On September 18th 2020, the world lost a strong, intelligent soul: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. As one of the most renowned supreme court justices to date, Ruth Bader Ginsburg embodied the spirit of justice and equality. Her courageous court rulings not only paved the path for women’s advancement, but her strong willed opinions called on our lawmakers and courts to assess their core values.
As she once said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” Through her dedication and hard work, RBG changed our country.
In 1956, Ruth Bader Ginsburg began her legal career as one of eight women students in Harvard Law School. In those early years, Ruth saw with impressive clarity the systemic injustice against women. Without fail, Ruth endured a multitude of microaggressions as a female law student: from being forced to explain why she is taking the place of a male student, to having to fight louder to garner the attention of her professor.
Despite the naysayers, Ruth went on to graduate top of her class. Yet, the fight didn’t end there. Having been rejected from every law firm in NYC, Ruth forged her own path. She went on to teach courses dissecting the laws that subjected women to disparate treatment based of sex. Soon enough, Ginsburg found herself in a courtroom defending the values of justice and equality.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s contributions to the legal field remain unmatched, and will surely live on with each challenge and triumph women face in this country. It was her tenacity and commitment to justice that called on me to take action. I have often felt the plight of equity and quality for women as a Muslim born into a faith whose community has long forgotten its essential values of women’s rights. I find that the Islamic faith honors a woman’s life and dignity – yet, in my opinion our modern Islamic jurisprudence fails to reflect the innate rights of women granted to us by a power far greater than ourselves, or the men controlling the laws.
Justice Ginsburg said she wanted to be remembered in the following way:
“As someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability. And to help repair tears in her society, to make things a little better through the use of whatever ability she has. To do something, as my colleague David Souter would say, ‘outside myself.’ Cause I’ve gotten much more satisfaction for the things that I’ve done for which I was not paid.”
So as I, like many of us, reflect on Justice Ginsberg’s life, I find myself pondering: what can I learn from her? Where can I dissent? How can I stand committed to my values so that Muslim women globally feel the freedom that is within their rights. I invite my fellow Muslims to think not of what RBG’s death means for American politics, but of what her values mean for all women.
And from this point, I, too, dissent – until all women are afforded proper equity and equality in the eyes of all. Rest in power, beloved RBG. Your work will always be the path that every woman remembers as she is provided her equal rights in this world we live in today.