Regarding the Gender Jihad conference in Barcelona

7 November 2005

I have been asked why there was apparently no participation  from the UK in this event which was flagged up in the blog’s Daily Links for  November 2. I only came across this event by chance through some of my  information networks. I would have been interested in going along, but by the time I got  to know about the event it was too late in the day to organise a visit to   Spain. It could be that the organisers did not have any contacts with British  female Muslims who would support such concepts. This is a pity if I understand  the aims properly. Basically what this event seems to be exploring is the fact  that whilst the Qu’ran in its purest form is written in Arabic, the language  itself is so intense and detailed that its words can have many  interpretations. In the early period in Islamic history there were female   scholars, but later Islamic periods have not had many female scholars  recognised in the same way that male scholars are.

Muslim women who wish to practice  their faith and have a belief in God – who are therefore not party to a  secular viewpoint -  wish to create changes from within Islamic  understanding. Some verses in the Qu’ran are taken by some to justify the  superior position of men, or a certain role which women need to conform   to........ but these kinds of narrow interpretations often do not acknowledge  the reality of human beings. For example, the literalist thinking of the   Taliban used to force women out of the public space without ever examining  their conditions and the needs either of their society or of the women  themselves. This meant that women who did not have a male breadwinner were  forced into poverty and probably other not so healthy means of supporting   themselves and their families. Even in modern western cities, some Mosques  still find it difficult to make the physical space open to women to equally  participate in the Mosque. In the UK, the majority of Mosques are run by   male-only governance structures. Females may be restricted from educational  opportunities which involve them in staying away from home for long periods of  time. Many women may be pressurised into conforming to the faith in the way men want them to...

But this is contrary to verses in the  Qu’ran which point to the fact that there is no compulsion in faith -   ie. we must make informed choices which bring us to a desire to  acknowledge our creator and willingly follow a set of values based on  guidance. I must say that there is not enough debate around some of the   subjects raised in the Barcelona event. I would very much like to know if the organisers recorded their debates.
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