Updated: May 10
Author: Alisar Al Obaid
When I started working with Bayt Al Hikma 2.0, or “the House of Wisdom” in 2019, I thought it was just another translation job. After the past seventeen months, I realized that we are doing something much more impactful than just translation. This project is a step on the path to real change. The slogan “We're making the inaccessible accessible” is not just another saying, but rather, it is the goal to build an educated and informed generation.
Personally, I love to learn new things, and Bayt Al Hikma 2.0 encouraged me to do this. I've read and translated many articles about the politics, economics, and histories of different countries. I've learned about civilizations that I previously only knew by name, and I've discovered some information that I never thought existed.
What struck me as the most compelling are the articles about women who have advocated within their communities for equality and women's rights. The history for some dates back four hundred years, like Judith Sargent Murray, who worked hard in the late eighteenth century for the equality of the sexes—that women, like men, had the capability to reach intellectual accomplishments and should be given the resources to achieve economic independence. There was also Anna Kingsford, who was one of the first English women to obtain a degree in medicine and paved the way for many others. There were also many other women like them who are not commonly known to the public.
While their pursuit to empower women and obtain freedom was full of obstacles, they were persistent. These influential women were not a passing event, but rather like the waves, they shaped the shores of the community and paved the way for all future women.
The situation of our women in the Arab world today is heart-wrenching. Sometimes it seems like medieval rituals are practiced on them. Many people stand against empowering women. They fail to revolt against outdated customs, traditions, and ignorance, which perpetuates them in one way or another.
Last month, Nawal El Saadawi passed away. She was one of the most influential feminists in the Arab world, as she fought against female genital mutilation and opened new doors for all women. As exemplary characters, we need many more “Nawals” to break free from the bars we are locked behind.
I would love to see women educated rather than marginalized, and I want them to be a part of the revolution of knowledge.
The empowerment of women is not limited to their financial independence, intellectual independence, or freedom from guardianship. We can empower women through education and through influential people, who strive to change their reality and the reality of the community around them.
The Syrian poet, Adonis, said in his 2013 speech to the Syrian International Conference in Geneva, “Dictatorship is not just a political structure, it is mainly a cultural and social structure, and in the head, before it is in the chair, and the revolution - if it is real - must be associated with the project of changing power or the political system organically linked to another project, which is changing society politically, administratively, culturally and socially.”
If we look at the West, we see that it has reached the cumulative result of knowledge and science that began with a movement to translate the knowledge of the civilizations that were superior at the time.
Civilization is cumulative, and change is gradual. We need many years to witness a different scene in our Arab countries.
I am optimistic that we are moving steadily in the right direction. Thanks to the Internet and non-ideological platforms that carry the torch of knowledge, such as the House of Wisdom 2.0 and Ideas Beyond Borders, I see hope on the horizon.
This article was edited by Skyeler Antonino