Thoughts Lead To Appreciation
Malak Hifni Nasif was a very intelligent woman whose father encouraged to acquire education.
She was a prolific writer, versed in Islam, Arabic language, Egyptian culture, etiquette, poetry, and literature.
A qualified teacher, Malak taught for a couple of years.
Because of her and others’ experiences in marriage, she commenced advocacy for the rights of women.
For her feminist works, Malak Hifni adopted the nom de plume Bahithat al-Badiyyah [seeker of the desert].
Through publications in newspapers and speeches at political gatherings and universities, Malak enlightened Egyptians on the need for productive change in the treatment of women.
She formed a network with other writers in Egypt, the Middle East and the west for the improvement of the status of women.
In 1909, Malak Hifni Nasif became the first Arab to use the term an-nisa’iyyah ~feminism, a term she titled her publication of her writing collections.
Malak was not a conformity, for she towed the line of neither traditionalists nor western-inclined Egyptian feminists.
She had her own identity.
Malak wanted to secure the right of women to attend Salaat ~Prayers in the Masjid and argued that women have a role to play in the society.
Malak championed girl education and felt it was unreasonable for girls to be pulled out of school or be denied schooling altogether.
Education Malak felt must be compulsory to primary school level and that the option of advanced studies should be made available to women.
She saw girl-child education as grounded in Islam, Egyptian culture and history, as well as the other fields of formal education.
Malak appealed for Egyptians to take charge of the educational system of the nation and not leave the future of their children to the direction of foreigners.
This is partly because she observed that:
The most ignorant of girls are the graduates of missionary schools.
Education of children Malak expressed was not to be left to classroom teachers; parents have a crucial responsibility to fulfil.
She was critical of mothers for not paying enough attention to their children’s physical and emotional wellbeing.
Malak posited that self-love, love of one’s children and compassion must be inculcated in girls.
An independent thinker, Malak’s belief in the Hijab distinguished her from other Muslim feminists of her era.
She saw compatibility between the Hijab and feminism and was a singular voice to oppose the removal of the Hijab, which was promoted by other women’s rights activists.
Malak Hifni considered health education and healthcare essential rights of women.
Malak argued in favour of a loving marriage. She firmly believed that love must exist in a marriage.
Exploitations in marriage such as financial marriage where one is married solely for one’s wealth earned the rebuke of Malak.
She advanced the rights of women to divorce and to opt-out of polygyny (colloquial: polygamy).
Most significantly, Malak campaigned for the liberation of women in the home.
In 1918, Malak aged 32 succumbed to influenza.
May Allah be pleased with her. Aameen.