Women and Sufism: Considering Women?s Perspective of Truth

In Wednesday Forum this week we will discuss about Sufism world related to gender issue in Islam? under a topic ?Women and Sufism: Considering Women?s Perspective of Truth?. Najiyah Martiam will be the speaker of this interesting topic- who was student at CRCS.

We invite you to join this forum. Some information can be read as follows.

Date: Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Time: 12.30 pm ? 2.30 pm (free lunch)
Venue: Room 306, UGM Graduate School Teknika Utara Pogung
Speaker: Najiyah Martiam, M. A.


The spiritual dimension of Islam is well represented by Sufism. Its doctrines emphasize the spiritual dimension of human beings so that it does not look at the flesh or the corporeal. It views man and woman as the same entity before God who have the same rights and capacity to walk on the Divine?s path and reach intimacy or communion with Her. Even some Sufis implicitly have admitted the natural potency of the feminine in spirituality. It is very different from most institutionalized religions, which mostly regard women as the second creation who lack faith and reason, therefore, they become the subject of evil. In short, Sufism provides the possibility to overcome the patriarchal construct that emphasizes gender hierarchy on the basis of biology.

Although the doctrines provide the possibility to surpass patriarchal consciousness, this does not guarantee that all Sufis are immune from sexism. Some female Sufi writers found this tendency in the Sufi literatures and Sufi orders. Sha?diyya Shaikh gives one example of how some Sufi still associate womankind with the destructive attractions of the commanding soul or al-nafs al-ammārah. Rkia Cornell, acknowledged how male Sufis in the Islamic Middle period had a low opinion of women. In their view, most women are deficient in their knowledge and practice of Islam. Therefore, women cannot speak authoritatively for either Islam or Sufism. This low judgment is derived from the fact that during the monthly periods and child bearing women are prohibited from praying and fasting. In their opinion anyone who is deficient in religion is also deficient in faith. Although there was Rabi?a in the history who reveals woman?s capacity in the spiritual path, some people still consider her as a trope rather than a real person.

Using a phenomenological approach this research tried to explore religious experiences of three Sufi women in Java and their view on gender and religious truth.

About the speaker:

Najiyah Martiam earned her master?s degree from CRCS UGM. Her fields of interest include science, religion, spirituality/ Sufism, and sexuality. Some of her publications are: Sayang Otak (love your Brain), Kompas 2006. Dewasa itu Apa sih? (What is Maturity?), Kompas 2006. Bad Mood, Kompas 2006.


The forum is free of charge.

Contact person: Elis Z. Anis (ICRS): elis236.andri@ yahoo.com; Lina Pary (CRCS) : lina_pary@yahoo. com; Mustaghfiroh Rahayu (CRCS): mth.rahayu@gmail. com

This post is also available in: Indonesian


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