The Power of Muslim Women

The most influential Muslim women from around the world hashed out the problems of the Muslim world. Now comes the solutions.

Continued from page 2

But it is Asifa Qureishi, an assistant professor of law at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert in Islamic and U.S. constitutional law, who makes the most telling remark on the hijab debate. “I don’t like women’s dress being a topic of public debate at all. This debate makes me sad,” she says, adding that the true problem is that a non-Muslim made this into a matter of public debate, when Muslims themselves should have been hashing it out.

4:34 p.m. A Qur’anic Interlude

Laleh Bakhtiar, whose English translation of the Qur’an (the first done by a woman) is due out in the spring, brings the session of

ijtihad

to a close by discussing what she learned about the Qur’an through personal study. Take the controversial verse 4:34. Conventional translation of it reads, “Husbands who fear adversity on the part of wives, admonish them, leave their bed, and beat them.”



But how could the Qur’an instruct men to beat their wives? Bakhtiar asks. After consulting numerous Muslim scholars and conducting her own in-depth study, she concluded that the Arabic root word “drb” (which has always been translated to “beat”) also means “to go away.”



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So she translated the verse to be “Husbands who fear adversity on the part of wives, admonish them, leave their bed, and go away.” Now that’s major

ijtihad

. “We must deal with inconsistencies in the Qur’an,” she says, because the Qur'an is not wrong. The mistakes come, Bakhtiar says, in how we interpret it.



Sunday, Nov. 19
10:15 a.m. Mukhtaran Mai and the Rape Laws of Pakistan


Her story is known around the world. In 2005,

Mukhtaran Mai, a poor, illiterate woman, was gang-raped by four men

in her village of Meerwala, Pakistan by orders of a local village council as revenge for a crime her young, barely teenaged brother allegedly committed. After the brutal rape, she was forced to walk nearly naked through the streets of her village to her home.



Mai wanted to kill herself, but her mother restrained her. So, in her darkest moment, said her translator, she went to the police to speak up, knowing that there was a death sentence on her. But instead of being killed, the local imam took up her case and denounced the attack in the Friday

khutba
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