As a woman one of my favourite, most uplifting quotes is ‘A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.’
These words speak up for themselves in regards to women’s rights and the fight for equality. It’s shocking to see that in 2021 we’re still fighting for equal rights! This has impacted women and young girls aspiring to be someone in the world. In the past year, during the pandemic we have seen the devastating struggles faced globally; nevertheless, it has changed everyone’s perspective on life but, even after the hardships faced there’s a lack of representation for women, girls have been removed from schools, and businesses have shut down leaving people hopeless.
This 8th March, on International Women’s Day, we at Taqwa Invest want to raise our voices in support of girls who cannot go to school or make their dreams a reality. It is critical to raise our voices for equal pay rates, for general equality at every point in life. As stated by our Holy Prophet (S.A.W), “Observe your duty to Allah in respect to the women, and treat them well.” We need to be treated equally regardless of our gender, at workplaces, for representation and to have access to resources.
Keeping this in mind we would like to mention stories of women who have inspired change, despite the challenges they faced. They have dared the stereotypes and fought for women’s rights globally.
Also, there is no particular order for these 5 influential Muslim women making their contributions in the development of Islamic Finance and Businesses!
- Khadīja bint Khuwaylid (RA)
Yes, Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W)’s first wife was probably the most influential woman of her time. Having the honor of being the first convert of Islam, she set an example for not just women but for all of mankind to follow the right path guided by Allah. Islam owes its early success to her because it was her unflinching support, encouragement and influence that led Islam to grow initially.
Born in 555AD in present day Saudi Arabia, she was well ahead of her time. She was a successful entrepreneur and broke stereotypes when she asked her hand in marriage to the Prophet (S.A.W). She also worked after getting married so that Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) could focus on spirituality.
It was her who soothed and pacified the Holy Prophet (S.A.W) after the first revelation while believing and encouraging his role as a Messenger of Allah
- Professor Dr Normah Omar
The UiTM director is an influential figure in Islamic finance. She is indeed a pioneer in her field as her contributions helped Malaysia become a hub for Islamic finance. Under her guidance, the UiTM Accounting Research Institute was recognised as a Higher-Learning Institution Centre of Excellence by the Higher Education Ministry in 2010 and till today, it continues to prioritise Islamic finance in its research agenda.
In 2017, Normah became the first woman selected by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to join its Anti-Corruption Certification Programme.
In addition to being well-reputed, she is also eager in promoting the status of women entrepreneurs. She continues to mentor dozens of academics, and her advice is highly considered.
Dr Normah is indeed a shining example and has rightfully earned her place in the 10 most influential women in Islamic finance.
- Sayyida Dr Rawan Ahmed Al Said
Born in Oman, Sayyida Dr Rawan Ahmed Al Said is the CEO of Takaful Oman SAOG, one of the first full-fledged Shari’ah compliant Insurance Company. She has almost 30 years of experience in the financial industry, 20 of which are in the Public sector.
Sayyida Rawan remains to be the First and the only Female who holds a CEO position in a public listed company in Oman. She has been a member on the board of various well-reputed companies and financial institutions in both; public and private sectors.
As ranked 14th in Forbes Middle East for the ‘Most Powerful Arab Business Women in Listed Companies’, her achievements are exceptional, powerful and encourage a number of Muslim women to stand up on their feet.
- Dr Nida Khan
Being the developer of two pioneering technological tools for the Islamic finance industry; Dr Nida Khan is credited with the development of a new block chain consensus mechanism, FAST, for high performance block chains for Zakat, an integral part in Muslims belief.
She has dealt with block chain-based micropayments and is contributing as a team member of Masdin, an associate team between the University of Luxembourg and France for management of software-defined infrastructure. She is working on the financial applications of block chain and data analytics under the supervision of Dr. Habil Radu State.
Her achievements in diverse publications, innovative FinTech applications for various branches of Islamic finance have inspired young girls aspiring to work towards the development of Islamic finance in today’s rapidly changing world.
- Farah Arakji
She serves as the CFO and Investor Relations of Abu Dhabi National Takaful, which is one of the highest rated Takaful operator in the world. Her contributions in the growth of Islamic Finance have been inspiring.
Farah Arakji is seen as a role model for millions of Muslim women globally, she presents herself as successful, creative and professional in her field. Her training sessions are considered to be an eye-opening experience for the staff at Abu Dhabi National Takaful. Her role as a media ambassador shows her progressive stance and willful contributions to the company.
Faced by the many backward thinkers telling her that a woman’s place is at home and not in a workforce, she has dealt with the social stigma and proven her capabilities through her achievements.
- Marwa Thabet
In our Islamic Finance Conference, this past weekend it was an honour for us to invite Marwa as a guest speaker to discuss women in the Islamic Business Industry and the hardships she faced while bringing Yalla Halal to life.
She is the Founder and CEO of Yalla Halal, that is home to a 100% certified, authentic and halal Middle-Eastern as well as Arabic cuisine. In her own words: “Although I loved living in such a vibrant and diverse city (London), I found myself missing the comfort and flavors of the food of Yemen. Therefore, I searched high and low to find halal Islamic restaurants that deliver the same authenticity of my family’s home-cooking, however, I was surprised to find out that my hometown Yemeni food was scarce in London.”
Through Yalla Halal’s easy-to-use website, with a wide range of talented chefs who can cook food from your hometown, one can order freshly cooked and exquisite everyday meals as well as extra-special dishes for occasions such as Eid and Ramadan.
Her dedication to make Halal food easily accessible in the UK is admirable and has encouraged many Muslim women across the globe to make their dream and passion a reality.
- Dr Areeba Khan
Our Founder and CEO, Dr Areeba Khan, is an Indian woman who has completed her PhD in Islamic Finance from a well-reputed Indian central university. Her aim and dedication to make Islamic investments at Taqwa Invest more secure, sustainable and help in the development of Islamic Finance as a woman is highly notable.
Areeba, is a specialist in Islamic Finance and banking. Her areas of expertise are: Islamic Finance, Islamic Equity Indices, Sukuks, Shariah Law, Corporate Governance and Portfolio management. She has experience in three core sectors of finance, banking and real estate. Her doctorate research focused on the performance evaluation of Islamic and conventional equity indices around the globe. Areeba has published two papers in Scopus Indexed Journals, two in Indian Journals and one chapter in Springer. She has worked with renowned organisations such as Aligarh Muslim University, DinarStandard and Westford University.
Being a part of Taqwa Invest, I have seen Areeba dare the stereotypes and the fair share of hardships while building an Islamic FinTech so enthusiastically from scratch. In her own words: “Research and corporate experience have made me come up with the idea of Taqwa Invest. Working in different areas of Shari’ah, laws, governance, finance and capital markets have made me more passionate about spreading a good word about Islamic Finance. I have seen this dream come to life with proper strategizing and planning. Alhumdulillah our idea, finally got registered at DIFC and we obtained the innovation license.” Her achievements are an encouragement for Muslim women globally to take on the challenges and work hard to make a dream a reality.
Needless to say, these are just a few of the many inspiring women across the globe and throughout history. Their contributions to Islamic Finance and Businesses have helped its development in many areas and like them we need to challenge stereotypes, break barriers and demand equal rights and opportunities for women and young girls.
Around the world so many women are fighting poverty, inequality, violence and lack of justice. Women deserve so much more! We must raise our voices against injustice and take action now.