Behind the Veil of Islam – The Face of the Canadian-Muslim Woman

Justin Trudeau announced his cabinet this week and added a number of historic milestones to the face of Canadian politics. Some challenged it with criticism, while others felt that we finally put our actions where our promises had been. Regardless of your views, change is here, and so is the imprint that women are making on our society. When media questioned our new Prime Minister on the parity in cabinet portfolios, his answer: “Because it’s 2015.”

It’s time for Canadian women to rise and represent! Former mayor of Oakville, Ann Mulvale, said it so eloquently in her speech at the latest Women Gathering event titled: ‘Uniting in Support for Syrian Refugees‘ that “women offer a unique perspective that challenges traditional thinking.” Bringing us to the forefront of political and social change will give Canada the facelift it needs right now. We are facing a challenge that has left us crippled in the world view. The status Canada once had on the international platform has fizzled into oblivion and it’s time we took it back.

We are a country that is built on a deep appreciation for diversity and honoring talent. Canadians were envied across the world for their ability to look beyond bias and prejudice and create a society that respects hard work and dedication, and there’s no shortage of that in the amazing women among us. From activists, entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians, educators and so much more, the picture paints itself with remarkable diversity and accomplishment. Canadian women aren’t just encouraged to dream big, they are given the opportunity to live out those dreams in a big way.

Last year Bonnie Crombie made a comment to ISNA Lanterns when she was elected as Mayor of Mississauga. She said that this is a beautiful time for women to dream big because the stage had been set for them to achieve whatever they aimed for.

Today dawns a new era for our nation, but the question we raise to our community is: Where are the Canadian-Muslim women in all of this? Are we in step with others as women across this nation rise to achieve incredible heights? Or do we still have our own battles to fight behind closed doors?

Islam carries a rich tradition of strong and able women who provided leadership and direction in all fields including business, education, and science.  Modern media has labeled us as oppressed, but I’m sure there are a number of you whose lives are a contradiction to that label.

Although there is a long list of amazing Muslim women in Canada, we’re going to pay tribute to a few who have recently made us proud!

Zunera Ishaq challenged the previous government for her right to practice her faith. She stood for what she believed in and in her victory, she didn’t just win the right to wear her niqab at her citizenship ceremony, but also her right as a woman to exercise choice.

Maryam Monsef, Canada’s first Muslim member of cabinet is a story that will inspire women everywhere. An Afghan born refugee who’s living the “Canadian dream” by successfully achieving everything this country stands for – opportunity.

Iqra Khalid, a young Member of Parliament is another inspirational Muslim woman in the GTA. She claims that she’s “built herself from the ground up” and it’s time for her to take the responsibility and give back where it counts. As she joins 12 fellow Muslims in Ottawa – the largest in Canadian history, she is ready to take on the challenge of representing her riding, as well as women across Canada.

It’s time for everyone to notice that Canadian-Muslim women are empowered and able. Many of us have left our parents and families and moved here to make Canada our new home. We’ve gotten jobs and excelled at our work place or gone back to school to forge a new career. We are entrepreneurs, public speakers, activists, educators. Our hijab doesn’t hold us back, in fact we wear it with pride as we represent a heritage of Islamic values, while leaving our imprint on the world.

We’ve challenged the stereotype and opened the hearts and minds of people around us through our words and actions. We have changed the face of diversity and we proudly stand as representatives of this great nation and as the bearers of the torch of Islam. Whatever role you encompass in life: a wife, a mother, a daughter or a sister, you are a woman. Every day your presence makes a difference on the picture of Canadian culture. Whether it’s through small actions on a daily basis, or a bigger project you are a part of, you are incredible.

Step up and rise ladies, this is our time, let’s make it count.

Do you know an inspirational Muslim woman? Tag her in the comments and share her story, ISNA Lanterns would love to start a wave of Islamic excellence in women across Canada!  



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About ISNA Canada

ISNA Canada is an Islamic organization committed to the mission and movement of Islam: nurturing a way of life in the light of the guidance from the Qur’an and Sunnah for establishing a vibrant presence of Muslims in Canada. ISNA exists as a platform for all Muslims who share its mission and are dedicated to serving the needs of Muslims and Muslim communities.