Report on Webinar Discussion on the Book Fiqh on Guardianship in Cooperation between Pondok Pesantren Dar Al Fikr, Rumah KitaB and the Oslo Coalition

Cirebon, 5th July 2020


“The Tradition of Pesantren: Reading Facts Offers a Solution”

CIREBON [5/7/20]. In cooperation with Pesantren Dar Al Fikr Arjawinangun, Cirebon, Rumah KitaB has again conducted a seminar for discussion of the Book Fiqh on Guardianship in order to disseminate research-based ideas about the efforts for prevention of child marriage. This event was held thanks to the support of the Oslo Coalition, a human rights institution based at a university in Oslo, Norway that works to strengthen human rights, including the rights of women and children.

Adapting to the current protocol to prevent spread of the corona virus, the activity, which was held at Aula MAN Nusantara, Arjawinangun on 5 July 2020, was limited to 25 participants attending in person, in line with the guidance from the governor of West Java. However, to accommodate other participants throughout Indonesia who were interested after seeing the advertisement for the seminar, another 204 participants followed the seminar online, and a further 4000 followed it through the broadcast on Facebook Live.

The event, which began at 9.00, presented three resource persons: Nyai Nurul Bahrul Ulum, a young activist researcher in Cirebon who is active in daily life at the Fahmina Institue; Ustadz Iqbal, graduate of a sharia faculty in Morocco, who currently teaches at the Ma’had Aly within pesantren Darut Tauhid in Cirebon; and Kyai Husein Muhammad, who is often called a “kyai feminis, caretaker of Pesantren Dar Al Fikr and a leading figure in the women’s movement in Indonesia who previously served as a commissioner of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan).

The seminar went beyond merely analyzing the content of the book and its contribution to efforts for prevention of child marriage through discussion of a particular issue that strongly influences the practice of child marriage: hak ijbar (the right to coerce) in the name of the role of the father, as the guardian of his daughter. The practice of child marriage in Indonesia is conditioned by, among other matters, religious views that grant tremendous authority to the father, or to the state as the representative of the father (wali adhol) which allows an underage marriage to take place through the legal remedy of granting a request for dispensation for the marriage.

Child marriage is a serious problem and an obstacle to prosperity in society. One out of eight women in Indonesia marries below the age of 18 (Central Statistical Agency, BPS). Child marriage can lead to a series of other problems: increased risk of maternal and infant mortality, reproductive health problems, mental health problems, domestic violence, and perpetuation of poverty. This research-based data was presented by Nyai Nurul Bahrul Ulum, activist and founder of Cirebon Feminis, in the Webinar Book Discussion entitled “Prevention of Child Marriage and Forced Marriage through Study of the Book Fiqh on Guardianship” on 5 July 2020.

Therefore, Bahrul Ulum said, child marriage will always correlate with poverty and violence. To break this chain, religious interpretation is needed which is just and takes the side of women. She stated that this is why the book “Fiqh on Guardianship” published by Rumah KitaB is important to help address the problem of child marriage.

“This book can raise the awareness of religious figures in performing reinterpretation of religious texts, particularly with regard to the right of guardianship (walayah) and relations between husbands and wives (qiwamah),” said Bahrul Ulum

Ustadz Muhammad Iqbal, the second resource person, confirmed what had been conveyed by Bahrul Ulum. Iqbal, said that this indicates the urgency of the perspective of maqasid al-syariah as an analytical tool to closely examine religious texts, as is used in this book.

“Through analysis using maqasid syariah, we can not only examine what lies behind the text (maqasid al-nash) but also explore the objective or intentions of its author (maqasid al-syari’),” Iqbal said.

In this way, he said, religious texts can take the side of humanity and not perpetuate injustice. This is because the purpose of sharia is to prevent harm (mudarat) and promote benefit (maslahat) for humankind. Therefore, according to Iqbal, child marriage must be prevented, because it causes enormous harm.

Finally, Kiai Husein Muhammad, as the third speaker, further confirmed that texts will be meaningless if they conflict with reality. Hence, in the context of child marriage, the data resulting from research must serve as the benchmark and basis for legal decisions.

In his presentation, Kyai Husein described the four stages of reading a text using the Maqashid Syariah method. He said that first of all, a passage should be read as a “statement”; second, we raise the question ”why is there such a statement?”; third, we ask “what is the objective of this statement?”; and finally, this leads to advocacy by seeking to understand “how” as a proposed solution. Using the example of verses on “males as leaders”, kyai Husein demonstrated the operation of the technique for using the maqashid syariah methodology so as to produce a more transformative interpretation that can limit the right and authority of a father over his daughter (walayah) or a husband over his wife (qiwamah).

The event concluded with a very lively discussion and question and answer session. In her closing remarks, Ibu Lies Marcoes, representing Rumah KitaB, expressed her appreciation for the very high quality of the discussion, in which the resource persons perfectly complemented one another. She also expressed her thanks to the caretaker of Pesantren Dar Al Fikr and to the resource persons. The event, chaired by kyai Jamaluddin Muhammad, ended at 12.30 and was followed by a more limited discussion on the practical strategy to publicize and disseminate the book Fiqh on Guardianship as an effort to prevent child marriage. (JM/LM)


Gus Jamal from Rumah KitaB

Ustadz Iqbal, teacher at the Ma’had Aly within pesantren Darut Tauhid in Cirebon

Kyai Husein Muhammad, who is often called a “kyai feminis”, caretaker of Pesantren Dar Al Fikr

Nyai Nurul Bahrul Ulum, activist and founder of Cirebon Feminis

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