DO FATWAS HAMPER MUSLIM WOMEN’S SOCIO-ECONOMIC PARTICIPATION IN MALAYSIA?

Abu Talib Mohammad Monawer, Fadila Grine, Md Faruk Abdullah, Mohd Roslan Mohd Nor

Abstract

A number of studies show that, in Malaysia, women continue to make significant contributions to the country’s economic and social development. Moreover, women’s access to health and education has increased rapidly over the years. However, some studies claim that socio-economic discrimination against Muslim women persists. Although several factors contribute to this discrimination, fatwas (a legal opinion of Muslim jurists on Muslim affairs) are accused of discriminating against Muslim women in Malaysia such as prohibiting the appointment of female judges in shariah courts, employment of women for night shifts i.e. in the electronic factories, police force, and hospitals. Women’s socio-economic participation is important as it empowers them and creates gender equality. This paper reviews 16 fatwas on five topics relevant to women’s socio-economic participation in Malaysia issued by 11 state muftis (who issue fatwa) during the period of 1970 to 2012 in order to realize whether they hamper their participation. Using a qualitative content analysis approach, this paper concludes that fatwas had neither affected their socio-economic participation nor shaped their life negatively. This paper is hoped to positively shape the society’s impression of fatwas and help Muslim women in Malaysia abide to Islamic teachings by realizing the good impacts of fatwas issued.

 

Keywords: Fatwa, Muslim, women, socio-economic participation, Malaysia.

 

Cite as: Mohammad Monawer, A. T., Grine, F., Abdullah, M. F., & Mohd Nor, M. R. (2019). Do fatwas hamper Muslim women’s socio-economic participation in Malaysia? Journal of Nusantara Studies, 4(1), 232-245. http://dx.doi.org/10.24200/jonus.vol4iss1pp232-245

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