Woman With A Turban: Heartbeat Of Islam In All Of Us

by 10 September 202213 comments

بِسْمِ اللهِ الرَّحْمٰنِ الرَّحِيْمِ

In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

Woman With A Turban: Heartbeat Of Islam In All Of Us

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Are we capable of determining our own paths in life? The answer is complex and nuanced at best. At no moment, would the clouds high above in the blue skies part, and a guiding hand would descend and show us the right path to traverse. That is exactly what Anisa, an independent-minded young Muslim woman, experiences while growing up and living in a community dictated by conservative Islamic tradition, in East Java, Indonesia.

In Woman With A Turban (Perempuan Berkalung Sorban), a community seems to remain unassailable by the rapid pounding winds of change brought about by modernity. That remains so, until Anisa starts to boldly continue questioning the status quo.

Heartbeat Of Islam Belongs To Us All

Being the only daughter of a respected religious teacher (kyai) and founder of Al-Huda Islamic Religious School (Pondok Pesantren Al-Huda) comes with a whole slew of expectations and responsibilities. Besides the rudimentary obligation to memorise the Quran and behaving modestly at all times, she is also not to ever cross the line in questioning, much less oppose, the thoughts, opinions, views and decisions of adults, especially men.

A still from  Woman With A Turban, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Since an early age, she learns about rampant sexism and politicised gender roles shaped by the values of a patriarchal society propped up by conservative Islamic principles. From forbidden to keep her hobby and love of horse riding, her rightful win in school after been democratically elected by her classmates to be the class representative snatched away based on her gender to determining her future spouse.

One more crucial contextual detail. It is about lived realities on the ground.

It points to the confluence of a multitude of identities; not just simply as a Muslim and a woman. Anisa like millions of others in Indonesia and all over the world is the living embodiment of a multiplicity of, or multi-hyphenated, identities (a young-middle class-rural-Indonesian-Muslim woman) in a climate whereby faith pervades every facet of her life.

In other words, she is not living in a community practising the ‘purest’ form of Islam, instead a syncretic climate – a combination and overlapping – of conflicting and opposing values and principles all rolled into one! Thus, such intersectionality of identities would almost always produce friction. On a macro level, this minute yet key details exemplify the very volatile nature and contestations of Indonesian state philosophy known as Pancasila.

A still from Woman With A Turban, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

In essence, Anisa is and remains a piece of Islamic narrative, encompassing her perceived shortcomings by the men in her life. The heartbeat of Islam is not just the purview of men, or some elite groups in society. It is, in fact, in all of us as Muslims. Women have a right to their opinions and Anisa has never been afraid to question her perceived value in life and not letting anyone else dictate her worth as a devout human being to Allah.

Partnership, Not Ownership

It is fundamental to understand that marriage is first and foremost not about serving a skewed arrangement that largely benefits the husband. Though Anisa’s first marriage had been blessed by families and the immediate community, they did not form a support system in times of her greatest need. Promises of marital bliss instead paved the way to a road filled with broken promises, including the opportunity to further her tertiary education in Yogyakarta.

You would be able to relate to the frustrations of restrained ambitions compounded by, at times, foolish decisions (in hindsight!) during moments of stress and desperation, such as not knowing when to walk away, especially in toxic relationships. Anisa decided then to continue with her first marriage although she went on to experience marital abuse in every possible fashion. Societal, familial and religious pressures unfortunately contributed to her deepening traumas. As you might clench your fist then thump the table while muttering unsavoury words under your breath, all hope is not lost for Anisa.

Other than Allah, she has to embrace the painful reality that men are not saviours, always. Men are also flawed with many shortcomings. This realisation sets in as she seeks answers from her childhood love interest, Khudari, for not marrying her:

Allah pasti menunjukkan jalan yang terbaik buat kamu, Nisa.” (“Allah will definitely show the best way for you, Nisa.”)

Jauh-jauh ke Cairo belajar Islam cuma untuk bilang Allah pasti nunjuki jalan buat aku?!” (“You studied in distant Cairo just to say that Allah will definitely show me the way?!”)

As she turns to leave, Anisa tearfully and defiantly declares: “Allah sebenarnya sudah nunjuki jalan yang terbaik buat aku … [Khudari], tapi jalan itu terputus sejak kamu pergi.” (“Actually, Allah has shown the best way for me … [Khudari], but it was destroyed since you left.”)

Freedom Comes With A Price Tag

As Anisa’s friend remarks: “Bebas itu enak.” (“Freedom is sweet.”) However, at what cost? After her divorce and her subsequent move to the city, these shifts in her life further opens her eyes to the complex realities of life. Everything is not black and white, or existing in a dichotomy. Many fall into the grey area. And, that is life.

A faithful could make choices to compromise on certain Islamic principles without forsaking everything else. Anisa’s friend, for instance, justifies her fornication through her filial piety to her parents and by still dressing modestly, especially the hijab.

In other words, without indulging in shallow moralising, her friend’s paper-thin piety is expressed in outward fashion, tangible forms of piety through clothing. A clear engagement in hypocritical religious piety. Yet, just as important is how they choose to treat those around them. Do they pass judgment? Or, suffer from self-aggrandising thoughts that seek to put others down? Therefore, is Anisa’s friend any less a Muslim than other Muslims, such as Anisa herself?

A still from Woman With A Turban, which is available to stream on Qalbox.

Riding into the sunset does not always spell a happy ever after. It is a continuation in the fight to be heard and to be seen. Women’s autonomy, empowerment, freedom and rights are still contested in Islamic communities. When Khudari witnesses Anisa’s impatience for change, he consoled and encouraged her: “Perubahan itu kan bertahap. Roma juga bukan dibangun sehari.” (“Change happens in stages. Rome was not built in a day.”)

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  1. Shaheeda Adams

    I would love to read more about Anisa. Sounds great

  2. Abba Mohammed

    Salaam. I need to know from on set that this not free and that you will be charging me for subscribing and articles sent to me. You only indicated that after I subscribed, this is fraudulent and such l am deleting you because I will not be able to be paying a monthly subscription. In fact I am deleting this app.

    • Muslim Pro

      Salam Abba Mohammed,
      Thank you for getting in touch with us here. We are truly sorry to hear about the issue. In order for us to provide you with full assistance, submit the appropriate request via the following link https://support.muslimpro.com/hc/en-us/requests/new for us to follow up with you accordingly. We look forward to assist you soon.

  3. Wisam

    Please use the word Hijab or Nigab not Turban. Thanks

  4. Abdulkareem Muhammad

    I love it the site we help me and my family thanks

  5. Muhammad

    ٱلرِّجَالُ قَوَّٰمُونَ عَلَى ٱلنِّسَآءِ بِمَا فَضَّلَ ٱللَّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَىٰ بَعْضٍۢ وَبِمَآ أَنفَقُوا۟ مِنْ أَمْوَٰلِهِمْ ۚ فَٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتُ قَـٰنِتَـٰتٌ حَـٰفِظَـٰتٌۭ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ ٱللَّهُ ۚ وَٱلَّـٰتِى تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَٱهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِى ٱلْمَضَاجِعِ وَٱضْرِبُوهُنَّ ۖ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلَا تَبْغُوا۟ عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلًا ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ

    Men are the caretakers of women, as men have been provisioned by Allah over women and tasked with supporting them financially. And righteous women are devoutly obedient and, when alone, protective of what Allah has entrusted them with.1 And if you sense ill-conduct from your women, advise them ˹first˺, ˹if they persist,˺ do not share their beds, ˹but if they still persist,˺ then discipline them ˹gently˺.2 But if they change their ways, do not be unjust to them. Surely Allah is Most High, All-Great.
    Please don’t change what Allah has persist fir us it will affect thise on the day of Judgment.thise that speads this the umra.

    • Muhammad

      Please leave feminism and words like sexisum and patriarchy out of Islam.Allah made men men and woman woman.we all have a jobs we should get to em.treat somen well yes bed over to dajjal no way.
      I bend down to no kne but Allah.
      May Allah’s blessings and Gidiance be upon you.

  6. Aaditya

    Muslim boys need to be taught to be wise, compassionate, emotionally intelligent and well versed in Quran.

    The problem is low Quranic knowledge fathers, uncles, Imams and community leaders. Not a new issue.

  7. Maryam Nasser

    With Anisa’s first marriage you are not allone. A lot of muslim women have the same when it comes to marriage. Am not going far my Daugther married was treated worst maybe than Anita but because of having two sons and as a mother I always tell her to be patient one day he will changed Alhamdullilah through fervent prayers Allah granted our prayers The husband changed it need patience, submission and most especially prayers trust and have faith in Him He will grant your wishes as long as you are sincere and never loss hope.
    Always cling to Allah
    He is there to help be patient for patience is the path to Jennah

  8. Nazir

    Society is build in the name of Islam but more patriarchal tribal way. If they fear Allah SWT, they will build society with sunnah of our Beloved Rasulullah SAW.
    Our sunnah does not allow a single abuse on our women. Instead we shield them and protect them from abuses and threats from inside home and outside too.
    Our ego, manliness must be controlled with our salawat and zikr always.
    Being a daughter of an Ulama doesn’t qualify a status quo only to someone. It has to be for all Muslimah and also to Non-Muslimah.
    Everywhere, leaders lack knowledge on our Beloved Rasulullah SAW.

  9. Adam

    Peace be upon you! Thank you for the time you took to put out this life story about Anissa. Though seems deviating and deliberate attack on some aspects and prospects of Islam and people’s way of life that had kept them who they’re for generations, the segment contains some good stuff to reference upon. I live in the west that a number of people outside of it dream to one day land on before they breath their last, but other than the Hollywood portrayal of it, there’s little to admire especially society and moral standings. Even livelihoods runs like stock markets, a lot of vices, hopelessness, illusion etc. In fact what u guys call freedom doesn’t exist, they’re a people chained by debts, uncertainties and crises of all forms. Can u imagine a place (West) where most churches have remained to serve the dead, very few that choose to consummate marriage and on rare occasions baptism rituals, the rest are on beaches, indoor watching movies, political rallies and hanging out in bar corners. Yes, the so called third world has also a bunch of despicable social and cultural practices often confused to be religious rooted, but still they’re less compared to moral decadence eating away the west. In fact the so called third world has more chances of surviving the test of time than the so called first world. That’s how I see things.

  10. Isumaila Ahmed

    Publishing of a Muslim lifestyle Will go a long way to guide the Muslim ummah what to do and what not to do

    • Hamedu yasen

      Masha Allah


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