How coronavirus challenges Muslims’ faith and changes their lives

As the world faces the greatest disruption of our lifetimes, Muslims throughout the world are also grappling with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the Islamic cultural, spiritual and theological dimensions offer Muslims myriad ways of coping.

Adapting to new social norms

Muslims have relatively large families and tend to maintain extended family relations. Prophet Muhammad encouraged Muslims to keep strong family ties. The Quran inspires Muslims to be generous to kin (16:90) and treat the elderly with compassion (17:23).

These teachings have resulted in Muslims either living together as large families or keeping regular weekly visits and gatherings of extended family members. Many Muslims feel conflicted about the need to apply social distancing on one hand and the need to be close to family and relatives for comfort and support. Tighter restrictions on movement in some parts of Australia (NSW and Victoria) mean Muslims, like everyone else, are not allowed to visit extended family anymore.

One of the first changes brought about by social distancing has been to the Muslim custom of shaking hands followed by hugging (same gender) friends and acquaintances, especially in mosques and Muslim organisations. After a week or two of hesitation in March, the hugging completely stopped, making Muslims feel dismal.

Visiting the sick is considered a good deed in Islam. However, in the case of COVID-19, such visits are not possible. Checking up on those who are sick with phone calls, messages and social media is still possible and encouraged.

Cleanliness is half of faith

One aspect of coronavirus prevention that comes very naturally to Muslims is personal hygiene. Health organisations and experts promote personal hygiene to limit the spread of coronavirus, especially washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.

Islam has been encouraging personal hygiene for centuries. The Quran instructs Muslims to keep their clothes clean in one of the earliest revelations (74:4), remarking “God loves those who are clean” (2:222).

More than 14 centuries ago, Prophet Muhammad emphasized “cleanliness is half of faith” and encouraged Muslims to wash their hands before and after eating, bath at least once a week (and after marital relations), brush their teeth daily, and to groom their nails and private parts.

Additionally, Muslims have to perform a ritual ablution before the five daily prayers. The ablution involves washing hands up to the elbows, including interlacing of fingers, washing the face and feet, and wiping the hair.

While these do not completely prevent the spread of disease, they certainly help reduce the risk.

An interesting detail is that Muslims are required to wash their genitals after using the toilet. Even though Muslims use toilet paper, they are required to finish cleaning with water. This requirement led to some Muslims installing bidet sprayers in their bathrooms.

Closure of mosques and Friday services

Congregational prayers in mosques are important for Muslims in instilling a sense of being in the presence of the sacred, and a sense of being with other believers. Accordingly, they line up in rows with shoulders touching. This arrangement is extremely risky during a pandemic. Australian mosques are now closed because of coronavirus.

Deciding to skip optional daily congregational prayers was not too difficult for Muslims, but stopping Friday prayers has been more challenging. Friday prayer is the only Muslim prayer that has to be performed in a mosque. It consists of a 30-60 minute sermon followed by a five-minute congregational prayer conducted just after noon.

Stopping Friday prayers on a global scale has not occurred since it was introduced by Prophet Muhammad in 622, after he migrated to the city of Medina from the persecution he and his followers endured in Mecca.

Iran was the first to ban Friday prayers on March 4. While countries like Turkey and Indonesia tried to continue Friday prayers with social distancing, it did not work, and soon the entire Muslim world closed mosques for prayer services.

Fortunately for Muslims, the closure of mosques does not mean they stop daily prayers altogether. In Islam, individual prayers and worship play a greater role than communal ones. Muslims can pray five times a day wherever they are, and often home is a place where most praying takes place.

The void left by ending of Friday sermons in mosques has been filled to some extent by Friday sermons offered online.

Effect on Ramadan and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca

Two of the five pillars of Islamic practice are the fasting in Ramadan and the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

Ramadan is only three weeks away. It starts in the last week of April and goes for a month. During this month, Muslims refrain from eating, drinking and marital relations from dawn to sunset on each day of the month. This part will not be affected by COVID-19.

What is affected are the evening breaking of fast dinners (iftar) and daily evening congregational prayers (tarawih). Muslims generally invite their friends and family members to these dinners. In Western countries, the invitations include non-Muslim acquaintances as well. Islamic organizations have already announced the cancellation of iftar dinners.

The three-day end of Ramadan festive celebrations (eid) will also be limited to family that live together.

The impact on pilgrimage is far greater.

The minor (and optional) Islamic pilgrimage (umrah) happens throughout the year, intensifying near Ramadan. With Iran a hot spot for coronavirus, Saudi Arabia suspended entry to Iranian and all other pilgrims as early as February 27.

The main pilgrimage (hajj) season occurs in late July. Although there is the possibility of the spread of the virus slowing by July, a pilgrimage involving more than two million people from just about every country on earth would almost certainly flame the virus into a second wave. Saudi Arabia is likely to cancel the main pilgrimage for 2020.

In the 14 centuries of Islamic history, pilgrimage has not been undertaken several times because of war and roads not being safe. But this is the first time in pilgrimage may be called off due to a pandemic.

As pilgrims reserve their spot and pay the full fee months ahead, the cancellation of hajj would result in losses of savings for millions of Muslims and cause massive job losses in the pilgrimage industry.

The balance between precaution and reliance on God

An early debate in Muslim circles around coronavirus has been a theological one. Muslims believe God created the universe and continues to actively govern its affairs. This would mean the emergence of the virus is an active creation of God.

So like some other religious groups, some Muslims argue that coronavirus was created by God to warn and punish humanity for consumerism, destruction of the environment and personal excesses. This means fighting the pandemic is futile and people should rely (tawakkul) on God to protect the righteous.

Such thinking may help in reducing the sense of fear and panic such a large-scale pandemic poses, but it can also make people unnecessarily complacent.

The vast majority of Muslims counter this fatalistic approach by arguing that while the emergence of the virus was not in human control, the spread of disease certainly is. They remind us that Prophet Muhammad advised a man who did not tie his camel because he trusted in God: “tie the camel first and then trust in God”.

Prophet Muhammad sought medical treatment and encouraged his followers to seek medical treatment, saying “God has not made a disease without appointing a remedy for it, with the exception of one disease—old age”.

Further, Prophet Muhammad advised on quarantine:

If you hear of an outbreak of plague in a land, do not enter it; if the plague outbreaks out in a place while you are in it, do not leave that place.

Sometimes affliction inevitably comes our way. The Quran teaches Muslims to see life’s difficult circumstances as a test — they are temporary hardships to strengthen us (2:153-157). Such a perspective allows Muslims to show resilience in times of hardship and tribulation, with sufficient strength to make it to the other side intact.

In times like this, some people will inevitably lose their wealth, income and even their lives. Prophet Muhammad advised the grieving that property lost during tribulations will be considered charity, and those who die as a result of pandemics will be considered martyrs of paradise.

As Muslims continue to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, they, like everyone else, are wondering how their lives might be changed afterwards.

Mehmet Ozalp, Associate Professor in Islamic Studies, Director of The Centre for Islamic Studies and Civilisation and Executive Member of Public and Contextual Theology, Charles Sturt University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.

 

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/life/2020/04/02/how-coronavirus-challenges-muslims-faith-and-changes-their-lives.html

NU Must be Present for Urban Working Class

“In the old days, as far as you could see the rice fields, that area was all ‘NU [Nahdlatul Ulama] territory’. But now, along with the shrinking rice fields, the only ones who study and worship in NU style are in the outlying areas, or those that are well established and want to preserve the memories of their home villages. Meanwhile, most workers follow the Salafi style in Quran studies and worship.”

This hypothesis of one of our fellow researchers clearly needs to be tested, but recent research findings by Rumah KitaB that women laborers in Karawang and Bekasi in West Java are very active in Salafi pengajian (religious study groups) seem to confirm this statement. NU is Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, known for its moderate teachings and practices, while Salafi is known for a more rigid understanding of Islam.

Three Rumah KitaB researchers have been observing industrial areas since January, taking the daily pulse of women working in local large factories. They observed how these women workers or former workers defined their lives: the effect of the industrial era and industrial area on their socioeconomic life and their existence as women; and whether any sense of restriction is caused by increasingly rigid religious views, or by attitudes that are more intolerant of women. The researchers are still exploring the answers, but there are some intriguing indications.

One researcher reported that almost all the religious study groups attended by the women workers were “kajian sunnah Salafi”. This refers to study groups following the Salafi belief that the only authentic Islamic teachings are those derived from the Salafi era — the time closest to the life of the Prophet Muhammad. We therefore refer to them as fundamentalists.

On Mondays through Sundays, dozens of these kajian sunnah are found in mosques in housing complexes and in company mosques. In the areas studied, the busiest time for these sessions is Saturday, when 17 groups meet in one industrial area.

Our researchers collect posters of the sessions which listed the topics under study. Most discuss tauhid, the principles of strict monotheism. Various terms translate these principles considered as central to pure tauhid. Phrases such as “fear of bid’ah” or heretical practices and rituals, “never be a musyrik” or someone who worships anything other than God, or “must use a clear reference”, signal their utmost caution and rigidity in practicing Islam. As Salafis, they clearly believe the most correct religious teachings are the ones they consider most authentic. And this is where their intolerance shows.

Their sessions are deadly serious; with almost no joking around, unlike scenes in women’s religious study groups often shown on television, which are full of joyous laughter, typical of cultural religious study sessions in NU circles.

Another theme of the Salafi study groups relates to “correct” practices of daily worship: the right way to perform ablutions, the right way to pray, to dress, to raise a family, and so on. Naturally, it is studies on women that are presented most often, including the obligation to wear a full body covering (jilbab syar’i) plus hijab.

Through their mobile phones, the women can access and select various study themes. And in every study activity, they diligently pay attention, take notes, and ask questions on slips of paper.

So why is the NU style of study and worship no longer suitable for the urban working class in these former NU strongholds? Why has the NU model of pengajian been pushed into the outlying areas? The working class seems very keen on the sunna style of study because it gives them definite answers: lawful or unlawful, you may do this, you must not do that.

Their lives as workers follow the rhythm of working life, measured in minutes and hours. This “instant” type of study seems to fit with their rhythm as urban dwellers with drained energy. They are only interested in definite answers and no longer have time to follow the NU model of study, which provides alternatives. As newcomers from villages, not all of whom are familiar with the pesantren (Islamic boarding school) tradition, they are uninterested in a traditional model of study that discusses the classical texts word by word. They need answers directly relevant to their current lives as city dwellers who need something to hold onto in a life full of gray areas.

This situation is clearly different from when they lived in the villages, where life is regulated by the farming seasons, the rhythms of the five daily prayers, and participation in pengajian as a customary communal activity.

Historically, the NU founders aimed to maintain the traditions upheld by the rural agrarian poor. But these poor people have now moved to the cities, following the loss of their rice fields and economic resources in the villages. They have become the urban poor who no longer depend on agriculture but instead on industry.

Has this change been captured not by NU but instead by proponents of the Salafi? Some Salafi consider politics as bid’ah (heresy); consequently workers are forbidden to rally even for their own rights and interests. And this is perhaps why business owners cultivate them, or at least tolerate them.

The hardships faced by poor families and women workers in urban areas mean they seek a way out to improve their lives. The working class struggle cannot be constantly denied in the name of maintaining stability. And just like in the villages when the poor had to face landlords or high prices of production inputs, NU should be present among the urban working class and defend them when they face disadvantageous labor regulations.

The shift of the interest of many workers, especially women, to Salafi-style pengajian should not be seen as a simple individual preference of any available stream of Islam; since the nature of Salafi teachings, which emphasize the superiority of their group and their sense of being the most authentic in practicing Islam, is the root of intolerant religious attitudes.

And everyone knows that intolerance never leads to anything good in the life of a pluralistic society like Indonesia’s.

 

Lies Marcoes

 

Sumber : https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2020/03/14/nu-must-be-present-for-urban-working-class.html

Meet Amina Wadud, The Rock Star of Islamic Feminist

The Lady Imam talks to Managing Editor Hera Diani about her endless spiritual journey, Feminism in Islam, and how she enjoys taking off her hijab in her new home in Indonesia.

 

by Hera Diani, Managing Editor

 

amina wadud distributed the copies of the Quranic verses related to Islam and feminism during a class in Jakarta last year. It was held during Ramadan by Rumah KitaB, a non-governmental research organization focusing on the rights marginalized groups facing discrimination against socio-religious perspective.

There were 35 participants from different professional backgrounds, including public figures like women activist Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, as well as Muslim scholars Ulil Abshar Abdalla and Nur Rofiah. But all of us share the same interest in Islam and gender and we were all star-struck by the presence of the Lady Imam in front of our very eyes.

My introduction to the 68 years old American Muslim philosopher was in 2005, when she created a controversy by leading Friday prayers for a congregation in the United States, going against the general rule that allows only male imam in mixed gender congregations. For someone who had been questioning the very rule and had been asked by non-Muslims about it, I became an instant fan and follower after that.

Getting her PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Michigan in 1988, wadud (who prefers her name in lower case as Arabic alphabets do not recognize capital letters), has focused on relation of gender and Islam. She wrote the quintessential Qur’an and Woman: Rereading the Sacred Text from a Woman’s Perspective, which has since become a seminal work on the topic. She has been part of several civil society organizations and movements that promote principles of equality for women under the principles of Islam, such as Sisters in Islam and Musawah.

As an Islamic scholar, she has a progressive focus on Quran exegesis, or the interpretation of the holy text. That was what she tried to teach us last year in the class, to read the holy text using contextual methods.

wadud said we need to ask the following questions in seeing gender discrepancies in the Quran. Is it a reflection of the historical context? Is it the shortcoming of Arabic language? Is it a reflection of patriarchy? Or a matter of divine intent? How do we know?

We were divided into groups of 2-3, and each group read different verses. My group got Surah Al-Ankabut 28-35, about the Prophet Lot’s people and their abomination, which have been used by many Muslims to reject homosexuality.

“Check the verse. Who is the speaker? Is it God? Is it the prophet? Who or what is this statement made about? Is the message clear? If there is a woman, does she speak?” said wadud.

As we dissect the verses word by word to answer these questions, it became clear that the verses were not crystal clear about homosexuality. There are mentions about “obscenity” and “people of corruption”, as well as “wrongdoers” and “lewdness”. The narrators alternate between God and Prophet Abraham telling the story of Prophet Lot, and other unclear narrator(s). There are a few mentions about Lot’s wife, such as “We will save you and your family, except for your wife, who will remain behind.” But it was not clear what vice she does, and does she speak for her own? Never.

It was such a mind-blowing exercise.

“Compare each verse to other verses. If we find contradictory passages or ideas in the text, choose on the side of equality and justice. If other people can read in patriarchy, you can read in equality and justice. The only way to resolve contradiction is to think,” said wadud.

“No need to be scared of people. You don’t have to be a scholar to interpret the text, it’s your right to do so.”

As she talked about hegemonic binaries in Islamic context, wadud also made a reference Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination, a 1992 work of literary criticism by Toni Morrison, which made her class even more exciting.

In between the classes, I had the opportunity to sit and talk with amina wadud and the excerpt is as follows.

Magdalene: So you are now moving to Indonesia. May I know why?

amina wadud: I love this part of the world; I love the weather. I have arthritis, it fits me better. I’m very happy here. My kids, the youngest one is turning 30 today. They have a life of their own and they’re living their lives, and I can always visit them. Because it’s cheaper to live here and visit them there. So I’m hoping to find a place that I can either purchase or, you know, move to.

How did you begin to be interested in Islam, being a daughter of a Methodist priest?

I think being raised in a God-centered household, it was fairly early on that I was clear that there was more to it than just one way. And at that time I just was interested in looking into various Christian denominations to see what’s the same, what’s different. When I was in high school, I lived with families, some were Jewish, Unitarian Universalists…so again, there was this idea that religion is not just one.

By the time I got into the university, I really was interested in Eastern spiritualist tradition and I became a Buddhist and lived in Ashram for a year and practiced meditation and textual practice. And the next year, when I was like 18 or 19, I started reading about Islam. There was a very strong movement in the U.S., so anybody who expressed any interest, they converted them. So I actually went to the mosque to get information and they said, “Oh, you should just take your shahadat (the Muslim profession of faith).” Five months later, I was given a copy of the Quran, which in my mind should’ve come way earlier but nevertheless by that time, I kind of committed myself to some level of practice, to some kind of community. But one time I read the Quran, I really fell in love and that’s really when it made a profound difference.

Did you face resistance from your family?

No, because I was always the odd person out. I was the only one who had ever went to university. I was vegetarian. They were, like, “Ok what else she is bringing home today?” (laugh). And I was already in the university, I wasn’t living at home, so there wasn’t any major issue. My father also had an illness that took his life, and his health deteriorated over the first two years that I was a Muslim until he passed away. So there was never really an opportunity to have any frank theological discussions.

I think my father also never knew about any other version of Islam except for the Black Muslim movement in the United States. At that time the Black Muslim movement was a non-esoteric movement. They didn’t believe in heaven and hell; they didn’t believe in white Jesus. And I’m sure that that seemed like it was a problem even though that wasn’t what the doorway was for me. I did not enter into the doorway, many Muslims did. They also, in a way, had internal movement until they became religious Sunni Muslim. But in the beginning it was a different kind of movement but I didn’t enter into that. But I think my father might’ve thought that, but as I said, I was living away from home, so if I came to see him and visited him at the hospital up until he died, we never really had time to talk about, “what is it you’re doing – do I agree, do I disagree”.

Being a Muslim back then in the U.S. must be very different from now in Trump’s U.S.

I’m sure because that was like over 40 years ago. I’ve been a Muslim for 46 years now. At that time actually there was a very strong movement in the African-American community towards Islam. In the 1930s to 70s, there was a very strong movement of conversion in the African-American community. And being an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, I was right in the heart of Philadelphia. And even today, of all the cities that you might visit in the United States, if you’re in the city of Philadelphia, Islam is very noticeable. It’s got a very strong presence and it is predominantly African-American even though there are Muslims from everywhere. So it was not as strange, but it still was rare.

But Islamophobia wasn’t as apparent as it is today?

No, there was a real lack of knowledge and people were pretty much stuck with that. With Islamophobia, there was a kind of consolidated profiling of types. The Muslims already figured out what was the “type” at that time and Muslims already knew what our type was. So we didn’t really have that palpable quality of hate and prejudice discrimination that goes on profiling everyone now.

So, how did you start focusing on feminism in Islam?

I never studied feminism in Islam. I actually distinguished myself from feminism for 35 years of being a Muslim. I studied Quran because I was interested in the Quran, and when I studied the Quran at my undergraduate university, I was mostly on my own because there wasn’t a really advance level. I started learning Arabic in the early 70s, then I lived in Libya and my Arabic fluency increased. I went to work, just teaching and tutoring in Islamic private schools, then I went to graduate school for Islamic Studies and Arabic. And by that time, I was clear that I really wanted to understand the role of women as promoted by the Quran.

 

Participants of Islam and Feminism class with amina wadud. (Courtesy of Rumah KitaB) 

 

I had lived abroad; I’d lived in a Muslim majority country. I’ve been around in the communities in the US, which are eclectic, with Muslims from all over the world, as well as home-grown, what you’d call indigenous Muslims. I had already absorbed that there were discrepancies between the ideas about what rights belong to men as Muslims and what rights belong to women as Muslims. I was very curious about where these differences had come from. And so my first question was, is this what Allah intends? And if this is what Allah intends, where would be the source of getting that information that I would best to be able to access? And that was the Quran.

So it worked out well because I was already in love with the Quran, and so I was clear that I wanted to look at that… Even then I didn’t even call it gender. My first book is called Quran and Women, it should be called Quran and Gender. But I didn’t take Feminist Studies, which was just evolving. I took a few random courses at Women’s Studies, but I took all these courses that say Islam is the best way. Here, look at all these researches that say why Islam is the best way, and they always gave me an A but it wasn’t really critical.

I think after I finished my master’s and PhD, and I wrote my dissertation, which became the book Quran and Women…I think it was then that it became clear to me that if you actually, methodically demonstrate discrepancies between certain cultural practices throughout the history of Islam and Muslims, from the Quranic trajectory based on knowledge of the Quran, it was so challenging to the comfort zone and authority given to men, that they resisted.

So I already became controversial when I really was not by personality very controversial. I was actually very conservative. Even Quran and Women as a book, it’s conservative, but in terms of scholarship it’s very rigorous. And, unfortunately, for the patriarchal projection of Islam, it does not support that projection. So it already began to create some problems. But I wasn’t interested in creating problems; I’m just interested in the truth.

 

It was much more challenging to the mainstream when the basis for your resistance to unequal treatment of women and men was not secular liberal feminism, but it was Quranic.

 

After I did my dissertation and got my PhD, I came to Malaysia and joined the International Islamic University to teach Quran and Quranic Studies to undergraduates. I began to have a relationship with the women in the communities and the beginning of Sisters in Islam. And that really shifted my thinking from just theory and theology to the level of activism and realities. When both thinking align with that trajectory that I understood from the Quran, it was much more challenging to the mainstream when the basis for your resistance to unequal treatment of women and men was not secular liberal feminism, but it was Quranic. That was even more powerful.

As a consequence, I actually began to experience some relevance in my work. Because before, it was all utopic, like Islam is the best religion in the world, and it does only wonderful things and the Quran says all these wonderful things, but the lived reality is something else. When you start having conversation between these two cosmologies, for me it’s the easy answer that the Quran will come first but how come we’re not living it? And trying to figure out not only how come we’re not living it, but how to live it. What were the steps needed to be put into place to follow that, putting it on the trajectory was actually revolutionary?

I left Malaysia in 1992 and Sisters in Islam started in 1987 but I didn’t join until 1989. And Musawah was launched in 2009 and by that time I identified as an Islamic feminist. I actually wrote critically about the … shaping of feminism, which was very secular, very white, and very class-elitist in its origin for it to relate to me as an African-American woman and a Muslim. There are a lot of things that need to be looked into.

Actually in 1995, at the Beijing World Conference of Women, it became clear that Muslim women’s issues were being put into a kind of battleground between the secular feminist and the Islamist. And the Islamists were a hundred percent patriarchal interpretations of Islam and that was fine because Islam is perfect, and the secular had a hundred percent “we don’t know religion” and they were in an agreement that you can’t have Islam and feminism. It wasn’t until those who were in the middle said, “who is defining Islam and how are they defining it? And who is defining feminism or human rights? How are they defining it? And when will the authority be given to us who are also living as Muslims and women to be able to define feminism, Islam and human rights all for ourselves?” And that’s when the shift came in terms of even the work that Sisters in Islam, the right to exert the authority to define not just feminism, but also to define Islam and that’s been the cornerstone of our work.

Because before people just say, “Oh you know what, that’s just Islam.” It’s like whose Islam? How is it defined? And where do they get their authority?” Those are the three questions that you need to ask continually because people are very strategically asserting limits for Islam in accordance to the agenda that they have and patriarchy was one such agenda that has a long history. So people just started taking it for granted. And when we challenge even that history to say, “That was one way of doing it, but there are other ways to do it” and here are the source stacks, here’s the methodology to support the idea that there are other trajectories of Islam, then we became a lot more empowered, but also a lot more controversial.

I can relate with what you call the battleground because Magdalene often talks about that trajectory and redefining Islam, like, is feminism in Islam oxymoronic or is there actually an intersection. And we are being attacked by both the right who say we’re liberal, and the left who say we are Islam apologists.

Yeah, that was what happened to us in the 90s, and it turned out also to strategically be a very good turning point, because then we had to figure out what is our identity. Because the Islamists said that we were secular feminist and the secular feminists said that we were Islamist. We were not either one of them. So, technically, not having an identity, and so clarifying both for ourselves and for the projection of our work and our relationship to larger communities took the next 10-15 years. By the time the launching of Musawah took place and we became a part of the global movements.

So now we teach the methodology of combining Islam and human rights for the dignity of women. It’s a lovely journey for me because everything just opened itself up to the next thing in a way that I was allowed to grow and change and learn and teach, and at the same time being a part of movements to implement what was being grown and what was being taught. So yeah, it’s a great blessing. But I didn’t know about it when I got into it, I only know that the dissertation I wrote that I became the book. I just get my royalty payment, twice a year from Quran and Women, it’s still making money. You know it’s like 27-something years old… so I mean it’s a blessing, really, to think about it.

Musawah focuses on family law, why is that?

Yes, the reason is that we have to work within an instrument, implement it within the context of the nation state. Many Muslim countries or non-Muslim countries with a large Muslim population that are minority will establish courts to adjudicate the matters that most relate to women and women’s well-being. They are family law courts, or personal status law courts. The fundamental understanding of those courts is that men are in charge. To dismantle the rubric of men’s superiority at a pragmatic level means challenging the established means of laws that support certain notions that actually violate in many ways the constitutional equality that is guaranteed to the same women in the context of direct nation-state. So strategically it’s a very powerful tool, otherwise it’s just too big.

We get to align with very specific kind of projects. For example, each country must give a report to CEDAW for the documents that they have become signature forms and each country is also permitted a shadow report. The shadow report is the unofficial report by women’s activists on the ground to say they’re telling you that they’ve been handling this and this is what is really happening on the ground.

It became a very powerful tool because it puts the nation state under its international connection empowering women on the ground to talk back to the state. But that also took time because CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women) was not in the UN and all its bodies was not qualified to interrogate the interpretation of Islam that came down the road. They were also believing that their job was to be hands off.

One of the ways that Musawah has worked with CEDAW and nation state to nation state’s agendas for women is to actually teach people in the UN about definitions of Islam. Like, who defines it and how, and we say if it’s defined by these things, how come these things are not put into these principles of Islam or these reservations on these international document and everything, so that took a lot of time and it’s not a hundred percent replaced, but it’s becoming more and more effective as we just keep on doing it.

Eventually, even in the UN, they said, “You know what? You defining Islam, what about these ways based on these principles” and all of a sudden we can no longer come to this body and say “Well you can’t do anything about it cause it’s Islam” because that body is also asking “whose interpretation of Islam are you using?”. It’s slow, but it’s happening.

One of the thorniest issues among Muslim women is hijab. What is actually said in the Quran about hijab?

First of all, there’s nothing said in the Quran about the hijab. There are some statements in the Quran about women’s dress, they’re taken one hundred percent from the style of the dress that existed at that time and place, and I used those based on things I presented in the first two sessions here. I use those as reflections of a general principle, and that general principle is modesty. But you cannot restrict modesty to only one form.

I don’t believe that hijab is a requirement of the religion. But it is personally my preference for my public work. I don’t wear it at home, I don’t wear it in my neighborhood, I don’t wear it when I go for some shopping, but when I were in public I do and it’s because I have a different relationship with symbols. This is one of the clearest, symbolic representations of Islam. And in that way, I identify this as a public performance. But I don’t see it as a requirement and I don’t see it as the only expression of modesty.

But because hijab is so politicized in a negative way, under the roof of Islamophobia, I am implying even more incline to assert it. So, for example, after 9/11, I was always subject to additional screening because I wore hijab at the time and I wear long dreadlocks as well, so it was like a nightmare. Because I would choose not to wear it, people were saying “why don’t you just go through the thing and not wear it?” I was, like, “No, no, why would I not identify with the people being the most oppressed?”

 

Compare each verse to other verses. If we find contradictory passages or ideas in the text, choose on the side of equality and justice. If other people can read in patriarchy, you can read in equality and justice. The only way to resolve contradiction is to think.

 

You know, I do also identify with wearing hijab, and recently when I went to Bali or something like that, I realized, “Oh, I’m in a Muslim majority country, they would let me wear if I have to they won’t pass at me, and if I don’t, they won’t pass on me either.” So, for the first time in 18 years, I went through security without having on hijab. That was, like, huge for me, because we have to see that there are politics related to it as well, and I don’t feel like my dress should be subject to the convenience of Islamophobes. Like, you don’t get to determine for me how I dress. Even your hate and your laws say that you don’t get to determine it for me. So obviously I believe in the wearing of choice and I believe in the taking off of choice. Because I both wear it and don’t wear it, I live in one hundred percent a place of choice, and that’s where I am.

What about niqab or burqa?

Well first of all, I chose to wear niqab myself for four years. I was in the United States and then I moved to Libya and I was still wearing it. And when I was in Libya, I stopped wearing it. But it was possible to wear the niqab by choice as well. Unfortunately, because of the politicization of the discussion, it is a long way before we know what would a person do if they were totally free. That is, if they were free to wear whatever they wanted, nobody said anything, would that be as big a deal? Even for the wearer? As it is to those who are resisting it? I don’t know.

So, until we actually accept people in the full range of their choices, we can’t know about what is the full spectrum or full range of women Muslim and their dress. We can’t know. So I support this movement going on terribly in Iran just as much as I support the burqini protest that is going on in France. They emphasize on two different things, but they’re all about women saying we give the same, that’s my body my choice. And that’s hard to do with the (unintelligible)

Now that you’re living here, how do you see the increased conservatism?

Yes, it’s interesting because many people have been pointing this out to me. I’m a little bit insulated living in Bogor and not speaking fluent bahasa. But also because I lived in Malaysia and actually it is way worse in Malaysia. Malaysia goes under the guise of a little bit more modern, a little bit more economic prosperity, but extreme Islamists is a really more rampant.

So, I’ve lived around it, so it still seems to be less in Indonesia but it is growing. It is in the favor of the Indonesian people to arrest the force of it by promotion of all kinds of tolerant, diverse representation of Islam. You just have to load the ways with more of the history of the tolerant nature that is typical of Indonesians. We have to make that the loudest part of the public.

The thing is we give more attention to the extreme voices and because we do, it seems as if they’re greater in number than they really are. Or that they have greater favor. They’re fighters, they make people afraid, so we really need to flood the waves with more conversation about just generic Indonesian Islam. And then it won’t seem so overwhelming. Because it is. It’s negatively overwhelming, and that’s part of the effect. We shouldn’t want that effect, and I think that they don’t have as much clout as they pretend they do. But they have enough to make other people afraid and so that’s the clout. That’s why we have to proliferate the friendlier messages.

But it’s worrying, like public schools are getting more conservative. And everywhere we go, more and more women are wearing hijab. My friend said when she was going to the church, she was genuinely taken aback, “Wow, it’s odd that nobody’s wearing hijab. Oh, wait a minute. I’m in a church.”

(Laugh) That’s right, you don’t go somewhere without seeing…. It does proliferate. It’s funny because I have to walk my neighborhood every morning, I tried to walk every morning because of my age and my arthritis and all that stuff, and I mostly go with a T-shirt, sometimes gym pants. And sometimes I think to myself, because everybody in the neighborhood wears hijab, “Are you showing off?” And actually, at the time that I go there are so few people that are out and about, and I always say, “Pagi, Bu/Pak. Apa kabar, Ibu.” and just trying to be neighborly, but the opportunity for me to walk with just a t-shirt on is rare. I can’t do it in the country like the United States because we got that other thing that’s going on there and I need to represent myself as a Muslim because I don’t want other things to come…I’m Muslim here, I don’t have to dress to go with it.

I went to the mosque with my T-shirt on, I just bring along scarf to do the prayer part, and I take it off and I get up and everything, I’m finally whole. My body is whole. I’m not fighting a war all the time with my body so I will have that choice to a Muslim woman. I don’t have to fight that here, so it is a pleasure. But sometimes, I worried, I said, “Are you showing off?” Because I would never, I mean, stay in an island… I went to Madagascar, which is an island, we have our own little private beach, so I’m in a sort of regular bathing suit, like a one-piece, but not like a burqini. And my friend, who’s also a Muslim, from the UK, she would go to the village to buy food, and she would wear just the shirt on. I mean, I could not go that far, so I have to put back on more clothes. I could not go with my chest all out, in my bathing suit, so I had to put on a regular T-shirt, so I’m not comfortable in certain levels of dress. Even on an island, if I’m going to meet other people, but I swim in a bathing suit like this, you know. So it’s a really funny thing because I noticed it more as I get older that the right to be able to choose my own body politics is very rarely given to me. So, when I walk in my neighborhood, I can do that, but you know, I wouldn’t be able to do that in many places.

But yeah, I do notice more (people are wearing hijab). Since the first time I lived here, which was 2008 to 2009, so in those ten years, I do notice more. Because I also wear (hijab) and I take it off as I want to as well, and I only started doing that when I was here. Living here the first time, I realized I don’t have to defend Islam. I’m not a walking poster for Islam, I’m just another person out here in the community, and most of them are Muslims, it took a weight off my back. So my first time to experience what would it be like to walk all the time without my hijab on is living here, and I said that I’m okay with this. But as I said, I wouldn’t go with a tank top, that’s not me. I came back here so I can enjoy taking it off. I’m not here for anybody’s pleasure or inspection, so if you don’t like that I don’t wear it, that’s your problem. Just as I would tell the Americans, if you don’t like that I do wear it, that’s your problem.

We also received quite a number of articles from the women who took off their hijab and receive a lot of backlash.

I used to say that most people give that backlash because they’re jealous, like, “Why do you get to take yours off while I have to wear mine?” I mean, like, that’s your problem.

So, are you doing your research here?

This first year, I must admit, I’m flaunting being retired, just trying to make some friends for safari, I’m going to South Africa next month. I’m enjoying not having to do anything except for what I want to do, because I’m a workaholic and I have five children. So, I never got the chance to do whatever I wanted to do for more than a minute, so I’m just flaunting it.

But I need to get to do some writing, which is why I left the U.S., I didn’t plan to stay, but this happened in such a good way. But yeah I want to do some writing from this research on sexual diversity and human dignity, and also I put in a proposal for a book about progressive ideas about the summit of spirituality and devotional practices. A kind of a progressive version of the five pillars, so I can talk about women imams, and also talk about the ways which people connect themselves to Allah, that include the regular five pillar that also extends it beyond itself.

After I made hajj, I ran a proposal that was accepted like, okay, here’s a chapter, and I never get any further. So I’d like to make that book, sometimes when people think of a book, to know about the fact that there are lady imams. Because if you learn about lady imams, it has to be like on a marginal discussion, on a marginal aspect, but no. It’s just a part of a regular Islamic salah (prayer), so, inshallah (God willing). Put me in your dua’ (prayer), because the idea is good but the discipline really sucks.

 

Source: https://magdalene.co/story/meet-amina-wadud-the-rock-star-of-islamic-feminist?fbclid=IwAR3Qt9Py8RI-q6DECUdqWabKUWNHfuhX-Q_Svw7Kt4ottvDdSnS87AF61og

A woman’s greatest enemy? A lack of time to herself

If what it takes to create are long stretches of time alone, that’s something women have never had the luxury to expect

 

A few months ago, as I struggled to carve out time in my crowded days for writing, a colleague suggested I read a book about the daily rituals of great artists. But instead of offering me the inspiration I’d hoped for, what struck me most about these creative geniuses – mostly men – was not their schedules and daily routines, but those of the women in their lives.

Their wives protected them from interruptions; their housekeepers and maids brought them breakfast and coffee at odd hours; their nannies kept their children out of their hair. Martha Freud not only laid out Sigmund’s clothes every morning, she even put the toothpaste on his toothbrush. Marcel Proust’s housekeeper, Celeste, not only brought him his daily coffee, croissants, newspapers and mail on a silver tray, but was always on hand whenever he wanted to chat, sometimes for hours. Some women are mentioned only for what they put up with, like Karl Marx’s wife – unnamed in the book – who lived in squalor with the surviving three of their six children while he spent his days writing at the British Museum.

Gustav Mahler married a promising young composer named Alma, then forbade her from composing, saying there could be only one in the family. Instead, she was expected to keep the house utterly silent for him. After his midday swim, he’d whistle for Alma to join him on long, silent walks while he composed in his head. She’d sit for hours on a branch or in the grass, not daring to disturb him. “There’s such a struggle going on in me!” Alma wrote in her diary. “And a miserable longing for someone who thinks OF ME, who helps me to find MYSELF! I’ve sunk to the level of a housekeeper!”

Unlike the male artists, who moved through life as if unfettered time to themselves were a birthright, the days and life trajectories of the handful of female artists featured in the book were often limited by the expectations and duties of home and care. George Sand always worked late at night, a practice that started when she was a teenager and needed to take care of her grandmother. Starting out, Francine Prose’s writing day was defined by the departure and return of her children on the school bus. Alice Munro wrote in the “slivers” of time she could find between housekeeping and childrearing. And Maya Angelou got away from the pull of home by leaving it altogether, checking herself into an unadorned hotel room to think, read and write.

Even Anthony Trollope, who famously wrote 2,000 words before 8am every morning, most likely learned the habit from his mother, who began writing at age 53 to support her sick husband and their six children. She rose at 4am and finished work in time to serve the family breakfast.

I think of all the books, paintings, music, scientific discoveries, philosophy I learned about in school – almost all by men. The conductor Zubin Mehta once said, “I just don’t think women should be in an orchestra,” as if they didn’t have the temperament, or the talent. (Blind auditions put an end to that notion.) I think of an interview Patti Scialfa gave on how difficult it was for her to write the music for her solo album because her kids kept interrupting her and demanding her time in a way that they never would of their father, Bruce Springsteen. And it strikes me: it’s not that women haven’t had the talent to make their mark in the world of ideas and art. They’ve never had the time.

Women’s time has been interrupted and fragmented throughout history, the rhythms of their days circumscribed by the sisyphean tasks of housework, childcare and kin work – keeping family and community ties strong. If what it takes to create are long stretches of uninterrupted, concentrated time, time you can choose to do with as you will, time that you can control, that’s something women have never had the luxury to expect, at least not without getting slammed for unseemly selfishness.

Even today, around the globe, with so many women in the paid labor force, women still spend at least twice as much time as men doing housework and childcare, sometimes much more. One study of 32 families in Los Angeles found that the uninterrupted leisure time of most mothers lasted, on average, no more than 10 minutes at a stretch. And in mapping the daily lives of academics, the sociologist Joya Misra and her colleagues found that the work days of the female professors were much longer than their male colleagues, once you factored in all their unpaid labor at home. Even so, she found that the men and women she studied spent about the same amount of time at their paid work. But the women’s time at work, too, was interrupted and fragmented, chopped up with more service work, mentoring and teaching. The men spent more of their work days in long stretches of uninterrupted time to think, research, write, create and publish to make their names, advance their careers and get their ideas out into the world.

In his Theory of the Leisure Class, Thorstein Veblen wrote that throughout history the people who had the ability to choose and control their time were high-status men. He dismissed women on page two, writing that they, along with the servants and the slaves, have always been responsible for the drudge work that enables those high-status men to think their great thoughts. Feminist researchers have argued that women have often had, at most, “invisible leisure” – enjoyable, but productive and socially sanctioned, activities like quilting bees, canning parties or book groups. Yet pure leisure, making time just for oneself, is nothing short of a courageous act of radical and subversive resistance. Easier to do, one researcher joked, if, like the writer, composer, philosopher and mystic Hildegard of Bingen, you became a nun.

Feminist researchers have also found that many women don’t feel that they deserve long stretches of time to themselves, the way men do. They feel they have to earn it. And the only way to do that is to get to the end of a To Do list that never ends: the chores of the day, as Melinda Gates writes in her new book, killing the dreams of a lifetime. Indeed, I’ve been trying to carve out time to think and write this essay for more than four months. Every single time I’ve sat down to start, I’ve gotten a panicked call or email from my husband, son or daughter; my mother, dealing with the strange frontier and endless paperwork of the newly widowed; a credit card company; or a mechanic about some emergency or other that requires my immediate attention to stave off certain disaster.

I remember interviewing psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, famed for identifying the state of flow, the peak human experience when one is so absorbed in a meaningful task that time effectively disappears. It’s the state that artists and thinkers say is a requirement for creating anything of value. I asked him if his research explored whether women had as much opportunity to get into flow as men. He thought for a moment, then told me a story of a woman who lost track of time as she ironed her husband’s shirts.

The poet Eleanor Ross Taylor lived her life in the shadow of her husband, the Pulitzer prize-winning novelist, short story writer and professor Peter Taylor. “Over the years, many times I would say to poems, ‘Go away, I don’t have time now,’” she told an interviewer in 1997. “But that was part laziness. If you really want to write, you can. I did keep the house scrubbed and waxed and that sort of thing.”

I feel such a sense of loss when I think of the great, unwritten poems that took a backseat to polished floors. And for a long time, I thought the expectation that others be tended to first and the floors be polished and that she was the one who was supposed to keep them that way was what kept those untold stories coiled inside her, compressed, as Maya Angelou writes, to the point of pain. But I wonder if it isn’t also that women feel they don’t deserve time to themselves, or enough of it that comes in unbroken stretches. I wonder if we also feel we don’t deserve to tell our untold stories, that they may not be as worth listening to.

The writer VS Naipaul claimed that no woman writer was his match, that women’s writing is too “sentimental”, their worldview too “narrow” – because, you know, men’s lives are the default for the human experience. And I’ve often wondered: would a woman who’d written a carefully observed six-volume novel based on her own life have received the same attention and international acclaim as the Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgaard, author of My Struggle?

Virginia Woolf once imagined what would have become of Shakespeare were he born a woman, or if he’d had an equally gifted sister. (Think of the musical prodigy Nannerl Mozart, whose early compositions her brother Wolfgang praised as “beautiful” but have been lost, or remained coiled inside, unwritten, as she disappeared into an expected but loveless marriage.)

The female Shakespeare, Woolf wrote, would never have had the time or the ability to develop her genius – barred from school, told to mind the stew, expected to marry young, and beaten if she didn’t. In Woolf’s telling, Shakespeare’s sister, despite her great gifts, wound up crazy, dead, or shut up in a cottage in the woods and mocked as a witch.

But that wasn’t the end of the story. Woolf imagined that, in the future, a woman with genius would be born. Her ability to blossom – and the expectation that her voice, her vision, was worthy – would depend entirely on the world we decided to create. “She would come if we worked for her,” Woolf wrote.

I do not claim to have any particular genius. But sometimes, I dream that I’m sitting in a dusky room at a kitchen table across from another version of me, who sits, unbound by time, quietly drinking a cup of tea. “I wish you’d visit more often,” she tells me. And I wonder if that searing middle-of-the-night pain that, at times, settles like dread around my solar plexus may not only be because there’s so little unbroken time to tell my own untold stories, but because I’m afraid that what may be coiled inside may not be worth paying attention to anyway. Perhaps that’s what I don’t want to face in that dusky room I dream of.

I also wonder: what if we really did do the work to create a world where the sisters of Shakespeare and Mozart, or any woman, really, could thrive? What would happen if we decided women deserved the time to go to their dusky rooms and stay awhile at the kitchen table? What if we all decided to visit more often, drinking a quiet cup of tea with ourselves, listening to the coil of stories as they unspool, knowing they have value simply because they’re true? I’d love to see what happens next.

  • Brigid Schulte is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist for The Washington Post and The Washington Post Magazine. She is also fellow at the New America Foundation. Overwhelmed by Brigid Schulte is published by Bloomsbury in March 2014

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/21/woman-greatest-enemy-lack-of-time-themselves?CMP=fb_gu&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook&fbclid=IwAR1_oJwEuYfMwsRHX01NNuhvEJQJpiPJvKG2N7Z3f9J5Suic987ZfwP0vpw#Echobox=1580910568

Kindergarten contest behind promotion of intolerance

In addition to the severe New Year floods, we were also shocked by a viral video of girl and boy scouts. Their yells included: “Islam-Islam yes, kafir-kafir no”. For Jakartans, the scene from Yogyakarta harked back to the 2017 gubernatorial election, in which incumbent and candidate Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was denounced as a kafir (infidel).

Yet such expressions and teaching of intolerance have entered the core of disciplinary education starting at preschool level. This article departs from research on religious disciplinary education at the level of early childhood education (PAUD), which includes kindergarten (TK), PAUD equivalent units (SPS), Raudhatul Athfal (Islamic kindergarten under the Religious Affairs Ministry), and Islamic integrated kindergarten, conducted on and off from 2013 to 2019. This study shows how the imposition of religious discipline leads to education that promotes intolerance.

Although preschool education has not always aimed to instill religious discipline, this research finds a strong tendency that preschool institutions are being relied on as a place to instill religious teachings or worship and also as a means to exercise moral control. The scope of religious discipline and moral control in these preschool institutions is very broad, from introducing basic skills, such as reciting short daily prayers before eating or sleeping, memorizing short Quranic verses, to other basic teachings on Muslims’ obligations including emphasis on the values of monotheism (tauhid).

In the teaching of tauhid we found content with teachings and expressions of intolerance, exclusiveness and even hints of violence against groups with other beliefs or kafir.

Discipline is instilled through routine learning and motoric activities in movement, songs or the introduction of vocabulary. For example, the song “Aku Anak Soleh” (I am a pious child) contains the phrase “Cinta Islam sampai mati” (Love Islam until death), accompanied by crossing one’s arm at the neck — imitating a knife or a sword cutting one’s throat.

Compared with studies on the encroachment of radicalism in junior and high schools and universities, little attention has been paid to teaching with intolerant or violent content in preschool educational institutions. Generally it is assumed that radicalization is a process of instilling an ideology, which requires a process of thinking and awareness raising, while preschool instills discipline through habit formation.

Michel Foucault, in his famous book Discipline and Punishment, observed that discipline is closely associated with power which controls its objects through an all-seeing telescope, the “panopticon”, and by normalizing moral evaluations. In preschool education, religious discipline and moral control are not done through military-style hierarchical observation as per Foucault’s theory, but rather through a collective will to strengthen the “fortress of faith” in children starting at an early age.

In our case this collective will is based on the belief that the Muslim community faces moral threats that would even impact the community’s economy, threats caused by “social deviations” such as juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, drugs and “deviating” sexual and gender expressions.

The cause of these deviations is considered to be weakening of belief and lack of religious teaching. The solution is “social renovation”, starting as early as possible, through preschool education and religious discipline with various teaching methods, ranging from playing to memorizing.

This collective will now function as a giant panopticon, in which society becomes an engine for control through religious and moral discipline in preschool educational institutions.

The most obvious forms of moral discipline are the ways girls are taught to dress and to behave, as well as threats related to unbelievers.

The mechanism of this disciplinary control is very simple: using financial threats. The survival of a preschool educational institution depends entirely on community funding. And the more students, the larger state subsidy received.

Actually preschool educational institutions are businesses. The competition for students encourages their operators to follow parents’ desires and expectations, including to strengthen the “fortress of faith”, as well as children’s readiness to start primary school with basic reading, writing and arithmetic abilities.

Religious discipline, as Foucault conveys, is used as a community’s means of surveillance and control to monitor the extent to which religious teachings are applied in an educational institution.

Thus teachings of intolerance easily enter the class, no longer through a side door as in high school, or through extracurricular activities such as Islamic spirituality sessions, but directly through the front door.

This is because control by parents who want their children to master basic religious learning can be fulfilled by groups promoting anti-tolerance, which offer religious discipline in teaching material. This encourages preschool educational institutions — even those not under religious auspices — to adopt learning material developed by intolerant educational institutions, so that their schools do not lose students.

The development of social/political Islam and the growth of religious identity politics in Indonesia has significant influence on teaching material content in Islamic preschools. This can be seen from the themes of the learning material, as reflected for instance in the songs and motoric activities of the children. Changing trends in religious life at the family level, along with parents’ expectations regarding religious education in preschool institutions, have led to more intensive religious educational content in preschools.

Meanwhile, the state’s policy which places preschool as educational institutions established on the community’s initiative, plus the limited knowledge of most preschool operators and teachers — who were largely born since the Reform Era and thus grew up in an atmosphere of Islam as identity politics — have contributed to a steady rise in intolerance in the country’s preschool religious education.

As intolerance today is found even in Indonesia’s educational institutions, solutions must go beyond penalties or guidance to the troubled institutions.

Mainstreaming tolerance must be the solution but not by imposing the Pancasila state ideology as in the past. Forcing an ideology may have closed opportunities for genuine, open discussions in which differences are accepted without friction and conflict. We have instead become more intolerant because the state had forced its view on what tolerance is and how to express it.

Today we’re seeing the fruit of settling past differences through banning all expressions regarding ethnicity, religion, race and other group characteristics for the sake of stability, without instilling in people how to healthily nurse differences, by fostering many safe spaces that reflect our plurality.

***

Director of Rumah KitaB, a research institute for policy advocacy for the rights of the marginalized.

 

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/academia/2020/01/31/kindergarten-contest-behind-promotion-of-intolerance.html?fbclid=IwAR1RgbMPynaPWYyrNgLbo51v470FpD7CglPU3V2fJ2imIyA4OptUtWNb9Io#_=_

10 ways the world got closer to ending child marriage in the last 10 years

Every year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18. That’s nearly one girl every three seconds, forced to grow up too soon.

But we’ve seen some encouraging progress over the last ten years. Although we still have a long way to go to end the practice for good, UNICEF reported in 2018 that global rates of child marriage are declining, with 25 million child marriages averted over the last decade.

And the good news doesn’t end there.

Here are ten ways the world got closer to ending child marriage over the last ten years:

1. Over 1,000 organisations have united to end child marriage 

Since 2011, the Girls Not Brides partnership has grown from zero members to a global movement of over 1,300 organisations across the globe.

Our global partnership reached a milestone 1000 members. Members celebrate at the Girls Not Brides Global Meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Credit: Graham Crouch / Girls Not Brides.

That’s thousands of organisations and activists who are working around the clock for a world free of child marriage, where girls can exercise their rights and achieve their full potential.

Together we’re stronger. And together we’ll reduce the number of child brides.

2. Child marriage went from a taboo topic to a prominent world issue

At the beginning of the last decade, child marriage was a taboo subject that governments, world leaders and communities across the world didn’t talk about. Fast forward ten years and it’s a prominent issue on the global agenda and in the communities where child marriage is most prevalent.

In 2016, child marriage was embedded within the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They’re a set of ambitious and urgent goals and targets aimed at changing our world for the better.

Under Goal 5 – to achieve gender equality, Target 5.3 aims to “eliminate all harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilations” by 2030. As a result, 193 countries have committed to end child marriage by 2030, changing the lives of vulnerable girls and women for the better.

3. Governments moved to raise the age of marriage

The past decade saw a number of governments raise the minimum age of marriage.

Norway approved a law banning child marriage, and set a global example. Tanzania’s Supreme Court declared child marriage unconstitutional, Malawi officially banned child marriage and Indonesia raised the minimum age that girls can marry from 16 to 19.

In Latin America, a number of governments raised the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions: the Dominican Republic, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. In Mexico, 24 out of 33 states have now updated their legislation in line with federal laws.

And in the UK, a new bill has been proposed which will raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 without exceptions.

4. The first US states outlawed child marriage

In 2018, Delaware became the first US state to outlaw child marriage, followed shortly by New Jersey. And in 2019, the U.S. Virgin Islands legislature voted unanimously to end child marriage.

Fraidy Reiss, activist and founder of Unchained At Last, the only organisation dedicated to ending forced and child marriage in the US, even got a tattoo to celebrate the victory.

Photo: Susan Landman

 

5. Millions of dollars were made available for grassroots efforts to stop child marriage

In 2018, leading donors and philanthropists came together to launch the Girls First Fund.

The Fund champions local efforts to ensure all girls can live free from child marriage and reach their full potential. They support local organisations, particularly girl-, women- and youth-led groups that work with the most vulnerable girls, working tirelessly to prevent child marriage and advance girls’ rights.

These organisations focus on girls, families and communities because they are in the best position to create lasting, local change and address the causes of child marriage at their roots.

6. Women and girls fought the law, and won

In 2016, 31-year-old Rebeca Gyumi took on her country’s legal system, winning a landmark ruling to raise the age of child marriage for girls in Tanzania from 14 to 18.

She was awarded the 2018 Human Rights Prize by the United Nations in recognition of her contribution to girls’ rights. The announcement came shortly after the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a third resolution on child, early, and forced marriage, which sets out the responsibilities of UN member states in ending child marriage.

Rebecca is just one of thousands of incredible girls rights activists who have made a difference for their peers, communities and countries.

7. Senior Islamic clerics issued a fatwa against child marriage 

A fatwa against child marriage and Female Genital Mutiliation was announced in Dakar in 2019. The Deputy Grand Imam of Al Azhar issued the fatwa. It specifically sets out that marriage under 18 for boys or girls is haram (forbidden).

 

Other religious leaders have also led the way in their communities. For example, in Ethiopia, leaders of the Orthodox Church declared that they will not preside over marriages where either spouse is under 18. And in Malawi and Zambia, chiefs, such as Chief Chamuka, have developed chiefdom by-laws outlawing child marriage.

8. 49 villages in India went ‘child marriage free’

In Rajasthan’s Thar Desert, many families are forced to marry their daughters off early. Poverty, social pressure and the lack of quality education all make it hard for girls to stay in school or seek a life beyond early marriage.

But norms are changing. Urmul Trust takes travelling music and puppet shows to villages across the Bikaner district, educating parents and children about child marriage. The puppet show highlights harmful effects of child marriage in a way that people of all ages can understand.

Villagers sign an oath against child marriage. Photo: Allison Sarah Joyce/Girls Not Brides

After the show, everyone takes an oath that they will keep their village child marriage free, before signing a banner which is then put up in the village to hold everyone accountable.

The campaign to make villages child marriage free has reached almost 200 villages in the Thar desert. Over 49 villages are currently free of child marriage.

9. 1,000 couples pledged their weddings to support girls 

Couples in the USA said ‘I DO’ to help girls to say ‘I DON’T’.

 

These couples registered their wedding registries with VOW, an initiative which gives couples and companies the power to help end child marriage — by donating a portion of profits from wedding registries and products to girls’ rights organisations.

10. Goats, chickens and bicycles stopped girls from becoming child brides

In Ethiopia and Tanzania, Population Council rewarded families who kept their daughters in school and out of marriage with goats or chickens.

Families who couldn’t afford their daughters’ education were pulling them out of school and often into marriage instead. As part of their Berhane Hewan programme, the organisation also gave girls school supplies and matched them with older female mentors.

And it worked! Girls in one village in Ethiopia were 90% less likely to be married than their peers whose families received goats and chickens.

40% of girls in Nepal become child brides and thousands don’t finish their high school education. But in the last few years, hundreds of girls have been given bicycles so they can travel quickly and safely to school.

Janaki Women’s Awareness Society runs the project to make girls’ journeys to school quicker and safer so they’re less likely to drop out of education and be left vulnerable to marriage. When the girls receive their bikes, their parents pledge to keep their daughters in school and to not marry them as children.

Shristi and Santamay ride their new bikes home. Photo: Girls Not Brides/Thom Pierce

 

Source: https://www.girlsnotbrides.org/10-ways-the-world-got-closer-to-ending-child-marriage-in-the-last-10-years/?fbclid=IwAR0mA-3KduKPTlJVFnttQaLANr2lOu3kuAbsAR0ZDkOlfHgUcXxxZqw8StQ

Congratulations Finland!

Congratulations to the people of Finland for the new cabinet led by a female Prime Minister, Sanna Marin, who serves as the youngest sitting prime minister in the world, and three strategic position ministers: Ms. Li Andersson, Minister of Education; Ms. Karti Kulmini, Minister of Finance; and Ms. Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior.

We hope that the new cabinet will bring great changes for the future of Finland.

Selamat!

Giving Thanks for the Blessing of Reason: Reconstructing the Meaning of Wilayah (Guardianship) to Prevent the Practice of Child Marriage

Report on Discussion of the Book Fikih on Guardianship: Re-reading the Right of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Child Marriage and Forced Marriage

In Bekasi, on 20 October 2019, Rumah KitaB, in cooperation with Yayasan Perguruan Islam el-Nur el-Kasysyaf (YAPINK) and Institut Agama Islam Shalahuddin Al-Ayyubi (INISA), conducted a discussion of the book Fikih on Guardianship: Re-reading the Right of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Child Marriage and Forced Marriage. This event was attended by 194 participants (44 men and 150 women), comprising the Board of Pesantren Caretakers of YAPINK, the leadership of INISA, lecturers, teachers, and students, and invited Ulil Abshar Abdalla (PBNU), KH. Ali Anwar (YAPINK Board of Pesantren Caretakers), and Ahmad Hilmi, (member of the book writing team) as the resource persons. The discussion took place at the Lecture Hall of YAPINK’s Faculty of Culture, and acting as the moderator was Jamaluddin Muhammad (Researcher from Rumah KitaB).

Before the event started, KH. Khalid Dawam (Chairman of the YAPINK Board of Pesantren Caretakers) provided welcoming remarks conveying his appreciation for the intellectual work that has been done by persons who are willing and courageous enough to explore matters that are often considered final, such as fikih. This intellectual work to respond to what is happening in society, according to KH. Khalid Dawam, is not intended to ignore, negate, or disrespect the fuqaha who have set forth their thinking in the studies on fikih as presented in various books, but is instead a form of intellectual responsibility to address problems in society.

Al-Qur’an and the hadith are indeed one, but clearly their interpretations are not singular, KH. Khalid Dawam stated. Hence, he continued, it is still possible to discuss matters that are of a furuiyyah[1] nature.

If to date the community has believed that akil baligh [maturity] is one indication that a person is allowed to marry, now we must reexamine what exactly akil baligh is, and what its consequences are – particularly if biological maturity is used as a basis for allowing child marriage. This is because there are certain individuals who use this basis to commit actions that are not beneficial for all, thereby often giving rise to negative views about Islam. Observing this, KH. Khalid Dawam said, quoting the noted Egyptian Muslim intellectual, Muhammad Abduh: “Al Islamu mahjubun bil muslimin” (the glory of Islam is concealed by (the actions of certain) Muslims themselves).

The book Fikih on Guardianship prepared by the team from Rumah KitaB, according to KH. Khalid Dawam, is part of an expression of gratitude for our being given common sense, by using it as well as possible so that rigidity of thinking does not occur.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla stated that the book that is being discussed came about as a response to the widespread practice of child marriage in Indonesia. Following on from this, Ahmad Hilmi mentioned that Indonesia is among the countries with a high rate of child marriage.

This problem of child marriage has become so serious not solely because of legal issues, but also because it is intertwined with religious and cultural perspectives. Hence, according to Ulil, the book makes a significant contribution to resolving the problem of child marriage.

For example, the religious arguments that have up to now been used as a justification to allow child marriage are reconstructed in the study (in this book) and given a new meaning that is friendlier to females, particularly those who are likely to become victims of child marriage. As an example, the concept of ijbar in fikih differs from the concept of ikrah (coercion). Ijbar is the realm of protection by the father (guardian) to his daughter in order to protect her from all possibilities by choosing a proper partner for her. And clearly, a requirement for ijbar is the willingness of the daughter who is to be married. The power and authority to protect the rights and dignity of a child that are held by a guardian in ijbar cannot simply be reduced to the idea of coercion (ikrah).

[1] Furuiyyah literally means branch. But in this context, it can mean multidimensional.

 

REPORT OF BOOK ROADSHOW: “Fikih on Guardianship: Rereading the Right of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Forced Marriage and Child Marriage”

Thursday, 12 September 2019

13.00 – 16.00 Western Indonesia Time

Pondok Pesantren Cipasung, Tasikmalaya, West Java

AS part of the 2019 Book Roadshow, Yayasan Rumah Kita Bersama (Rumah KitaB) conducted a discussion and analysis of the book Fikih on Guardianship: Rereading the Right of Guardianship for Protection of Women from Forced Marriage and Child Marriage at Pondok Pesantren Cipasung, Tasikmalaya, West Java, on Thursday, 12 September 2019. The opening remarks were conveyed by Dr. Zaky Mubarak, M.Si., Director of Postgraduate Programs at Institut Agama Islam Cipasung, and Lies-Marcoes-Natsir, MA., Executive Director of Rumah KitaB. The event was attended by 149 participants, consisting of lecturers, teachers, and santri from Pondok Pesantren Cipasung, Tasikmalaya.

The discussion was kicked off by Dra. Hj. N. Ida Nurhalida, M.Pd. (PP Cipasung) who spoke extensively about the experience of Pondok Pesantren Cipasung in putting gender justice into practice. Next the participants, together with the resource persons, Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud (USA), Jamaluddin Mohammad (Rumah KitaB research team), and Ulil Abshar Abdalla, MA. (PBNU), discussed the various efforts of rereading which have produced an interpretation of gender relations that are more equal and fair as a thought product that socially has a broad influence in the daily lives of the Muslim community.

The event began with the reading of verse al-Isra`: 13 of the Qur’an, which states that for all persons, without differentiation by their sex, their actions have been determined, and on the day of Judgment will be shown to them in a book containing a record of all their deeds and actions while living in this world.

 

The Experience of Pondok Pesantren Cipasung

Dra. Hj. N. Ida Nurhalida, M.Pd., who is familiarly known as Ibu Nyai Ida, explained that ever since its founding by her grandfather, KH. Muhammad Ruhiyat, Pondok Pesantren Cipasung has applied what she refers to as gender justice.

According to her story, while leading and running the pesantren in 1931, KH. Muhammad Ruhiyat was assisted in his teaching not only by his son KH. Muhammad Ilyas Ruhiyat, but also by a female teacher, Ibu Hj. Suwa. KH. Muhammad Ruhiyat never assumed that women are lacking in expertise and would be unable to provide benefits to the pesantren. Ibu Hj. Suwa was given the broadest possible opportunity to teach the books “al-Jawhar al-Maknûn”, “Alfîyyah”, and other classic books to the male and female santri. This shows that KH. Muhammad Ruhiyat was truly a person imbued with gender justice.

According to Ibu Nyai Ida, this discussion and analysis of the book Fikih on Guardianship is not the first activity related to rereading of the fikih regarding women. Many years ago, in 1994, Pondok Pesantren Cipasung was host to a similar activity which began with the Fiqh al-Nisa` program of P3M together with Kiyai Masdar F. Mas’udi and his colleagues. This program received full support from her father, KH. Muhammad Ilyas Ruhiyat. This was the first time that Ibu Nyai Ida heard about the term “gender”.

After learning about and understanding the term “gender”, Ibu Nyai Ida then concluded that true equality is a core value whose presence is indisputable in the daily life of Pondok Pesantren Cipasung. Her own father, KH. Muhammad Ilyas Ruhiyat, deeply respected his wife and children. Males and females are given the same opportunities, with no discrimination or constraints. Everyone is given freedom to pursue their own interests, and even given the freedom to choose their own marriage partners, with no coercion.

Although her mother was only a primary school graduate, her father always involved her in consultation on all matters. Behind the success of her father, who was the Rais ‘Amm PBNU [Supreme Leader of the Central Board of Nahdlatul Ulama], was her mother, a modest person who always provided input and supported him in everything.

In later developments at Pondok Pesantren Cipasung, women were not only given the opportunity to teach or serve as guru ngaji, but also granted the mandate to lead formal educational institutions. For example, the Principals of the MI, MTs, MAN [primary, junior high, and senior high school level madrasah], senior high school, and even the Head of the STIE [economic college] within Pondok Pesantren Cipasung are all women. And based on observation, the women who lead these formal educational institutions are very successful.

Regarding child marriage, Ibu Nyai Ida told that one of her aunts was married at the age of nine. However, at first she was not allowed to live under the same roof as her husband; they were only allowed to live together after she reached the age of 15. She had many children, all of whom were successful.

In her day-to-day life, Ibu Nyai Ida recalled, this aunt seemed to be fine. But when encouraged to have a heart-to-heart conversation, she would tell about all the problems she experienced. She was very sad that she had not been able to pursue her schooling to a higher level, because she had to stop when she got married. She advised her children not to get married until after they finished university.

Ibu Nyai Ida heard many stories from relatives who married in childhood. They all said, “avoid getting married in childhood.” They even became involved in the campaign to prevent child marriage within the pesantren. It commonly happens that a girl santri is taken out of the pesantren by her parents in order to be married off. Quite often the pesantren has to negotiate with the parents to allow the girl the opportunity to finish her education at the pesantren, and then when she is old enough she is allowed to marry.

For Ibu Nyai Ida, child marriage is an emergency whose handling requires the involvement of many parties, including those from the educational world of the pesantren. It is true that there is no specific religious teaching that explicitly forbids child marriage. There are still differences of opinion among the ulama regarding this issue. Some deem that child marriage is acceptable and valid, while others feel it is not. Even if it is considered permissible, child marriage is not a good thing, because based on experience, it brings more problems that advantages.

In reading a text, according to Ibu Nyai Ida, it is essential to look at its background: why did this text appear, when, and in what context? This is what is called contextualization, which continually requires a balance between the text and the context so that the mission of Islam as rahmatan li al-‘âlamin, a blessing for all, males and females, can be carried out.

To further show concern for women, Pondok Pesantren Cipasung has established a WCC (Women’s Crisis Center) or PUSPITA (Pusat Perlindungan Wanita) which is part of Puan Amal Hayati. Many cases have been handled by PUSPITA. One of these was the case of a girl who was repeatedly raped by her own father. Ibu Nyai Ida related that every time the father wished to perpetrate this evil deed, he would order his wife out of the house, while the daughter was not allowed to go with her. He did this many times, with no resistance by the girl, until finally the crime was revealed and then reported to PUSPITA. The father was arrested and imprisoned; the girl was assisted by PUSPITA and enrolled in a beautician course, and eventually she married her teacher’s son. She now has a happy life with her husband.

In Ibu Nyai Ida’s view, what PUSPITA does is an effort to protect human lives and dignity, and this is part of religiousness. “Wherever we are, that is where we must carry out our religion. When we are at school or on the campus, that is where we engage in religious behavior, not just through our prayers or fasting,” she said.

 

Between Text and Context

The experience conveyed by Ibu Nyai Ida is truly extraordinary – departing not merely from theory, but from social reality which shows that women have what in the social sciences is referred to as agency or ahlîyyah: the ability to do something or to change something in society, and this has been soundly proven by the experience of Ibu Nyai Ida through the institutions of Pondok Pesantren Cipasung. This kind of experience is widespread in society: that women have capacity and agency, in many cases exceeding that of men.

Whether we realize it or not, the views that control us even now are views that were constructed by males. In the history of interpretation of the Qur`an, for example, almost all of the main players have been men; very rarely do we find tafsir written by women. In Indonesia, or even in the world, all writers of tafsir on the Qur`an are men.

Therefore, as conveyed by Ulil Abshar Abdalla, MA., the views on the role of women in society are often out of balance. The interpretations of the texts of the Qur`an and hadith regarding women, which were constructed and written by men, do not reflect the experience of women. As a consequence, there is a gap between text and reality. On the one hand is the realty that women are increasingly involved in society, while on the other hand the interpretations of the Qur`an and hadith – which are mostly written by men – still take a disdainful view of the roles of women.

This gap, according to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, has existed for a very long time, but recently it has come into question by Muslim intellectuals, including those in Indonesia. In the recent developments, as a country with a majority-Muslim population, Indonesia has taken great steps in granting a greater role to women. Sometimes these actions have been taken without first requesting approval from the ulama, and when the ulama are asked to grant approval, it may happen that not all of them agree. For example, nowadays there is a worldwide movement to give women adequate representation in social roles. As an example, the Indonesian law on political parties states that all parties are obliged to allocate 30% of legislative candidate positions to women.

Furthermore, in their organizational structure, political parties are also required to provide an adequate allocation to women. During the deliberation of the political parties law in the parliament, nobody made an issue of the 30% representation for female legislative candidates. There has never been any major dispute in Indonesia based on religious grounds regarding the greater role for women in political parties. Yet if we look at the experience of other countries with a majority Muslim population, this is still a matter of debate.

In the countries of the Arabian Gulf – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and so on – whether women can be members of parliament is still a major issue. Do women have the ahlîyyah or agency to be members of parliament?

But in Indonesia, such questions have never been an issue. Yet the construction of the tafsir on this topic is still traditional, viewing women as creatures who must always be inside the home, never outside the home. This contrasts strongly with the reality in society, where many women are actively involved in political parties, as members of parliament, and as state officials.

Ulil Abshar Abdalla related that in the 1950s, a scholar from the United States named Daniel S. Lev conducted research on judicial institutions in various regions of Indonesia. In his research, he found a woman serving as a religious court judge. Obviously, this came as a great surprise, because in Indonesia, as a country with a majority Muslim population, it was possible for a woman to be given space to serve as a judge, something which would be unimaginable in other Muslim countries.

In the Qur`an there is a verse that reads “Al-rijâl qawwâmûn ‘alâ al-nisâ`,” [QS. al-Nisa`: 34]. According to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, the interpretation of this verse by the ulama tends to be rather uniform: that leadership is in the hands of men, while women are seen as mere followers. For example, Fakhruddin al-Razi, in his book “Mafâtîh al-Ghayb” (the last major Sunni tafsir, 13th century CE) states that the meaning of “al-rijâl qawwâmûn ‘alâ al-nisâ`” is that “men are given the right to act as leaders who control women”.

If we look closely, the basis of all the concepts about wilâyah and qiwâmah is “al-rijâl qawwâmûn ‘alâ al-nisâ`” (men are leaders for women). But in daily practice we often find that “al-nisâ` qawwâmâtun ‘alâ al-rijâl” (women are leaders for men). One obvious example is Ibu Nyai Ida, who currently serves as the Principal of MAN [senior high madrasah] II Cipasung. In this position, she has many men working under her.

Does Ibu Nyai Ida’s position as Principal of the MAN conflict with the Qur`an? So we are now faced with a situation in which there is a gap between “al-rijâl qawwâmûn ‘alâ al-nisâ`” as text and “al-nisâ` qawwâmâtun ‘alâ al-rijâl” as context or social reality. Hence, the challenge for Muslim scholars going forward is to build a construction of fikih that involves dialogue between the texts (al-Qur`an and hadith) and the context (social reality).

 

The Importance of Education for Equality

Ibu Nyai Ida noted that when she gives lectures at religious study groups (majelis taklim and pengajian), she always inserts material on the importance of education for both males and females. “In the majelis taklim, we tell them that if you want to have good offspring, their mothers have to be smart. If you have children, whether boys or girls, both must be given the same opportunity to study and get an education,” she said.

The importance of education for males and females was also conveyed by Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud. Quoting a hadith of the Prophet pbuh which states, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation for both male Muslims and female Muslims,” she said that the 1441-year history of Islam has shown the importance of education, because the very first verse that was revealed to the Prophet pbuh was “Iqra’” (Read!), which emphasizes the importance of reading. The existence of this command to read as a verse revealed to the Prophet pbuh added to the knowledge of the Muslim community at that time.

According to Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud, the Muslim community achieved its golden age at precisely the same time the people of Europe were stuck in the Dark Ages. But the Muslims failed to maintain this glory, because they were unable to preserve the spirit of the importance of education as taught by the Prophet pbuh.

It is important to note that the Arabic word “tarbiyah” (education), which comes from the root “rabbâ” (to educate, to care for), does not refer solely to a quantity, but instead relates to fostering and guidance to improve the quality of life and growth of boys and girls.

The quality of growth and development must be continuously improved through education so as to enable every person to have the opportunity to become a good servant of Allah. In Prof. Amina Wadud’s view, when Allah said He would create a khalifah on the face of the earth, this showed that every human has a responsibility to give their best in order to improve the quality of human life on earth.

“Truly, the history of the future has not yet been written,” said Prof. Amina Wadud. Therefore, every person, male or female, has the same opportunity to formulate great steps to achieve an even better future.

 

The Methodology Offered by the Book Fikih on Guardianship

According to Ulil Abshar Abdalla, the book Fikih on Guardianship is truly an effort to bridge the gap between text and context by proposing a tafsir based on maqâshid al-Islâm or maqâshid al-syarî’ah and the principle of benefit. One of the themes discussed in the book is child marriage. In fikih, there is a concept known as wali mujbir, a guardian who has the right to force his child to marry. In fact, this concept is still a matter of debate between the various mazhab (schools of thought); some mazhab allow a guardian to force his daughter to marry, others do not allow this, and so on.

To date, the popular understanding in society regarding wali mujbir is that a guardian or parent has the right to use his authority to force his daughter to marry. This happens in cases of child marriage in many regions of Indonesia. Research by Rumah KitaB has found that Indonesia is a country with a very high rate of child marriage.

Among the reasons why parents marry off their daughters at a very young age are economic factors, unwed pregnancy, the factor of traditional or social views that if a girl reaches a certain age but is not yet married, this brings tremendous shame to her parents, so they have the right to force her to marry even if she does not like her prospective husband, and many other factors. This concept of wali mujbir is then used – or misused – by parents to marry off their daughters without the girls’ permission.

As well as the issue of wali mujbir, which describes the relationships between parents and children in the context of the concept of wilâyah (guardianship), the book Fikih on Guardianship also discusses the relations between husbands and wives in the context of the concept of qiwâmah (leadership). Jamaluddin Mohammad noted that gender analysis is essential in looking at the concepts of wilâyah and qiwâmah. This is because the concepts of wilâyah and qiwâmah have become well established social institutions practiced since 1300 years ago, and have become part of the value system recognized and embraced by the Muslim community. Consequently, any efforts for renewal will certainly come under suspicion as attempting to alter the long-established nash or texts; people are trying to reinterpret something that is claimed to be indisputable.

Using gender analysis as a critical perspective, it will be found that the concepts of wilâyah and qiwâmah contain asymmetry or inequality in the general relations between males and females. This gender analysis is then reinforced using the approaches of maqâshid al-Islâm or maqâshid al-syarî’ah (hifzh al-dîn, hifzh al-‘aql, hifzh al-nafs, hifzh al-nasl, and hifzh al-mâl) in the framework of triangulation between text, context, and maqâshid al-Islâm. Here, the text and context are promoted to attain the great ideal of Islam, i.e. maqâshid al-Islâm.

The book Fikih on Guardianship mentions many efforts by thinkers and practitioners to show that the efforts for a rereading of the concept of wilâyah and qiwâmah are not something new in the study of Islam. Among the noted scholars who can be mentioned are Prof. Dr. Teungku H. Mohammad Hasbi Ash-Shiddiqiy, Prof. Dr. Mr. Hazairin Harahap, S.H., Dr. (HC). KH. Sahal Mahfudz, and Dr. H. Andi Syamsu Alam, S.H., M.H., as well as ulama from the Middle East such as Rifa’at Rafi’ al-Thahthawi, Thahir al-Haddad, Muhammad Abduh, and Qasim Amin. They are thinkers and practitioners who have tried to contextualize social changes with the original texts so that the texts remain relevant in overcoming the asymmetrical gender relations in the family.

Their ideas are truly extraordinary. Take for example Thahir al-Haddad, a thinker from Tunisia, who in his time proposed the idea that the registration of marriage is one element for the validity of a marriage. A marriage certificate is one of the foundations of a valid marriage. Furthermore, in his opinion talak, effecting divorce through repudiation, is the right of both men and women. So it is not only men who can perform talak but also women, and furthermore this can be done only through the courts. Simply uttering “thalaqtuki tsalâtsan” (“I divorce you” three times) does not automatically lead to divorce. But that is how it is seen in the classical books of fikih, and this is one of the things that today’s ulama are trying to change. []

 

Book Roadshow: Fikih on Guardianship

Pondok Pesantren Kebon Jambu,

Babakan Ciwaringin, Cirebon, West Java

Friday, 6 September 2019

Achmat Hilmi, Lies Marcoes

 

With support from the Oslo Coalition, Rumah Kita Bersama held a “Book Roadshow” activity for the book Fikih on Guardianship on Friday, 6 September 2019,  at the Sang Dwi Cahya Mulia Women’s Mosque, Pondok Pesantren Kebun Jambu (regarding the Women’s Mosque, see the report by Lies Marcoes). This pesantren is headed by Nyai Masriyah Amva, a very influential woman ulama in Babakan Village, Ciwaringin District, Cirebon Regency.

This activity was designed as outreach to publicize the book “Fikih on Guardianship” – Rumah Kita Bersama’s latest book, which was compiled based on the routine discussions of Dirasah Kutub Rumah KitaB on the concepts of Qiwamah and Walayah. These discussions produced a knowledge product that reconstructed the religious understanding on the concepts of the power relations between men and women, between husbands and wives (Qiwamah), and between fathers and daughters (walayah), in the domestic context and in public space, by presenting various methodologies for reading texts conceived by previous generations of scholars at both national and international levels.

This activity was attended by Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud, an Islamic feminist who has conceived the paradigm of Tauhid as an effort toward equality between men and women. Amina is currently in Indonesia as part of her sabbatical to write several knowledge projects relating to the issues of feminism and Islam. Also present were Buya Dr. (HC) KH. Husein Muhammad (ulama from Cirebon), and Ibu Nyai Masriyah Amva.

The event was attended by, among others, postgraduate students from Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia (UPI) Bandung, students from IAIN Nurjati Cirebon, ISIF Fahmina, Mahasantri (university level santri) from Ma’had Ali Al-Hikam As-Salafiyyah (MHS), Mahasantri from Ma’had Ali Ponpes Kebon Jambu, teachers from within Pondok Pesantren Babakan Ciwaringin, Cirebon, as well as male and female santri from pondok pesantren Kebon Jambu and from various other pesantren in Babakan Village. More than 200 participants were present.

In her welcoming remarks Nyai Masriyah Amva emphasized the importance of openness and tolerance. According to ibu Nyai, it is very important for the santri to attend this event to enrich their knowledge about the discourse on a tolerant Islam. This activity, according to ibu Nyai, is a response to the needs of the santri, who are currently facing the challenge of an increase in intolerant religious views in Indonesia which can potentially damage the relations between religious communities and reinforce discriminatory religious views toward women both in the private context and in public space.

Ibu Lies, in her remarks, expressed her thanks to Ibu Nyai Masriyah Amva and Buya KH Husein Muhammad. Ibu Lies has been teaching the concepts of gender justice for over thirty years, in various pesantren. Now, the concept of gender justice is growing in the world of the pesantren, in line with the perspective and character prevailing in the pesantren. In this way, the concept of gender justice can develop. In Indonesia, the concept of gender justice has been able to develop thanks to the existence of the pesantren. With their traditions, outlook, and knowledge, pesantren can apply the concepts of gender justice so as to bring about new models of knowledge products on gender justice based on the pesantren tradition and perspective. Thus, the pesantren have been proven able to develop religious inclusiveness in the social space of the pesantren community. But to counteract the rise in intolerant religious views in West Java, this Fikih on Guardianship Roadbook activity is being held at Ponpes Kebon Jambu, Cirebon, to strengthen the santris’ knowledge on the concepts of power relations with gender justice.

Prof. Dr. Amina Wadud explained about the concept of the mosque and the patterns of discrimination against women with a religious basis. According to Amina, mosques are part of the historic struggle for gender equality in Islam. Yet in the historical record, mosques have never provided the same, equal space for men and women; women are often placed in smaller prayer halls with a different social status from a mosque. Within an actual mosque, women are placed behind the men; they are treated as secondary visitors. This situation does not come from the teachings of God, but rather from men’s attitudes which are discriminatory toward women. God has never made an issue of the positions in worship of men and women, whether in the back, in the front, by the side or in the middle. Women can worship anywhere, in any part of the mosque, because God is present everywhere and has never stipulated a particular location for women to worship in a mosque. It is the men who determined that women’s place is in the back, at the side, and that the men are in front. These rules were made by humans and conflict with the concept of equal rights in worship which is taught by God.

Buya Husein, as the second speaker, explained the importance of reconstructing the understanding relating to Qiwamah and Walayah, because the religious interpretations currently available still see the power relations between men and women in a discriminatory and subordinating way. In his explanation, Buya Husein helped the participants to map the distance between religion as a spiritual locus with universal concepts of teaching, and religion as a product of culture in a particular region. As a universal teaching, religion embraces the concept of equality between men and women, because the highest power is with God alone, and other than God, all are equal except in their devoutness, not superior from their inherent status as males. This is different from the religious perspective produced as a product of a patriarchal culture, which states that men’s superior position relative to women is inherent. This view clearly contradicts the universal concept of religion. Any religious product that deviates, from justice toward injustice, from love to dislike, requires a reinterpretation of its religious perspective, as it conflicts with the general concepts of religion.

Roland Gunawan, as a representative of the writers of the book “Fikih on Guardianship,” explained that the emergence of the book was preceded by a lengthy series of eight discussions to seek and explore religious arguments as a basis and foundation for reconstructing religious views with gender justice in the concepts of Qiwamah and walayah.

Following the series of lectures, the activity continued with a discussion session. Three santri asked questions. Three questions of an abstract nature were raised by two male santri from Ma’had Aly Al-Hikam Al-Salafiyah and Ma’had Ali Kebun Jambu. The fourth question, based on the experience of women, was raised by a female santri from Ponpes Kebun Jambu. But the most interesting was certainly the question asked by the female santri, since its basis was the experience of women who suffer discrimination in public space, in connection with forced marriage.

The response from the participants was tremendous, as proven by the dozens of santri who enthusiastically used the discussion session to present their comments and questions. []