Muslim Women's Day took place Tuesday and the woman who launched it wants everyone to know why you need to pay attention.
Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, a 25-year-old Jordanian who was raised in the US, grew up hiding her religion in fear of people wanting to get revenge on her. In the aftermath of 9/11, being Muslim in the US was not just unpopular – it was dangerous in some cities and neighborhoods.
Living in new Jersey, Amani concealed her religion from her friends, effectively hiding a part of her identity. Until her parents moved the family back to Jordan due to the growing animosity towards Muslims in America. That's when Amani's whole perception of Islam changed. Free to practice and immerse herself in her religion, then 17-year-old Amani talks about how this was a transformative time for her. She fell in love with the tolerant peaceful religion that was very different from the Islam that some people in the US thought they knew, and feared.
Amani began wearing a hijab as a personal reclamation of her identity as well as a move of defiance against Islamophobia. And with this came the birth of her blog, MuslimGirl.com.
Eight years later, the blog has 1.7 million visitors, half of which aren't even Muslim, who go to the site as a source of information about Islam and Muslim women, reported CNN.
And on March 27, 2017 Amani launched the first Muslim Women's Day. Now in its second year, the idea is to celebrate Muslim women and change the western perception of women in Islam. Amani usually starts her talks by asking her audience to search for pictures of Muslim women on their phone browsers. The result is usually a collection of women covered from head to toe in black.
But that's not even close to an accurate representation or depiction of Muslim women. We are diverse, and different in our skin color and style of dressing and professions and even ways of thinking. Some of us are veiled, some wear the Niqab (black covering with only opening for the eyes), some of us rock the crop top look. But we are united in our faith and, sadly, in the way our religion negatively changes people's perception of who we are.
But Amani thinks this is the year of female empowerment and this is the year where what women stand for is of great public interest. It's time to shine a light on Muslim Women, and that's why we need to spread the word on Muslim Women's Day, so that we may shatter this perception of what Muslim women are meant to look like or sound like.
Check out the gallery to see what some seriously inspiring women around the world had to say.