The Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia has produced a book called ‘Did you Know?’. The author is Aziza Abdel-Halim.
 
The book is 178 pages long and was funded in part by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship. The book contains a number of sections on the treatment of women but is much wider in scope.
 
The promotional material – and sub-title – says it is aimed at “Refuting rigid interpretations concerning the position of women In Islam, and Muslim’s interaction with non-Muslims.”
 
The FULL booklet (in pdf)  – but without the graphics and pictures – is also attached – it is 586 KB.
The book is available online – Click Here.
 
The book was launched in July 2008 by Laurie Ferguson, the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services. He also opened the NCEIS conference at the University of Melbourne last week.
Jamila Hussain, who wrote the last article I sent out – about domestic violence and marriage etc, is the secretary of the Muslim Women’s National Network of Australia.


Information on the book launch:
MUSLIM WOMEN’S NATIONAL NETWORK OF AUSTRALIA, Inc.
DID YOU KNOW?
Refuting rigid interpretations concerning the position of women In Islam, and Muslim’s interaction with non-Muslims By Aziza Abdel-Halim, A.M.
was launched by
The Honourable Laurie Ferguson
Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services
On: Thursday, 31st July 2008

Some relevant sections:

The booklet focuses on the treatment of women in Islam and also the treatment of non-Muslims.
 
The book has a number of sections:
Part 1 – Islam and its sources
Part 2 – Did you know?
Almost 60 sections, each of which gives responses to, or interpretations of, a range of topics, from hadiths, creation, the treatment of women, women in the Qur’an, female Muslim scholars, women in the mosque, women and education, the right to question, shari’ah law, obedience, responsibility, segregation, marriage, divorce, covering and so on…
 
Part 3 is called “Interactions Between Muslims and Non-Muslims”.
It deals with interactions, jihad, spreading the religion by word,  
Part 4 is Muslim thinkers (male and female), Part 5 is ‘Muslims in Australia’.
 
To give you a feel for the book, I’ll just highlight three aspects:

1. Introduction

You get a feel for the tone of the book by this introductory section:
Introduction
Enlightened Islamic scholars state that wherever there is justice and mercy this is Allah’s (SWT) Shari’ah (Islamic law), and wherever there is goodness and freedom then this is Shari’ah.
Shari’ah was meant to regulate activities as a deterrent to criminals and to protect society. It is not, as some may think, a vengeful set of laws.
Two important issues have corrupted the thinking of some Muslims and the way they interpret Islamic injunctions:
1. Many superstitions and innovations have entered into Islamic practices of which Islam itself is completely innocent and can easily be refuted by Islamic evidence.
2. Mixing up cultural beliefs and practices with Islamic teaching and allowing these beliefs to take precedence, has led to the distortion of some Islamic practices. Naturally cultural beliefs and practices differ from one society to another.
Shari’ah is built on Allah’s clear injunctions (SWT) and not what is traditionally acceptable in some societies. There are those who specialise in religion who wrongly present Islam as a system which attempts to imprison women, condemns them to ignorance and tries to promote rulings in the form of authoritative pronouncements. These rulings present women as a species with no rights, no legal status and no intelligent faculties. This interpretation can deprive women from their rights in education, worship and jihad (self development).

2. The meaning of Islam

Part 1 starts with a section on the meaning of Islam…
Part 1. Islam and its Sources
1.   The Meaning of Islam
Islam is an Arabic word whose root is s-l-m which denotes peace and surrender. Islam means to give oneself unconditionally to Allah (SWT).
Islam is said to be the religion of all the prophets from the time of Adam.
The word Islam means: submission, confidence, patience, serenity, peace, gratitude, obedience, harmony, order and committing oneself to be ‘the servant of God’.
The Islamic religion is based upon ta’aluf (harmony), because everything which is created on earth by Almighty God Allah (SWT) is harmonised with the creator of the heavens and the earth. Everything created submits to the supreme reality who is God.

3. Polygamy, domestic violence and marriage

The book has sections on marriage, violence and polygamy starting on page 46.
It says
“So according to Shari’ah law, there has to be valid reasons for taking a second wife, but the first wife must be consulted and if she refuses to share her husband, she can ask for a divorce and get her full rights. Before the advent of Islam, there was no limit on the number of wives or concubines a man could have.
 
On domestic violence the book says “Islam condemns violence in any form against all living beings,
especially women. The Prophet (PBUH) never raised a hand against a woman, child, youth or anyone for that matter.” The author addresses Sura 4:34 and says the text does not allow beating of a wife.

In an Appendix the book deals with polygamy and marriage.
First it speaks about polygamy – Page 143:
Polygamy
It is an offence to be married to more than one person at one time in a form of ceremony recognised by the Marriage Act 1961. A ceremony which is religious only will not be recognised by Australian law and the offence of bigamy will not apply. There is no prohibition in Australian law against a person claiming to have more than one spouse recognised under religious laws.
People who enter into religious marriages will not have the legal protection provided by a marriage that is recognised under the Marriage Act 1961. This includes the right to access the Family Court for property settlement upon separation. It will also impact on who may be entitled to inherit property upon death.”
 
Then an extended section on Australian law and official marriage according is given.

Jenny Stokes
Research Director
Salt Shakers


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