Caribbean Muslim women talk about Islam today
By: Nicole S Farrell
Source: Daily Express
Unfortunately, the Muslim faith came to the forefront globally due to the actions of a small number of individuals in 2001, after the attack on the World Trade Center. Since then, it seems that Muslims worldwide have had to defend themselves verbally and yes, even physically.
What some fail to see is that the actions of one group does not or should not cast a shadow on an entire community. Persons who follow Islam can be just as mindful, respectful, law-abiding and constructive as individuals of any other faith.
In a world where it seems that morality and general self-respect are being seen as ‘the new bad’, just like others, Muslims too are striving to maintain order in their homes and guiding their children on the right path.
Generally, women of all religions and cultures embrace similar ideals within their marital households. However, two local Muslim women, Amirah Bholai and Hanisha Karim, expressed their perspectives on what they saw as their responsibility as a woman of Islamic faith.
I was curious about what aspect of Ramadan they looked forward to during the period of fasting; what Islamic lessons they taught to teach their children; and what they considered to be a woman’s greatest role within her marital relationship.
Bholai, is of African descent and is originally from Trinidad but migrated to and has spent most of her adult years in the United States. Twenty-three years ago, she converted to Islam and married a practising Muslim. “As a Muslim woman, I ask Allah for forgiveness and strength to do better after Ramadan – and in a way that is the same as we do during Ramadan. I teach my kids that in your time of need pray only to Allah for help.
Being Muslim we should not go to a monk, priest, the obeah man (Caribbean term for someone who practices black magic) or anyone else. I tell them make sure to pray five times a day. Life will be better. All the struggles and tests, when they come, be patient.”
The 40-year-old, who is mother to children aged 17 and 20 years, referred to wifely duties as she spoke in a manner that was more advisory. “Cover your husband and don’t talk bad about him to others. Be kind and understanding. Always talk things out with your husband.” She continued, urging women, “Do not lose yourself.”
Karim, an Indo-Trinidadian with a husband and three young children, grew up as a witness to the faith in her parents’ house. She expounded on her personal anticipation of this auspicious chapter of time (Ramadan) within the Muslim community. “Personally, I look forward to all of the togetherness, being one body at this time where you sometimes would not find it. Islam on the whole is not just a religion; it is a total way of life and we need to enforce that with our kids, so that they can become good citizens throughout their lives. For me, the biggest role for a woman, I think, is making sure that my kids do what I want them to do, the right and proper things.”
Karim offered inspiring words of wisdom to all. “I believe that you should always do the right thing because parents are the first teachers for their children. This is not only with Muslims but all religions. It is always good to be a good Muslim. It is always good to be a good Christian. It is always good to be a good Hindu but it is always better to be a good human being.”
When asked her perspective on how on an international scale Muslims are feeling persecuted or being portrayed as perpetrators/instigators of heinous crimes, she commented, “Religion is supposed to be a way of life that teaches people to have morals and values and to respect God and humanity. Metaphorically speaking, when someone gets into power or authority, for instance, politicians become swollen-headed and forget what the real reason being a politician is. Similarly, in every religion, there are extremists or fanatics and that shouldn’t be. Sadly, there are people who enter Islam for the wrong reasons. Islam is a religion that means peace. Groups like with Boko Haram and ISIS are groups of fanatics with their own agenda, who misguide the world as to what Islam teaches. They believe they can force people to accept Islam, when in truth, Islam was never spread by the sword or force. What they’re doing is totally contrary to the beliefs and teachings of Islam and consequently, Muslims all over the world are looked upon as terrorists and dangerous people.”