Musawah Vision - Issue 16: March 2015
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Issue 17: June 2015

An update on Musawah issues and activities
Muslim Family Law News & Beyond
Bahrain: Government tells women to stay away from mosques - Care2

Indonesia: No more domestic workers for the Middle East  - Aquila Style
Malaysia: Women's groups insist marital rape be made a crime - Rakyat Post
Morocco: Plans to reform abortion law underway - KV Info
Nigeria: Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Bill (2013) signed into law, result of 14 years of activism - Voices4Change
Pakistan: Rise in national awareness on pro-woman laws - Dawn
Pakistan: Woman, 42, disguises as a man to provide for her family - Dawn
Sudan: Recent amendments to law on rape and sexual harassment not real change, say activists - openDemocracy
Turkey: Women, ethnic minorities enter parliament in major victory for inclusiveness - Al Jazeera

Knowledge Building


Musawah Founding Member, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Named Winner of 2015 Martin E. Marty Award


The Martin E. Marty Award granted by the American Academy of Religion's (AAR) Committee on the Public Understanding of Religion recognises extraordinary contributions by individuals whose work enriches scholarly discourse as well as enhances the understanding of religion beyond the academy. Ziba Mir-Hosseini is to receive the award in a ceremony held at AAR's Annual Meeting in Atlanta in November 2015. Ziba was instrumental in the forming of Musawah as a member of its initial Planning Committee (2007), now International Advisory Group (IAG), and has led the conceptualisation of the Musawah Knowledge Building Initiative on Qiwamah and Wilayah, which has included both scholars and activists as contributors to the process of building knowledge. 
Read more

To read the announcement by Musawah, click here.
To access Ziba's body of work, visit her website here.

Musawah Knowledge Building: Offering A Way Forward from Within Muslim Legal Tradition

Online, independent knowledge portal openDemocracy recently invited members of the Musawah Knowledge Building Working Group to write about the key components of Musawah's knowledge building work. The ensuing articles, excerpted below, expound on Musawah's latest theoretical compilation Men in Charge? and the multi-year, multi-country Musawah-led project which accentuates the friction between Muslim women's lived experiences and the laws that govern them.

Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition

by Ziba Mir-Hosseini

The new book Men in Charge? shows that the assumption that God gave men authority over women is a theological fiction that became a legal fiction, whose main function now is to sustain gender inequality.

Muslim legal tradition does not treat men and women equally. The assumption at the root of this unequal treatment is that men are, and should be, in charge of women. This assumption is encapsulated in two legal concepts that place women under male guardianship. These are qiwamah, which denotes a husband's authority over his wife; and wilayah, which denotes the right and duty of male family members to exercise guardianship over female members. Read more

For more information on Men in Charge?, chapter summaries, and contributor biographies, click here.

To purchase the book, visit Oneworld, Amazon or Book Depository.

Global Life Stories: Capturing Muslim Women's Lived Realities

by Mulki Al-Sharmani and Jana Rumminger

The striking disconnect between the juristic and legal constructions of gender roles in Muslim legal tradition and the lived realities of many Muslim women is revealed in Musawah's Global Life Stories Project. Read more

To keep abreast of new and upcoming activities from the Musawah Knowledge Building Initiative, click here.


Musawah Invites Reviews of Men in Charge?


The Musawah Secretariat would like to invite those who have read our latest publication Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition to submit their reviews to the editor of this newsletter. We welcome all kinds of reviews, including critical in-depth pieces or brief write-ups, that can be published in the forthcoming issues of Musawah Vision as well as on the Musawah website. We'll give you a shout out on social media too. Additionally, readers may also submit their reviews directly to AmazonAmazon (UK) and Goodreads.

Submit your reviews to Meghana Bahar, the Musawah Communications Officer:

To check out a review by Isabel Lopez Ruiz, an MA student at Durham University, UK for LSE Review of Books, click 

To read a brief write-up on the book by the Association of Women's Rights in Development (AWID), click here.

Vacancy: Knowledge Building Programme Officer


Musawah is currently seeking a Knowledge Building Programme Officer to coordinate the activities of the Knowledge Building Working Group. 

The successful candidate will help develop the final outputs from the Knowledge Building Initiative on Qiwamah and Wilayah, and will coordinate the next phase of Musawah's knowledge building activities focusing on building egalitarian jurisprudence on Muslim marriage. This is a unique opportunity to work with scholars and activists in an empowering, democratic process of producing and sharing knowledge related to women's rights in Islam. Closing date of applications is 31 July 2015.

Read the full announcement for the job description, responsibilities and how to apply.

International Advocacy


Musawah Statement on UN International Day of Families

Musawah welcomes the United Nations' recognition of the importance of gender equality and children's rights in contemporary families as the focus of the 2015 UN International Day of Families. We are pleased that this year's theme, 'Men in Charge? Gender Equality and Children's Rights in Contemporary Families', was inspired by Musawah's latest publication, Men in Charge? Rethinking Authority in Muslim Legal Tradition (Oneworld, 2015).

Musawah asserts that in the twenty-first century, there cannot be justice without equality. Many provisions in Muslim family laws, as defined by classical jurists and as reproduced in modern legal codes, are neither tenable in contemporary circumstances nor defensible on Islamic grounds. Not only do they fail to fulfil the Shari'ah requirements of justice, they are being used to deny women rights and dignified choices in life. These elements lie at the root of marital disharmony and the breakdown of the family.

To read the complete statement, click here.


Calling Activists Engaging at 62nd UN CEDAW Session

Musawah is seeking to connect with activists from Lebanon, UAE and Uzbekistan who are engaged in the shadow reporting process for the 62nd UN CEDAW Session in Geneva this October. Musawah's international advocacy work supports activists to strengthen their arguments critically examining the status of marriage and family relations, as encapsulated largely in Articles 2, 9, 15, and 16 of the CEDAW Convention.

Please contact Natasha Dar, the Musawah International Advocacy Officer, before 1 September 2015: 


To read past Musawah Thematic Reports and Oral statements, click here.

Building Our Movement

Prosecutor Appeals the Acquittal of Azza Soliman  

On 23 May 2015, Egyptian woman human rights defender Azza Soliman, founder of the Centre for Women's Legal Assistance (CEWLA) and Musawah Advocate, was acquitted on charges of 'breach of security and public order'. This followed her testimony on violent state repression that led to the killing of fellow woman human rights defender Shaimaa El Sabbagh. The Qasr al Nile Prosecution appealed the acquittal and the appeal was heard on 13 June 2015. A decision to either confirm the acquittal or approve the appeal and change the verdict will be heard on 4 July 2015. Read more

Read this urgent appeal by the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) on the continued judicial harassment of Azza.

To follow the latest updates from CEWLA on Facebook, click


GAMCOTRAP Raises Awareness on Qiwamah and Wilayah

Three hundred women and men participated in a series of workshops to help raise awareness on the lived realities of women in several townships of the Lower River region in the Gambia. As part of its work for the Musawah Global Life Stories project, GAMCOTRAP conducted a study on 13 women leaders across the country, the findings of which was shared with participants of the workshops in a bid to raise awareness on qiwamah and wilayah and how these twin legal concepts sanctioning male authority affect women's lives. Working alongside the women's rights activists were male religious leaders who acknowledged that most abuses of women's rights are derived from culture and not religion. GAMCOTRAP have collated 13 life stories and research findings into a book as well as a documentary.

For more information on the above, click here.
To follow GAMCOTRAP on Facebook, click here.

Canadian Council of Muslim Women Combat Violence against Women


The Canadian Council of Muslim Women's (CCMW) project, 'Violence against Women: Health and Justice for Canadian Muslim Women' aims to tackle violence against women and girls (VAW) through the development of knowledge building resources and community workshops. The project explores the four most common forms of violence against women: femicide, forced marriage, female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/FGC), and violence in the family. CCMW hosted three 'Train the Trainer' sessions in Toronto, Ottawa and Edmonton. Pamela Cross led 72 dynamic women from across the country in further building their knowledge and understanding of violence against women, femicide, forced marriage and FGM/FGC as well as community engagement. Participants learned how to mobilise their communities to discuss and address violence against women. Read more

Check out this fact sheet on femicide by CCMW that describes the term, lays out its prevalence in the Canadian Muslim community, as well as ideas for moving forward. 

To follow CCMW on Facebook, click

Sisters in Islam Engages with Religious and Legal Actors in Malaysia

Musawah Advocates, Sisters in Islam (SIS), organised a public forum inviting three public intellectuals to speak on the 'Rise of Islamism and Democracy'. The panelists Wan Ji Wan Ahmad, a progressive scholar, Wan Ahmad Fayhsal, a conservative scholar and Firdaus Husni, a constitutional and human rights lawyer, engaged in an informative debate on the rise of Islamism in Malaysia and the extent to which this is affecting the systems and practices of democracy and legislation in the country.

Representing a diversity of opinions, panelists succeeded in generating critical conversations among the audience. The agenda to introduce hudud in the State of Kelantan by the Pan-Islamic Party (PAS) was examined in relation to the Malaysian Constitution, and how it would be legally impracticable in terms of its implementation, considering constitutional guarantees of equality and justice.

For a sharp analysis of the impact of hudud as law in Kelantan, check out this article in the Malaysian Insider. 


To follow SIS on Facebook, click here


Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan File Public Interest Litigation on Arbitrary Denial of Women's Access to Haji Ali Dargah

The Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan (BMMA) filed a public interest litigation in the Bombay High Court seeking justice for the arbitrary denial of women's access to the Haji Ali Dargah shrine in Bombay, meted out by the public trust that manages the shrine. The plea, filed on 30 May 2015, demanded an end to gender discrimination in a religious place, a violation of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India.

The women petitioners are objecting to the infringement of the personal freedom and fundamental right of all women (and especially Muslim women) to enter the inner sanctum of the Haji Ali Dargah, which was previously unfettered. Gender discrimination is common practice in many places of worship across multi-religious India. The women petitioners have been visiting the Haji Ali Dargah all throughout their childhood and youth. Upon visiting the shrine in 2011, they were denied entry. 'Women are not allowed', they were told. Read more

This article features dynamic duo Zakia Soman and Noorjehan Safi Niaz, co-founders of BMMA. 

To follow the latest updates from BMMA, check out Facebook

Musawah Website in Arabic
The Musawah Communications Working Group is seeking volunteer translators to help with translating the current website into Arabic. The move to develop Arabic web pages is an outcome of the Musawah Communications and Outreach Strategy, which sees the translation project as crucial towards building the movement in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Contact Meghana Bahar, the Musawah Communications Officer, if you would like to be a part of this exciting new venture:
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Musawah in
the News


Associate Professor Sa'diyya Shaikh, contributor to Men in Charge?, has won the 2015 University of Cape Town Book Award for Sufi Narratives of Intimacy: Ibn 'Arabi, Gender and Sexuality, reports UCT Press: "Her book combines feminism and Sufism in such a unique way that critics have labeled it 'ground-breaking' and 'pioneering'. It represents a dialogue between the social and spiritual concerns of 21st century Muslims on one hand and the rich legacy of a compelling Muslim thinker - Muhyi al-Din ibn al-'Arabi - on the other."

BBC Asian Network reported on the workshops held across England by Musawah Advocates in the UK, Muslim Women's Network, in a bid to empower women on forced marriage: "It is still a huge problem, it is entrenched in culture," said Faeeza Vaid, MWNUK executive director. "We all need to be unified to say it [forced marriage] is against the law, human rights and an injustice."

Journalist Kimberly Adams featured Musawah Advocates Omaima Abou-Bakr and Marwa Sharafeldin in her report for Public Radio International on their work in reforming patriarchal interpretations of Islam: "I think that Islamic feminism is actually going to be the entry point for this whole renewal of Islamic discourse... So it will be up to the Muslim women themselves who are not willing to let go of their religion, but at the same time, are not willing to accept being treated as second class citizens because of a certain version of religion."

Woman's Hour by BBC Radio 4 featured Ziba Mir-Hosseini on a brief segment entitled 'Re-interpreting the Quran: Could there be a feminist reading of the sacred text?': "We must make a distinction between Shari'ah, which in Muslim belief is the perfect law, is the way to justice, and also the interpretation of Shari'ah. The source is Muslim legal tradition, jurisprudence. Yes, women have been there and as part of the tradition but we must not forget that by the time that schools of jurisprudence, which is known as fiqh, emerged, women's voices were silenced. Their interests were not reflected in the law."

In this Guardian interview by Homa Khaleeli, Musawah Advocate Amina Wadud argues that male interpretations of Islam have led to laws that discriminate against women and these need to be challenged: "When we are talking about laws, we are into talking about who is interpreting the laws, and what judicial methods they use... The prophet made radical reforms but [Muslims] didn't keep pace with that. If you start with that and no one else on the planet has it, you should be ahead of anyone else on the planet with regards to gender. But instead we let patriarchy take over."
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The 2015 Thematic Report of the UN Working Group on Discrimination against Women in Law and Practice submitted to the Human Rights Council at its 29th Session in Geneva examines discrimination against women and girls in cultural and family life: "The cultural construction of gender determines the role of women and girls within the family, including in marriage. After analysing the impact of culture and religion on the enjoyment of equal rights by women and girls in society and the family, the Working Group redefines family by incorporating a gender perspective."

In issue 14 of the Muslim Institute's Critical Muslim, contributors discuss the different nuances to power, its complexities and mysteries. Barnaby Rogerson deconstructs the dreams of Caliphate, while Hussain Ahmed comes face-to-face with military power in Pakistan and Boyd Tonkin traces the history of the power of the Word, amongst others. 

The video above is the inaugural khutbah by Edina Lekovic of the Women's Mosque of America, which seeks to uplift the Muslim community by empowering women and girls through more direct access to Islamic scholarship and leadership opportunities. 

UN Women's Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016 comes 20 years after the Beijing Conference, and strongly focuses on women's economic and social rights: "It is clear: the global economy is not working for women. This report offers a new economic agenda, one firmly rooted in the human rights framework, and brings rights - the right of all women to a good job, with equal pay and safe working conditions; the right to an adequate pension; the right to healthcare, and water and sanitation - into economic policymaking."

In its 134-page report Marry Before Your House is Swept Away: Child Marriage in Bangladesh based on over a hundred interviews, Human Rights Watch documents the factors driving child marriage in Bangladesh and its impact. The above video is a short overview of the situation in Bangladesh.
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