Watch This Young Muslim Feminist Break Down Social Norms In 3 Minutes

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You may have just read the title of this article and are scratching your head thinking “there are WAY to many juxtapositions going on there!”. But you have read correctly, and there is nothing click-bait-y about it. You are about you watch a video featuring a young Muslim feminist from Israel challenge social norms that she and many other women in her community (hey let’s face it, around the world) are forced to conform to every day.

And before you wonder about the whole “can a Muslim even be a feminist” issue, you should read what MuslimGirl.net founder and feminist Amani al-Khatahtbeh has to say about preconceived notions like that.

“No one has the right to pass judgment on Islam or Muslim women if their only knowledge of either of them comes from Fox [News] or ‘American Sniper’. The whole premise of feminism is to empower women’s individual choices and autonomy of their own lives. It’s interesting how Western feminism has always been gung-ho about this concept unless it is applied to Muslim women,” she said.

Now that we have that sorted, we’d like to introduce you to Nooralhoda Hoji who lives in the town of Qalansuwa. She is a Youtuber who was featured in the Moral Courage Youtube series ‘Just 1 Question’, where they asked people from around the world to ask a challenging question in a video in order to start a conversation.

For those of you not already familiar with Moral Courage (aka, one of our go-to Channels on the web!) it is a video series that tells the stories of people who are fighting corruption in their faith, culture, or workplace. Whether they are standing up to a bully, breaking up a gang, or simply seeking truth, the heroes of our stories refuse to fail. It was started by Canadian activist, author, and NYC professor Irshad Manji who is a very outspoken advocate of a “reformist” interpretation of Islam. We highly recommend you follow her on social media and read some of the discussions she starts and talks she gives on the topic, as they are very enlightening.

In this particular edition of ‘Just 1 Question’, Nooralhoda sat down with her brother Mohammad to ask him “why do men always have power over women?”.

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Their ensuing conversation is very enlightening, and gives you a glimpse into how pervasive gender stereotypes and social norms can be for younger generations.

Although Nooralhoda is visibly passionate about the topic of gender equality and wanting to examine why women should be treated differently to men, Mohammad is surprisingly in agreement with her, but has the attitude of “that’s just the way it is” which to be honest is a big part of the problem. Apathy toward gender inequality is essentially allowing it to continue, which is why conversations like the one between Nooralhoda and her brother need to happen more often throughout society.

“You have the freedom to do whatever you want and society supports you. However when I go out to buy something at the marketplace, I’m not allowed because there are young men there. How do you feel about that?” asks Nooralhoda.

“This is wrong, but we are accustomed to it. I agree it’s wrong, but still…” replies Mohammad.

Nooralhoda then gives him a hypothetical situation where a girl goes out at night by herself to buy pizza and something bad happens to her. She asks him whose fault that would be, and here’s how he answered:

“People would say it’s the girl’s fault. People will ask ‘Why did she go there alone? Why didn’t they send a boy instead of her?’ But actually it’s the fault of the person who assaulted her,” he said.

He clearly understands the underlying problem, but how are attitudes going to change, and how can society stop blaming women for their own assaults and rapes in certain cultures? We’ve seen an extreme example of this in the case of the young Indian girl who was gang raped in Delhi in 2012 on a bus by a group of men who thought it was wrong for her to go to the movies with a male friend who wasn’t her husband. In the powerful and gut-wrenching documentary ‘India’s Daughter’, we see interviews with the rapists where they show absolutely no remorse for their crime because they genuinely believe the girl was in the wrong, not them.

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Nooralhoda’s video is yet another example of why challenging and changing narrow mindsets when it comes to women is important. She is part of a generation that still exists within a society which looks at men and women as unequal, but she is using her voice to speak out about it and has the support of her family.

“My mother gives me more freedom than other parents do. She gives me the opportunity to discuss,” she said.

We reached out to Moral Courage who told us about Nooralhoda’s interest in science and physics, and how she is inspired by Stephen Hawking, Niels Bohr, and Marie Curie. Her passion for this area has contributed to the way she is challenging gender stereotypes.

“Ever since I was a child, [people would say] ‘there are more men than women scientists,’ and at the beginning I didn’t know why that was. I thought women were less than men for that reason. But then as I grew up, I realized that it was because they were not given the chance to learn and be educated. And now that’s changing,” she said.

The coolest thing about this badass young women is that she isn’t afraid of raising her voice, even if it is not a popular voice amongst her community. And that literally makes her the textbook definition of “moral courage”.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be a big change or a small change, but I will most definitely try to make a change,” she said.

We encourage you to watch the video below, and be challenged to start your own conversations which challenge the status quo in your world.

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