MPV Logo

Celebrating International Women's Day
March 8th 2009 
In This Issue
Musawah: equality and justice in the Muslim family
Art by Dr. Saira Malik Rahman
Celebrate International Women's Day
International Petition to End Violence Against Women in the Muslim World
Poetry: "The Longing" by Nimah Ismail Nawwab

Sara Farooqi, MPV's Outreach Coordinator, represents MPV at 5 day global meeting to launch Musawah: Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family
I arrived in Malaysia, the air heavy with the weight of the day and my heart heavy with the weight of anticipation. The launch of Musawah: Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family was commencing in Kuala Lumpur, and I was blessed to count myself as one of 250 participants representing 49 different countries. Musawah, which means equality in Arabic, was initiated by Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian non-governmental organization promoting women's empowerment within an Islamic framework, and an international planning committee comprised of twelve scholar-activists from eleven countries. The objectives of the Musawah movement are to:
* Strengthen women's voices demanding equality and justice in the family at the national, regional and international levels
* Build analysis and strategies that bring together scholarship and experience regarding Muslim jurisprudence, human rights principles, fundamental rights guarantees, and the lived realities of families today
* Provide those advocating for rights in the family with tools and resources, including a Framework for Action; and
* Raise the visibility of initiatives advocating for equality and justice in the Muslim family.
Over the five days of the conference, scholars highlighted the theoretical and theological basis supporting the objectives of Musawah, and activists shared their success and struggles from their home countries.
zainah and sara

Sara Farooqi, MPV board member, with Zainah Anwar, Musawah project director
Dr. Amina Wadud expounded on the concept of Tawhid or Divine Unity, emphasizing that patriarchy is incompatible with Islamic teachings as it posits men above women. According to Wadud, "Islam understands Allah [God] as supreme, the greatest; Allahu Akbar. Therefore no[one] else can be superior to any one individual...Patriarchy places men as superior to women, violating the requirement that only Allah is supreme."

Other scholars spoke on unshackling religious knowledge from the stronghold of patriarchal scholars who try to couch their interpretations of religion (fiqh) as representing shari'ah (the totality of God's will as revealed to the Prophet). Amira El-Azhary Sonbol from Egypt de-mystified the notion that Islamic law is immutable by showing how laws based on Islam have shifted over the course of history and in different contexts.
The case of the Moroccan Mudawwana (Family Law) reforms is a powerful example of how laws have adapted to the needs of the day and age. At the conference, activists from Morocco shared some of their strategies from their ten-year, ultimately successful, campaign to codify the equality of men and women in the Moroccan constitution. In 2004, their efforts came to fruition. Similarly, Imrana Jalal presented on her experiences developing and pushing forward the Fijian Family Law Act in 2003. Jalal stated that a key strategy for gaining the attention of politicians is to highlight the economic ramifications of the issue. For example, investing dollars in domestic violence prevention carries a much lower cost to governments than the medical expenses, police and court hearings that result from acts of domestic violence.
Both activists and scholars alike affirmed that empowering women and changing patriarchal cultural values requires a multitude of approaches. In addition to engaging with religious texts, challenging hegemonic discourses over the interpretation of Islamic texts and working with allies in government to reform and implement legal reforms, cultural norms that value gender equality must also be established. In India, the organization BREAKTHROUGH:  Building Human Rights Culture is attempting to do just that. Sonali Khan shared her multi-media campaign called "Bell Bajao" (Ring the Bell), which calls on young men to break the silence on domestic violence through television, Internet blogs and Facebook. You can watch BREAKTHROUGH's TV commercials and learn about their campaign on Journalist Mona Eltahawy also emphasized the importance of using media in her workshop, "Using Information Technology as a Tool for Social Change." She explained that more and more people are using the Internet to search for knowledge about Islam, and warned that "You Tube Imams" preaching patriarchy and violence are plentiful. Progressive Muslims, she said, can counter these messages by providing alternatives on the Internet, radio and TV waves. (Read Eltahawy's article on blogs at
At the end of this jam-packed conference, the participants gathered to pray that the momentum of this movement will carry us forward and nourish the work we are doing in our respective corners of the globe. As my plane landed back in Pittsburgh and I trudged back home through the snow, I contemplated the word musawah, equality. Reflecting on the five days of the conference, I could not help but feel peaceful, yet it was a peace tinged with a deep ache, a reality check. Yes, I thought, musawah, an ideal we still strive towards, an ideal we must strive towards. The time is now. Let's make it happen.
Join Our Mailing List
"Women of the World"
Dr. Saira Malik Rahman 
Women of the World
Come Celebrate International Women's Day with  
MPV (Los Angeles) at
'Leaps of Faith' 
  Leaps of Faith heading


CA 90046

Partnering with Great Leap for International Women's Day, Mehnaz-Mona Afridi, Ph.d will be speaking on women's issues such as women's rights and violence against women. A question and answer session will follow.
Leaps of Faith offers art as an alternative to dialogue. Using music, poetry, movement and the personal stories of artists from different spiritual paths. Leaps of Faith hopes to transcend the walls of religious conflict and ignorance to create healing, wholeness and peace. In the spirit of International Women's Day, skits have been especially created to raise awarenes of women's issues.
Join MPV and Sisters in Islam's effort to End Violence Against Women in the Muslim World
-Only when women and girls can live with dignity, in safety, not fearing bodily harm from family members, and with freedom of conscience as the Qur'an demands, can a country rightfully call itself 'Islamic'.-

MPV and Sisters in Islam (Malaysia) are calling for action against domestic violence, acid attacks, honor killing, female genital mutilation and forced marriage. 1500 years ago the Qur'an revealed specific verses condemning violence against women. Yet in many Islamic countries and communities around the world, domestic violence continues to be perpetuated. Punishment for these crimes is often weak, if enforced at all. We find this unacceptable and are calling for a change. Please read our petition and help us mobilize a grassroots campaign to end violence against women. Click here to read and sign the full petition. 
Several of the groups represented at the Musawah conference signed on to MPV's call for action against domestic violence including: Citizens Against Corruption (Kyrgyzstan), Nisa ul-Haqq Fi Bangsamoro (Phillipines), Al Mujadilah Development Foundation, Ind. (Philippines), Sentro ng Alternatiborg Lingap Panligal (Phillipines), Sahiba Sisters Foundation (Tanzania), Kenya Muslim women Family Rights Movement (Kenya), Muslim Women's Research & Action Forum (Sri Lanka), Young Muslim Women of Thailand, All Women's Action Society (Malaysia), Meydaan (Iran), Islamic Women's Welfare Council of Victoria (Australia), Auburn Community Redevelopment Network (Australia), and the Umma Trust (New Zealand). 
The Longing

How this one word
Entices us all!
Will the time come
For my ideas to roam
Across this vast land's deserts,
Through the caverns of the Empty Quarter?
For my voice to be sent forth,
Crying out in the stillness of a quiet people,
A voice among the voiceless?
For my thoughts, that hurl around
In a never-ending spiral,
To settle
To mature, grow and flourish
In a barren wasteland of shackled minds?
Will my spirit be set free-
To soar above the undulating palm fronds?
Will my essence and heart be unfettered,
Of man-made Thou Shall Nots?

The Longing, first poem from the book 'The Unfurling', by Nimah Ismail Nawwab, internationally renowned Saudi Arabian English poet, writer and lecturer whose work is featured on 

Donate Today!

Muslims for Progressive Values is an all-volunteer organization. 100% of your tax-deductible donation is used for our programs, campaigns, and services, including our new anti-domestic violence campaign. Support us today by donating online.