As Queens’ assistant professor of philosophy and religion, Dr. Hadia Mubarak brought her extensive knowledge and expertise to campus in a presentation about Muslim women last week.
For International Education Week that was hosted by the Belk Chapel and the Muslim Student Association, Dr. Mubarak presented on women in Islam by providing information on what it’s like to be a Muslim woman and the challenges she and others face.
A graduate of both Georgetown University and Florida State University Dr. Mubarak taught at UNCC and Davidson College, in addition to being a senior researcher at the center for Muslim-Christian understanding while at Georgetown.
Entitled Muslim Women: Moving Beyond the Headlines, Dr. Mubarak dove into a few topics related to Muslim women both in the United States and elsewhere.
“Muslims are human beings,” said Dr. Mubarak, “who either consciously choose to adhere to Islam, or are socialized within a predominately Muslim culture”
Primarily, there is no singular Muslim experience, Dr. Hadia pointed out. Muslim women like Benazir Bhutto (prime minister of Pakistan) and Atifete Jahaga (president of Kosovo) have long served in leadership roles. Meanwhile Muslim women in Kuwait couldn’t vote until 2005.
Moreover, many Muslim women continue to face discrimination as well. While Muslim men also face discrimination, as Dr. Mubarak points out, Muslim women “bear the burden and the brunt” of Islamophobia.
Many Muslim find themselves surrounded by unsympathetic bystanders when experiencing abuse. Unsympathetic bystanders are defined as those who witness incidents, but ignore Muslim women. Dr. Mubarak further included her thoughts about this in chapter four of The Personal is Political: Body Politics in a Trump World, interviewing over 100 women. Nearly all the women Dr. Mubarak spoke with went through some form of discrimination or injustice, including Dr. Mubarak herself.
She endured taunts from classmates as a child and as a graduate student at Georgetown, she was jogging when someone screamed insults at her.
“I think it depends on my mood,” Dr. Mubarak said with a laugh when asked how she handles experiences like this. “I try to brush it off, but it’s difficult.”
But there’s something that can be done about situations like these, according to Dr. Mubarak.
“We need to, as diverse ethnic, racial, sexual, communities focus on that which connects us and not that which divides us,” said Dr. Mubarak. “If we can begin to understand and appreciate the diversity of human experiences, irrespective of these markers of identity, I think it can help us better understand and appreciate one another.”