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Justice from the Perspective of Islamic Family Law for Strengthening Women Household Heads

From the Islamic perspective, there is not a single Quranic verse or hadith that theologically justifies treating women and children as mere objects of domestic violence and oppression. In creating the universe, God made the human race into males and females with equal capacity and opportunities as divine servants to worship God, obey His commands and stay away from what is prohibited. Both men and women have the same mandate to serve as God’s deputy (khalifah) on earth. The reality that we face however is not as we would expect. Women, whether as an individual or a wife, are left powerless in a marriage, consigned to a position far from what God had planned. A social construct where its values are grounded in religious beliefs has also inadvertently perpetuated a patriarchal culture that is oppressive towards women.

Praise to God, we now have with us a workshop module on Justice from the Perspective of Islamic Family Law for Strengthening Women Household Heads, which was jointly prepared by Alimat and PEKKA. The module was developed for at least two key reasons. First, the module takes women’s specific circumstances into account, in terms of its substance and writing method, as it draws from the real life experiences of PEKKA colleagues who have been assisting fellow members in dealing with injustices in the household. In reality, family life remains far from the spirit of justice as prescribed in Islamic law and from the expectations of a marriage in Islam. Based on these experiences, Alimat attempts to bridge Islam’s two most authoritative texts, the Quran and hadith, within the context of life realities facing women household heads and the wider community, as contemporary argumentation to reinterpret these sacred texts and coalesce within a living context that endures over time. This approach involves the reinterpretation or reconstruction of new meaning that may not have been considered by early mufassir (commentators or exegetes) and fuqaha (Islamic jurists). The module more comprehensively combines the theories or principles of Islamic jurisprudence (al-qawaaid al fikihiyah) with alternatives that we have long waited for in order to optimize the role of Alimat and its members who are mostly qualified scholars and true mujaddids (reformers) at least in the field of Islamic commentary and jurisprudence. In this regard, Alimat and its members, including women household heads, play a strategic role as agents of change in an effort to uphold justice in the household, especially within the Muslim community.

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