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May 13, 2012 / Man in the Mirror

New Al-Azhar document for women

By Zeinab Saber – The Egyptian Gazette
Friday, May 11, 2012 03:26:08 PM 

“Al-Azhar, the country’s highest religious institution, intends to prepare a new document to safeguard women’s rights, as enshrined in the Islamic Sharia,” said Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar.

His comments came during a meeting with Dr Mervat el-Talawi, the head of the National Council of Children and Motherhood (NCCM), and some other members of the Council.

   El-Tayyeb added that Islam gives women many rights that aren’t found in other religions, and that this document should safeguard these rights.

   “There are many rights that women need, such as the right to education, work, personal issues, divorce, khula’, etc. Al-Azhar should play an important role in safeguarding these rights.”

   The Grand Sheikh called for forming a new committee, comprising Al-Azhar scientists, educational experts, media people and social experts, to come up with a strategy for Egyptian women for the near future, upgrading their rights and changing their social culture.

   “Al-Azhar should play a big role in changing this social culture and maintaining women’s Islamic identity,” said Dr Mervat.

   “It should publish booklets in different languages, about women and their role in Islam, then distribute them in Western countries, letting them know that Islam gives women many rights.”

   Many Al-Azhar professors and scientists wonder what this new document should contain.

   “All the rights women enjoyed in the prophetic era should be reactivated in this new document. In those days, women fought in battle,” said Amna Nosseir, a professor of Islamic philosophy at Al-Azhar University.

   “Women in Islam used to enjoy all their available rights, but today they have to resort to the courts to get them.

   “When a Muslim woman doesn’t want to live with her husband, she has to resort to khula’ and give up her financial rights, in order to get a divorce.

   “This document should restore a woman’s legal right to divorce, getting all her financial rights from her [ex-] husband,” she stressed.

Amal Yassin, a professor of comparative jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, said: “This new Al-Azhar document should include a new law that protects women from harassment in the workplace and on public transportation.

   “Islam honours women and they should enjoy the same rights as men in the workplace. Work is a right for both women and men. Women have the right to be educated here in Egypt or abroad.”

   Amal added that the women should be allowed to work in any field and society should deal with any obstacles to this.

   “This new document should include a list of the basic rights of women, who are half of society. It should stress that there is no difference between male and female,” stressed Saad el-Din el-Helali, a professor of jurisprudence, at Al-Azhar University.

   “Men and women must have equal rights, duties and job opportunities. MPs should take another look at women’s laws, especially those related to alimony, so that they are not left destitute after getting divorced.” Mohamed el-Shahat el-Gendi, a professor of Islamic Sharia at Al-Azhar University and a member of the Islamic Research Institute, said that the new document should stress women’s right to education, in order to upgrade their status and help develop society.

   “Women should be allowed to work in every field, not just the Civil Service. They should also play a role in social, economic and political activities,” he added, stressing the importance of women’s opinions.

   “We want to upgrade education and improve society’s culture and the economy. This necessitates women’s role being reactivated in this new Al-Azhar document.”


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