Urban Echo News 

Bradford hosts annual Daughters of Eve Conference, with an international flavour

Muslim Women’s Council (MWC) officially launches its fundraising strategy a year after plans were announced for the Women led Mosque.

Over 200 women from across the UK including Glasgow, Leicester, Doncaster, Halifax, Rotherham, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Blackburn, Manchester, Luton, Woking, Watford, Oxford, and London attended the conference. As well having a national presence, the conference also had an international flavour. Speakers at the conference were from the US, Germany, Denmark and the UK.

image2 - CopyThe conference that took place over three days (20 -22 May), is held annually and provides an opportunity for women of all faiths to come together from across the UK in order to debate and discuss contemporary issues of importance to women. These included a much needed intra-faith dialogue on shaping religious discourse around the Status of Women in Islam, Muslim Women and Religious Authority, and the Challenges facing Muslim Women in the UK & Europe in the face of growing Islamophobia. The dialogue will feed into and inform the current discourse taking place nationally about Islam and its place in modern day Britain.

This conference was held in partnership with Rawiyah Foundation, based in the USA, and featured a number of Shaykhas (Female Scholars) as part of the Rawiya Foundation’s Shaykha Fest. The programme consisted of high calibre internationally renowned speakers participating in panel discussions and intensive workshops. There was also a chance to relax and unwind with stand-up comedy and a glamour night featuring live musical entertainment as well as a bazaar.

Speakers included Shaykha Reima Yosif, President of Rawiya Foundation and Rawiya College, New Jersey, USA, Shaykha Safia Shahid, a leading UK based scholar, as well as Sarah Joseph, Editor of EMEL, Muslim Lifestyle Magazine, Sherin Khankan, Lecturer, published author, columnist, activist, TV-Hostess, and public educator and Yasmin Amin, Doctoral Student researching Humour in Islam.

image3The conference took place in the heart of Yorkshire’s Bronte Country at the Mercure Bradford, Bankfield Hotel. Selina Ullah, Chair of Muslim Women’s Council says, “We had a fantastic line up of speakers coming to Bradford, from the USA, Denmark, Germany and from around the UK. The weekend facilitated women to explore the challenges facing Muslims e.g. how can we be active as citizens in the face of growing hostility and Islamophobia? Is spirituality hindered by the excesses of our modern lifestyles? What is the impact of our lifestyles on our environment? Are we fulfilling our duties as custodians of the earth?

The conference provided an opportunity for women to come together from across the country in order to take ownership of the discourse surrounding Muslim women alongside challenging the widely held stereotypes of Muslim women being submissive.

The Women led Mosque initiative was formally launched at the conference and Shaykha Reima Yosif, Founder and President of Rawiya Foundation, says, “The verse outlining roles of men and women has been misinterpreted. Men are not the custodians of women, and women are not meant to be devoutly obedient to them.”

The importance of meaningful cooperation between the faiths was discussed. Sarah Joseph, Editor of Emel Media Group, says, “We need more than teas and coffees in interfaith work. Interfaith needs to include scriptural dissection and exchange.”

The Muslim Women’s Council officially launched its fundraising strategy for the Women led Mosque at the Daughters of Eve conference that took place over the weekend at the Mercure Bradford, Bankfield Hotel.

The announcement of a Women Led Mosque was first made at the Daughters of Eve 2015 Conference. There has since been extensive coverage and interest generated in the project. During this time the vision has been built upon a series of consultations with stakeholders have been held, and support gained from religious scholars and academics. The Women led Mosque has also received backing from across the country and internationally at conferences where the vision has been presented.

Sherin Khankan, Founder of Mariam Mosque, says, “A women-led mosque would enable Muslim women to be visible in roles and institutions that are traditionally patriarchal. The impact of female ‘imamahs’ would go beyond the mosque, impacting husbands, children, and provide an alternative narrative when countering Islamophobia.”

The aim is to create an all-inclusive and fully accessible space for all communities (Muslims and non-Muslims). A safe space where women’s issues can be discussed as well as wrap-around community services for all.

Bana Gora, CEO of Muslim Women’s Council says, “We are really pleased to announce the official launch of the Women led Mosque. Our aim is to secure enough donations over the next two years to purchase land within close proximity to the city centre.

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