On Friday, April 3rd Minaret of Freedom Institute Secretary Sharmin Ahmad attended the Workshop on Islamic Law and Gender at Georgetown University organized by the National Resource Center on the Middle East. Sr. Sharmin had the opportunity to make several comments on behalf of the Minaret of Freedom Institute.

Sr. Sharmin elicited agreement from panelists when she noted that the Qur’anic requirement for two female witnesses as a substitute for one male witness applied only to commercial contracts and was an expansion of women’s rights in a society that heretofore had not allowed women to witness commercial contracts at all.

In response to Dr. Judy Tucker’s citation of two seventeenth century Palestinian fatwas on women’s issues that were more protective of women’s rights than more recent fatwas, Sr. Sharmin suggested that colonization may be a major reason for the decline in the status of women. When the British occupied the Indian subcontinent they effected a segregation of religious and secular studies that isolated the religious scholars from the real and practical needs of the society. This adversely affected the quality of the fatwas regarding women.

"I found the speakers to be very balanced and objective," Sr. Sharmin reported.

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