Thursday, 25 July 2013 13:59

Can Muslims Escape Misogyny? Featured

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This conference will address the injustices against women which persist across communities and cultures the world over, and ask where Islam stands on countering these issues. Islam is often criticised as misogynistic, and its name is invoked by those who seek to perpetuate injustices and inequalities against women and girls. So what's truly to blame and what solutions does our spiritual tradition offer?

Moreover, stories of forced marriages, domestic violence justified under the guise of sharia law and female genital mutilation perpetuated by purported religious figures, continue to make the headlines. Does Islam place one gender above another? Does the Quran really condone domestic violence? Are pious women to be equated with submissive wives? And beyond issues strictly associated with Islamic texts, what do Islamic teachings have to offer women in terms of freedom from male domination and holistic emancipation?

Join us to explore these issues and many more.

Tell us your views on Twitter by using the hashtag: #misogynyconference


Preliminary Structure of the Event








Dr Laura Zahra McDonald, Host


Qari Hassen Rasool Qur'an Recitation


Manal Omar ‘A deeper look at Misogyny in Muslim Communities’

Session 1


Myriam Francois Cerrah ‘The Challenge: Does Islam have a woman problem?’


Ustadha Safia Shahid ‘How can Islam challenge misogyny?’


Professor Tariq Ramadan ‘TBC’


End of Session

Lunch Break & Prayer

Session 2


Host - Dr Laura Zahra McDonald


Dr Ingrid Mattson ‘Are Women to Blame for Tempting men?’


Dr Zainab Alwani ‘The Qur’anic and Prophetic Model on Gender Relations’


Dr Shuruq Naguib ‘The Islamic scholarly tradition as a site of hope for rethinking gender inequalities


End of Session


End of Session

Afternoon Break

Session 3


Activist-Leader Challenge: 5 cases




Shahien Taj, Henna Foundation ‘Challenging Gender Based Violence’

Faeeza Vaid, Sister2Sister, Muslim Women’s Network ‘Recognizing Authority of Women’

Humera Khan, An-Nisaa Society ‘Gender, Family and Expectation: shifting attitudes and practice at the grassroots’

Imam Saleem Seedat ‘The role of imams and education at the grassroots: challenges and opportunities'

Sara Khan, Inspire ‘ Speaking out against Misogyny to instigate change’




Speakers Panel Response and Discussion


Q&A with Special Guests & Scholars


Audience Q & A


Closing Remarks


End of Conference



Tariq Ramadan

Dr. Tariq Ramadan


Dr. Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at the Oxford University (Oriental Institute, St Antony’s College) and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is Visiting Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, (Qatar) and the University of Malaysia Perlis; Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan) and Director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) (Doha, Qatar).  He holds an MA in Philosophy and French literature and PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies from the University of Geneva. In Cairo, Egypt he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars (ijazat in seven disciplines). Through his writings and lectures Tariq has contributed to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active at academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on theology, ethics, social justice, ecology and interfaith as well intercultural dialogue. He is President of the European think tank: European Muslim Network (EMN) in Brussels.

Ingrid Mattson

Dr. Ingrid Mattson


Dr. Ingrid Mattson is the first female, first person born in North America, and first convert to lead the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). In 2001, she was elected vice president of ISNA and in 2006 she was elected president.  Born in Canada and raised a Roman Catholic, =She embraced Islam at the age of 23.   In 1987, she completed her studies in philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. She then travelled to Pakistan and worked with Afghan refugee women from 1987 to 1988.  In 1995, she served as advisory to the Afghan delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.  Dr. Mattson received her Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from the University of Chicago in 1999.  Her research focused on Islamic law and society.

Zainab Alwani

Dr. Zainab Alwani


Dr. Zainab Alwani is an Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at the Howard University School of Divinity. She is an Islamic scholar, speaker, researcher, and community activist. In addition to being the first female jurist to serve on the board for the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA), Dr. Alwani currently serves as the Vice President of the FCNA. Her research focuses on Quranic studies, Islamic jurisprudence, the relationship between civil and religious law in the area of family and gender, comparative religions, and inter-religious dialogue.  Dr. Alwani received her Ph.D. in Islamic Sciences (Usul Al-Fiqh) and Islamic Jurisprudence from the International Islamic University of Malaysia. Her Ph.D dissertation focused on Islamic jurisprudence: the implementation of the Maqasid/objectives of al Shariah in the American Muslim family. She is a member and a board member of various national organizations including, Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights KARAMAH, the Abrahamic Roundtable, and the American Academy of Religion.

Shuruq Naguib

Dr. Shuruq Naguib


Dr. Shuruq Naguib is a lecturer in Islam at University of Lancaster, UK.  She received her PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Manchester, Department of Middle Eastern Studies. Dr. Naguib’s research covers two key strands: the classical and pre-modern intellectual and textual traditions, particularly Qur'an hermeneutics and ritual law; and Muslim responses to modernity, with a focus on how twentieth century and contemporary Muslim women scholars read the tradition to intellectually and socially develop their religious authority as knowers of the tradition.

She has written on ritual purity, metaphor in post-classical Qur'an interpretation and Arabic rhetoric, feminist hermeneutics of the Qur'an, and contemporary female exegetes and jurists in Islam. She is also involved in supporting Islamic studies in the UK through my work with HEFCE's Islamic Studies Network until 2012, and currently through my capacity as interim Co-chair of the British Association of Islamic Studies (BRAIS). Publications and research interests continue to focus upon: Classical Exegesis of the Qur'an (Intertextuality and Hermeneutics); The Representation of Women in the Qur'an and Exegesis; Ritual ethics in Islam, Gender in Islamic thought; Contemporary Women Interpreters of the Qur'an (Muslim Feminism); Dis/continuities between traditional and contemporary Islamic thought; Bint al-Shati': the first Sunni woman exegete and hermeneutician.


Manal Omar



Associate Vice President, Center for the Middle East and Africa, United States Institute of Peace (USIP)

Manal Omaris the Associate Vice President of Middle East and Africa programs. She joined USIP as a program officer for the grant program in August 2008. Previously, she was regional program manager for the Middle East for Oxfam - Great Britain, where she responded to humanitarian crises in Palestine and Lebanon. Omar has extensive experience in the Middle East. She worked with Women for Women International as regional coordinator for Afghanistan, Iraq and Sudan. Omar lived in Baghdad from 2003 to 2005 and set up operations in Iraq. She launched her career as a journalist in the Middle East in 1996. UNESCO recruited her to work on one of her first lead assignments in Iraq in 1997-1998. Omar worked more than three years with the World Bank’s development economics group. She has carried out training programs in Yemen, Bahrain, Afghanistan, Sudan, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Kenya and many other countries.

Omar’s activities have been profiled by the Washington Times, the Los Angeles Times, the BBC, NPR, Glamour, the London Times and Newsweek. Her articles and opinion pieces have appeared in the Guardian, the Washington Post, Azizah Magazine and Islamica Magazine.

Omar is on the Advisory Board of Peaceful Families Project, an organization with international reach that recognizes domestic violence is a form of oppression that affects people of all faiths, and an active member of the American Muslim community. In 2007, Islamic Magazine named her one of the ten young visionaries shaping Islam in America. She holds an M.A. in Arab studies from Georgetown University and a B.A. in international relations from George Mason University.



Ustadha Safia Shahid


Ustadha Safia Shahid was born and raised in Glasgow, UK.  She traveled to Syria in 2003 to study sacred knowledge. She remained there for five years, studying Arabic at the University of Damascus and the Abu Nour Institute.  Ustadha Safia attended the classes of several illustrious scholars of our time, such as Shaykh Adnan Darwish and received ijaza to teach tajwid from Shaykh Abul Hassan Al-Kurdi. She studied numerous texts under the tutelage of the great erudite scholar Al-Sayyid Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, and was gifted the honour of gaining teaching licenses in these texts as well as chains of transmission in other major books of hadith. She had the great honour of the company of Shaykh Muhammad, exposing her to an abundance of light, knowledge and wisdom. Upon leaving Syria in 2008, Ustadha began teaching online classes, covering subjects such as tajwid and aqida (completing Al-Aqida Al-Tahawiya several times). In 2009 she moved to Birmingham where she serves as the Head of Education for women at the Jamatia Islamic Centre in Sparkhill. Her primary responsibilities there include teaching Islamic disciplines such as aqida, fiqh, tajwid, hadith and Arabic. In 2012, she delivered ‘The Etiquette of the Believer’ UK Tour, covering 12 towns and cities nationwide. She has delivered talks at many Universities and continues to deliver talks and courses throughout the UK. In 2013 she moved to London and regularly commutes between London and Birmingham.




Myriam Francois-Cerrah


Myriam Francois-Cerrah completed her BA in Social and Political Sciences at Cambridge University in 2003, after which she worked for a year for MEND, a Palestinian NGO in Jerusalem. In 2007, she gained an MA in Arab Studies (Honours), specialising in Middle East politics, on a CCAS scholarship, at Georgetown University.There, she collaborated on the production of a documentary (Arabs and Terrorism, Bassam Haddad) and published current affairs articles. Former Assistant Editor at emel magazine, she writes a regular blog for the Huffington Post.


Laura Zahra McDonald

Dr Laura Zahra McDonald

After studying Social Anthropology with sub-honours in Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of St Andrews, Laura completed her PhD at the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of York in gender, intersectionality and Islam. She then contributed to a seven year research programme at the University of Birmingham on community-state engagement and conflict, with a focus on the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism on Muslim communities. Combining academic and activist interests in justice, security and social relations through ConnectJustice, she lectures internationally while researching, engaging and advising high-impact projects for diverse organisations including RAN Int/Ext (EU), Royal United Services Institute, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Real ActionUK, An-Nisa Society and the University of Cambridge. Laura continues to teach and engage on issues of gender and justice, with regular courses at Cambridge Muslim College and The Deen Institute.

Introductory Remarks:

Adam Deen

Adam Deen

Adam Deen is an international public speaker and broadcaster. Adam has been working in the field of Muslim apologetics for almost a decade. Speaking at over 40 university campuses across the UK, he regularly debates with prominent academics on issues ranging from religious philosophy and theology. His work draws on contemporary philosophy to defend Islam. He frequently appears on mainstream TV including the BBC and is currently studying at Kings college London. He is well known for his debates with many Atheists including Prof. Peter Atkins, Dan Barker, Prof. Raymond Tallis and Andrew Copson.




Logan Hall, 20 Bedford Way, Central London, England, UK. WC1H 0AL

An imposing auditorium with seating in tiers, outstanding acoustics and excellent sight lines. Fully air conditioned and has 18 removable seats to accommodate upto 9 wheelchairs.

Further information about the venue including a 360 virtual tour can be found here:


Seating Plan/Ticketing

Brown - Back Rows (Y to T)
Grey - Middle Rows (S to M)
Yellow - Front Rows (L to H)
Blue - VIP Rows (G to E)

Logan Hall Seating Plan


7 Things to Consider
  1.  Arrive Early - By arriving you early, you avoid having to queue up for an extended period of time. Those who come earlier will get to choose their exact seats first within their seating area. Take into consideration that public transport in London may be subject to delays, so we advise that you all try to arrive at 9am sharp.
  2.  Bring Your Documentation - Your ticket(s) act as proof of your purchase. If you fail to present a valid ticket at the entrance hall then we cannot allow you in. It is your responsibility to either print the tickets or have them stored on your smartphone. There is even an application for Eventbrite that can be downloaded on your android or ios system. Please also remember to bring photographic ID.
  3. Children - Generally, children under the age of five should not attend. Nevertheless, if children are well behaved and silent throughout the conference then they can attend. However, the conference is rather long and although we have tried to put in various intervals, but please do bear in mind that children have lower attention spans.
  4. Special Seating Arrangements - If you require access for wheelchairs or other special seating arrangements, please let us know in advance. Hearing aid loops can be set to the 'T' position.
  5. Mobile Phones - You can bring your mobile phones with you to the conference, providing they can be set to silent mode whilst the conference is taking place. Calls can be made during the intervals and if its really urgent then you can leave the conference and speak in the foyer so that you do not disturb the audience.
  6. Questions - There is a long Question & Answer session, so we advise you all to think carefully about the questions that you wish to ask before the event.
  7. 7. Plan Your Journey - It is important that you know exactly where the venue is and how to get there before the day of the event. Information has been provided below to help you with planning your journey.
Getting Here

- Bus:  The closest bus stops are on Woburn Place and Southampton Row. Bus stops, within a 5 to 15-minute walk, are located on Euston Road, Gower Street, Tottenham Court Road, Woburn Place and Southampton Row.

- Tube (Underground): The closest tube station is Russell Square.  Tube stations, within a 5 to 15-minute walk, include: Euston; Euston Square; Goodge Street; Russell Square; Tottenham Court Road and Warren Street.

- Train: The closest railway station is Euston.  London's principal railway stations are all within a 30-minute journey, by bus or tube.

- Car: The event is in the London congestion charging zone.There isn't a car park. Street parking in the neighbourhood is managed by Camden Council. Private parking is offered by National Car Parks (NCP).

- Bicycle: There is a cycle-hire docking station on the east side of the main building, in Bedford Way. It is managed by Transport for London.Visitors arriving on their own bikes may lock them to the perimeter railing of the concourse, on the west side of the main building.

- Aeroplane: The closest airport is Heathrow.  London's airports are all within a 1 to 2-hour journey, by bus or tube.


There are plenty of hotels within Central London. Click here to search for various hotels.



Autumn conference will see Muslim thinkers and writers ask ‘Can Muslims escape misogyny?’
This September will see a group of leading Muslim academics debate the pressing issues surrounding the treatment of women in Islam, and ask if it is possible for adherents of the religion to ‘escape misogyny’.
The conference, organised by The Deen Institute and taking place at London’s Logan Hall on Saturday 8th September, will tackle the thorny issue of gender relations in Islam as well as some of the most controversial readings of the Islamic texts.
The issue of the treatment of women within Muslim majority societies continues to generate headlines. The case of Malala Yousafzai, a teenaged campaigner for universal female education who was shot by a member of the Taliban has most recently brought the issue into the global spotlight. Moreover, stories of forced marriages, domestic violence justified under the guise of sharia law and female genital mutilation perpetuated by purported religious figures, continue to make the headlines. Does Islam place one gender above another? Does the Quran really condone domestic violence? Are pious women to be equated with submissive wives? And beyond issues strictly associated with Islamic texts, what do Islamic teachings have to offer women in terms of freedom from male domination?

The Deen Institute’s conference will address the injustices against women which continue across communities and cultures the world over, and ask what Islam can offer in the face of these issues. Islam is criticised as misogynistic by many, and its name is invoked by those who seek to perpetuate injustices and inequalities against women and girls.
Adam Deen says: “Islam's axis is built upon justice but misogyny has taken form within some of the current teachings of Islam, at times presented as orthodoxy. This pioneering conference will critically explore and clarify gender issues within Islam and within the minds of Muslims.”

By bringing together a varied panel to ensure an inclusive intrafaith dialogue, the Institute hopes to revitalise the often stagnant and narrow discourse surrounding women in Islamic scholarship. With speakers such as the chair of Islamic studies at Oxford university, Prof Tariq Ramadan as well as the first female and first convert leader of the Islamic Society of North America, Dr Ingrid Mattson, and chaired by Cambridge University’s Dr Laura Zahra McDonald, the conference promises to produce electrifying debate.

The Deen Institute’s last conference, ‘Have Muslims Misunderstood Evolution?’, held in January 2013, welcomed over 800 people and gained international media attention. This exciting event promises to be every bit as compelling.
- ENDS​-

Notes to editors-
What: Can Muslims Escape Misogyny?
Where: Logan Hall, 20 Bedford Way, London WC1H 0AL
When: Sunday 8th Sep 2013, 9am – 6.30pm.

For enquires or press passes, contact:

Matthew Handley (PR Director) +44(0)7516767735 | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Deen Institute has been established to provide students of Islam, regardless of their own faith, with the necessary tools of understanding and dialogue required in our diverse modern society. With a commitment to knowledge and learning, the Institute seeks to increase public understanding of the Islamic tradition and encourage a critical and constructive discourse.


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