KUPI in Thailand: 2nd Training on Gender and Islam

“Strengthening the role of women ulama in Southeast Asia is an attempt to bring back the authenticity of Islam in Nusantara World, that women are taking active roles in public space.” Prof Azyumardi Azra, the President of Asian Muslim Action Network (AMAN) made a strong statement during the opening of 2nd Training on Gender and Islam in Chiangmai, 26-28 October 2019. In his keynote speech, he emphases on the genuine Southeast Asian women’s leadership in culture, social, politics, education, and others, that should not be suppressed by other culture.

Inline with Prof Azra’s speech, Dr. Suchart has given comprehensive pictures of muslim Thailand struggling for identity recognition as minority, but at the same times dealing with islamophobia, where there has been rejection among buddhist community against the construction of mosque in Chiangmai. The reason behind this is the growing number of buddhist community massively reject the construction of mosques in the buddhist majority population. Meaning permission on mosque construction in the community because, drug abuse, alcohol and the rising of violence against women. To response those challenges, it is needed to contextualising the Islamic teaching to be sensitive in responding the day to day problem faced by Thai muslim women.

Reflection Moment

From the previous training done in Bangkok on 27-29 July 2019, participants agreed to take some follow up steps in promoting Mubaadalah and substantive justice. Provided a reflective moment, participants were requested to discuss their personal experiences in a group about promoting mubaadalah in community. There was not so many follow up after Bangkok Training. However, we noted some interesting movement done by some participants that cover area such as:

  1. Influence the decision of community, where women should be accepted in praying in the mosque
  2. The mosque should listen to women’s voices because they know better in term of understanding
  3. Mosque can take more roles in providing assisting of victim of domestic violence, because when women experience violence they come to imam and this roles are very
  4. Understanding the biological capacity and conturing of women should be part of consideration in formulation

Some sharing was not too clear in term of how mubaadalah was introduced in community, but some reluctant and uncomfortable feeling to share new paradigm to see women and men. So, some concerns about women not being heard in public, “talak” cases done, gender injustice against women in the case of heritage etc.

Overall, understanding about basic concept of mubaadalah reaching in average, but not for keadilan hakiki (substantive justice). Participants’ understanding on substantive justice need to be upgraded in order to reach certain level requested in supporting foundation of mubaadalah.

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Understanding Muslim in Thailand and Relation to GBV

Muhammad Afiq Bin Mohamad Noor from National Centre for Contemporary Islamic Studies, University of Melbourne provided some insights about Muslim Melayu, through his presentation in tittl Socio-Historical Influence on Understanding of Islam Among Melayu Pattani. In His presentation Afiq highlight how the role of Pondok in shaping the perpsective of Muslim as well as the common reference used by muslim in Pondok in Pattani. Here is the

Within those kitab that are popular among Pondok in Pattani, Afiq mentioned that there are women ulama wrote some kitab but not may people know. Some of them are :

  1. Hajjah Wan Yah Binti Wan Abdul Rahman, Pattani
  2. Hajjah Khadijah Binti Haji Abdul Rahman (Tok Selehor)
  3. Sheikhah Fatimah Sheikh Abdul Wahab Al Banjari

Sharin session with Afiq, Atjan Suchart from Payap University Chiangmai, Thailand was strongly addressed on issues of violence agaisnt women. He also discovered many cases related to VAW, child marriage, and sexual violence that bring muslim in worse situation. He called collective action to all muslim in dealing with alcohol, drug and Islamophobia. As minority in the Nort of Thailand, muslim has been treatened by a group of buddist millitant to spread hatred and agaisnt muslim. In responding this, it is important to build inclusive networking to let others knowing what muslim has been doing. This collaboration is a good example that need to expand in the future, not only for Muslim in Southern Thailand, but also the North.

Advancing foundational concept of Keadilan hakiki (Subtantive Justice) and Mubaadalah

Keadilan Hakiki (Substantive Justice) is a perspective of justice by considering special condition biologically and socially of women. This perspective needs to be apply in understanding Islamic text.
Men and women performs shalat (5 times prayer), fasting in the month of ramadhan, pay zakat (sermon), but Islam also gives special attention to women that in the month of ramadhan, women has biological needs, that bring to consequences not perform shalat but do not need to replace, or not to fast during menstruation or pregnancy or post natal care, but replace to other days. Islam has given special attentions to women at social context. For instance when women were forced to serve men sexually, Allah does not blame women, rather forgive her (QS. an-Nuur, 24:33); in the powerless situation to response tradition of heritage, where men were monopolised over family heritage, including women as part of heritable property, Islam came to protect women and give guarantee their rights over family heritage (OS. An-Nisaa, 4: 11); powerless situation, which tradition amputated present of women as witness, Allah recognises her and guarantee value of female witnesses (Q.A 2: 282 and An-Nur 24: 6-9)

So, Subtantive Justice must consider two special conditions of women biologically and socially. In term of biological condition of women, it is important to know that men and women have different reproductive cycles that bring different consequences of period of time and consequences. In term of social condition, it is strongly release that in patriarchal society, many women experiences five gender injustice such as sub-ordination, stereotyping, marginalisation, discrimination and violence against women. In substantive justice, women are seen as complete creature equal as men, but their experiences of reproductive roles should be used to determine justice.

While mubaadalah, as explained by Dr. Faqihudin Abdul Qadir is a perspective that believe that happiness and wellbeing should be achieved together in equal partnership of women and men. The foundation the foundational concept of mubaadalah where men and women are kholifah fil ard (leader of the world), which brings consequences for both men and women are entitled to contribute to the happiness, justice, welfare and peace inside the family and society.

As perspective mubaadalah gives positive inquiry approach when we deal with problem in our community. In the case of gender based violence (GBV), mubaadalah offers steps to analyse by applying three important steps:

Firstly, as perspective encourages us to analysis the gender relations in the family and community, to understand how women is being positioned in the context of community. It is a process to understand case by looking at one of root causes is gender inequality. There are many triggers of gender based violence such as unemployment, drug abused, alcohol, and others. However, we need to go further to see the root causes of the case.

Secondly, Mubaadalah encourages us to think problem-solving-oriented approach, without looking for who’s need to be blamed is we want to approach as many actors as possible to be part of solution, instead of pointing them as causing factors. Therefore, positive inquiries in approaching this issues, often to increase more possibility to engage male actors or the hardest actors.

Thirdly, mubaadalah presents by offering principles of islamic teaching, to bring people coming from different background to have consensus building and willing to be part of solution. Therefore, formulation of question is important and finding the basic concept in Islamic teaching that can protect everyone from destruction and dangerous are important.

Applying mubaadalah and substantive justice as perspective

Four case studies were using to measure the skill of participants in applying mubaadalah and substantive justice in responding the case. Four cases of domestic violence was compiled from the experiences of women living in context of conflict in Southern Thailand. the case also highlighted the present of alcohol and drug that trigger gender based violence, however inequality in gender relation in family and society, put women in position.

To gain optimal results in sharpening the skill of participants in applying perspective of mubaadalah and substantive justice, we take some steps such as:

Divide participants into two groups based on expertise and field, those who has Islamic background would be mentored by Dr. Nur Rofiah and Afiq Noor, candidate doctor, to strengthen on the area of gather argumentation using more islamic reference that support argumentation to provide substantive justice for women and resolve problem using mubaadalah perspective. Other group was consisting of women activist, campaigner, mobiliser, that need to strengthen their argumentation using simple islamic argumentation that has solution oriented.

Provide steps to make easy participants to apply analysis using mubaadalah and substantive justice. The steps cover three important component that are: Understanding the gender power relation where case is happening, encourage to think solving problem, and bring principle of islam and support with detail islamic text from the Quran and Hadist that supporting the specific argumentation of protection of women and preventing dangerous.

Individual works and follow by preservation to see how the analysis different from one group to another group

Follow Up

  1. Three important follow up from the training are:
  2. Finalising the draft of analysis to be a short article to be submitted soon 1 month
  3. Set up group of mentoring to ensure that process of mentoring will be done for those who are seriously working on the article
  4. Preparation of last visit to Indonesia