethora of Muslim women that were able to rise to prominent positions. The exhibition Faith and Power: Women in Islam at the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia (IAMM) brings these women out of obscurity and gives them their pride of place in Islamic history. The exhibition runs until July 4, this year.
There is an accompanying catalogue available for purchase at the IAMM gift shop which provides a more comprehensive look at the lives and achievements of the women featured in the exhibition. The women highlighted come from all over the Islamic world, from Spain to South-East Asia, and span the entire Islamic period up till the present day.
A forum will be held at the IAMM auditorium to discuss issues relevant to the modern Muslim women. This is open to the public and free of charge. The tentative date is May 31.
The Saudi aggression war jets continued on Saturday afternoon their criminal bombing on the capital Sana'a.
The hostile warplanes launched three violent raids on al-Nahdain area in al-Sabeen district for the fourth time within 24 hours after bombing the same area three times at dawn today, a local official said .
The number of the displaced families from inside and outside Mareb province amounted to 7,700 families due to the Saudi aggression on Yemen.
The internally displaced families in the districts of the province reached 6,200 families distributed on the districts of Majzar, Madghal, Raghwan, Serwah, Mareb city, al-Wadi, Harib al-Qramish, Harib Bihan, Bidbeda and al-Joba, the coordinator of the relief and humanitarian organization in the province Abdulkhaleq al-Sharif explained .
He pointed out that the number of the families displaced from Mareb to the capial Sana’a amounted to about 1,500 families distributed on several areas, including al-Hatarish, Bani al-Harish district, Daress, Mathbah, Aser, Shumilah, al-Sabeen and the 50th Street.
Three citizens were killed and other wounded in Saudi airstrikes targeted their house in Bir Basha area in Taiz province, a local official said on Monday.
These airstrikes coincided with other raids launched by the aggression warplanes and targeted Mokha Port and the quarantine premises, causing destruction in the port and the quarantine, the official explained.
The Russian Foreign Ministry has described the Saudi-led coalition massacres in Yemen as horrific, calling for an immediate ceasefire and engaging in negations without preconditions.
The Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news conference in Moscow that despite the positive signals made by the negotiations between the Yemeni opposing parties in Geneva last December, but the armed confrontation in this country are still continuing, especially after the Saudi-led coalition announced the end of the truce and resumed the military operations.
" In recent days the media circulated horrible news about the Saudi-led coalition bombing on a MSF-supported hospital in Sa’ada, which resulted in deaths and injuries," she added.
The army and popular committees managed on Tuesday to secure three sites in Taiz province, a local official said.
The army and popular committees carried out a military operation before Tuesday dawn ended up with regaining control over three sites in Addar junction between Nagd Qusaim and al-Misrakh in Taiz, the official added.
At least four people were killed on Sunday when a missile hit a hospital supported by Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in Sa'ada province.
One projectile struck the Shiara Hospital in Razeh district at 9:20 a.m., according to MSF staff members on the ground. The MSF staff has been working in the hospital since November 2015.
"The hospital was hit by a projectile this morning, killing four people, wounding 10," In a statement issued by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF),
Three of the injured are MSF staff members, two of whom are in critical condition, the medical humanitarian organization said. In addition, several buildings of the medical facility were collapsed.
"The number of casualties could rise as there could still be people trapped in the rubble." The organization said the staff has evacuated and patients are being transferred to Al Goumoury hospital in Sa'ada, which is also supported by MSF.
MSF cannot confirm the origin of the attack, but planes were seen flying over the facility at the time. At least one more projectile fell near the hospital.