Africa

Halima Aden

Date of Birth: September 19th, 1997

Place of Birth: Kenya

She was the first woman to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant wearing a hijab and burkini. After making it as a semi-finalist, she was signed to the IMG Models label. Since then some of her accomplishments include walking during New York Fashion Week for Yeezy Season 5 in February of 2017 and appearing on the covers of Allure, Vogue Arabia and British Vogue as the first woman wearing a hijab. She retains the modesty she feels comfortable with while keeping up in the fashion world. She has made great strides in representation and diversification of the fashion industry and is showing that women of all backgrounds and religions are beautiful.

Sources:

Blumberg, A. (2016, Dec 12). 17 Muslim American women who made America great in 2016. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/17-muslim-american-women-who-made-america-great-in-2016_us_584204b7e4b09e21702ec3b1

(2019, March 30). Halima Aden. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halima_Aden

Zainab al-Ghazali

Date of Birth: January 2,1917

Place of  Birth: Egypt

Zainab al-Ghazali founded the Jama’at al-Sayyidat al-Muslimaat (Muslim Women’s Association) in 1937. Jama’at published a magazine, maintained an orphanage, assisted poor families and mediated family disputes, and offered lessons for women. Her entire life was oriented towards activism and advocating for individual rights that facilitate women’s inclusion in society. Similarly, she regarded Muslim men as having a significant part to play as support systems for their wives. Her own organization was banned in 1964 due to the Egyptian government’s suspicion of Muslim organizations. 

Sources:

https://funci.org/great-women-in-islamic-history-a-forgotten-legacy/?lang=en

http://www.naseeb.com/journals/zainab-al-ghazali-dies-at-88-102268

https://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/muslim-woman/zainab-al-ghazali-4/

Arwa al-Sulayhi

Date of Bieth: 1048 CE

Place of  Birth: Haraz, Yemen

Arwa was orphaned at a young age and adopted by the king and queen of Yemen, her uncle and aunt. Queen Arwa focused her attention on the welfare of her people, setting up several centers for education for cultural and religious studies. She built roads, mosques, fountains, and Dar al-Izz, a grand palace of whose remnants exist today. She was the first woman to be accorded the prestigious title of hujja in the Isma’ili branch of Shi’a Islam. She had remained in power until she died in 1138.

Sources:

https://www.wisemuslimwomen.org/muslim-woman/queen-arwa-al-sulayhi-2/

Nana Asma’u

Date of Birth: 1793

Place of  Birth: Sokoto Caliphate

Nana Asma’u, in her writings, her relationships, and her educational system, was a transformative leader. She was particularly known for her poetry, as a teacher, and female voice speaking out on the patriarchy and advocating for women’s independence. Her works include and expand upon the dan Fodio’s strong emphasis on women leaders and women’s rights within the community ideals of the Sunnah and Islamic law. She witnessed many of the wars of the Fulani War and wrote about her experiences in a prose narrative Wakar Gewaye, “The Journey”. Starting around 1830, she created a group of women teachers (jajis) who travelled throughout the Caliphate educating women in the students’ homes. Nana Asma’u’s continued legacy rests not just on her literary work, but also on her role in defining the values of the Sokoto state. 

Sources:

https://oxfordre.com/africanhistory/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190277734.001.0001/acrefore-9780190277734-e-468

https://almadinainstitute.org/blog/muslim-women-in-leadership-nana-asmau-daughter-of-the-shehu/


Umm Kulthum

Date of Birth: December 31, 1898

Place of  Birth: El Senbellawein, Egypt (Ottoman Empire)

Umm Kulthum began singing with her father when she was a child but dressed as a boy on stage to avoid shame/disgrace since singing was viewed as a disreputable occupation in Egyptian society during this time. In 1923 her family moved to Cairo where she began studying music and poetry. As her popularity increased, she created recordings, was in radio and film. She became known for her emotive, passionate renditions of arrangements by the best composers, poets, and songwriters of the day. She cultivated a public persona as a patriotic Egyptian and a devout Muslim. She remained one of the Arab world’s best-selling singers even decades after her death. In 2001 the Egyptian government established the Kawkab al-Sharq Museum in Cairo to celebrate the singer’s life and accomplishments.

Sources:

http://www.famoussingers.org/umm-kulthum

https://www.theguardian.com/music/2020/feb/28/she-exists-out-of-time-umm-kulthum-arab-musics-eternal-star


State Rep. Ilhan Omar

Date of Birth: 1981

Place of Birth: Somalia

Ilhan Omar was born in Somalia but immigrated to the United States after living in Kenyan refugee camps for over 4 years. She ran for House of Representatives in 2016 and won, becoming the first Somali-American Muslim woman elected to the state legislature, the first naturalized citizen from Africa elected, the first non-white woman to be elected in Minnesota, and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in Congress. Her stances on economic equality, clean and renewable energy, making college more affordable, and improving reform in the criminal justice system were seen as progressive and won her the seat.

Sources:

Blumberg, A. (2016, Dec 12). 17 Muslim American women who made America great in 2016. Retrieved from www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/17-muslim-american-women-who-made-america-great-in-2016_us_584204b7e4b09e21702ec3b1

(2019, May 20). Ilhan Omar. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ilhan_Omar