Indonesian Scholar: Islam is a Feminist Religion

March 31, 2006

Source: Stampa/Adnkronos International

On March 31, 2006 Adnkronos International reported, "Islam is a feminist religion, says a leading Indonesian women's rights activist and Muslim scholar. Lily Zakiyah Munir is the director of the Jakarta-based Centre for Pesantren and Democracy Studies, which works closely with the ulama and students of Indonesian Islamic boarding schools, or pesantrens. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI) in Rome, where she is attending a inter-religious congress of women theologians this weekend, she stressed that 'Islam's call is to liberate the oppressed, including women.' 'To understand how Islam has uplifted the status of women and appreciate its revolutionary breakthrough for women's liberation and empowerment, it is key to know about the social and cultural conditions of pre-Muslim Arabia,' Munir says. 'This period is also known as jahiliya, where ignorance and lack of moral values prevailed. Women enjoyed no rights whatsoever and were treated more as a commodity than as human beings, they were not properly slaves but were considered a possession.' 'Islam ends these atrocities against women placing them on the same level as men,' Munir says. The Muslim scholar who has written many essays on women's rights in Islam, is a contributor for the Jakarta Post and frequently travels the world as a lecturer. She was recently in the United States for two months to teach a course on women's rights under Islam at the University of South Carolina."