Raise awareness of Muslim Women's Rights & Roles In Islam - Now.
"I am a British woman. Of Bangladeshi heritage. Help me stop abuse, financial control? Instead let us all work to get Muslim women financially independent.
"The closed community I grew up in within UK and later visited in Bangladesh, kept me ignorant of all the good stuff Holy Qu'ran and Islam does for women. Like the way a woman can earn, create and then have her private wealth protected. I had no idea.
|THE AMC Petition - showing income/allowances/alms for women in the Qu'ran|
"Or the amazing history of the roles played by Muslim women in the ancient world. I had no idea. See below.
|1 of 2 The Powerful Women In Islam (via @yasminisyasmin)|
|2 of 2 The Powerful Women In Islam (via @yasminisyasmin)|
"It is why I created the AMC Petition. Named after my late father - a great advocate of women's education and devout Muslim man - himself unaware of this content. I do not want any woman to suffer what I have and am suffering. Abuse. Subjugation. And control.
"My wealthy British-Bangladeshi family are dotted across the world. Many are highly educated, professional 'modern' people in Western Hemisphere. Yet I am and still often told off or reminded about the hijab. Not just by male relatives. But by my own female aunts and cousins, fed a narrative by the preachers and greedy Muslim men in my own family. In my family circles, I was taught women are subservient to men. Yet I was never told about any of the myriad of financial rights we get. Nor the history of famous Muslim women in Islam. Nor that Islam does not allow a woman to be financially subjugated.
"Even in daily life - misogyny and racism is rife. At meal times our men eat first. Brides are picked according to how compliant and docile she is. And how fair her skin colour is. Men are waited on hand and foot. Young girls from birth and unmarried women are brainwashed into being good a dutiful wife/sister/mother - which puts the men at the heart of their society. As I grew up - I would seethe over this.
But my father always told me I had no need to worry. I would be educated and treated well. He said I should trust the male relatives in my family. Whom he lavished money on. Especially poverty stricken cousins from Bangladesh to help sponsor them towards sustainable careers. One was even brought into my family via marriage. How wrong my beloved father was. As he was sadly feeding a system that is rife with greed, patriarchy, corruption and misogyny.
Today, me, his own British born daughter was kept subjugated by these very men. Thankfully I escaped. Which is why they shunned and expelled me. I refuse to accept a man should handle the monies and shares to my late father's estate. I asked that these be handed over - the men, supported by subjugated women refuse to do so. I started to speak out. And soon found none of my male relatives will help me in my quest. Instead my character traits, my 'greed' is discussed behind the closed Bangladeshi and European doors of my blood family. Yet when a man like my own brother inherits or takes his share including mine - he is greeted with applause and aplomb. This has to stop and such men and women must be exposed.
|My beloved late FatherAl-Haj Abdul Muquith Choudhury (AMC) - seen here with me.|
"Today, 11 years on, I find myself utterly alone. Battling privately to take what is mine as laid out in the Qu'ran - left to me legally and Islamically - as my father wanted. Sadly he was misinformed and fused his Islamic values with tribal - and decided to leave my shares in the care of my sole brother. Thinking he will look after these as being a woman, I was told my 'Mahram' (Guardian) will administer it all for me. How wrong - this meant we women ended up being exploited.
I was asleep for a long time. You see Muslim women like me are brainwashed into yielding all financial control. Told it is all 'complex' and must not 'worry our heads over it'. We are denied our full inheritance - because twisted thinking is that land and assets must be handled and controlled only through a male lineage. This is a form of patrilineal lineage - a form of male primogeniture. Secretly practiced. Openly denied. As Islam banned this in the seventh century. Yet Muslim women like me end up either tacitly and fearfully delegating control over our shares in land and wealth. Or cajoled and coerced into not taking their shares because 'we need to stay with our husbands and let our brothers have it'. And if money is ever given, a man controls it all. He is the one who decides if I am worthy, or allowed my shares. Even if I am adult. And a businesswoman.
"In 2012, I woke up. In 2014 I fully woke up. Alarms bells rang. Despite my London born life, University Graduate status, City Of London career, I now see how subjugated I became. Hijab is being worn by nearly all the Muslim women in my family. Obsessed by their devotion to appearing Muslim. Yet when it comes to financial rights they and their men keep quiet. The women in my family allow men to control all their financial affairs. They have no say. And when someone like me starts to speak out or ask for our Islamic financial rights - the condemnation, isolation, shunning and disgusting abuse begins. From Muslims -supposedly devout. From my own blood family. Supposedly 'loving'.
"Let's get it onto the Muslim curriculums, TV channels, syllabus of RE Studies. It might just unite us all. And stop the hate.
"Ask them to sign the AMC Petition. And then ask whether they still think Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and Qu'ran mistreats Muslim women? It could start a new debate?”
FAQs from me - THE AMC PETITION
Why did I get involved?
Why abuse among Muslim women must be shared.
When any woman decides to become empowered or independent – then the horror starts. They are abused, shamed, shunned, isolated, reviled – often outcast. I know as this has happened to me. My own family refuse and prevent me access to my inheritance rights despite my late father dying as far back as 2004. I have struggled alone, in private to obtain my allotted shares from my professionally educated devout British Bangladeshi Muslim family as they believe in male primogeniture. A practice banned by Islam. The sheer abuse I have gotten has caused me untold consequences on my private life. As well as delayed the setting up of my own philanthropic start ups. And I know I am not alone.
Many more like me exist. Others are abused in different way. Forced hijab. Sexual. To marital abuse. Here is a painful and honest account from Ruzwana Bashir, a British Muslim woman of Pakistani heritage talking about the isolation she experienced after she experienced sexual abuse. She was shunned by her own community. And stunning voice and compelling story of Ruby Zaidi, on why she had to leave her abusive marriage. And of the strength and determination in becoming a single Muslim mother. Read the heart rendering story of British woman Naz Shah, a PPC for British elections in 2015. Ms Shah talks about the horror of homelessness and domestic violence she was faced with as a child and how this 'izzat' (honour') left her brave mother in jail after killing her abuser. This has to stop - Muslim men in power need to sit back down and look at the mess they have created upon not just on Muslim women - but the denigration of Islam in 2015 today.
Women in my community are told to shut up and put up. Honour and shame is seen as bad. As belonging to a woman. Not a man. To betray my 'blood' ('khandan) by talking about bad conduct to folks outside our family is tantamount to betrayal. Which is why I have halted my business to step forward. And speak out. As not to do so - means I help perpetuate bad practice.
The absence of Muslim female rights education might further explain why the Muslim world in 2015 is dominated by men. Today. You can help change that.
If the AMC Petition succeeds, slowly, drip by drip, it will be YOU who helped start to redress the power held by abusive Muslim men over the women in their community. Together we can stem the oppression and subjugation of women. And make those errant Muslims who twist Islam to suit their own ends to be reminded that the same Koran and Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) they follow - DID respect, protect and instruct educational and financial rights be given to Muslim women.
At the same time we can also help shine a light on the good Muslims (I promise you they do exist!) who, via Islam, are an incredible empowering force of good in the life of a woman. And by eradicating bad patriarchy, surely we help Muslim women across the world become educated and empowered - as the key barriers are financial independence, control and poverty.
What is my own story about Muslim financial rights?
As mentioned, I speak from personal experience. I was born in London into a devout, orthodox British Bangladesh Muslim family. I went to University. And had a career in the City of London working for top FTSE companies. I was taught rigorously from the age of six to read Arabic, recite the Koran, the five pillars, not to eat pork, drink alcohol, marriage and modesty. That was it. Then my dad forged ahead with plans to educate me, a girl. He stood up against his deeply traditional community's wishes.
Even now, millions of Muslims retrace R.A.H Hajra’s steps where she ran seven times between two mounts (Safar & Marwa) searching for water while she kept any eye on her hungry baby son. This abandoned single mother's run remains part of the Hajj pilgrimage ritual called ‘Sa’ee’. I had no idea.
Today. I am a single mother. But no information was given to me about RAH Hajra or the financial rights a Muslim woman gets. Or that I get guaranteed inheritance. I only fully understood it all in 2014. Despite my entire community's ironic obsession with Hajj. I was kept ignorant of how a Muslim woman was given a very powerful right – that of independent income, wealth and property. And that Muslim men (aka their brothers, husbands, fathers) are responsible for the paying of a myriad of allowances. None of which I have seen practiced, or supported by the men and women in my own particular community. But ask these same people about hijab? They have lots to say. Waxing lyrical and busy teaching young girls just to cover their hair while handing their wealth and assets over to the men - to me that is wrong. It has to stop. Now.
Why do Muslim men and women need this education?
I've even checked with all the Muslim women I know if they know of the information I had found. On rights. Both in UK. And Bangladesh. Every single woman I asked sounded vague or were utterly ignorant. And in fact, in UK and Bangladesh – many women like me are pro-actively schooled into being told that any property inheritance belonging to our late father or husband must remain in the hands male relatives. This secret practice of male primogeniture banned by Islam has to stop.
I feel sad for my dad. He tried to do the right thing.
I don’t want what happened to my dad to happen to any other Muslim man.
I also do not want Muslim women to miss out on inheritance - because it all gets handed over to a man. Quite frankly, I like the idea of a vulnerable Muslim woman who is suffering (be it abuse, violence, poverty, disability)– to at least be made aware that her suffering could be alleviated if the men in her family were forced to pay up? And for those self-made women who refuse to accept a man's money or prefer to give away their financial rights – how empowering would it be to donate this money Islam gives us - either to charity or someone else in need who might benefit? I also want to stop those Muslim men who refuse to accept the financial rights listed in the Koran – so that they perhaps pay up first before rushing to tell us women we must 'cover up, cover up'.
Then, maybe, just maybe the spate of hate for Islam would lessen? We can applaud Islam in trying to do some good. Because it is covering all the things many of us women in the Western hemisphere take for granted today. Be it the NHS, social security, free education, child benefit, maternity leave. Even when a mother is breastfeeding! All these are covered for in the Holy Koran. Yet as a Muslim woman all I ever hear is the debate about hijab. Or abuse.
If this petition succeeds, perhaps it's then we Muslims might be able to help sceptics admire Islam. A concept and religious belief system where worship of Allah and rituals was also fused with addressing the social injustices and cruelty – played out during a feudal, tribal desert era. Often I liken 7th century Arab to the cruel desert scenes we see in Game of Thrones setting!.
Let us not lose hope that as more educated, empowered Muslim women voices increase, they will start to inspire all of our Muslim youth and the wider society. And who knows - can also reach those being radicalised? Be it jihadists or young girls fleeing to Syria - fed lies which they cannot stop because they have been indoctrinated with perverse tribal culture, are perhaps subjugated and just unhappy lost souls in search of glamour, thrills and love.