With pleasure I would title this fourth meeting as “Muslim Pride”. I don’t know where I ‘ve read or heard this expression during the event, but in anycase it perfectly resume my impressions after four days in the Spanish capital, where in this year more than 500 attendees , women and men (actually, this year have been there more men than in the three previous meetings), have gathered around topics relationed with the apropiation of the texts and re-interpretation of the Qur’an and Sharia from an equality sight.
The congress was organized under the sponsorship and with the financial support of the International Spanish Agency for Development (AECID by its Spanish acronym), Cultural Institutes “Casa Asia” and “Casa Arabe” and the Ministery for Equality, before this latter was annulled during the Spanish government structuration, one week before the meeting.
During the last twenty years, diferents kinds of articles, reports, interviews and works, began with the same phrase that they repeated like a litany about the issue of Feminism and Islam :”Here we have an unthinkable contradiction, so whose existence is impossible”. The meeting in Madrid confirms with more strength, power and brightness that possible finally depletes the resistance created for the imposible in a patient, courageous and determined way. This possible act not only strips false evidences of the phrase of a well known intellectual laziness, but also turn them invalid.
Also with a bigger masculine attending, we had the pleasure to find among the speechers, one of the founders of this Islamic Feminist movement, the Iranian Ziba Mir Husseini, who told us the history of that one from the 1990 years in Iran. She presented the Islamic Feminism as the illegitimate son from the political Islamism that caused a reaction when politiziced the differences of sex and the Women Rights, not only in Iran, but also in Malasia with the construction of an international net, Musawah (Equality), N.G.O that brings together more that 50 countries. She gave us her knowledge and experience as anthropologist with a calm conviction that made us feel we were attending to an important historial era. She finish her intervention with this words about the Islamist Feminism, Islamic, Muslim : “We are here and our presence here is the proof we have won”
With the intervention od other speecher from South Africa, Sa’diyya Shaikh,we could give another step: For the first time we have an intervention about Feminism and Sufism with the feminist sight of Ibn Arabi. She herself lead the prayer of Friday and say a jutba in close relation with the issue of her conferencia between espirituality and social action from the point of view of gender equality.
With erudition, clarity, passion and humor, she presented some aspects of Ibn Arabi’ s Metaphyisics. Studies about Sufism are often ran but never relationed with legal positions of this scholars about the gender equality. Yes, the Islamic Feminism produce knowledge, as Ziba Mir Husseini said.
Laura Rodríguez Quiroga, president of the Union of Muslim Women in Spain (UMME by its Spanish acronym) and co-organizer of the event, presented in the opening a quite meaningful analysis about the influence of the contents of different mass media about the muslims women, in the construction of the collective imaginary about them. She pointed a 100% negative image of victms women and male offenders with a massive obsession for clothes and the rest about stoning, genital mutilation, ban on mosques and just over 2% on Islamic feminism.
As a conclusion of the congress, Ndeye Andújar, organizer of the meeting and vicepresident of the Catalan Islamic Board (Junta Islámica Catalana) presented us that the mass media never talk about, the actions of different international, europeans and local nets that work in different levels for gender equality, with international campaigns as one million signatures against stoning and access of women to the area of the Kaaba in Mecca, among others. She finished her intervention with the following words: “Islamic feminism is the future of Feminism. ” Perhaps we can understand this phrase as meaning that Houria Bouteldja from the Indigenous Party of the Republic developed in her speech to talk about Feminism ‘de-colonial’, which is involved in universalizing Feminism.
For those who had participated in the three previous meetings in Barcelona, the four days of intense exchanges at different levels of knowledge and practices between spirituality and social struggles represented a step ahead in confidence, as if slowly Islamic feminism left bank of the accused, subject to constant view of having to demonstrate or justify that they were not manipulated by the outside, or alienated from the inside … As if written with a quiet security im-possible history, the un-thinkable feminist revolution, with heads held high. Muslim Pride.
M. Laure Bousquet is co-chair of the Collectif des Féministes Pour l’Egalité (Feminist Collective for Equality)
Translated by Vanessa Rivera