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Book Launch : Women and Sharia Law in Northern Indonesia: Local Women’s NGOS and the Reform of Islamic Law in Aceh (Routledge 2015)

Hosted by : International Centre for Aceh and Indian Ocean Studies and Centre for Area Studies of UIN Ar-Raniry.
Professor Alyasa Abukabar, MA, Professor of Islamic Law at State Islamic University in Banda Aceh, former Head of Islamic Sharia Office and Ms Syarifah Rahmatillah, Director of Women’s Organisation in Banda Aceh, were present as discussants of the book.

The event was attended by about forty people including students, activists and researchers from two prominent Universities in Banda Aceh. Ms Syarifah Rahmatillah heartily welcomes the book as the first English book on Acehnese Women and Sharia Law by Indonesian academic. For her, the book is a reminder for civil society organisations in Aceh that the challenges in the implementation of sharia law in the province are imminent therefore it requires all element to participate in making sure women’s rights and the poor are not discriminated against. Professor Alyasa added that the book can offer new understanding of how Sharia law can live in a democratic Indonesia.

About the book:
This book examines the life of women in the Indonesian province of Aceh, where Islamic law was introduced in 1999. It outlines how women have had to face the formalisation of conservative understandings of sharia law in regulations and new state institutions over the last decade or so, how they have responded to this, forming non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that have shaped local discourse on women’s rights, equality and status in Islam, and how these NGOs have strategised, demanded reform, and enabled Acehnese women to take active roles in influencing the processes of democratisation and Islamisation that are shaping the province. The book shows that although the formal introduction of Islamic law in Aceh has placed restrictions on women’s freedom, paradoxically it has not prevented them from engaging in public life. It argues that the democratisation of Indonesia, which allowed Islamisation to occur, continues to act as an important factor shaping Islamisation’s current trajectory; that the introduction of Islamic law has motivated women’s NGOs and other elements of civil society to become more involved in wider discussions about the future of sharia in Aceh; and that Indonesia’s recent decentralisation policy and growing local Islamism have enabled the emergence of different religious and local adat practices, which do not necessarily correspond to overall national trends.

To order the book visit Routledge.

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