Despite the differences in ideologies, these Moroccan activists work together to define the woman’s role in Islam. From WeNews:
In a nation that has outpaced its neighbors in liberalizing Sharia family laws, two female scholars in Morocco–Latifa Jbabdi and Nadia Yassine–are swaying the religious debate about women’s role in Islam.
Jbabdi is an ex-Marxist and has fought for women’s rights in Morocco for a quarter century. Yassine is the daughter of the founder of the Justice and Charity Group, a banned Islamist organization that seeks to establish an Islamic state governed by Islamic Sharia.
While Jbabdi presses for a secular future, Yassine sees the world ahead in religious terms.
Theirs is a debate that is occurring throughout the Islamic world, between religious conservatives and Islamists on one side, secularists and those seeking an Islamic reformation on the other.
That debate is thriving in Morocco, where the young King Mohammed VI has, more than any other Arab ruler, taken concrete steps towards democracy since assuming the throne in 1999.
Increasingly, women are moving to the forefront of this discourse.
As became apparent last month in Saudi Arabia–when a group of Saudi women gave U.S. Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes a tongue-lashing–not all women living in Islamic states share the West’s view of women’s freedom.
In their own ways, however, women in the region are taking more control of a debate that vitally affects them.
Secularist women are educating themselves in Islam, and challenging the religious status-quo about what the Koran does and doesn’t say about women. And conservative Islamist women are starting to penetrate official male bastions such as Al-Azhar University in Egypt, and popular grassroots organizations like Yassine’s.
For years Muslim activists such as Jbabdi waged their battles with ideological help from Western pioneers such as Betty Friedan and later with international accords like the 1979 United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Relying on foreign points of reference such as these, however, they made little progress. The international language of gender equality exerted little sway over their traditional, religious societies.
“A religious fundamentalism began to confront us, calling us infidels, and we wondered, how is this possible?” said Jbabdi, from the headquarters of the Union of Feminine Action in Rabat, the organization she founded in 1983. “We started asking, is Islam truly against the rights of women?”
Jbabdi and her colleagues decided to find out. They took classes and held dozens of study sessions. Today, women such as Jbabdi are abandoning their secular approach, immersing themselves in the Koran and the hadith–the principle sources of Islamic law–and proffering their own interpretations of Islam.
If the modus operandi doesn’t spring from Islam, then it must be abandoned. Please read it all.