KARAMAH Conducts Three Workshops in Egypt Concerning Islam, the Rule of Law and Women’s Rights


April 28, 2011

WASHINGTON– KARAMAH: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights conducted three widely attended and highly successful workshops in Cairo, Egypt from March 27-April 7, 2011.

At a critical time in the history of Egypt, when foreign organizations, including NGO’s, are not widely trusted, KARAMAH and its Director of Research, Ms. Nevine Abdullah, organized and held three outstanding workshops in collaboration with several distinguished local partners.

The first and most widely attended-program, entitled “Islam, Liberty and The Rule of Law” was held in partnership with Al-Azhar al-Shareef, the oldest and most distinguished Islamic educational institution in the world. This program featured the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Ms. Abdullah as two of the main speakers. The topic is of utmost importance at this time in Egypt and enabled the speakers to explore the balance within Islam between liberty and security.

The Grand Imam emphasized the fact that liberty is a duty in Islam; but that it is neither absolute nor narrowly defined so as to be oppressive of other people’s liberties. It is intertwined with the concepts of social justice, moral values, and social ideals, thus leading to greater happiness, cooperation and stability in society. He was followed by Karamah’s Ms. Abdullah, who emphasized the fact that Islam established basic principles that were equally applicable to all individuals regardless of status or other considerations. This feature renders the law an instrument of justice and equality, not oppression and enslavement.

Dr. Kamal Abu El-Majd, former minister of Information and a constitutional jurist, focused on the need to address social injustice in Arab and Islamic societies through education, while Dr. El-Shafi’i, Advisor to the Grand Imam and Professor of Islamic Philosophy in Cairo University, expounded on the role of Islam in protecting public interest, especially vulnerable populations. Professor Muhammad Kamal Imam, Professor of Islamic Law at the University of Alexandria, explained that liberty and security go hand in hand, because true liberty is not chaotic and the Rule of Law protects the foundations of liberty.

The audience of five hundred included scholars, several deans of various universities, former ministers, former presidents of Al-Azhar and other intellectual leaders, in addition to students and the general public. The workshop was covered by prestigious and well-known national as well as international media organizations, including three Egyptian newspapers: al-Ahram, al-Akhbar, and al-Jumhuriyyah. One Egyptian television channel aired the entire event and several others recorded and aired segments of this workshop.

KARAMAH organized another workshop during the same time period entitled “Child Custody Rights in Egypt from Islamic and Civil Legal Perspectives.” It was co-sponsored by the World Association for Al-Azhar Graduates and the Organization of Women and the Law. This workshop dealt with the ongoing debate over the controversial issue of child custody rights in Egypt – an issue that has been raised by both men and women during the protests over the past few weeks and which will be ruled upon by the Ministry of Justice in the near future.

In addition to KARAMAH’s Ms. Nevine Abdullah, and Howayda Mustafa, Esq., the president of Organization of Women and the Law, the child custody workshop speakers included the Honorable Mahmoud Ghoneim, Vice President of the Supreme Constitutional Court, ‘Adel El-Naggar, former Vice Minister of Justice in Egypt, Dr. Muhammed Al-Shahhat al Gindy, Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, and Dr. Abdullah El-Naggar, Professor of Islamic Law at Al-Azhar.

Finally, KARAMAH organized a workshop on domestic violence which was co-sponsored by the Egypt-based Women Foundation for Law and Peace Culture. The event was moderated by Dr. Nariman Abdel-Qader, Esq., President of the co-sponsoring Foundation. The panelists included Ms. Abdullah, Prof. Muhammad Zenati, Dean of the School of Islamic Studies of Al-Azhar University, Ashraf Saad, Muslim Scholar and Member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, and Dr. Hisham Abdel-Latif, a well-known psychiatrist.

Dr. Zenati presented an overview of the rights of women in Islam and Ms. Abdullah discussed the fact that all forms of domestic violence are condemned and illegal in Islam, whether physical, emotional, or psychological, citing evidence in both the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The high level of attendance and engagement at each of the workshops reflects the importance and timeliness of these topics. It is also a strong indication of the commitment that has been made by Egyptian scholars and religious, judicial and civil society leaders to address these issues.

The workshops are a reflection of KARAMAH’s ongoing commitment to educational global programs, which advocate for the understanding and promotion of human rights worldwide, particularly those of Muslim women in Islamic and civil law.


KARAMAH, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights is a U.S.-based non profit organization founded in 1993 that derives its name from the Arabic term “karamah”, which means dignity. KARAMAH vision and mission are based on the belief that a just society values the informed participation of its members through the pursuit of knowledge, accessibility of opportunity and equity among all, regardless of gender, religious beliefs, or other differences. Through educational programs, scholarship, and advocacy, Karamah contributes to the understanding and promotion of human rights worldwide, particularly the rights of Muslims in Islamic and civil law.

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