Source: The Christian Science Monitor
For centuries, devout Muslims have looked to the fatwa - an opinion based on religious reasoning of a learned individual or committee - for direction on how to resolve moral dilemmas ranging from the mundane to the sublime. And for centuries, Muslim women have conceded the ground, for the most part, to the men who issue these opinions.
That's beginning to change.
Meeting in New York over the weekend, Muslim women from 25 countries began laying groundwork for the first international all-female council formed to issue fatwas. Their idea: to ensure that women's perspectives on Islamic law become part of religious deliberation in the Muslim world - particularly on issues such as domestic violence, divorce, and inheritance.
"There's this growing sense on the part of literate Muslim women ... that there is a vital need for women to confront the Islamic tradition and to work on a par with men in interpreting the sources," says Ann Mayer, an expert in Middle Eastern law at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. "Otherwise you end up with a very sexist bias in the readings."