05-December-2021

Role of Women in Building Inter-religious Dialogue and Peace

By: Aisha Braima

KHARTOUM (SUDANOW)—The International Muslim Women Union (IMWU) organized here this month an interaction conference in which 67 feminists and woman academics took part to discuss issues relevant to the role of modern women in building inter-religious dialogue and disseminating the culture of peace.

Among the participants was Dr. Amany Lubis of the Faculty of Sharia and Law of the Sharif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta, Indonesia, and Chairperson of the IMWU's Union of Muslim Women Scholars.

SUDANOW conducted with Dr. Lubis the following interview:-
 

SUDANOW:-What was your impression after taking part in the conference?

Lubis:-The conference reviewed very important issues related to the role of the woman and her contribution to peace and peaceful co-existence among individuals of the society and to the dialogue between religions. However, some participants declined to discuss the inter-religion dialogue perhaps due to the sensibility arising from conversion from Christianity to Islam and vice versa. I indicated in my paper the importance of discussing such issues and finding legitimate mechanisms for addressing them. There are numerous instances of conversion all over the globe, something which is natural as a person may change in time and therefore some peaceful means must be sought for avoiding the occurrence of violent reactions that are sometimes leads to murder, something which must not occur in our age of enlightenment and rich human experience.

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Q:-Will you give us an idea about the Indonesian experience in this connection?

A:-The population of Indonesia is 260 people famed for good manners and adherence to their faith. Indonesia includes the biggest ethnic and cultural groups with six legally recognized religions, diverse cultures and 750 local languages. Although the majority of the people are Muslims (88%), other religions flourish due to the tolerance and to respect by all people for the plurality and the different sects and they pursue a moderate Islamic way for finding solutions to the problems of the society. The Muslim preachers of Indonesia have succeeded in assimilating the Islamic teachings, not characterized by fanaticism but, rather, respect the local cultures; they adhere to the Arab and Muslim traditions on the one hand, and they do not necessarily wear the Arab costume and turban, on the other, and, instead, they permitted the Muslims to don the traditional Indonesian costume. Also in designing the worshiping houses, like mosques, they retained the old Hindu and Buddhist styles due to their perfect design, in the presence of the big drum to signal the time for prayers, unlike the Middle East mosques of high domes. The government institutions, each in its specialty, impose order and rule of law through their administrative and judicial bodies, on the one hand, and through the social enlightenment and the civil society responsibility for maintenance of the social peace, on the other.

Q: And in spite of this, some extremists perpetrated explosions in the capital Jakarta last January. How do you explain this?

A:-The government of Indonesia at first adopts a soft force instead of a fierce one in dealing with the religious extremists and ideological fundamentalists, deterring the saboteurs for realizing justice. The Islamic feminist and religious organizations work for eradication of extremism, effectively assisting the government for dissemination of the Islamic moderation and confronting the contemporary challenges and underlining the importance of the cultural change. Those organizations and societies dispatch their members to the international forums for participation in keeping a lasting peace at the national and international levels. In this connection the woman's role is to protect the family in a way that none of its members would join unlawful, subversive and religiously pervert groups. Moreover, the woman effectively cooperates with the bodies of the state in disconnecting ties by members of the family and community with the fundamentalist movements. This duty makes it imperative upon the woman to be adequately aware of the local and international developments.

Q:- What do you think of sticking the image of terrorism on Islam by some Western circles?

A:- As an academic and researchers in this field I can say that "terrorism has no religion." It is a mere erroneous allegation against Islam and self-defense and defending property cannot be called "terrorism". The correct concept of terrorism, according to the entire humanity, is "subversive actions and killing innocent civilians."

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Q:-What role do you think the woman can play for achieving peaceful coexistence in the society?

A:-Women, in general, have a tremendous ability for overcoming disparities within communities affected by conflicts. Besides being feminine, they are also mothers and sisters and, therefore, they have a strong passion for reconciliation. They have proved that their role is a basic one in many instances and, therefore, the society must offer them an opportunity of listening to their view. The women must also be enabled to arrange dialogue between religions and to consolidate peace within Muslim communities. Another basic and pivotal role for women is to bring up Muslim generations on Islamic principles and values of tolerance and love for the human-kind and cooperation in virtue and philanthropy, rather than evil and hostility, among all human-beings, irrespective of the diverse faiths, ethnicities and countries, beside making clear the relationship between the religion and the state.

Q:-In this connection, Indonesia have an experience on maintenance of a perfect family?

A:- Yes. We have an institution that has been founded since 1960 named the Organization for Advice, Guidance and Family Up-keeping under the supervision of the Ministry of Religious Affairs with branches in all provinces of Indonesia. It is entrusted with the tasks of holding marriages together, ironing out familial problems which lead to divorces, qualification of persons about to marry and offering advice and guidance to the spouses and the families. The intermediary, a male or a female, offers services for putting an end to family problems in collaboration with the clinics and centers tasked with providing services to women and children in addition to law offices and crisis centers for women. Those facilities are also tasked with resolving family disputes beside a strategic role for combating violence against women and children and rehabilitation and reintegration of the delinquents into the society.

Q:- How successful was this institution in light of any survey you might have conducted on its activities?

A:- A field survey was carried out in 2013 in six provinces in Jakarta and Java which showed that there were very active provinces in organizing courses for enlightenment of persons planning to marry where 2245 weddings were held each year, i.e., an average of 187 weddings a month. The specialized centers affiliated to the institution conduct precise studies to find out the causes of divorces and to find solutions to them. The rate of divorce is 3% to 5% in those provinces, a rate which is not bad compared with the other provinces of Indonesia or with other Muslim countries.

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MAS/ AS

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