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The Contemporary Muslim Filipina

“Muslim women are oppressed by her faith and her [Islamic] nation.” ~­ Lauren Rankin

Muslim Filipinas are not excused from what the text on the left says. Living in the Muslim­-dense Mindanao or in Christian-­dominated Luzon and Visayas has been one of the crucial aspects that shaped the contemporary Muslim Filipina. Despite being one of the inhabitants of the Philippines since time immemorial, Filipinos altogether have a vague perception of what Islam really is, let alone the understanding of the hijab.

The Muslim woman is thought to not have the freedom to acquire knowledge, to strengthen herself and be useful to the society other than being a housewife.

However, the contemporary Muslim Filipina is not limited to the four quarters of her home. In fact, she has been educating herself to certain heights, making ends meet to portray her roles in the society while being the premiere ambassador of her faith, all at once.

Everyday, she takes on challenges such as being ridiculed for her faith, stared at because she chose to seclude her beauty from the world and to some extent, discriminated against just because the world chose to see her from what the media has portrayed her to be ­ an oppressed and worthless individual.

This has been proven wrong by many Muslimahs, who have gone beyond borders in their craft, talent and career. She has soared high, despite the numerous roles she had to portray to herself, her family, friends, country, and religion. Given similar opportunities, the Muslim woman can do as much as the non­Muslim woman can.

She is actually capable of doing great things while staying within the bounds of her faith. I have never been prouder that I am a Muslim and a Moro,” said Mylene Macumbal, the first Muslim woman to place second in the Philippine bar exams when asked about the ‘veiled woman’ in an article for MSU IIT.

In any craft and career, the Muslim woman has been making her mark. Zohayma Montaner is one of the names that would come to mind when talking about contemporary Islamic art and design. The 13­time international award­winning artist and author has become one of the most eminent names in Islamic art and calligraphy worldwide.

The Muslim woman is one of the most important figures in Islam. She represents Islam with her hijab, hope because she bears with her the next generation for the future and peace because she shapes the future as she instills Islamic moral values, ethics and principles to the future leaders of the world, her children.

“O mankind! We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Verily the most honorable of you with Allah is the pious.”

~ (Qur’an 49:13)

The Muslim Filipina is not and will never be less in worth than men, non­Muslims or non­ Filipinas, vice versa. What sets them apart from each other is their perseverance, hard work and compassion.

[This post is included in the 2015 Year-ender electronic issue of Hijabi Mag. Click here to read and download it.]

Written by

Kai Darul is a 20-something accountant, blogger and occasional speaker from Tawi-Tawi, Philippines. On her free time, she blogs about her life, interior design, finance, personal development and Islam. She loves exploring and learning new things. You can find her at <a href='http://kaidarul.com'>kaidarul.com</a>.

  • Pal Raine

    I lived and grow up in a place that Muslim and Christian live together peacefully and harmoniously. Actually, my cousin got married to a Muslim man, so I learned many things about Muslim culture/tradition.

    Woman Muslim are well-respect and they are called the jewel inside the house and/or the community. Very active in civic social work and very vocal.

  • I have a lot of relatives that happen to be Muslim. I always believe in us being equal no matter what religion, race or standing. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  • Shubhada Bhide

    Really liked this post! Gender equality is something which needs to practised by all irrespective of faith. Keep it up!

  • Wow. A beautiful post it is… Gender equality is growing day by day no matter what religion or region or country you are from. Looking forward for a day when world over, everywhere women are treated equal to men!

  • Claire Algarme

    I totally agree with you. I have lived in Indonesia for almost a year and met several Muslim women who are smart and talented. I’ve formed friendships with them and religion was never an issue. I admire how they raise women through their convictions.

  • Debarpan Mukherjee

    This is very true,we should all need to stand together for equality.The day each one of us will come forward to provide and share equality to everyone this planet will become more and more beautiful place to live.Nice share,keep it up.

  • Shivansh Chaudhary

    All power to the Muslim Filipina!

  • Rochkirstin Santos

    I like that Muslim women now are more empowered and free to do things they want in terms of career. Being a homemaker isn’t so bad, too, as mothers should be treated with respect and dignity.

  • kaka16

    Continue to empower oneself. We are all equally great, intelligent and beautiful whatever race we belong or country we live in.

  • Leaping over boundaries and breaking past stereotypes. Lovely post. I believe that we are more open minded than ever before.

  • This is a beautiful post. I do have Muslim Filipina friends and throughout all these years that I have known them, they are one of the most courageous and strongest women I know. I admire how they stay firm with their principles and I have high respect for them.

  • dmhyf

    Thank you for taking up the advocacy for Muslim Filipinas to be empowered. All of the world should know more about your culture for more inter-cultural understanding. – Fred

  • We should never have any restrictions regardless of our religion. Every woman should be treated with respect and care.

  • Tiffany Yong

    This is not just about Muslims, not just about ladies, but about human rights. I’m glad to be reading this article and about how you are doing what you can to do to change the people!

  • I think ladies are more empowered now. Filipino Muslims really play a huge part in making the household and the community better.

  • Discrimination is not only experienced by Islam, I also hear criticism with INC. Being different really attracts prejudices. This article is lovely anyway! Every woman, regardless of religion, should be honored and respected. – Summer

  • I don’t know much about muslims but have always thought that their women didn’t have much say when it comes to anything. In a world such as now it’s good to learn a bit more but I would have to say that it’s not just Muslim women who faces daily struggles but women worldwide.

  • Earth’s Attractions

    This is a very interesting article to read as it sheds some light on the manner from an insider’s perspective. And yes, perception is important and, in the online environment, we always get a mediated image (about all the topics).