Commentary: Why Aren't We Empowering more Muslim Women?

I am becoming more and more distressed that far, far too many Muslim men in our region have mysogynist tendencies towards empowering Muslim women to be in positions of authority and leadership.


I am not a natural leader of Muslim Americans. Although I had been raised in a religious family, nearly all of my friends growing up were non-Muslims. I always felt comfortable, if a little more shy, in mixed gender crowds, and I was taught women are equal to men in every regard--but if I was ever caught dating one before I was 18, my mother would personally oversee my doom.


As an adult, I've worked largely in secular circles. My favorite bosses have all been strong, empowered women who really helped me grow into my roles in politics, community outreach, and communications.


That's why I find myself astounded today that so many men have done so much to block Muslim women from succeeding in Montgomery County. From blocking needed reforms to countywide institutions while Saquiba Durrani was president of the MoCo Muslim Council (now defunct), to trying to keep rising leaders like Nadia Syahmalina from helping to run Islamic institutions in our county, I'm more and more concerned that we are on the wrong footing as a community. 


Just yesterday, Iranian leader Houri Khalilian organized an incredible forum with congressional candidates with the support of her husband Serge Sira. We need to learn from the Iranian community how to empower women leaders. Men: we don't need our egos inflated all the time.


Empowering our women to lead is a moral responsibility, and in my remaining 9 months as a community leader as president of the Muslim Democratic Club of Montgomery County, I pledge that we're going to make sure Muslim women have every resource they need to take our community from the chaos we find ourselves in today, to a much higher plane of spirituality and growth.