When ye divorce women, and they fulfill the term of their (‘Iddat), do not prevent them from marrying their (former) husbands, if they mutually agree on equitable terms. This instruction is for all amongst you, who believe in God and the Last Day. That is (the course Making for) most virtue and purity amongst you and God knows, and ye know not (2:232)
A virgin came to the Prophet and mentioned that her father had married her against her will, so the Prophet allowed her to exercise her choice. (Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas, Sunan Abu Dawood, Book 5, Number 2091)
The Prophet said: A guardian has no concern with a woman previously married and has no husband, and an orphan girl (i.e. virgin) must be consulted, her silence being her acceptance. (Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas, sunan Abu Dawood, Book 5, Number 2095)
A harmonious family has always been the cornerstone of just and thriving Islamic societies. Yet numerous governments in the Muslim world have implemented family law systems that do not reflect the egalitarian family relationships on which these laws should be based. Additionally, many cultural traditions, branded as solely religious traditions, have negatively influenced the Muslim family. Muslim women today are reclaiming their rights in the family and taking important steps, both in the legal and societal realm, to provide other women with opportunities to build healthy and happy families.
Movements and networks such as Musawah and Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) highlight and address many of the issues that have resulted from unjust family laws and negative attitudes towards women in the family. Musawah (‘equality’ in Arabic), initiated by Sisters in Islam in Malaysia, is a global movement comprised of scholars and activists from around the world aimed at advancing equality in the family. Shinkai Karokhail, a member of parliament in Afghanistan, is campaigning against discriminatory family laws. Other initiatives like the International Muslim Organization for Women and Families in Saudi Arabia have established skill-building programs for women in order to promote their place in the family and build stronger families.
A number of programs have been created to address specific family law issues. For example, the marriage contract has often been manipulated by the husband. In India, Shaista Ambar and the All India Muslim Women’s Personal Law Board created a new marriage contract using the Qur’an as explanations for more just stipulations, rather than simply relying on decisions made by men. Domestic violence and ‘honor killings’ have also affected families around the world, both Muslim and non-Muslim. In response, women such as Rana Husseini of Jordan, Lena alHusseini and her Brooklyn, New York Arab-American Family Support Center, Sharla Musabih and the Dubai-based City of Hope shelters, and Mehboubeh Abbasgholizadeh and the Global Campaign to Killing and Stoning! in Iran are all working on these issues. Each is providing various social services and shelter, in addition to raising local and global awareness through research or campaigns.
Al Jazeera English, ‘Helping Afghan women find a voice’, Afghanistan Elections 2009