Muslim teen superhero Ms. Marvel.

Marvel Comics

Muslim teen superhero Ms. Marvel.

Thanks Be to Women

Friday, November 29, 2013
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This Thanksgiving, we all will have many reasons to be thankful. I, for one, am thankful for all the women in my life, which at the moment include my mother and sister-in-law. It goes without saying that women are superheroes. It is then rather fitting that Marvel’s newest character, Ms. Marvel, is portrayed as a teenage female Muslim. While we’d all agree that women are superheroes, Islam has placed a particular respect and deference toward women that makes their superhero persona all the more natural.

Osaama Saifi

It may seem like a leap of faith to believe that Islam guaranteed women superpowers 1,500 years ago, in a time when women were treated as mere chattel, a time when female infants would even be buried alive. This was a time where men could marry an unlimited number of wives and when women were given no legal status.

The Qur’an combats this injustice by first putting men and women on an equal playing field. God states in the Qur’an, “whoso does good whether male or female, and is a believer, shall enter Paradise and they shall not be wronged a whit.” (4:125) Rather than strictly addressing “all of mankind,” the Qur’an specifically addresses women, letting it be known that women and men are equal. Regardless of society’s manmade laws, women and men are equal in God’s view.

Of course, many Islamophobes would be quick to retort that Muslims have usurped women’s rights by shrouding women under a veil. While I can’t speak on behalf of Muslims who commit un-Islamic acts in the name of Islam, these allegations are unfounded. Muslims are taught to follow the ideals of Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, after whom Chapter 19 of the Qur’an has been named. Setting Mary as an exemplar, the Qur’an states, “And remember when the angels said: O Mary, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of all peoples.” (3:43)

Just as nuns cover themselves, Muslim women follow the same principles of modesty in their own dress. Women are not to be coerced into covering their heads, but it is a decision made of their own volition. While some may think the burqa imprisons women, there is reason to believe that the bikini imprisons women. As one study suggests, viewing women’s objectified bodies shuts down portions of the brain and causes men to “judge women to be less intelligent, likeable, ambitious and competent.” The Qur’an foreshadows this objectification, stating, “and display not your beauty like the displaying of the former days of ignorance.” (33:34)

But besides adorning women with this armor, Islam provides real superpowers to women. The Qur’an describes the relationship between a man and a woman as “They are a garment for you, and you are a garment for them.” (2:188) Women are a shield for others, selflessly providing comfort and protection, just like any superhero, which in turn makes it imperative for men to be a “garment” for women as well.

Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad has said that “Paradise lies under your mother’s feet.” Paradise, any believer’s ultimate goal, lies not under the feet of a man but under women’s footsteps. This power granted to women makes them a bona fide superhero. After all, whose advice often persuades us the most, from our infant age to our elderly years? The advice of our mothers.

Islam gives an incentive to respect the mothers and women in our lives. Ms. Marvel just reaffirms a basic truth: Women are superheros. Muslims and non-Muslims alike can be thankful for Islam, which codified women’s superpowers 1,500 years ago.

Osaama Saifi an award-winning member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America and a Santa Maria native. He received his bachelors of arts in Economics and Rhetoric, with honors, at the University of California, Berkeley. Saifi is currently pursuing a JD in order to combat blasphemy laws in countries such as Pakistan, ultimately to protect religious minorities throughout the world.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

It seems, in religion, that women's powers have limits. I salute you for thanking women but my favorite sentence contained in your writing : "there is reason to believe that the bikini imprisons women." Reason? Sounds like there was no reasoning what so ever except between you and your beliefs. Hey, believe in whatever you like. Go and be free. Please, let women speak for themselves. When you profess love and thankfulness for the opposite sex but then put conditions and your own shortcomings on it due to 'belief', you put yourself in the ugly category of many a politician that promotes the evangelical backwardness many see as an impediment to the forward momentum of the human race. I do not think of you so, but if I put faith in fact and science I would have to disagree with myself. Many a man profess love for God and then make up rules and regulations to cage others. Also, I realize you are in the tough position of educating people of this country who know little of your faith when y'all have more in common than the Christians would care to admit.
Until the women of the world have a seat at the table next to men and have the same weight in voice and share in the same leverage of power, we will continue to witness the unbelievable spectacle of man ruining what little paradise we have left on our mother Earth. Look at how we poke and prod our own mother for only short term gains. Shortsighted are we. Those that do so profess a strong religious belief as well however, their god is money.

spacey (anonymous profile)
November 29, 2013 at 2:20 p.m. (Suggest removal)

didn't god also speak first to Hagar, Ishmael's mother and thus mother of the Arab tribe, before any Moslem male? This in in Torah.

DrDan (anonymous profile)
November 29, 2013 at 5:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Funny that short trunks do not imprison a man. Actually, a woman wearing a bikini imprisons the brain of a man where he allows that to happen. This is all about procreation where the man has the strongest drive to ensure the survival of the species. If men would understand that about themselves, then women would not have to cover themselves to help men to not regard them as objects - it is the men doing the objectifying. But, it is not as though woman do not have any inclination to objectify men - many do, to the point where skimpy male clothing elicits comments about physical appearance rather than quality of character. Women function pretty well in this society without having to wear nun's habit. And as with all things, there is a range of behavior - from the extreme to the normal - with both sexes.

tabatha (anonymous profile)
November 30, 2013 at 1:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Speaking scantily clad, where does Richard Simmons fit into this. Just wondering...

billclausen (anonymous profile)
November 30, 2013 at 6:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

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