By: Pera Soparianti and Tia Istianah
Nur Rofi’ah is a woman scholar of the Quranic Exegesis who teaches in the postgraduate program of Perguruan Tinggi Il mu Alquran (PTIQ) or Quranic Higher Education College in Jakarta. She obtained her secondary and senior high school in the Pesantren for Girls in Seblak Jombang which was founded by Nyai Khoiriyah Hasyim Asy’ari; the prominent women ulama figure, then in the Pondok Pesantren Krapyak which was supervised by Nyai Nafisah. Her undergraduate degree she obtained from Islamic State University of Yogyakarta, while her postgraduate and doctoral degree she obtained from the University of Ankara, Turkey. Her involvement with the religious texts always remains with question, on why women are often treated discriminatively especially in the family and social matters. Her meeting with the teachers or masters who taught her on critical thinking, and the women ulama figures that she met in the two pesantrens in which she lived there, had inspired her to explore the hidden meaning in the religious text to find women’s identity. Then Nur involved in several organisations that concerned on women empowerment in Indonesia such as P3M, Rahima, Alimat,LKK NU, Sisters in Islam (SIS), and Musawah Global Movement, and etc. For her, the more she learned about the religious texts, it strengthened her believe that the advancement of women is one of the main agenda of the Islamic teaching.
In her article entitled Kemaslahatan dan Perempuan (The Benefit and Women) in the book of KH. Afifuddin Muhadjir, the expert of Ushul Fiqh from the East in January 2021, Nur affirmed that in the religious text there were so many traps that made religious texts become vulnerable to be abused as a justification on the actions that created the harms or mafsadat, and furthermore danger or mudharat for women. Especially actions which in the same time does not impacted the similar things for women. For example, woman’s experienced as the beaten wife of course will be totally different with the man’s experience as the husband who beat her. The man doesn’t get any mafsadat and mudharat from this occasion, while woman obviously got it. The Islamic knowledge system is strongly based on the text so that women’s experience becomes part of the social reality and lacks to be considered. Including in formulating the benefit for women’s experience.
The concept of Substantive Justice (Keadilan Hakiki) that was introduced by Nur considered two specific women’s experiences, namely women’s biological experience and social experience to achieve the goal of substantive justice for women. Women have five biological experience, those are menstruation, pregnancy, giving birth, childbirth, and breastfeeding. The such five experiences some of them happen hourly, daily, weekly, monthly as well as ye, arly such as breastfeeding. All of them can be accounted for by the feeling of illness (adza), ,cause exhaustion (kurhan), furthermore very ill (wahnan ‘ala wahnin). This is totally different with the man’s biological experience nemely wet dream and sexual intercourse. Both of them only happen in a matter of minutes and gave pleasure effect. The five women’s biological experience contained the feeling of illness, furthermore very ill so that cannot be seen as the benefit, if adding the feeling of illness of one or more than the five women’s biological experiences.
In addition to the biological experience, women have the five social experiences as the impact of the long human’s history which were coloured with inhuman attitudes towards women. For example, buried alive when they were still babies as happened in the Arabian peninsula, burned alive with the cremated husband’s body or called Sati in India, being sold and inherited in various great civilizations, even still happens nowadays in the case of trafficking in women. The traditions occurred in a social system that put women as the object or secondary subject in the life system. The system which is often called as patriarchal system actually happens everywhere in the different level. Women then become vulnerable in experiencing the five social experiences. Those are stigmatizations (perceived as bad/negative), subordination (valued as low/lower than men), marginalization (exclusion from the important access of life), violence and double burden (domestic life and public life). Such experiences only happen just by becoming women. So it is called gender based violence against women. The five social experiences of women are not just, so it can be seen as the benefit of one or more of them.
Considering the two specific women’s experiences is the core of substantive justice perspective. Furthermore Nur also affirmed the Substantive Justice (Keadilan Hakiki) perspective to understand the benefit in order to achieve the real benefit of women. The real benefit of women’s experience is by facilitating the women’s biological experience in order not to feel more illness and prevent or eliminate women’s social experience..
The concept of Substantive Justice (Keadilan Hakiki) achieved its momentum in the commemorations of Indonesian Women Ulama Congress (Kongres Ulama Perempuan Indonesia/ KUPI) in April 2017. The substantive justice can be taken as one of the main approach of formulating the religious fatwa of KUPI, one of them related to sexual violence. Women’s experience as the victims both biologically and socially became the main foundation of taking the religious position of KUPI.
In 2018, Nur introduced the concept of Substantive Justice through some religious events named Ngaji Keadilan Gender Islam (KGI) that had been launched in several communities, such as pesantren, majelis taklim, universities, women organizations, religious organizatkions both in domestic and overseas. Furthermore, in the situation pandemic COVID-19, the Ngaji KGI events became more intensive and were done online; even penetrated wider areas in several countries such as Malaysia, Australia, America, UK, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan, Hongkong, and Thailand. The interesting thing about the Ngaji KGI event is that the participants should not pay or be free of charge. Both in the events that are held through both online and offline. Now, little by little, the Islam and gender justice discourses started to echo, giving the oase for the women’s questions in themselves which are silenced by traditions, environment, and power relations.