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A door opens for Muslim girls

Friday, July 17, 2009 08:17:11 AM, Tapas Chakraborty

Nadwatul Ulema Main Library Building

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Lucknow: Nadwa-tul-Ulema, one of India’s oldest and most conservative seats of Islamic learning, has opened its doors to women for being trained to become muftis or jurists.


Nadwa registrar Mohammad Haroon confirmed that 12 Muslim girls had enrolled in the course, called fazeelat, at different madarsas at Rae Bareli, Azamgarh and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh.


“On completion of fazeelat, these girls would be eligible for a one-year course of iftah, following which they would get the degree of mufti,” said Haroon.


Women till now were not permitted to pursue fazeelat, which is a pre-requisite to complete the iftah course for becoming muftis.


Islamic scholars said the move would go a long way in the emancipation of Muslim women. Maulvis have traditionally enjoyed a monopoly over the right to issue fatwas, or religious decrees, which were often aimed at curbing women’s rights. All this could change once women become muftis and earn the right to issue their own fatwas.


“We welcome this as Muslim women will now have a level playing field to defend their rights,” said Shaista Amber, chairperson of the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board.


“Who understands the problems of a woman except another woman?” she added, saying when women become muftis they would be guided by women’s interests while issuing fatwas.


The Nadwa-tul-Ulema was founded at Kanpur in 1894 with a mission to oppose western education. It has a formidable reputation among the Sunni sect with its words and verdicts being respected even in Saudi Arabia.


The title of “nadvi” (someone who has passed out from the Nadwa) is taken as a sign of one’s scholarship and credibility.


The institution was intended to be a modified version of the Deoband, the biggest Islamic seminary in India. Many scholars reckon the Nadwa-tul-Ulema to be a bigger name than Deoband, whose followers are known for issuing fatwas, at times reckless ones.


The Nadwa, which draws a large number of Muslim students from all over the country, on the other hand has always struck a middle path between classical Islam and modernity, say teachers.


Hizbur Rahman, a senior cleric and teacher at the Nadwa, said a separate building inside the male-dominated institute would be earmarked for holding the classes for women.


“The teachers, obviously male ones, would teach them from outside the purdah — the space would be divided by a curtain between the girl students and the teacher,” he said.


The university has over 10,000 students — all male — at its sprawling complex near the banks of the Gomti on the western outskirts of Lucknow.


The campus is dotted with buildings built in traditional Avadhi and Muslim architectural style.


Although history has examples of women muftis in the remote past, most of the contemporary Islamic world barred them till 2006 when Syria made a breakthrough and appointed two women muftis to work in Damascus and Aleppo.


Last year in Lucknow, a Muslim woman priest assumed the role of a qazi for a marriage. (The Telegraph)



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That id 100 % correct. Girls must be treated at par in the domain of knowledge and status


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Nadwatul-Ulama has indeed taken a right step as there in nothing the Holy Qurán that prevents women from attaining best in the knowledge. Muslim women need to be leaders in communicating the word of Allah.

Dr.Muhammad Mukhtar Alam
58-C,DDA Flats, Ashok Vihar-III,Delhi-110052

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Right step, indeed.There's nothing in Qur'an that prevents women from going for higher education.

Aga Khan lll - Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah can be credited in Muslim world first who handed the torch of education, who first one success in attempting to lift the veil from the faces of Ismaili Muslim women.


Hasan Essa

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Jamia Hafsa in Islamabad, Pakistan opened the doors of both Islamic and western education to women.

Because Jamia Hafsa was not a puppet of western powers, it was attacked and destreoyed by Agha Khan's friend General Musharraf. Hundreds of Islamic women were killed.


Kaukab Siddique

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