London, UK, October 24th 2008 – The 24th of October marks the start of the 3rd Congress on Islamic Feminism – a 3 day conference to be held in Barcelona.
The conference is sponsored by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and organised in collaboration with the British Council.
The event calls in favour of a feminist reading of the Qur’an in order to secure greater rights for Muslim women in the Muslim world and within Western societies. This is also suggested as an antidote to the economic oppression caused by globalization and political oppression caused by so called "religious fundamentalism". It states as one of its fundamental aims, to contribute towards a "pro-gender equality Muslim women’s movement" and to contribute towards the construction of a civil society worldwide based on a culture of human rights and values such as democracy, social justice, freedom of conscience and gender equality.
The 2nd Congress of Islamic Feminism denounced Islamic family laws and other Shariah rules related to the woman and called for a re-interpretation based upon gender equality.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz, Women’s Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain commented regarding the event, "Undoubtedly, Muslim women have been victims of heinous crimes such as honour killings and acid burnings. However, Islamic feminism that directs attention away from tribal and traditional customs, the true cause of these atrocities, to Islam will only serve to prolong the suffering of many women. In addition, although Muslim women have been serious casualties of the economic, cultural and social fall out of global capitalism, a call for Islamic feminism that involves the interpretation of the Islamic texts from a secular liberal perspective, will prove to simply re-enforce the very values promoted by the capitalist ideology that has caused untold misery for so many."
"Values such as freedom of expression and ownership have given licence to the exploitation of the bodies of women through the pornographic, advertising and entertainment industries. This has cheapened the status of women within society and contributed to abhorrent actions such as sexual harassment, abuse, and rape. Evidence of this is seen by the escalating rates of these crimes within Western societies. Personal and sexual freedom have spurned a culture of promiscuity and spiralling rates of teenage pregnancies, abortions, sexually transmitted diseases and adultery resulting in the meltdown of marriage and the family unit in liberal societies. ‘Gender Equality’ has brought its own set of contradictions and dilemmas. How can a woman call for equality which negates the relevance of gender in public life but at the same time call for maternity rights or flexible working hours based on sex difference? It has been detrimental to the lives of many women. A concept that in theory was to produce the ‘have it all woman’ in reality produced the ‘do it all’ woman. A woman who continues to burden household responsibilities but now also has to burden the financial maintenance of the family."
"Furthermore, feminism and gender equality are concepts born out of a Western experience due to injustices women faced under man-made secular law. This "Woman’s Struggle" is not shared by Islamic history as the woman’s rights of citizenship are all enshrined within the Islamic texts and were secured from the beginnings of the Islamic state, the Khilafah. So while this July marked the 80th anniversary of the Equal Franchise Act when women in Britain won the same voting rights as men, this December will mark 1430 years since Islam gave women the same voting rights as men. While women in Europe chained themselves to railings and went on hunger strike in order to secure a political voice and educational rights, Islam obliges the woman to be active politically in society and Islamic history boasts of thousands of female scholars."
"Muslim women do not need a feminist interpretation of the Qur’an to secure their rights. They need the establishment of the Khilafah state that will implement and guarantee their prescribed rights contained within the Islamic texts. The constant re-interpretation of feminist theory in Western history as well as the existence of its various branches, reflects a philosophy that is confused as to the roles and rights of men and women in family life and society – not so Islam which has a defined and fixed understanding of family and societal responsibilities of men and women. It is not specific Islamic family or societal laws that oppress Muslim women but regimes in the Muslim world that care nothing for women’s welfare and security. It is therefore to the establishment of the Khilafah state that millions of women globally have turned their attention and hopes."