“We’ve been duped.”
This is a short but profound statement from one Maldivian woman. The same individual went on to explain that while every Maldivian received an Islamic education at an early age, many women are unaware of the rights afforded them under Islamic law.
In November 2012, KARAMAH’s Chair and Founder Dr. Azizah al-Hibri and Executive Director Aisha Rahman traveled to the Maldives for a three-day lecture series centered on Islamic jurisprudence and family law. Specifically, these lectures focused on domestic violence, gender issues and specifics of family law in the Maldivian legal code. KARAMAH’s conference was organized by Aneesa Ahmed, a recipient of the State Department’s International Women of Courage award. A former parliamentarian and minister of health in the Maldives, Ms. Ahmed connected with KARAMAH while visiting Washington to accept her award. Upon learning of KARAMAH’s vision for expanding Muslim women’s leadership and Islamic jurisprudence in support of women’s rights, Ms. Ahmed dedicated herself to bringing KARAMAH’s message to her community in the Maldives.
Among those attending the conference were groups of professionals, ranging from government officials to private lawyers and social service providers. Examples included officials from the ministries of Gender and Human Rights and Islamic Affairs, as well as members of the Family Protection Agency, a newly formed body that is assisting with implementation of the new legislation on domestic violence. The Attorney General and a group of private lawyers attended also. In addition, KARAMAH held a special session for Maldivian judges on the nuances of Shariah and its application by courts throughout the Muslim world.
Following each lecture, question and answer sessions revealed a number of specific inquiries from participants. Such was the extent of interest that organizers felt it necessary to arrange a separate public gathering in the capital city of Male. The open forum was held at Masjid-al-Sultan Muhammad Thakurufaanu Al Auzam, also known as the Islamic Centre. With close to 40 people in attendance, Dr. al-Hibri and Ms. Rahman discussed issues of particular interest to those in attendance, such as reproductive rights in Islam and child custody. For more information on women’s rights in Islam, read Dr. al-Hibri’s article titled “An Introduction to Muslim Women’s Rights” by clicking here.
While there exist interesting challenges, KARAMAH is confident that the comprehensive mission of improving Islamic education, encouraging women’s leadership and legal competency was well-received by the Maldivian community. KARAMAH looks forward to the future, bright with new partnerships and continued cooperation between our organization and the people of this great island nation.