Muslim women activists from different countries are planning to launch the first international all-female council to issue fatwas, drawing immediate support from some experts and suspicions from others.
“Islam is a religion of law, and it is important to express the principles of social justice within the framework of Islamic law,” Daisy Khan, the project’s manager, was reported as saying in The Christian Science Monitor on November 21.
“This is why we need muftias, in order to do that. Otherwise, it falls on deaf ears,” added Khan, the executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement.
The unprecedented council was born at a two-day meeting of more than 100 Muslim women scholars and activists in New York on misconceptions about the status of women in Islam.
Participants included Baroness Uddin, the first Muslim woman to enter Britain ’s House of Lords, Ingrid Mattson, the first woman president of the Islamic Society of North America, and Massouda Jalal, an Afghan pediatrician and political activist.
The new council is projected to comprise seven members specialized in Shari’ah and hold its first session within a year. It would give scholarships for more women to study Shari’ah in countries like Egypt , Morocco and Iran .
“We feel there are many Muslim women who are coming of age who have the scholarly background to be able to step up to the plate to speak authoritatively about it,” said Khan.
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), said the new council would help remove stereotypes about Islam in the West.