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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Musawah Movement: Seeking Equality and Justice in Muslim Family Law


These personal stories from Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Britain, and Gambia, among others—signifying the contention between law, lived realities, and experiences, and illuminating the need for equality and justice— emerged in Kuala Lumpur during the launch of the Musawah (“equality” in Arabic) movement. Between February 13 and 17, 2009, Malaysia bore witness to the courageous and necessary search for equality and justice in Muslim Family Law through the meeting of a transnational network of activists, academics, ngos, grassroots organizations, policy makers, and those committed to reclaiming Islam for themselves in their struggle to (re) envision the role and meaning of their faith in the twenty-first century. No longer the nameless, faceless, and voiceless Muslim women that permeate Orientalist literatures and popular culture, this select group of believers and their allies claims that Islam promotes gender justice, though the realization of equality remains elusive due to authoritarian and unjust interpretations of Islam.

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