Faqihuddin Abdul Kodir
Syekh Nurjati State Institute for Islamic Studies (IAIN), Indonesia
The roundtable discusses the growing phenomenon if women issuing fatwas in Southeast Asia. Some of these women are trained in state-run institutions, such as the Islamic State Universities and Institutes of Indonesia, others are trained in institutes run by civil society organizations. Women are increasingly being consulted in matters of Islamic law and requested to issue fatwas (recommendations of behaviour) on given topics. Given that fatwa-issuing was for centuries the purview of men, this exciting trend raises manifold questions, from the nature of the fatwas issued by women to the potential role of the muftiyāt (i.e. women who issue fatwas) in larger projects of Islamic reform. This panel asks in particular: Who are the believers who tend to consult with muftiyāt? Are they predominantly female believers, or do men seek the legal opinions of these muftiyāt as well? If so, which circumstances are particularly conducive to muftiyāt being considered authoritative by both female and male believers? On which topics are the muftiyāt consulted? Do these overwhelmingly concern classical ‘women’s issues’, or also topics of general interests to an Islamic believer? How does the training for muftiyāt differ between state-run and civil society-run institutions, and how does this affect the perception of the religious authority of muftiyāt in the eyes of believers? Is the training of muftiyāt in state-run institutions regarded as more thorough, or rather viewed as potentially politically inflected? What motivates women to seek training as muftiyāt and what kind of socioeconomic background do muftiyāt tend to have? Do the muftiyāt see themselves as a vanguard for more gender-egalitarian interpretations of Quran and hadith, or rather as the custodians of an established tradition, whose basic tenets they seek to reproduce and popularise?