LIVING in an Islamic City is a privilege and a challenge.
When Marawi City became an Islamic City as proposed by Parliamentary Bill No. 261 during the Marcos regime, the lifestyle of the community has considerably changed.
This shift included the women’s fashion and ways of wearing the hijab.
Most Meranaw women in the 70’s used to wear miniskirts, bell-bottoms and the androgynous hippie look.
But today, many have changed because of the “Islamized” concept introduced to Meranaw women.
Along with the change in fashion among women, their image in the city has also changed.
This change is a privilege and a challenge in one because Islam has rules and Meranaw women must observe these rules.
Let me expound on the privilege that Islam has afforded women.
The religious scriptures of Muslims have defined the role of women with utmost respect.
In fact, let me cite some hadiths related to women in marriage as narrated by Bukhari and Abu Dawud, “The widow and the divorced woman shall not be married until their order is obtained, and the virgin shall not be married until her consent is obtained;" and "When a man gives his daughter in marriage and she dislikes it, the marriage shall be annulled."
These above privileges given to Muslim women regarding marriage are dignified justifications of why women in Islam are very much respected.
Clearly, women’s consent is highly valued.
The understanding of Islam in most of the Meranaw families today has drastically changed the way parents deal with their daughters when it comes to marriage.
It may not be true to all families but at least there are those who respectfully observe such privileges.
Added to these privileges is the marital status of women.
As a wife and mother, I can’t help but appreciate how Islam taught Meranaw men about how wives in Islam are considered mates to their "other half."
We are privileged to be considered a partner in family decisions and given the same attention in family affairs.
Wives in Islam are not seen as material objects but rather jewels that should be protected with respect.
As an educator, I have valued the privilege that Islam afforded to women when it comes to seeking higher levels of education.
As one Mufti once said, “a Muslim woman can search for higher degrees of education anywhere in the world for as long as she has the fear of the Almighty and has dignity in her pursuit.”
As an empowered woman, the same respect is observed in how Islam allows women to become leaders in communities.
Khadijah and Aysha (RA), the prophet’s wives, became leaders of their time when Islam was introduced and sustained in the Arabia.
Nonetheless, these privileges mentioned above are very appealing yet utmost care must be observed so as not to abuse them.
Therefore, challenges to being a righteous Muslim Meranaw woman in an Islamic city nowadays would be very crucial.
Mothers must guide their daughters by always reminding them of Islam’s privileges that need thorough understanding.
Young women must be taught of the values of modesty and chastity in Islam so they go not astray.
Women can choose and dislike a man for marriage, but must not demand for a husband who doesn’t love or like her at all.
A wife must not see the privilege of being a mate to her “other half” as a right to abuse her husband.
An educated woman must not abandon her children over her selfish ambitions.
All these are possible temptations for women to encounter—not only by Muslim Meranaw women but all women who are given the same privileges and opportunities throughout the world.
Happy Women’s Month!
(Professor Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph is currently the chairperson of the Communication and Media Department, Mindanao State University, Marawi City.)