Malaysia: Daughters crusade for women

Sisters in Islam
The Prime Minister’s daughter and two daughters of two past prime ministers came together to speak up for Muslim women and voice their concern over injustices perpetrated in the name of Islam.
Nori Abdullah, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir and Hanis Tun Hussein spoke about the “disquieting state of our faith” at the International Consultation on Trends in Family Law Reform in Muslim Countries, organised by Sisters in Islam in March 2006.
“I’m here because I am concerned about laws that bear the name of my faith, laws passed in the name of Islam,” said Nori.

“We live in a world where injustice is not only being perpetuated but worse, injustice, under different guises and names, is being done in the name of Islam. Let this not come to pass in Malaysia.

“Any law, passed under the noble name of Islam, should be consistent with our faith’s fundamental principles of fairness, equality, freedom and most of all justice.

“If we do not remain true to Islam’s principles, then we allow ourselves to be shackled by those who do not represent this religion,” she said.

According to Marina, she worries that the minds of her two daughters will be shut down for asking the “wrong questions”.

“They ask: ‘Why is it that the Islam my mother says is fair and just not behaving that way?’ And people will tell them that it is not for them to ask.”

She fears that her daughters’ hearts will be broken one day by men they love who betray them in cruel ways. “I worry that they will come to believe that the men in this country are encouraged to be untrustworthy, disloyal, unkind to those they should love and cherish. They will again ask why and will be told that that’s the way it is,” she said.

She added: “I worry about how young people like them, who see the many injustices perpetuated in the name of Islam, find themselves driven away from what is a beautiful and just religion, because it does not make them feel good.”

Marina also stressed that flawed man-made laws should never be touted as “perfect” because only God was perfect. Hanis said women had fought alongside men during the Islamic struggle, with equal rewards awaiting them, and Muslim women had many great accomplishments, but these were often overlooked.

In the general Western view, she said, a Muslim woman was the “despised, subservient, second-class property of fathers, husbands, brothers and other male members of the family without a soul of her own”.

“I beg to differ. A Muslim woman is like a veil and a sword. She is soft, gentle and modest, yet strong, resilient and courageous,” she said.

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