In the previous episode of Contemporary Muslimahs series, I tackled the contemporary and greatly challenging role Muslim women play nowadays, as human institutions known for 3D influence impacting world communities and as far as each woman’s sway can reach, her children, definitely her husband, where she works if she chose to, among other areas of communication a woman may participate in.     In this episode perhaps I shall attempt to sketch the characteristics of Muslimahs (Muslim women) as Islam propagates, partially to correct many misconceptions pertaining to Muslim women’s “oppression” in Islam, and partially to educate Muslim women of the crucial responsibility befalling them being the examples of how a genuine Muslimah should be like, which encompasses religious activities, social life, manners, appearance, among others. = Creedal Responsibility: Islam asserted the great importance of pious women, given their impact on the society, i.e. husband, children, family, and acquaintances. That’s why a woman of sound creed and character can be a minaret that radiates light and enlightens its darkened surroundings: Allah says in the Quran: “O Prophet, when the believing women come to you pledging to you that they will not associate anything with Allah , nor will they steal, nor will they commit unlawful sexual intercourse, nor will they kill their children, nor will they bring forth a slander they have invented between their arms and legs, nor will they disobey you in what is right – then accept their pledge and ask forgiveness for them of Allah. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” — {Quran 60:12} And in another instance in the holy Quran, Allah lays strict emphasis on the importance of choosing a pious Muslim wife. “And do not marry polytheistic women until they believe. And a believing slave woman is better than a polytheist, even though she might please you. And do not marry polytheistic men [to your women] until they believe. And a believing slave is better than a polytheist, even though he might please you. Those invite [you] to the Fire, but Allah invites to Paradise and to forgiveness, by His permission. And He makes clear His verses to the people that perhaps they may remember.” — {Quran 2:221} = Appearance and Fashion Statement: A common misconception among Non-Muslims and some Muslims who adhere to strict and often misleading interpretation of Islam is that for a woman to keep pious and modest appearance, she has to forsake her elegance. “Say, “Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?” Say, “They are for those who believe during the worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection.” Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know.” – {Quran 7:32} However for people not to misinterpret this point, a women cannot exaggerate her appearance by wearing makeup and perfume. Yet there’s nothing wrong with wearing nice colors that match the color of her complexion and may be her figure- also her personality. If she prefers casual outfits over formal ones, she has the utter freedom to wear what falls within the boundaries of her preference, as long as it fits within the criteria of a Muslim woman proper attire, i.e. not tight, not transparent, and not showing any of her body parts other than the face and the hands. Allah in the Quran, and particularly in Surah al Nur lists the conditions of Muslimahs’ outfit, along with other rules that should bound their attitude and moral standards. Read on… “And tell the believing women to reduce [some] of their vision and guard their private parts and not expose their adornment except that which [necessarily] appears thereof and to wrap [a portion of] their headcovers over their chests and not expose their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands’ fathers, their sons, their husbands’ sons, their brothers, their brothers’ sons, their sisters’ sons, their women, that which their right hands possess, or those male attendants having no physical desire, or children who are not yet aware of the private aspects of women. And let them not stamp their feet to make known what they conceal of their adornment. And turn to Allah in repentance, all of you, O believers, that you might succeed.”—{Quran 24:31} So best attire formula for Contemporary Muslimahs blends physical and psychological comfort with personal preferences of style, again as long as the conditions laid in the Quran and Sunnah are met. Appearance shouldn’t by any means contradict a person’s beliefs, i.e. reality. = Social Responsibility: Besides the fact that all the above translate into meeting or falling short of fulfilling the social responsibility befalling a Muslimah, engagement in the community where a Muslim woman lives has dual impact, on her and on people as well. Communal work and being an active member of the society is cornerstone to sound and balanced Muslim woman character. Muslimahs cover (i.e. wear Hijab) to be able to deal freely with people, including men, while having equal chances and without being subject to harassment, ridicule or being limited to a good shape or beautiful face. So actually boundaries laid for a Muslim woman appearance and moral frame is aimed at creating the proper realm for her to deal freely in the society without being discriminated against, having her true potentials downplayed to just a beautiful and luring image, or encouraging immorality by arousing senses. Women are allowed to deal with all segments of the society as long as they preserve their chastity, and adhere to the moral and social boundaries laid down in the Quran and Sunnah and which prohibit a woman from having private meetings with a man or more, or have any social relation with foreign men that are outside the boundaries of family. And I have to stress that what’s referred to in modern terms as man-woman friendship is a mirage. There’s no such thing called man-woman friendship. So it’s not just having a boyfriend or a girlfriend as romantic partners that is rejected in our Islamic culture but the entire idea of friendship between the two genders that’s dismissed altogether. And before jumping into another point, I have to stress that women are more capable of keeping due distance when dealing with men, laying the social norms while watching them being fulfilled, and they are more skillful when it comes to directing relationships, whether within the family, at work, or with their husbands. Thus while I agree when some violation takes place both men and women bear equal responsibility, women are known to having more ability or avoiding transgression. And this matter is of particular importance and could be especially challenging given our modern age complications and the so many roles women come to assume at work, at home, and within the society as a whole. More into that and much more about the modern responsibilities befalling Muslimahs in the upcoming episode of Contemporary Muslimahs: Between Challenges and Opportunities. Wassalaam, Maha Youssuf Posted on: December 11, 2011 Check Full Series Here * – Contemporary Muslimahs: Challenges and Opportunities – Part I   – Contemporary Muslimahs: Challenges and Opportunities – Part II   Contemporary Muslimahs: Challenges and Opportunities – Part II I