When the Acehnese Women Ulama Enunciated Equality

My heart was pounding with excitement when Miss Binta from Rahima contacted me to take part in the Tadarus event of the caderization of Women Ulama (PUP) and the Halaqah (meeting) of Women Ulama in Banda Aceh. This forum is a great opportunity for us, Acehnese Women Ulama to equip ourselves with a variety of knowledge in preaching, so we can fight for equality and prosperity for women, not only at the level of individuals but also families and societies.

This mutual learning forum called Tadarus held at a hotel in Banda Aceh, on October 13-16, 2014 was attended by religious leaders and women ulama from various districts ranging from the southern end to the northern end of the province of Nangroe Aceh Darussalam (NAD). Through this forum, we not only learned a lot about the reality of the fate of women who often experience injustice, but also various extraordinary strengths in facing the problems they faced. Women who are often seen as helpless, sometimes have the strength and enthusiasm of life that is far more powerful than men. For 4 days, the learning process in this Tadarus was guided by facilitators namely Dr. Nur Rofiah from Rahima and Syamsidar from LBH APIK (Legal Aid Society for Women) Aceh to understand the issue of gender equality, women’s rights, and the Islamic perspective of the equal relations between men and women. On this occasion, participants also learned about the human reproductive system, reproductive health (Kespro) and reproductive rights. There are still many of us who do not know yet about the organs or reproductive organs in our body, whether in men or women. We also often forget how to maintain our reproductive organs in order to stay healthy naturally.

Many people also forget about the importance of respecting fellow humans. In the Qur’an, it is said that humans were created by Allah in pairs so that they can reproduce and respect one another. We also have to remember and understand our respective nature, where nature is understood as something created by God and attached to men and women and they cannot replace one another. While gender is a social construct about men and women, where as a result of this construction women bear more burdens in various aspects. Various constructions that greatly affect the lives of women can come from the state, religious interpretations, as well as traditions and cultural practices. As a result of this unequal construction, many men forget about how a woman struggles for her life, family, and even society. Therefore they are capable of committing acts of violence against women whether physical, psychological or mental violence, social violence and even sexual violence.

While the halaqah forum held on October 17-18, 2014 was facilitated by Maman Abdurrahman facilitator from Rahima. This Halaqah also presented resource persons namely, Prof. Dr. Syahrizal Abbas and Dr. Nurjannah Ismail in a discussion session entitled “the Challenges and Strategies of Women Ulama for the Benefit of Humans in Aceh”. Also attended in this halaqah was Ms. Dahlia M.Ag., the Head of the Aceh Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Agency (BP3A).

In this session, both Mr. Syahrizal and Mrs. Nurjannah provided information about the Qanun Jinayat (Islamic Criminal Code Bylaw), starting from the legislation process and who were authorized to ratify the Qanun. It cannot be denied that the Qanun which sparks the pros and cons is indeed a political product which becomes the authority of the members of Aceh Legislative Council (DPRA). Therefore, women ulama need to contribute to the discussion of the Qanun’s materials that concern the lives of many people. Not to mention, criticizing legal materials whose content have the potential to harm and marginalize women. 

{} Sri Machfuzzah.N, S.Pd., a participant of PUP Banda Aceh

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