Home Hijab The first veiled woman ever to give a speech at the British Parliament

The first veiled woman ever to give a speech at the British Parliament

Translated by: Manal Samhat


Sumayya Karim, a British citizen from a Pakistani origin and the very first veiled Muslim ever to give a speech at the House of Commons last week.

The speech was given at the historic hall of the House of Commons, right from the dispatch box from which the prime minister addresses the MPs as part of the annual session of the British Youth Parliament, attracting everyone’s attention by her speech and veil alike.

Miss Karim clarified that she feels special having been able to deliver the speech, confirming that representing the youth and Muslims women at the British Parliament had been amazing and an unforgettable experience. She also expressed that she would like to major in medicine in the future and engage in politics.

The 16-year-old teen girl who lives in Wokingham, west of London, expressed her hope to see more veiled woman in the parliament in the future, pointing that Britain is home to a big number of veiled women, according to the Anadolu News Agency.

It is worth mentioning that Sumayya Karim was elected in December last year as member of the Youth Parliament that is comprised of 600 members. The democratically elected Youth Parliament members, aged 11 to 18, are elected to present the views of young people in their areas to the government, just as the MPs, as they hold many sessions at the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Miss Karim was appointed as the speaker on behalf of the Youth Parliament by its members.


A woman plays a significant role in life at all levels and in all domains, as she is not less experienced, giving and capable than man. Actually, names of several women stood out in the world of politics, arts, literature and thought in general, and they made extraordinary contributions throughout the course of humanity. The young men and women have potentials that ought to be exploited in favor of man’s and life’s issues and causes and to present a bright and manifest image about Islam and its civilizational message.

In a related context concerning the woman’s missionary work, His Eminence, the late Religious Authority, Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah (ra), says: “The Holy Quran includes many calls for man to shoulder his responsibility in life, at the level of the Message and the society as well, and in the face of the challenges that might hinder the missionaries’ role to deliver the Message and that get in the way of people’s freedom and their general critical issues, and we all know that the Quran addresses both men and women alike in the calls it releases.

When we read the call out: “O you who believe” we understand that the call is voiced to all the people and all the believers, without any difference between men and women in this respect. The woman occupies a wide arena in which she can shoulder her responsibilities fully within the framework of her culture and social potentials she enjoys, which enables her to achieve great results, just as man does in the general arena… The humanity of man, be he male or female, encompasses all the aspects of life, knowing that Islam did not cancel out the woman’s humanity nor did it exempt her from the responsibilities she ought to shoulder.

Addressing the matter from the private Shariah point of view, we come to the conclusion that if the woman is able to guide a group of people, whether men or women, then she should do so as part of her natural and realistic potentials. Moreover, if she was able to expand these potentials without exerting any pressures on the circumstances she is experiencing, then she should do so, for perhaps the interest of performing such cultural role lies in considering it as part of her private responsibilities, for we notice that the public interest comes in first before the private interest in such cases. Therefore, we notice that the woman can face all the practical positions having to do with the message and life, and with the society in general, by what she is able to offer, whether at the level of the obligatory issues she should do or the nonobligatory issues she is recommended to do.  

Therefore, we ought to look into the matter through the general view we deduce from man’s role in life, in terms of what Allah wanted him to do in the process of building life on the basis of the general caliphate that takes from every person his potentials. In this sense, man ought to exploit his energy and potentials in the right fields.

[Extracted from the book “Islamic Contemplations regarding the woman, p: 39]