Muslimahs Role as Peacemakers (1): An Introduction

Oleh Raka Nur Wijayanto (Sekretaris Umum Jamaah Shalahuddin)

“There is disconnection between Islam as an emancipatory faith, patriarchy’s denial of Muslim women’s right and pluralist society’s obsession with blinkered stereotypes of Muslim women; seeing them only as subjugated victims. Patriarchy on the one hand and secular/modern versus the religious/traditional debates on the other: in both cases the Muslim woman’s opinion was not sought. She was neither asked how she wanted to practise her faith, nor was she asked whether it oppressed her. Her story was left untold, her voice remain unheard.”

(Contractor. Sariya, Muslim Women in Britain: De-Mystifying the Muslimah, Routledge, London, 2012, p. 4)

Culmination Point

Once upon a time, there was a baby girl born in the capital city of a country just few moments after that country declared independence from other nations. She got a contradictive destiny with the other baby girls in the other parts of the world. During her birth time, women status in her country was much better than the other third countries, ranging from South America until Africa. She was born in the palace-centric, thrived in an environment that is so conducive, and matured herself around practical intellectual circles. She got what Nelson Mandela, a renowned revolutionary man of South Africa, hadn’t get: political right. Her father was a president, and founding father of the country at once. Politician blood as well as spirit of nationalism transmitted from her father, even though she was a woman.

At the age of 40, she decided to go to political world. As a young female politician, she got a lot of obstacles, including paltry stereotypes from her political opponents. Starting from the Kudatuli Tragedy to her defeat in the 1999’s parliamentary session, some real experience like that was able to grind her into a queen of that archipelago at the beginning of the third millennium. She is Diah Permata Megawati Setiawati Soekarnoputri. Her position as the fifth president in Indonesia has broke the record as the first female president around 56 years of independence, defeating the politics of the United States, which has never been led by a female president for about 250 years of independence until now. She was precede Hillary Clinton, her colleague who were born in the same years, 1947, which has the status of being the first female presidential candidate in the United States currently.[1]

On the other dimension of region and time, at the end of the second millennium in “Subcontinent of Asia”, a woman was born from the matrix of conflictual society. Born in July 1997, she grew up on the appalling conditions. The country where she was born was not safe enough country to live in. The armed conflict was rage often in that country. Sustainability of the conflict not only in the scope of the civil society, but also the role of external invasive intervention. She was a little girl who had intelligence above average. In class, she was described as a genius female student. Local environment factor which is less conducive did not affect her first-school activity. She followed several extracurricular sports and arts. One of the reasons that made she gained her childhood freedom is family factor, especially from her parents who have sufficient understanding of inclusivity and toleranceness. Her father had said to her, “Women must be like birds. They have a right to fly freely, same with you.”[2]

Her changing life was started by the beginning of US invasion to her country. That invasion led to made the situation in their village increasingly complicated, especially after many Taliban militants hid around her place. The school where she learned almost closed due to the conflict escalation between the Pakistani government, Taliban militia, and US forces. That incident is one of the reason that prompted her to think critically about the discriminatory system that was prevailed the country at that time. As a woman, she was considered inappropriate to learn in school, but always at home. With the encouragement of his parents, at age 11, she made her first public speech as a form of protest for school closures. She bravely asked, “how dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” After a few months later, her activism switched to use virtual media. She recounted her life as a female student on her blog. As a result, at the age of 14, she won Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Price. Misfortune to her, 10 months after that ceremony, the Taliban tried to kill her with a gun on her way to home from school. Astoundingly, she was alive and being treated in the UK. On July 12, 2013, exact on her 16th birthday, she made a public appearance at the United Nations in New York City. She is Malala Yousafzai, a muslimah, as well as education for women activist. She was the one who received the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 17, and at that very young age she has inspired the international community to voice their basic rights for education.[3]

Antithetical World

Once upon a time, on the night of April 14, few trucks that loads of armed men approached a government-owned school girls which are occupied by at least 276 female students. They woke all the girls and told them to get out from the school. They told the girls not to worry, that they were there to protect them. They led them outside and towards the waiting pick-up trucks. They forced the girls into the trucks before driving away towards a camp in the forest. The women were helpless against the threat under their arms. They can only surrender to her desire. From 276 students which were taken to the forest, only about 50 people managed to run away from the truck. That event was absolutely true story and occurred in 2014. For the first time in the third millennium, the largest women’s abduction occurred at one village in Nigeria that left more than 200 people missing. The event well known as “Chibok Girls Abduction Tragedy”. Until two years later, the women’s life can not be ascertained.[4]

At almost of the same time with “Chibok Girls Abduction Tragedy”, a woman appeared to the European pollitical surface associated with the discourse on refugees. She is Tatjana Festerling. Her name sounds unfamiliar for some people. She was not as famous as female German chancellor, Angela Merkel, with her ‘Open Door Refugee Policy’, But, she has very contradictory thoughts with Merkel’s opinion. Her thoughts about refugees was the one that catapulted her in the Western Europe region. He joined Lutz Bachmann in a far-right political movement which is extremely against refugees, as well as against the existence of Muslims, in Europe.[5] That movement well known as Pegida (European Patriotic Against Islamisation of the Occident). That political movement is so famous because it was so controversial. Festerling explicitly said that the muslim headscarf should be banned, the radical mosques should be closed, European people should make life uncomfortable for Muslim, and the refugees who forced their way across the border could be shooted.[6] Her figure as a woman is very different from the general women. She tried to burn down the anger of European society with voicing hate speech against the existence of another group entity, in this case are the Muslim asylum seekers who crossed into Europe.

Welcome to the End of Time

The position of women in line with the progress of time. The status and role of women more importance in tune with spinning of clockwise. Formerly, when life is dominated by men, women frequently got discriminative action and being positioned as subordinate group. In fact, on some cases, women were not considered as the tribe’s part and paired with the animals who served as sacrificing ritual objects.[7] Now, with grounding universal concepts such as freedom, equality, and human rights, popular female figures surfaced to the world stage. Many women, particularly muslimahs, have the ability to influence others, and regarded as central figures, starting from local until international scale. In Indonesia, can not be denied that Megawati is a muslimah who moves into the realm of practical politics. In Turkey, Merve Kavakci is a practical political figure same as Megawati. It’s just that she was not as fortunate as Megawati. In Canada, muslimahs are very familiar with the figure of Ingrid Mattson. In Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto gained an important position earlier as the first muslimah government leaders in pre-dominantly muslim countries.

However, enhancement of muslimahs popularity comparable with the complexity of the problems faced by them. On the one side, they are trapped in structural dilemma that formed over conservative understanding construction. Muslimahs seemed can only move on the private dimensions, but the public dimensions they can’t. In the most extreme case, it can looked in the kidnapping of Chibok girls by Boko Haram that it looks like an affirmative action for banning muslimah’s touch for modernity, especially from westernized products and ideas. While the other hand, muslimahs are entangled in the confusion feeling over the liberal values intrusion. Liberalism sentiments make muslimah symbols as critisized objects and considered as restriction for their freedoms and movements. In the most extreme case, variety of policy restrictions on the use of hijab for the religious symbolic practices reason were being sounded widely by some leaders / agencies / influential countries in the world, such as the French government and Pegida movement. From both cases, what Sariya said on the prologue in this paper was not something wrong. Either Boko Haram, the French Government, or women activists who joined in Pegida, they never tried to find out the opinion of muslimahs themselves. Muslimahs seem to be the object that are shaped and directed, not as a human being who have the freedom to think, act, and make a choice. One of them is the choice to be peacemakers. Is it actually muslimahs are not allowed, and  truly can not act as peacemakers?

Urgency of muslimahs for being peacemakers, not just muslims, due to the current society which tends conflictual conditions. Rasulullah SAW shows that some signs of the End Times are the rise of warfare and murder. He said,

“Near the establishment of the Hour there will be days during which (religious) knowledge will be taken away (vanish) and general ignorance will spread, and there will be Al-Harj in abundance, and Al-Harj means killing.”[8]

The Prophet said in the other context,

“Before the Hour there will be fitna (slander) like patches of a dark night, during which a man will be a mu’min in the morning and become a kafir in the evening, or he will be a mu’min in the evening and become a kafir in the morning.” [9]

Two hadiths of the Prophet above are proof that there is a need for muslims, including muslimahs, to commanding the good and forbidding the evil (amar ma’ruf nahi munkar). In this context, commanding the good and forbidding the evil can be implemented in the process of minimization of two phenomenons above (murder and slander). In a more specific scope, there is urgency for muslimahs to arbitrate the physical conflict that is often consuming lives and suppress ideological conflicts that is prone to slander. However, there are still doubts on defining “peacemakers”, which has impact on the concerns over the negative points of the muslimah’s implementation in these positions.

There needs to be reaffirmed in the final seconds of this era, in the final seconds of the End Times: Are only men, and muslim, are required to be peacemakers? Then, where is the position of women, especially muslimahs?

Narrated from Imam Al-Tirmidzi, Ummu Imarah had said the Prophet, “Oh Prophet, I look everything always being related to men, while for women never mentioned at all.” And then, Allah SWT says:

Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward. (Q.S. Al Ahzab : 35)

Welcome to the end of time. It’s the time for muslims and muslimahs to put themselves in the right place, i.e. the place where they can help the others optimally.


[1]    Elbrahimy. Muhammad, Biografi Presiden dan Wakil Presiden RI, Balai Pustaka, Jakarta, 2012, p. 15-17

[2]    Yousafzai. Malala & Lamb. Christina, I am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban, edisi Bahasa Indonesia I am Malala: Menantang Maut di Perbatasan Pakistan – Afganistan, diterjemahkan oleh Ingrid Dwijani Nimpoenc, Mizan, Bandung, 2014, p. 34 – 83

[3]    Wang. Andrean, Malala Yousafzai: Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Education Activist, Abdo Publishing, Minnesota, 2015, p. 42-43

[4]    Smith. Make, Boko Haram: Inside Nigeria’s Unholy War, I.B.Tauris, London, 2015, p. 17-18

[5]    Panitch. Leo & Albo. Greg, The Politics of the Right: Socialist Register 2016, The Merlin Press, London, 2015, p. 33

[6]    Porter. Tom, ‘Pegida female leader calls for refugees to be shot and the burqa to be banned’, International Business Times (online), February 16, 2016, <>, accessed August 31, 2016

[7]    Schmitt. Pauline, A History of Women in the West: From Ancient Goddesses to Christian Saints, Harvard University Press, Massachusetts, 1992, p. 338-340

[8]    Shahih Bukhari

[9]    HR Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, Ibnu Majah, dan al-Hakim from al-Mustadrak