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My life is a journey to my heart. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings upon him) said pointing to the heart: There is a piece of flesh in the body. If it is healthy the whole body is healthy and if it is corrupt the whole body is corrupt. God points to the heart in many verses in the Qur’an: the diseased heart, the fossilized heart that no one can change, the soft heart that moves one to tears with compassion. In Islamic tradition the faculties of the heart Qulb are considered higher than that of mind. Love occupies the center of the heart, but an often times is hidden behind the dust of our ignorance. It is the seat of knowledge and the Divine spark. It is the yearning of this heart that makes people to be constantly vigilant of one’s own limitations and capabilities and to reach out to others to serve in whatever capacity with compassion and generosity.

As a practitioner of the Islamic Sufi concepts of social justice that is based on IHSAN/perfection of character, the percepts of compassion within and without come to mind. This is based on unconditional love for creation and inclusion and acceptance of all who have been created with love in the created circle of life. Compassion is the underlying theme of all action. In Arabic the beautiful name of God, AR RAHMAN, means The Compassionate. It comes from the root word “rahm”, which means the womb and which is feminine in gender. God gives without measure out of compassion to everyone whether one is a Hindu, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Christian, a Muslim or a sinner or a saint and nurtures the entire creation like the womb. This is compassion in action at the basic level.

In meditation and in my work with MWC I try to understand and assimilate the common dignity and respect given by the Creator to all. Ignorance can feed into fear and distrust of the others. I am reminded to place trust in others and to take and give respect reciprocally. For me God becomes very personal when I see the qualities of Sufi chivalry being practiced with unconditional love. I also appreciate when others teach me as I try to understand the verse of God that reminds us that nations were created so that we know one another.

I have always been blessed by the gift of the multi dimensions in religion, ethnicity and race from my childhood. My rich and strong heritage of generations of female role models guide and shape me. In my personal struggle I view moments of failures as corrective tools given to me to find peace and harmony and to strike a balance between my spirituality and dunya/ my material life. There is a saying by Sufis, “To know yourself is to know God” and “The more you know yourselves the more you will know God” which often makes me question the purpose of my life. In many Sufi texts you will find that service to others leads to moments of truth about oneself and that to be of service to others is worship to God. Which is also a MWC motto.

I am very excited to be invited to work alongside women who share common ideals for the advancement of women and their empowerment in gender related issues worldwide. The current global world takes into account the rights of children and women and considers the shift in gender related issues as inherent part of human rights and development of any community. The picture of poverty and conflict as we know today depicts women and children in dire conditions. It is recognized at an institutional level, at a community level and at an individual level. Many governments measure the prosperity of their country in socio-economic sectors based on the reports and indexes pointing to the success or failure of development programs related to women and gender.
The same can be said of many organizations that monitor and evaluate the success of their development and programs based on the outcome of gender related issues.

More money, time, personnel and energy are implemented and more effort exerted to understand the commonalities and differences in cultural norms, racial issues, ethnic struggles and religious complexities when programs to eradicate poverty and empower women and the welfare of children are on the agenda. . The Beijing Platform for Action gave an impetus to various development agencies such as the OECD to have guiding principles and programs that reflect best the needs of women and men. Over the years the shift from women’s needs/rights to gender equality was emphasized in sustainable development as the “cross –cutting objective in all aspects of development co-operation.” (DCD-DAC).

Although the world is Globally connected by various peripheral mediums and one can instantly learn about issues and stay current, but the first hand experiences make the highlight. For example it is the individual community’s empirical results that will support the hypothesis for example if the MDGs have been successfully applied. In conflict areas they may be absent or non-applicable. So it is important to make relationships with women who live in conflict zones; to provide them space in the Women’s World Summit 2008 and to give them voice in this effort. Bringing forth examples of everyday people who have suffered and who continue to make achievements in life, and highlighting certain criteria that rotates around gender related issues to the table are of great importance to MWC.

I want to emphasize to others that from the birth of Islam Muslim women no matter which community they belonged to have contributed immensely to the colorful spectrum of life in numerous ways. In Islam God is Just and there fore the principles of equity and social justice apply to both women and men. Both women and men were given identifiable differences to enhance each other and not to dominate the other sex. The qualities of each gender were to be used in balancing the life cycle. A well known Sufi teacher and spiritual guide Mawlana Sheikh Hisham Kabbani reminds all that women were honored by God and “carry in themselves the greatest secret ----that of human life.” It is the animalistic qualities of humans that make us arrogant to believe that one is better than the other. On this the Islamic Sufi poet, our master Jalaluddin Rumi r.a says:

The Prophet, to whose speech the whole world was enslaved, used to say, ‘Speak to me, O Aisha!’ The Prophet said that women dominate men of intellect and possessors of hearts, But ignorant men dominate women, for they are shackled by the ferocity of animals, They have no kindness, gentleness, or love, since animality dominates their nature. Love and kindness are human attributes; anger and sensuality belong to the animals. She is not your ‘sweetheart’! She is the radiance of God. (Taken from The Naqshbandi Sufi Way.)

Therefore, it will be wrong to assume that the Muslim indigenous communities imported the rights of women from the other countries. 1400 years ago Quran quotes clearly the God given rights to women such as inheritance rights, right to divorce and right to education etc. Women were not to be considered the properties of men. Both men and women have been addressed equally in terms of righteousness. However, with many wrong interpretations of the Holy verses by narrow-minded clergies women have been subjugated to legal systems that need reform.

I pray that I am always driven by my passion on these guidelines to serve at a grass roots level by building relationships and forging them in peace for a better community. My inner self redeems itself in being active in the advancement of women, children, elders and youth in our society. I truly believe that non-action is disbelief in the human potential. Together we can bring philanthropy, social justice, spiritual harmony and education to the doorsteps of Global mutual awakening.

Uzma Farooq
Muslim Women's Coalition

July 11, 2007 4:32 PM





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Muslim Women's Coalition, (MWC) is a 501(c)3 Organization with Business Identification Number 0400-0055-65. Copyright 2011