On March 5, 2015, Jurnal Perempuan held a seminar with an important theme according to women’s condition in Indonesia today. The seminar entitled "Religion, Tradition, Rights and the Status of Woman in Indonesia" presented four speakers who came from different backgrounds. The seminar opened with a presentation by Prof. Ahmad Fakery Ibrahim from the McGill Institute of Islamic Studies, Montreal, Canada, about the right to inheritance and custody of girl in the Islamic religion and its practice in Egypt. In this session, Prof. Ibrahim revealed historical changes in the Islamic law which is aimed to raise woman position in essence. Then, the seminar continued with presentation from Alissa Wahid, M.Sc, representative of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), which revealed Indonesian woman condition who live in faith-based society.
According to Alissa Wahid, problems faced by Indonesian woman such as child marriage, often justified by religion that violates gender equality. In NU experience, according to Alissa, many unfair gender practices still exist in everyday life. But, NU has started to change the traditions such as equal position between man and woman both at pray time and in meeting forums. Moreover, female domestication tradition has not happened anymore at NU. However, to change the tradition as a whole, challenges that must be faced is to strengthen the theological basis and explore the actual tradition which supporting woman empowerment and build a more strategic and comprehensive movement to win the contestation. Ideological contestation and the use of religion as an excuse for gender equality is precisely the issue in the struggle of gender equality.
In the second session, Prof. Musdah Mulia from the International Conference on Religion and Peace (ICRP), talked about gender equality and justice in Islam. Historically, religion and woman were never friends, even though woman is the one who maintain the sanctity of religion most. In Islam context, understand Islam correctly, according to Prof. Musdah, is key in reading the position of woman and man in Islam that are actually equal. Based on her field observations at various mosques, religious organizations, and other religious activities, she saw that nearly 80 percent of Islam teachings that give to the audience, including woman position in Islam, are not Islam values, where the true value of Islam is to uphold justice.
According to Prof. Musdah, there are three (3) different positions between man and woman that socially constructed in relation to Islam. First, in marriage, woman has been positioning as the part who did not run ijab-qabul consent while she is the subject who runs a wedding. Only man who run the ijab-qabul. Secondly, woman position in the household where the wife's submission to her husband constructed as things that must be met. In fact, the true human obedience should be addressed only to Allah SWT. In fact, to justify the construction, there is a hadith which is always used and becomes a weapon to justify the wife behavior who should be obedient to her husband, namely: "If a husband calls his wife to bed, then the wife does not come to him, and her husband sleep in angry state, then the angels will curse her until morning." (Bukhari Muslim). This hadith then used as a weapon by the religious leader in positioning woman as subordinate to man. Third, as member of society, women are in disadvantaged position because of various regulations are made to curb women.
Prof. Musdah in his presentation asserted that Islam gives strict guidance to all human. Humans (both men and women) is actually created to carry out the mission as Khalifah fil Ardh (leaders of the earth), at least the leader for her/himself. The main purpose of human creation is amar makruf nahi munkar, that is doing transformation and humanization efforts to create the common good. Being a caliphate for themselves, according to Prof. Musdah, preceded by arranging the hearts, minds, and lust. At the end of the discussion, Prof. Musdah reaffirmed the importance of reaching the pleasure of Allah by way of humanizing human and view humans as equals.
The seminar, which was moderated by Dr. Phill. Dewi Candraningrum from Jurnal Perempuan then ended with a final presentation from Dr. Phill. Syafiq Hasyim from the International Center for Islam and Pluralism (ICIP). Dr. Phill. Shafiq stated that religion and tradition are two things that side by side each other. On the one hand, religion producing tradition, and on the other hand, religion is nothing but a product of the tradition itself. That is, religion and tradition influence each other. Related to this, what is important to be a concern is how to treat woman and man equally and adhered to the principle of justice.
According to Dr. Phill. Shafiq, many teachings of Islam which are listed exclusively in the Qur'an and Hadith, put woman in disadvantageous position. For example, in the Qur'an Surat an - Nisa verse 34, verse on polygamy, and so on, literally put woman in a disadvantaged position. Likewise in the Hadith. One of well-known Hadith that are often raised in society is about Eve being created from Adam's rib. In fact, according to a 19th century Islamic reformer, Muhammad Abduh, in the Qur’an there is no verse that states the origin of human is man. According to him, the rib story is not stated in the Qur'an 's. Unfortunately, the growing construction on woman was created from the rib of Adam was read as an absolute matter until today. Consequently, woman position perpetuated as subordinate to man until today.