Report – Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family

Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family
In the framework of exchanging experiences and expertisein the field of defending women and family rights. The Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) organized in cooperation with Musawah round table entitled « Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family » at the headquarter of CSID on Wednesday September 27th, 2016.
Mrs. Nada Nachat opened the meeting by presenting an overview of the Association since its establishment in 2009 as a women association tracing its development later to the current association Musawah. The association endeavors mainly to defend women and family rights and develop the legal system to become equal and just as well as respectful of the citizenship of women in society and family. Equally, it aims at countering the attempts of Arab and Islamic governments in rejecting amendments on certain laws under the pretext of respecting the cultural specificities of societies.
Of equal significance, Mrs. Nada has spelled out the association methodology which rests on three general orientations:
  1. Building knowledge: working on disseminating the academic knowledge which concerns the explanation of Koranic texts that relate to women in a manner that does not contradict Sharia Law. Criticizing the traditional inherited concepts that derogate women’s rights and restrain their role in family and society.
  2. International advocacy: disseminating knowledge on the idea of equality between men and women by relying on international treaties as the CEDAW « Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women ».
  3. Building capacities: through practical exercises organized by the association that aim at breaking the inherited concepts and traditional customs that berates women and their role as well as rectifying concepts about the  correct Islamic teachings.
Among the comments of the association’s representatives, Mrs. Ziba Meer Houseini’s intervention focused on how Islam does not contradict equality and justice in family and that there are new interpretationsin Islam that aim at achieving equality and justice in the Muslim family.
Mrs. Zina Anwar dwelled in her intervention on the situation of women in the Arab and Islamic world by indicating that Islam as a source of legislation in constitutions is used by governments to obstruct law bills that improve women’ situation and help achieve equality and justice within families. In the same vein, she dwelled on the importance of social dialogue that rests on the philosophy of knowledge. More importantly, she underscored the importance of building capacities as a way of influence and power over governments and the political will in a manner that limits the state’s ownership in explaining religion.
The interventions of the attendees centered on the need to differentiate between the value of justice which remains a noble goal upon which rests the philosophy of relations in family and society and equality as a value that relates to the laws organizing these relations.
Equally, the issue of disparity between the reality of societies and the situation of women from country to another was discussed by indicating the progress of the Tunisian experience in this regard.  In a sense, issues with a cultural and religious dimension are no longer disputed in building the relation between man and woman in family. Nevertheless, the most problematic issues today that relate to the question of equality touch on the economic and social dimensions as well as on achieving equality in women’s participation in general political and syndicalist affairs.
Some of the attendees warned that these leading experiences are at risk of sliding down to a radical women discourse that sends the family system to disputes and clashes between men and women, instead of building a relation based on balance and complementarity.
In the end, the representatives of the Musawah association expressed their immense appreciation of the Tunisian experience which they consider as a leading one. They stressed as well that it was the center of their inspiration in the association when it was first established and especially after the revolution and the enactment of the second constitution of 2014 considering the values that it was founded upon as a guarantee to women and family rights.
 

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