While women in the United States earned the right to vote in 1920, Muslim women were allowed to vote during elections in the sixth century. This was just one fact of many that MU students Hend El-Buri and Faten Elkomy made known to a group of 30 to 40 people Wednesday night in a discussion about the role of women in Islam. The panel discussion was part of the Muslim Students’ Organization’s Islam Awareness Week.
El-Buri, a sophomore at MU born and raised in Columbia, began the event with a brief presentation about the basic tenants of Islam and then opened it up for questions.
Most of the questions were about the hijab, the practice of dressing modestly and the covering of women’s hair with a head scarf.
“Hijab gives women the opportunity to be judged by their contributions to society, personality and intelligence,” El-Buri said. “It provides a sense of identity for Muslim women.”
MU junior Caitlin Hawley, 24, said she came because she was curious to find out more about Islam. Hawley, who went to high school with two Muslim girls who did not wear the hijab, said she realized she came to the lecture with one misconception.
“I was under the impression that Muslim women were really mistreated by men, so it was enlightening to learn that in the religion they were not mistreated and that they wore the hijab as a choice,” she said.
Both El-Buri and Elkomy emphasized that Muslim women have the ability to choose to wear it.
“To force someone to wear it is the same kind of oppression as forcing someone to take it off,” El-Buri said.
Elkomy, an MU graduate student who moved to the U.S. from Egypt and has lived in Columbia for 20 years, said that the reason she participates in these events is so people can see the logic behind Islam and that she hopes they will go out and read more about it.