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10 Successful Muslim Women Who Wear The Hijab

For centuries, successful Muslim women have pioneered systems and institutions while wearing the hijab, and they still do so today.



successful Muslim women

The Hijab, or the Muslim head covering is always met with hostility and scrutiny. Oppression and illiteracy is what it represents, according to the common stereotype against it. But successful Muslim women around the world are smashing those tropes!  

For centuries, successful Muslim women have pioneered systems and institutions while practicing their faith-prescribed veils. For example, the first ever university was built by a Hijab wearing woman, Fatima al-Fihri, in Fez, Morocco.

For many successful Muslim women the Hijab isn’t an obstacle in their paths, but it is the veil which keeps them safe as they break the proverbial glass ceiling. In fact, many Hijabi Muslim women who have made it to the height of their success continue to speak passionately about protecting the rights of Muslim women everywhere who choose to wear it in schools and workplaces. 

Here are 10 of those women changing the world.

Nusrat Sharif, Pfizer Senior Scientist

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Muslim Hijabi scientist, Nusrat Sharif, works as a Senior Scientist at Pfizer 

Towards the end of 2020, after the height of the pandemic, the release of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine seemed to be just the light we needed to return back to a normal life. Working with Pfizer as an inflammation & immunology specialist, a Muslim Hijabi scientist, Nusrat Sharif, serves as a Senior Scientist. 

In aiding the world with her research, her Hijab has never caused her to perform less successfully than her peers — nor has her performance ever declined because of her choice to wear a Hijab.

In a one-on-one interview with AnalystNews, Sharif, who topped her class in her PhD program, said: “I think the Hijab empowers me everyday to be a strong leader”.

Upon moving to the United States from India, Sharif went to visit many university campuses to decide on her higher education. She recalls one of the male students on campus yelling to her as she took a tour: “Take off your Hijab!” She says that in the heat of the moment, the only response that registered in her mind was to yell back was: “Never!”

She knew there and then that if people would try to make the Hijab a challenge for her, she would conquer it.

Sharif described her interview process with Pfizer, saying, “He [the director] was so impressed that a Muslim woman in a Hijab came so far.” She then had the opportunity to explain to him the true meaning of her religious garment.

Sharif had been working at Pfizer for some time, when she had an encounter with a new colleague who was an Arab Muslim woman. The woman told Sharif: “You can’t survive in a corporate world in purdah (veiling)”. The stereotypes around Hijabs not only impact societal perception of Muslim women, but the perception of Muslim women about themselves.

Sharif realised that not only did her Hijab dispel myths for non-Muslims, but it could also re-empower Muslim women who feel distraught when they have to pick between two identities (corporate vs religious). Her identity shows that you can be both, but more importantly, be great at both.

About the nature of the French Hijab ban, she says it has the opposite effect on trying to create equality in society. She also says forcing the Hijab makes no sense either. “Extremists on both sides are not good. Muslim women should have the freedom to decide that they want to do.”

Khola Hübsch, Journalist

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Khola Hübsch on a German political talk show

A common misconception about the Hijab is that it prevents Muslim women from being free to communicate and make public appearances. But for Khola Hübsch, a German journalist, her Hijab actually helped her succeed in her career. The Hijab never got in the way of her success — in fact, she is most often known as the face of Muslim women in Germany, and that could be accredited to how her Hijab has made her visible.

For her, the Hijab never impeded on the quality of her education either. Khola feels that in many instances, her choice to wear a Hijab was guided by her Islamic faith. For some women, it is not just about opportunities, but the freedom to practice their faith. Keeping that choice for Muslim women is essential.

Munazza Alam, Astronomer

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Munazza Alam giving a presentation for National Geographic Education

One such example is a National Geographic Young Explorer, and renowned astronomer, Munazza Alam. The Harvard Graduate has worked on projects like the observation of atmosphere on exoplanets. It means she gets to work closely with large teams, and advanced equipment like the Hubble Space Telescope, one of the world’s most versatile telescopes. 

In an interview, while commenting on her Hijab, Alam says, “I have operated telescopes at national observatories, presented at conferences, and met with Nobel Prize winners in my full purdah [veiling] in venues all over the world.

“I do not shake hands with men and I have found this practice to be especially effective for setting a physical boundary from the start with the non-related men I meet. I have met some people who believe that doing purdah or refusing handshakes might disadvantage women from opportunities in their careers, but I have not found this to be the case in my experience. I have never felt that doing purdah has hindered my ability to be a professional scientist in any way. In fact, many people have told me that they admire my courage and respect me more for doing purdah even though it sets me apart in professional settings.”

Throughout her education and practice, the Hijab has served as a mark that sets her apart from her colleagues, and is something she is admired for, thanks to the acceptance of those around her.

“We live in a world today in which society is moving toward being more inclusive of people from all different backgrounds, which includes Muslim representation in STEM and other fields. Moreover, we have a right to dress in our purdah as Muslim women and discrimination against it is illegal. We should not be afraid to show the world who we are.” 

The challenges she faces don’t come from the Hijab itself, but by bullying and discrimination because she chooses to wear it. Alam shared with Carnegie Science that, “Once I visited an institute to give a research seminar and at the end of the talk, I was approached by a faculty member who harassed me about my headscarf.” The situation was later settled, with the woman understanding why her reaction was uncalled for. But the Hijab itself never became a factor that dimmed the light of Munazza Alam.

Nusrat Haq, Lawyer

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Purdah has always been a part of my outward image”

Muslim women have also successfully ventured deep into the field of law, proving that their Hijab does not get in the way of pursuing prestigious fields. Oxford alumni, Nusrat Haq graduated with a degree in law and now practices Corporate Law in Melbourne, Australia. While sharing her thoughts in an interview, Haq said that, “At the end of the day, purdah [veiling] doesn’t hold you back from anything in my view.”

“Having started purdah in my early teens, it feels as though purdah has always been a part of my outward image. Perhaps that brings with it a sense of confidence in wearing purdah, but I consider the ease with which I view purdah to be another one of the more fortunate aspects of my life.

Personally, I see purdah as one of the easiest forms of religious compliance. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s just the ease that comes with it. At university, I just put on my niqab and coat and run out of the door to the library or lectures!”

For most successful Muslim women, the support that they receive in their decision to wear the Hijab, from their peers and colleagues is ultimately what helps them on the journey of success.

Asked whether she faced and difficulties because of the hijab, she said:

“No, I haven’t faced any challenges at work or work events due to purdah and I’d echo my comments from your earlier question. There is so much awareness and training given to people at work these days, hiring and senior managers in particular, that I think it’s easier than ever for Muslim women to participate in the workforce and work events. It’s well understood that, ultimately, it’s to the employer’s benefit to ensure an inclusive workplace.”

Ayesha Noor Rashid, Entrepreneur

For some successful Muslim women, like Ayesha Noor Rashid, the Hijab is not just a tool of self-empowerment, but also a way to empower others. Rashid runs a small business, Equal Entrance, where she sells scarves, among other apparel, with quotes meant to give the wearer a boost of empowerment.

She says about the Hijab ban in France that, “Muslim women will either be forced to let go of their values or will gradually vanish away behind the closed doors of their homes.” But as a Hijabi herself, she believes Muslim women breaking the barriers is important because “representation matters.” To change the outlook of a whole new generation, Hijabi women must not be afraid of rising to the top because of what society makes them believe.

Amnah Khan, Bone Cancer Researcher

Amnah Khan, a bone cancer researcher, has had experiences with the Hijab where she feels as though the Hijab never got in her way. She has pioneered a method of bone cancer treatment that aims to use products found in insects to age the cancer cells and allow them to die naturally. 

Khan says that the results are promising, for a future where bone cancer becomes easier to treat once identified. Her motivation for her work comes from Islam itself, and while adorning the veil, she has been met with many great opportunities, thanks to how accepting everyone around her has been.

Ilhan Omar, Politician

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Ilhan Omar is the first Hijabi woman in the U.S Congress. Credit: Fibonacci Blue

Breaking through barriers as the first Hijabi woman in the United States congress, Ilhan Omar says that her Hijab allows her to be a representation for her faith. In an interview with Vogue Arabia, she said, “To me, the hijab means power, liberation, beauty, and resistance.” To her, it is a celebration, not a form of oppression.

For women of all walks of life, and for Muslim women whose choices are often taken control of by society, Omar says, “We are deserving and we don’t need permission or an invitation to exist and to step into our power.”

Maria Mensah, Construction Designer Manager

Muslim women not only breakthrough in the maths, sciences and laws, but they’ve also made a mark in construction. From the Islamic Golden Age, Queen Amina of Zaria is known for building the fortified walls that protected her country (current day Nigeria) from danger. 

Maria Mensah pursues another field of construction — creative design — that allows her to bring uniqueness to urban buildings, while wearing the Hijab. Mensah has always felt as though her Hijab added to her recognisability in the industry, helping propel her forward instead of drag her back.

She says: “At University, I had the room to grow based on the Islamic principles I wanted to live by but had found difficult to adopt earlier. I also saw University as a test run to the ‘adult’ world and I am glad that I made the decision to go with it. Wearing the hijab was a constant reminder that I am an Ahmadi Muslim and therefore needed to behave like it. It helped me a lot to navigate the university social life and have fun while sticking to my principles.”

Her latest project is working on the Marylebone Square in London, England.

Raffia Arshad, Court Judge

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The first Hijab-wearing judge in the United Kingdom – Credit: St. Mary’s Family Law Chambers

Raffia Arshad made headlines when she became the first Hijab-wearing judge in the United Kingdom. That barrier she broke was for all the Hijabi women who society has convinced that their Hijab could not allow them to attain success.

She says, “I decided that I was going to wear my headscarf because for me it’s so important to accept the person for who they are and if I had to become a different person to pursue my profession, it’s not something I wanted.” There is nothing Hijabi women need to change about themselves, but instead it is society that needs to change its perceptions on them.

Amani Al Hosani, Nuclear Scientist

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Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA

A United Arab Emirates nuclear scientist, Amani Al Hosani, achieved everything that she did while wearing the Hijab. But her status as a Hijabi never stood in the way of her status as an asset for her nation. 

Her slogan to dream big carried her to great heights, and the Hijab always served as her rope forward and never as something that tied her down. 

In a society that is quickly evolving, successful Muslim women have pioneered many advancements themselves. But one thing that is leaving society stuck in the past is the judgment it is so quick to pass on women who choose to have control over what they wear.

The Hijab, to successful Muslim women globally, is a symbol of their commitment to their God and to their religion.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.

Daily Brief

World Watches as the United States Supreme Court Abolishes a Woman’s Right to an Abortion



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  • The United States’ top justices voted to eliminate the constitutional right to an abortion, a law that had been in place for over 50 years.
  • The closely watched decision was heralded by some and derided by others, depending on their position on the controversial concept of a woman’s right to choose for her own body.
  • With the abolition of the constitutional right, it is expected that many states in the U.S. will implement near total bans of abortion rights, while other states such as California, Oregon and Washington have reaffirmed their commitment to preserve the right to an abortion.
  • Planned Parenthood, the advocacy face for abortion rights, is mobilizing around the country to bolster and increase services in those states that will preserve the right, and engage voters in those states that plan to abolish the right.


All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Women's Issues

Florida Sued over Abortion Laws by a Synagogue



Florida Synagogue

A lawsuit filed by a synagogue in Palm Beach County on Friday argues that the new abortion law violates the religious freedom of Jews. It was filed by Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor.

The abortion law in Florida that will take effect on July 1st will ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Previously, Florida allowed abortion for up to 24 weeks. The anti-abortion movement has been mostly led by Christian conservatives, but this lawsuit expresses that there is more than one religion in America.

Roe V. Wade case legalised abortion in 1973 in the United States. However, recently, a leaked draft opinion suggests that the court is trying to overturn Roe V. Wade, making abortion illegal in most cases. There are no exceptions in the cases of incest, rape, or human trafficking. But abortion will be allowed if the mother’s life is endangered or if two doctors determine that the foetus  has a foetal  abnormality.

According to the lawsuit, under Jewish law, abortion is “required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman”.

It also states, “The act prohibits Jewish women from practicing their faith free of government intrusion and this violates their privacy rights and religious freedom.”

A statement released by the Jewish community as a response to the abortion bans also condemns the decision as it goes against their religious views.

“Restricting access to reproductive health care impedes the freedom of religion granted by the First Amendment, including a Jewish person’s ability to make decisions in accordance with their religious beliefs,” states Rabbi Hara Person.

This is the second lawsuit against the recent abortion laws in Florida. The first lawsuit was filed by Planned Parenthood and other health centers for violating a person’s right to privacy, including “the right to abortion.”

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

France’s Highest Administrative Court Upholds Burkini Ban in Grenoble



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  • The city of Grenoble had recently challenged France’s highest administrative court by allowing full body burkinis to be worn at public pools. Burkinis are typically worn by Muslim women to maintain modesty while they swim. In France, burkinis have often been a point of extreme debate in the country as France’s secular values outlaw anything that violates the country’s belief in the separation of religion and state. 
  • Grenoble challenged the ban on burkini, stating that it violated the principle of neutrality in public services. Shortly after, the policy was suspended and the matter was referred to the Council of State for a decision. The Council of State has officially ruled that Grenoble cannot allow burkinis to be worn in public as that would then allow for “selective exceptions to the rules to satisfy religious demands.”
  • Furthermore, the ban on burkinis was linked back to hygiene concerns. The court stated that burkinis violate “the common rule, enacted for reasons of hygiene and safety, of wearing bathing suits close to the body.” 
  • French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin took to Twitter to label the ruling as a “victory” for “seperatism, for secularism, and beyond, for the whole Republic”. Others have criticized the ruling for not allowing women the right to dress as they please.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Samar is a UC San Diego graduate with a degree in Communication and a minor in Business. In addition to her passion for research and writing in relation to current events, she also utilizes her skills in areas such as digital marketing. Furthermore, she is deeply interested in positions that involve oral communication skills such as leadership roles and public speaking.

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Women's Issues

“My Hijab instils British values in schools”

Wearing my hijab as a school teaches educates my students about British values and other cultures and religions.



Hijab wearing teacher

As a secondary school science teacher who wears the hijab, I have had the opportunity to work in a variety of schools – including a state all-girls school, a Catholic all-boys school and a state mixed school. In every school environment I have worked in, I have always been met with respect by both colleagues and students.

Anyone who has worked in a school environment will know that pupils are always intrigued to know more about the personal lives of the teachers around them. This often helps foster a positive relationship in the classroom, and helps students feel comfortable and confident in class. I have been asked numerous questions about my age, my education, my marriage, and (being a visible, hijab-wearing teacher) my faith. I tend not to shy away from questions about my faith. I see it as an opportunity to teach students about the realities of Islam (which are misconstrued in the media). 

The school I currently work at, in Surrey in the UK, has pupils from a predominantly white working-class background. Some of these pupils have never had the opportunity to openly ask Muslims questions about their faith. Since working here I have been asked questions such as: 

“Why do you wear a scarf miss?”

“Do you wear the scarf at home?”

“Why do Muslims pray five times a day?”

“Miss, are you doing Ramadan?”

And my personal favourite was from a student who had picked up the word “Mashallah” (an Arabic word indicating praise or approval which means ‘as Allah willed’) from TikTok and asked me what it means.

Children, by nature, are curious about the world around them. As teachers, we are here to develop that curiosity and understanding. This job is not limited to the subject we teach. If we have a look at the National Curriculum Framework in England (for KS1-KS4), one of the key aims of the curriculum is to provide “pupils with an introduction to the essential knowledge they need to be educated citizens”. The Department for Education has also highlighted the importance of promoting British values within schools, which states that all schools “have a duty to ‘actively promote’ the fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs.”

Giving my non-Muslim students a safe space to ask me various questions about my faith and personal life allows them to see that, despite being a hijab-wearing teacher, they can relate to aspects of my life, which shows that I am not that different to them. This helps build a bridge between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, develops social integration and fosters those British values (of respect and tolerance) within students.

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The hijab has a positive impact of society and helps foster tolerance and understanding

Having a hijab-wearing teacher also has another positive impact on Muslim students within schools.

The girls’ school that I worked at was a very diverse school in London, which had a large proportion of young Muslim girls. It was evident that being represented within the teaching staff, and having a teacher “like them” had a powerful impact on confidence, motivation, and (as a result) attainment. I noticed the ‘shy’ girls coming out of their shells, and starting to raise their hand more in class. It was also evident that they felt more confident talking about their culture and faith around non-Muslims. This phenomena exists across the globe, with the Center for American Progress reporting that an increase in diversity amongst the public school teaching force enhances student performance amongst students of the same background.

The power of representation is well known across all sectors of society. There was a particular incident at school where one of my colleagues, who was in charge of creating resources for PSHE (Personal, Social and Health Education) days, had mistakenly included some false information about arranged marriages and the Islamic Nikah (marriage contract). Upon seeing this, I was able to educate this particular colleague about Islam and remove misconceptions. This led to the colleague asking me to fact-check all the information on Islam she decided to use in her presentations in the future. As a school community, this led to all students and teachers within the school receiving the correct information about Islam and my culture. It is evident that both adults and children reap the benefits of representation.

It would be naïve to assume that Muslims in the workplace do not struggle because of their identity. However, it is only through becoming visible ambassadors of Islam that we can open up avenues to have positive, and educational conversations with those around us. The hijab is my identity as a Muslim woman. Being free to express my identity at work has enabled me to build strong relationships with both pupils and colleagues, which has made me the teacher I am today. We have a responsibility to make sure that all students feel the same confidence regarding their religion, culture, and identity within schools so that they can reach their potential and become ‘educated citizens’ of the future. 

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Daily Brief

France’s Council of State to Decide on Controversial Burkini Policy in Grenoble



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  • The city of Grenoble has challenged the French administrative court by allowing burkinis to be worn at public swimming pools in the city. In May, Grenoble municipal council decided to laxen rules around the types of swimwear allowed at public pools, allowing for burkinis to be worn. Burkinis are fully body swimsuits typically worn by Muslim women to allow them to swim in public places while still being modest.
  • The burkini has often been a controversial topic in France since 2016 with several local municipalities attempting to outlaw it in public settings such as beaches as they state that it infringes upon strict separation of religion and state. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin stated that Grenoble’s lax swimwear policy is an “unacceptable provocation” that goes against France’s secular values. 
  • Grenoble Mayor Eric Piolle has defended the policy stating that public services like swimming pools should allow for people to dress as they please. Attempts to stop the policy from taking place have gone into effect with a local court in Grenoble suspending the policy stating that allowing for burkinis would “seriously undermine” the neutrality of public services.
  • The matter has now been turned over to the Council of State, who in the past have ruled against a burkini ban in another part of France. They are expected to deliver their ruling within the next couple of days.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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Samar is a UC San Diego graduate with a degree in Communication and a minor in Business. In addition to her passion for research and writing in relation to current events, she also utilizes her skills in areas such as digital marketing. Furthermore, she is deeply interested in positions that involve oral communication skills such as leadership roles and public speaking.

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Women's Issues

OPINION: ‘Honour abuse’ stems from a patriarchal mindset in some Asians. 




There are two definitions of the word ‘honour’. To possess or to hold high esteem or respect for someone or something. Or, to do something which is morally right. ‘Honour’ abuse is none of these.

Thus, juxtaposing honour and abuse is a fallacy. And yet, among the startling revelations about the state of domestic abuse as a whole in Britain, a leading think tank has found that too many British doctors are staying silent when presented with victims of ‘honour’ abuse, be they men, women or children, simply to shield themselves from the damning slur of racist. It is almost ironic – to save their honour, health professionals are ignoring crimes perpetuated in the name of honour.

Why is that? Because those victims more often than not belong to ‘closed communities’ , the term used for communities with a specific cultural tendency to keep domestic comings and goings – especially if those comings and goings include unlawful, abusive activity – behind closed doors. And more than this, when the sanctity of such privacy is disturbed, these communities are known for the severe backlash against the whistleblower. 

One of these communities is the Asian community of Britain. 

The truth is that the British Asian community  truly is, to a tee,  a closed community when it comes to these types of issues. Of course many, if not most, have advanced out of the old mindset; but certain parts of the Asian community are still stuck there and the reason is the very same for which eighty years ago, white women in England were being hauled off to jail by men in police suits, simply for demanding that they, as half of the country’s population, be given the right to vote for the people who would govern them; a devastatingly patriarchal mindset. What may come as more shocking is that many of the flag bearers of this mindset are women who exist only to maintain and advance the status quo. Because that is all they have ever known and all they know to survive.

And so it stands that the biggest victims are, and always have been, women.

Young girls are told as soon as they hit puberty, or even before, that their main goal in life is to marry a suitable husband after which the raison d’etre is to serve him and his family, without complaint. 

They are told this, not so much in words but by actions, as they watch their mother’s subservience to their fathers and other male and even female relatives, even in the face of emotional or physical abuse. 

A beautiful and damning illustration of this mindset, and its increasing awareness within the Asian community, is the short film  starring Pakistani actress Mahira Khan, who plays a young bride to be.

During her pre-wedding beautifying ceremony, singers are called to entertain the guests, at which point they start to sing their traditional song known as ‘prayer of the bride’. Khan’s future as a bride is broadcast in their song with such prayers as May my faith be to submit completely to my husband, never complain about the looks or character of my husband, I should feel blessed that it was just a threat, not a slap, If slapped I should be thankful it was not a shoe, Cursing my fate is what I should do, As rebelling is not what good women do, At every swear word teach me how to smile.

At which point Khan in anger and frustration commands them to stop their atrocious prayers and begins to sing the prayers, made up by herself ‘To love my husband should be my conviction, Not worship, slavery or total submission, You have created a man my lord, Now teach me to make him a human my lord, When his lapses cause darkness in our house, I plunge him in hellfire and it lights up our house– all to the horror of the elder ladies present who were ostensibly enjoying the first song.

The reality is that culture and religion have always brewed the most deadliest of poisons, for while religion is based on the spiritual sphere of life –always a personal choice, although wielded often as a control mechanism-culture always seeks to dominate the weak and further the powerful to aid in its natural expansionism. There is no honour, however, in inflicting pain on one in a weaker position than yourself, and balking when it is reported on. There is no honour in failing to admit your mistakes and save a life, save lives and generations from the toxicity of outdated, useless tradition.

But the truth is, a moral compass is exactly that; something which points to the human decency and rightness of something, ignoring all else, unbothered by any accusations to silence. That is something that our society, in its increasing liberalism, lacks as it grows further in selfishness and in its own sense of honour. The blocks that many health and social professionals stumble over is that being opposed to letting human suffering go on does not equal racism or prejudice of a culture, community or religious meaning; it equals 

This doesn’t mean that one should ascribe to the white knight in shining armour either- there  is a need to understand that there are sensitive ways to tackle domestic strife. Breaking down the proverbial door to a household leads to humiliation and backlash for both parties involved. 

And most of all, what too many in the Asian community do not understand is that honour is in acceptance of differences, new viewpoints, admitting to one’s mistakes no matter your age, standing or gender, and being open to brief public ridicule amid community circles for permanent private peace & justice. It is not in your sense of standing in community or society if that sense of standing is built on the silent oppression, however slight, of others, especially those in your own home. It is not in the perception of others; it is in the reality of those you come back home to when you return from your glorified pulpits.

Abuse is not honour. To change the perception people have of us as Asians, first we must change ourselves, and reassess our notions of ‘honour’. 

That’s the honourable thing to do.

All views expressed in this editorial are solely that of the author, and are not expressed on behalf of The Analyst, its affiliates, or staff.

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