Changing the World One Veil at a Time
by smili1 on April 25, 2014 - 2:43pm
By adjusting the means or the overall end goal of the Federation of Muslim Women organization, the organization will better serve the community and build partnerships necessary for the society.
Change Consultant Report: Changing the World One Veil at a Time
One of the most controversial topics within society is that of people who practice Islam and the practices that go along with this specific belief system, such as the practice of wearing a veil. Religion has been a notorious topic within politics, but more specifically about the religious freedoms that are granted to people as citizens of that government. After reading a blog post regarding recent changes with the laws in Canada regarding Muslim women not being able to wear a veil, such as a “naqab” which covers the majority of the face but leaving slits for the eyes, I decided to explore this topic more in-depth and find a nonprofit organization that is involved in the discussion of Muslim women wearing veils and the overall fundamental rights of people.
As my search continued, I found a nonprofit organization that spoke out against the recent changes to the Canadian law prohibiting women from religious practices, such as wearing a veil. The organization, Federation of Muslim Women, is based in Canada and searches for ways to increase the knowledge about Muslim women and overall education regarding women’s rights. The Federation of Muslim Women have a plan set in place to raise awareness and education to ensure that people get the basic rights, equity, and justice that they deserve (Federation of Muslim Women n.d.). The overall ideology of the Federation of Muslim Women is that by creating respect and understanding for people of all cultures, there will be an increase in the opportunities for collaboration and the construction of healthy communities which will translate into the overall equalities of people. The initial plan for the community to be the catalyst for changes would be providing a Muslim women’s shelter and an education center for women and children, but due to financial troubles the nonprofit changed their goal to advocating public outreach and education to increase the knowledge about Muslims and Muslim women. The overall goal of the Federation of Muslim Women is to create understanding and collaboration with others in order to create an environment to promote rights, equality and justice not just for Muslims or Muslim women but everyone who has fundamental rights. Because of the difficulties that the Federation of Muslim Women are facing I believe that some of the changes that I propose may help the group reach goals with the means available to them.
There are many aspects of the Federation of Muslim Women that is beneficial to the community, but the lack of a lasting remedy is an issue that they are facing. The laws regarding the religious wearing of a veil that legislation is making seems to be a way of just pacifying certain groups of people and political parties, without searching for an answer to the overarching issue of fundamental rights. Without a lasting and distinguishing solution to this problem, the legislation is going to open the flood gates of the possibility of other freedoms being repressed. With this lack of mutual solutions for all parities including Muslims and political parties, the change that will occur will last until old ideals come to the forefront again because of the influence of society, causing a reoccurring cycle that has no solution to the root problem (Coser 2011). The laws that legislation are making is only a safety-valve that is just restraining people from the actual fundamental issues at hand and acting as a temporary fix to the problem. By allowing people within society to be pacified by this restriction of fundamental rights without a clear solution to the problem, the tension that is building will eventually over boil without causing actual change to the social structure (Coser 2011).
Another issue that is seen through the ideology of the Federation of Muslim Women is that they want to see change at a radical level, diverting from the issue at hand, with just education and knowledge regarding Muslims and Muslim women. The goals of the Federation of Muslim Women are on the right track of making adjustments to society, but expect a complete overthrow of the standards with their long term goals. Ideally there should be fundamental fairness, equity and justice, but if the Federation of Muslim Women advocated for adjustments to common law and society, rather than a complete overthrow, then there would be some sort of social change (Coser 2011). The social change that would occur would be something that is realistic, long lasting and not just a “tension releasing” change (Coser 2011).
While it seems that there is a problem with the enactment of laws regarding the fundamental right to practice religion and religious beliefs, there is a possible solution. A solution that could help the Federation of Muslim Women reach their goals could be the adjustment of goals and the way to attain these goals. The main goal of the Federation of Muslim Women is to create awareness of people having rights, equality and justices that they are afforded by increasing the knowledge about Muslims and Muslim women. The organization is on the right track by increasing the awareness about a particular religious group that is seen as taboo in society (especially after the increased publicity regarding Islam), but just focusing on one group, such as Muslims, reduces the attention other fundamental rights recieve. The Federation of Muslim women concentrate on one subject area, Muslims and Muslim women, while trying to provide the resources to make change on a larger scale to larger groups. If there was a shift in focus to just concentrating on Muslims and Muslim women then there would be more potential for change. Educating the community about other issues will help specific communities make changes, but without the common knowledge and structural similarities (Marx and Engels 2011) there will be little change for the overall society, which is a goal that the Federation of Muslim Women urges. One way in which the Federation of Muslim Women could increase common knowledge and structural similarities is raising awareness about fundamental rights by joining with other groups that are also oppressed. If the Federation of Muslim Women connected with other oppressed groups that have common interests then there could be a stronger possibility of change (Marx and Engles 2011).
The Federation of Muslim Women are creating an environment and ideology to increase the awareness of injustices, such as the persecution of practicing one’s own religion and religious practices, and bring together people to fight for these fundamental rights. The circumstances of forming a bond and connecting various people to one common issue, such as human rights, will bring about a gradual change (Coser 2011). This gradual change of fundamental fairness can occur if there is a concentration on other issues other than focusing on one issue.
The overarching issue that the Federation of Muslim Women has with their organization is the overall goals and the means to reach this goal. The overall goal is to ensure everyone is granted rights, equity and justice and by doing this they are bringing awareness to an exclusive group, Muslims and Muslim women. The means and goals to get to this overall goal are hard to consider realistically because of the various aspects that go into creating change. If the overall goal of the Federation of Muslim Women was to increase the understanding and education of Muslims and Muslim women, then they are paving the road to this issue, but to consider the whole world of injustices and providing education on just one subgroup of cultures, it is not encompassing the goals and means to get there. I believe that the shift in focus to the long term goal should be concentrating on Muslims and Muslim women while gaining support from other oppressed groups, rather than focusing on changes in fundamental fairness, equity and justice for the whole world.
In conclusion, the Federation of Muslim Women is the voice for the voiceless; they are the group that will fight prejudices and injustices when others will not. This is a commendable organization that is working towards the betterment of individuals and the community. Through the education and activities, the Federation of Muslim Women is reaching out to people within the community to provide a better environment for the world. They are trying to change the social perception of Muslims and Muslim women in general, with the goal of human rights, equity and justice in mind.The switch to a different long term goal will aid them in making positive changes within the community and society as a whole. By making subtle changes to their overall approach, the Federation of Muslim Women will see an improvement in the attainment of their goals.
Coser, Lewis. 2011. “The Functions of Social Conflict.” Pp. 216-219 in Social Theory: Roots and Branches, edited by Peter Kivisto. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.
Federation of Muslim Women. “About Us.” Retrieved April 15, 2014 (http://fmw.org/about-us).
Marx, Karl; Friedrich Engels. 2011. “The German Ideology.” Pp. 11-16 in Social Theory: Roots and Branches, edited by Peter Kivisto. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.
Marx, Karl; Friedrich Engels. 2011. “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” Pp. 17-24 in Social Theory: Roots and Branches, edited by Peter Kivisto. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press.
[Veiled women: How Research From Religion, Laws and Sociology Can Help This Issue: http://newsactivist.com/en/news-summary/newsactivist-winter-2014/veiled-...
Federation of Muslim Women: http://fmw.org/]