CAIRO: Ignorance leads people to believe that Islam discriminates against women, when actually the opposite is true, said Zainab Anwar, project director of Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in the Muslim family.
Women’s rights activists, as well as professors and journalists, gathered at the American University in Cairo’s Oriental Hall on Jan. 12 to discuss the Muslim family law and women’s rights.
Anwar, a Malaysian activist and writer who has been working on human rights issues for the past 20 years, said the Quran gives women many rights including the right to own property and choose their husbands.
She argued that some groups oppose reform to the Muslim family law claiming that any change violates Sharia. She explained that Islam motivates women’s rights movements to cooperate with Islamic groups rather than oppose them.
“Islam shapes our lives, she said, adding that since Muslim countries apply Sharia, everyone should be free to discuss their own interpretations of Islamic teachings.
Anwar highlighted the importance of education, saying that ignorance is the reason behind the misinterpretation of some of Islam’s teachings.
Ziba Mir-Husseini, researcher at the Center of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), asked why justice is not implemented in Muslim countries although it is what Islam dictates.
Mohamed Khalid Masud, from the Council of Islamic Ideology in Pakistan, said women’s participation is essential for change and that women’s rights issues are not given enough attention and are misunderstood.