During the dawn of Islam, women were distinguished, they held high positions, and women were behind so many developments in Islamic culture. So how is it that now the position of women has fallen so far behind?” ~Karima, Muslim spiritual guide
Imagine if a nation decided to tap into the leadership of women to try and make a difference in society and prevent further acts of terrorism. This is exactly what’s been going on in Morocco the past ten years. I recently watched the documentary, Casablanca Calling, which shows and tells how female Muslim religious leaders are changing girls’ and women’s lives for the better in Morocco. These Morchidat, or spiritual guides, work at institutions such as schools, orphanages, and prisons and also at street level in the countryside or urban areas. Their goal is to hopefully plant seeds of thought to help improve society.
Morocco and other Arab and Muslim countries have been living in a period of ignorance and stagnancy…Women suffer from injustice and discrimination…Any new idea we try to put in place about changing life for the better, takes time.”~Hannane, Morchidat featured in Casablanca Calling
There are many beliefs people have that have nothing to do with our religion” ~Bouchra, Morchidat featured in Casablanca Calling
The line that summarizes best how girls and women weren’t treated equally is when a man in a jewelry shop said to Hannane:
Girls are a bomb waiting to explode that could ruin the family’s reputation at any time. So we must get rid of this bomb as soon as possible – by marriage.”
Watch this clip from the movie to see the whole conversation between Hannane and the men in the jewelry shop:
What makes the stories of these incredible women so inspiring is that they are filling an enormous need in Morocco.
In the following clip, Bouchura counsels students of an all-girl boarding school due to the death of one of their classmates; she had committed suicide due to her strained relationship with her father.
Watch how Karima hopes to change Morocco by educating youth about the contributions of women in the Islamic Empire during the Medieval Period.
I especially love this clip because it reminds me of the reason why I went into teaching – to promote awareness of marginalized people who usually go unrecognized in mainstream society.
This documentary also captures ideas that are never seen in mainstream media. The dominant storyline Americans see is about extremist Muslims wreaking havoc around the world. Rarely do we hear how Muslims are making positive change, and especially from and by women’s perspectives. It is pretty amazing that the government of Morocco had the insight to hire and train Muslim women to be leaders who preach about Islam as a religion of acceptance and peace. All while helping girls and women have more of a voice and support in an otherwise heavily patriarchal society (more than 60% of women have never been to school!). I hope the positive effects of their work spread and transform Morocco for the better and that more people around the world learn from their example!
Here is the official trailer of this wonderful documentary – a must see!