By Sara Salim and "Imaani" Aslam
Jameela: Asalaam Alaikum Sis, I see you've dyed your hair again?
Aliyah: Yep. Looks good don't it? What do you think?
Jameela: Erm... I think you may have overdone it with the blonde highlights, not too sure if it suits your skin tone... but hey, what's with the makeover anyway?
Aliyah: Well, you're looking at the new me. I've decided I'm through with all this being a Muslim girl thing. Now people know that I ain't one of those girls they can order about. I've decided I ain't taking no crap any more.
Jameela: Well that's great, respecting yourself is really important, but what's taking crap got to do with being and looking like a Muslim?
Aliyah: Listen yeah, I ain't saying nuffin' about you or anything, but I got plans for me. I'm gonna show all these people that they can't boss me about and control my life. I ain't thick, I can make my own decisions you know. You get me?
Jameela: Err... no not really.
Aliyah: Girl you really are thick today ain't ya? You sure you ain't dyed your hair blonde too? Don't tell me you ain't noticed how Muslim girls are treated? Look at us, we're all chained to the kitchen sink, we take orders from lazy men and our life revolves around snotty kids. What kinda life is that? I'm telling you, that ain't me.
Jameela: Well it's great that you're thinking about your future and what you wanna do in life but Sis you can be ambitious and successful and still be a Muslim too you know.
Aliyah: Yeah, whatever!! Us girls can't do jack. You just get married and have kids. Well if people think I'm gonna ruin my figure popping out a dozen kids then they're proper thick. Just imagine the stretch marks, eurgghh!! I don't fink so!
Jameela: (Laughs) You got it wrong Sis. That's not what being a Muslimah is all about...
Aliyah: Yeah right. You just keep telling yourself that, but I'm gonna do something about it. Tell me yeah, how many Muslim women do you know who really are something? In Islam girls can't do jack...
Jameela: Woah! Just hold on a sec there. Sis you got that so wrong. You're confusing our culture with our religion. Islam doesn't restrict women any more than it restricts men. The Quran was revealed for all of us, both men and women.
Aliyah: So how comes yeah, the guys are all allowed to go to uni, but everyone kicks up a fuss when a girl wants to go.
Jameela: I really don't know because that's not what Islam teaches. Both men and women are equally encouraged to seek knowledge. In fact, look at the example of Aisha...
Aliyah: Which one? There are bare Aisha's. That saddo on my street or the one going out with Zaki? I'm telling you, that guy is way too fit for her. I mean have you seen that girl's tash? Someone give her a piece of string please!!
Jameela: Erm... I'm talking about Hadrat Aisha (r.a), one of the wives of the Prophet (pbuh). She was one of the greatest scholars of Islam AND she used to teach men.
Aliyah: You serious?
Jameela: I'm serious Sis. You're confusing culture with Islam.
Aliyah: OK, I get that, but what's the point of a good education if you ain't allowed to work? I know bare gals who are qualified doctors and lawyers but ever since they got married all they do is stuff their face all day long and watch chat shows on telly.
Jameela: See, there you go again. Where in Islam does it say women aren't allowed to work? A woman in Islam has every right to work and earn her own money. In fact, for the benefit of our Muslim community women are encouraged to work. We are in real need of more Muslim lawyers, journalists, MPs, doctors... I'm sure a lot of us Muslim sisters would feel more comfortable going to see a Muslim female doctor, than some male doctor who doesn't understand us.
Aliyah: I don't know, not all doctors are bald and Indian. Some of them doctors off that Holby City are quite fit you know. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about, I can tell by your face you do, hahahahaha. You're just makin' all this up now ain't ya?
Jameela: Hadrat Khatija (ra) was a business woman, Hadrat Aisha (ra) was a top scholar '“ in fact Nusaybah (ra) even fought on the battle field and women used to nurse the injured in the time of the Prophet (pbuh). If you don't believe me read up on it yourself. It's all about seeking knowledge, eh?
Aliyah: Girl, don't tryna be clever ok. Basically what you're saying is I don't have to be a housewife, I could have a job and that.
Jameela: That's right, a woman doesn't even have to perform the household chores, however the husband does have to fully provide for everything his wife needs. That leaves her to spend all the money she earns on whatever she wants.
Aliyah: You mean I can spend all my money on shoes and designer handbags, and my man's still got to spend his dough on me too? Wait till I tell Iky this '“ that tramp always makes me buy his chicken n chips, and he makes me top up his mobile '“ he's a real stingy dog.
Jameela: Another issue in some Muslim families is how some mothers spoil their sons rotten by running around after them and not letting them do anything for themselves. That's why young Muslim boys grow up treating women as second-class citizens.
Aliyah: No wonder that uncle from down the road always walks 10 steps ahead of his wife '“ he thinks he's the don. I thought aunty walked behind him coz he looks better from behind, hahahahaha.
Jameela: The good thing is we're all capable of changing this attitude. If all us girls educated ourselves about our religion we wouldn't have this problem would we? Coz then we could bring up our kids not on the basis of some backward culture, but the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. Allah has given women, not men but women, the greater control over raising children. We complain it's men who oppress us and hold us back but it's really our own lack of knowledge. Our Prophet (pbuh) and his household are the perfect role models for us to look up to and follow. On many occasions the Prophet (pbuh) helped out with the housework and often mended his own clothes.
Aliyah: You're joking...
Jameela: I'm not.
Aliyah: Wait till I tell mum, she always makes me clean my brother's room. I swear he's such a tramp, his room stinks like them cheesy Wotsits and other crap. The guy ain't ever heard of a hoover.
Jameela: Yeah, all that is wrong, but that's the culture NOT Islam.
Aliyah: OK then, if Islam is so fair to women and that, then why the hell are women always forced to marry someone they don't even know? Them forced marriages are always on the news. Even my mate '˜Tasha was asking me 'œhow can you sleep with someone that you don't even know', even though she's always sleeping with guys she don't know. She's such a... .
Jameela: Again Sis, you're mixing Islam with culture! Forced marriages have got NOTHING to do with Islam. There are some sick, ignorant people out there who don't know anything about their religion and use Islam to justify their views. However, this is a serious problem that is faced by women AND men in many different cultures all around the world.
Aliyah: OK then clever clogs, since your so clever and that why don't you try telling me why the hell Islam orders women to cover up but not men? That's so unfair.
Jameela: Women are ordered to cover up in Islam for their OWN protection. When a woman wears a hijab she isn't treated as a sex object '“ guys don't flirt with her, they keep their hands to themselves and they won't check her out.
Aliyah: I still think it's unfair that guys don't have to wear one. Maybe if that sexy Suleman from college wore one, I wouldn't check him out so much... hahahahahaha.
Jameela: Sis, guys too have to dress modestly. They must always be covered from their navel to their knees and must also behave in a decent manner and keep their gaze lowered.
Aliyah: Someone needs to tell that to them nasty builders with their hairy backs. I almost bring up my Weetabix when I see their flabby bellies every morning... eurgghh!!
Jameela: So Sis, now do you understand that Islam is NOT a sexist religion?
Aliyah: Well, kinda... but it still don't explain why the hell Abdul got away with dating that spotty girl with the tash from his class. His dad caught them in the park together and he didn't say jack! If that was his sister she'd have been beaten up and married off to the first minger from the pind!
Jameela: In Islam the punishment for sin is equal. Both men AND women will be punished for their sins. So even if some parents are full of double standards, always remember that Allah treats everyone the same. Again, this is a cultural issue not Islam.
Aliyah: Girl, you know your stuff don't ya?
Jameela: If you read up on Islam you'd also know this stuff and wouldn't have a problem with your Islamic identity. Some uneducated Muslim men might try to oppress us women, but Sis Islam doesn't oppress anybody.
Aliyah: Yeah... I get ya. I best go and get my hair sorted before my Dad sees it and goes ape. And then I'm gonna tell Iky to start treating me with some respect. As a Muslimah I deserve bare respect innit?
Jameela: That's true Sis, but to be a true Muslim you gotta play the part too, but we'll chat about that some other time.
Aliyah: You can chat all you like missy, but there's no way I'm dressing like any of them ninjas or wearing a tent. My Iky would run a mile!