Home » African Clerics: Muslim Women Leadership Fine Under Islamic Teachings
Africa Business Central Africa Culture Defence Featured Human Rights National Security News Religion

African Clerics: Muslim Women Leadership Fine Under Islamic Teachings

Leaders from 25 Muslim-majority countries in Africa meeting in Cameroon on Friday called for an end to the exclusion of women from political, social, economic and religious issues in the name of Islamic teachings.

The more than 300 clerics, Islamic scholars and researchers at the U.N. conference on Islam, Women’s Empowerment and Peace Building said they were launching a campaign in Africa to counter stereotypes that impede the emancipation of Muslim women.

The consensus of the conference was that Muslim women are the most affected by conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa and should take lead roles in communities and decision-making.

Mamadou Lamine Diallo, a Muslim scholar and researcher at the Lansana Conte University in Guinea Conakry, said the campaign will begin in communities where some Muslim leaders teach and practice concepts that are strange to Islam. Diallo said teachings that girls should be given to marriage in their teens, and that women should leave social, economic and political activities to men, are misleading.

He said that in the Quran, Prophet Muhammad, who is the founder of Islam, established complete equality between men and women. He said the fact that Muhammad’s first wife, Khadija, was a highly respected business leader who traded in furniture, pottery and silks, is an indication that women should not be excluded from political, social, economic and religious issues in the name of Islamic teachings.

Some ideas called outdated

Diallo said the idea that women should be allowed to carry out only domestic chores and farm work is an outdated African practice. He said Boko Haram has been using female suicide bombers since 2010 with false promises that when a woman dies while fighting for Islam, she immediately goes to heaven.

Clerics said Muslim women constitute a majority of those enduring unprecedented levels of sexual violence, increased food insecurity and displacement. Muslim women are the largest group of the 3 million people displaced by Boko Haram terrorism in Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger, according to the clerics.

Maryam Amsha, a female Muslim leader in Bambari, a commercial town in the Central African Republic (CAR), said exclusion makes Muslim women ignorant of their roles in building peace in that country.

“It will be an abuse of democratic norms if a majority of the more than 51% of CAR’s 900,000 Muslims who are women do not take part in expected elections because they have been taught to avoid politics,” Amsha said.

She said she is “inviting imams to make sure that Muslim women are taking part in negotiations to end a decade of political tensions and develop CAR.”

Presidential elections in 2025

The Central African Republic will hold presidential elections in 2025. Amsha said a president elected by a majority of civilians, including women, will be a major step to peace. CAR descended into chaos after longtime leader Francois Bozize was overthrown in 2013 by a predominantly Muslim rebel alliance called Seleka.

Cameroonian Prime Minister Joseph Dion Ngute, who chaired the conference, said that if not stopped, some religious beliefs will slow Africa’s development.

“Culture is an important lever of people’s development,” Ngute said. “In this context, it is essential that women in general and those from the Islamic tradition in particular, see it as an instrument of personal development. That is why the government [of Cameroon] trains citizens who are rooted in their culture, respectful of the general interest and open to the world.”

The Muslim leaders said that if Africa provided greater impetus to Muslim women, high levels of poverty would be reduced, and several million people would free themselves from the bondage of slavery caused by erroneous beliefs about Islam.

Participants at the conference came from countries including Nigeria, Morocco, Libya, Algeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Tunisia, Mauritania, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Guinea Conakry, Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Source: VOA