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Muslim women have a very important role to play in promoting peace in the Muslim community

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Abu Dhabi: Muslim women have a very important role to play in promoting peace in the Muslim community, and are already at the forefront, spreading a peaceful image of Islam, delegates were told on the third and concluding day of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies held in Abu Dhabi.

The event saw Muslim women from different professions and walks of life give their opinions on how best to promote peace, and counter the extremism that has emerged in certain sections of the Muslim community.

Aisha Al Adawiyyah, an American who embraced Islam, and is the founder of Muslim Women, Inc, in the US, told the audience, “Women are at the forefront of peace building and I don’t think we [truly] understand the significance of what this means. Everyday, women are in the trenches working for peace, trying to keep their family whole, trying to find ways to protect their children, by giving them an education and a dignified, respectful life.”

Women accept the challenges they face, said Aisha. “We take on challenges that many are not inclined to take on.”

Al Adawiyyah also highlighted how Muslim women took part in inter-faith work, broke down barriers and created friendships.

“Muslim women are at the forefront of interfaith work. I live in New York, and have been involved in the interfaith movement for decades, and have found the more meaningful examples of interfaith work to be the ones that brought people from all faiths and backgrounds to the work that impacted peoples’ everyday lives at the grassroots level - that is where you connect with people. Supporting each other in our struggles and strife, we find friendship and love among those people.” she said.

She also called for Muslim women to be granted access to attain traditional scholarships, so that there could be Muslim female scholars, who become recognised and reputed in the community.

Leah Mammadova, President of the Balkan Muslim Womens Conference, one of the speakers at the conference, said that one important pillar in preventing extremism, especially amongst women who have newly embraced Islam, is to provide them with a sound guidance of the religion to prevent them from being influenced or lured into extremism.

“We have a challenge of preventing Muslims from fundamentalism and extremism. These people can be called neo-Muslims - they created an ideal picture of Islam, and read a book telling them Islam should be like this or that, but they don’t have a real [Muslim] model to see or live by. Many times, they find a change in a radical way and move towards an extremist position.”

Scholars also have their role to play in helping these women, by correctly explaining Islamic concepts and principles.

“I propose that scholars compile the doubts and arguments in a book, and also gather the statements by extremist groups that are used to attract Muslim men and women to their cause. This requires a detailed study, of the statements and concepts which need to be explained to them. Unfortunately, extremists have taken Islamic principles ... to [use them] to victimise men and women. This plight should be addressed,” she said.

Sharon Shetty

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