Over a thousand women, Muslim and non-Muslim from across the UK and from Europe attended a conference in Central London on Sunday 20th March, organised by the women of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain. The event aimed to counter the relentless accusations from the Western media and politicians regarding Islam’s oppression of women as well as to challenge the prevalent belief that women’s liberation can only be achieved through Western secular liberalism.
Speakers in the first half of the event highlighted that the historical and current agenda for the propagation of the narrative by Western politicians and governments that Islam oppresses the woman had no association with improving the lives of Muslim women. Rather it was and continues to be driven by political and economic motives including the need to justify occupation and colonisation of the Muslim world to secure control over the resources of the lands. The talks discussed how women in the Muslim world had been oppressed not by Islam but by non-Islamic traditional practices such as forced marriages, honour killings, and acid burnings as well as non-Islamic autocratic regimes that have brutally repressed women for decades and stripped them of basic rights. The second speaker highlighted how Western capitalist secular liberalism had failed to secure the dignity, safety, and wellbeing of women as evident in the epidemic levels of rape, sexual harassment, violence, and discrimination that still exist within such societies despite over 200 years of struggle for women’s rights. She emphasized that such systems have therefore lost all credibility in being presented as a model for women’s liberation globally and that there needed to be genuine consideration of Islam as an alternative system by which to secure the respect and rights of women and healthy cooperation of the genders.
The second half of the conference sought to dismantle the multitude of myths and lies regarding the status and rights of women in Islam. Speakers explained how gender differences in certain roles and rights in Islam have been interpreted as reflections of the inferiority and second class status of women while ignoring the numerous Islamic evidences that define the man and woman as equal in worth. They discussed how individual Islamic laws had been studied in isolation, detached from the overall impact that the Islamic social system seeks to achieve for society such as creating healthy interaction for the sexes, enabling women to have an active public life but within a safe environment, and generating strong harmonious family units where the rights of the wife, husband, and children are secured. Speakers presented a clear vision of the status, rights and role of women within a true Islamic system implemented by the Khilafah state. They explained how in contrast to the incompetent dictatorial regimes that currently plague the Muslim world, the Khilafah provided the practical mechanisms through its political, economic, educational, media, and judicial systems to radically improve the quality of the lives of Muslim and non-Muslim women in the Muslim world. Speakers described vividly how the Islamic laws when implemented by the Khilafah state would challenge problems such as female illiteracy, poor access to education, violence and abuse against women, discord within marriage and family life, and the absence of economic and political rights for women. Articles from the constitution adopted by Hizb ut-Tahrir for the Khilafah state were cited to aid the audience to clearly visualise how the rights of women would be secured and their status elevated under this Islamic system of governance. The final talk was a motivational address that showcased the global political work of the women of Hizb ut-Tahrir and encouraged attendees to support the call for real change in the Muslim world through the establishment of the Khilafah – a state that would stand as a beacon not simply for women’s liberation but the liberation of humanity.
The conference included interactive audience participation with many questions raised as to how Muslim women could engage with society to dispel the lies about women and Islam as well as aid the work to establish the Khilafah in the Muslim world.
The event ended on a very emotional note as one of the non-Muslim attendees embraced Islam.