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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Balancing Modernity And Spirituality

Written By: Siya Tiane—The debates on Muslim women’s wardrobe have been centered on integration in society. It is perceived that by donning the face veil (niqab) and to a certain extent the head scarf (hijab), Muslim women isolate themselves from society. However, what has been missing in the debate is Muslim women’s own voice on the matter. Furthermore, stakeholders ignore the perspective of women who choose to be veiled yet who are active and integrated into society.

My story is an unconventional one in this debate as I happen to be a young African woman living in West Africa, Black, Muslim, wearing the hijab, a graduate from prestigious western universities, well travelled and multilingual, a young professional working in the field of development/policy, an aspiring writer, a committed change maker and more importantly a servant of God the Almighty. As I aspire like everyone to be successful in my endeavors, I am also constantly trying to find a balance between modernity and spirituality.

As a “visible” Muslim, I am part of a minority group in African societies, one that is not always understood, but that increasingly finds its place in society. West Africa has the highest concentration of Muslims in Sub Sahara Africa. Yet, the practice of Islam is often times polarized, with the general view that on one hand, the study of religion is reserved to men (except for the basics teachings that women receive) who blend into society and practice their faith privately; on the other hand, those who choose to live their faith, exclude themselves or are implicitly excluded from society as they evolve only within their communities.

I believe there is a credible alternative to this dichotomy and this is what I represent.

Read the rest of this article in MIMI's Love Africa, Always issue, in the article Balancing Modernity And Spirituality.

(Photo Credits: © Stacey Newman / iStockPhoto) (Model Used Solely For Illustrative Purposes)