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Even though I pursued a career in government institutions as a researcher and a lecturer within the Ministry of Religious Affairs, I am still able to be active in a number of organizations, many of which are women's organizations. My job does not prevent me from being active in organizations which include, Fatayat NU, Muslimat NU (an Islamic Women's Organization) and LSM a non-government organization. I also served as the head of Research, the first woman to do so, from the year 2000 to 2005 at the Central Board of the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI). The council is establishing the LKAJ (The Institute for Religion and Gender Studies), and along with a number of religious leaders establishing an interfaith institute called the ICRP (Indonesia Conference on Religion and Peace).

Through the ICRP, I along with other women religious leaders have come to identify ourselves as women of faith; this directs our focus more towards developing awareness of morality and humane responsibility for all. We base the awareness of morality on religious texts that have been reinterpreted and reformed, as well as, fiqh traditions. Figh traditions are those which concern Islamic jurisprudence that are made up of the rulings of Islamic jurists in order to direct the lives of Muslims. Figh traditions also expound the methodology which derives Islamic law from primary and secondary sources whose context has been subject to review. Given this, it is proper to attach the title of ulema [Muslim scholars/ intellectuals], which has thus far only been reserved for men, to our organization's name.

I am also very active in various training and advocacy programs which focus on the themes of democracy, justice, human rights, and civil society. The training and advocacy activities are administered both at home and abroad. These positions allow me to be freer when presenting the voice of women in various issues and cases. In the Ministry of Religious Affairs, I am able to voice the rights of women in state policies which concern marriage and many other related issues. At the Indonesian Council of Ulemas (MUI), I am able to represent the voice of women in discussing contemporary issues. At LKAJ, I promote the rights of women through publication, training and a number of programs for the dissemination of the rights of women within religious communities. Furthermore, at the ICRP, I encourage the leaders of religious circles to ensure human rights, in particular the rights of women. I also encourage female religious leaders to come to the forefront as promoters of peace and reconciliation, and to speak out for religious and belief communities who have been discriminated against by the state.

More recently, I, together with pro-democracy and civil society groups have been actively involved in formulating the Draft Bill on Civil Registry; the Draft Bill on Anti Domestic Violence, the Revision of the Law on Health, the Law on Citizenship, the Law on Labor and the Draft Bill on Anti Trafficking. These bills are considered essential in order to build a civil society. I do all of this from my position as a [practicing] female Muslim, a Muslimah reformist (mujaddidah), and an ulema. So, in this context, that which I have done is no longer within the framework of demanding one's own rights but more than that, I have taken a further step by allowing women to use the rights they have, which according to me have been inherently given by Islam. In this regard, it is not unusual that what I have done invites controversy while putting an end to everything that is taboo in regards to the relationship between Islam and women. Some of the more taboo issues that I support are my ideas about the right of women to interpret Islamic teachings, the right of women to become an ulema, and the right of women to correct religious missions.

Not only have I been actively engaged in conducting research in the fields of religion, social anthropology and philosophy, but I have also engraved my thoughts into a wide variety of books on Islam and women: Woman Portrait in the Lecture of Islam (2000); Islam and Mass Media (2000); Gender Equality and Justice in the perspective of Islam (2001); Islamic State: The Political Thought of Haikal (2002); Women and Politics (2003); Reformist Muslim Women : Islam Litigates Polygamy (2004); Religion-reform-inspired Muslim Women (2005); Islam and Violence Against Women (2006); and Islam and The Inspiration of Gender Equity (2007).

It is not often that I express myself linguistically in a very firm and straight-to-the-point manner. However, I am convinced and confident that Islam guarantees women the equality and equity of rights no matter where they are and at what time. By advocating and promoting such rights, I present and position myself as a [female Muslim] reformist, an ulema, an activist for enforcing human rights, opposing violence, as well as, a political leader, reconciler and a partner in policy making.
Most recently, the role of reconciler has become very significant, particularly in the midst of religious and ethnic conflicts that are wreaking havoc in my country. Women are able to serve as mediators in a number of conflicts involving religious groups and religious schools of thought or isms in Islam. For example, in Maluku women actively participated in the crafting of post-conflict rehabilitation and reconciliation. Women are becoming true pioneers in reconciliation.


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