FIRST BANGSAMORO WOMEN ASSEMBLY DECLARATION
Whereas, it is a historical truism that women of all races, cultures and societies throughout the ages have suffered gender oppression and discrimination in one form or the other;
Whereas, in the dark period of Ignorance or Jahiliyah, prior to the coming of Islam more than fourteen centuries ago, women were considered sub-human with no souls, no rights and no freedom. As such, they were buried alive upon birth as in the case of pre-Islamic Arabia, burned alive with their deceased husbands as in India, and treated like beasts of burden, commercial commodities, objects of entertainment and slaves of their male counterpart in almost all parts of the known world;
Whereas, the advent of Islam brought about the true liberation of women when the Holy Qur’an defined the position of woman vis-à-vis man by proclaiming: “O mankind! Reverence your Guardian-Lord, Who created you from a single person, created of like nature, his mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women; Reverence Allah, through Whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (that bore you); for Allah ever watches over you” (Surah an-Nisaa: 1);
Whereas, from the foregoing Qur’anic verse as well as in other relevant verses, Islam has given back to woman her honor and dignity as human being and made her equal to man as khalifat or vicegerent of Allah on earth. In the divine scheme of creation, therefore, both woman and man have been assigned roles, responsibilities, duties, obligations, privileges and rights commensurate with their physiological and psychological constitutions;
Whereas, the Islamic concept of equality of woman with man is based on equity and justice and therefore diametrically opposed to the Western materialist paradigm of absolute gender equality as exemplified by the ‘women’s liberation movement’ in the West. The Western paradigm perpetuates the crass exploitation of women, condones sexual perversion and other forms of decadent animalistic behavior, negates the divine scheme of creation that assigns role for woman in deference to her nature, and promotes intense antagonism and rivalry between woman and man instead of fostering harmonious relationship based on partnership, thus leading to the break-up of families and the ultimate disintegration of society as what is happening now in the Western world;
Whereas, in the current milieu where counter-Islamic trends and the materialist-cum- secularist values system of Jahiliyyah still prevail throughout the world, albeit in varied forms and manifestations, Muslim women, particularly the women of the Bangsamoro, find themselves still deprived of those rights and privileges bestowed on them by Islam, and likewise find it very difficult to discharge their obligations and perform their responsibilities and duties as wives, mothers, and as human-building beings committed to the establishment of a stable, strong and upright family which is the foundation of a just, moral and peaceful human society;
Whereas, the Bangsamoro people, which the Bangsamoro women are an integral part of, are currently in the process of an extremely difficult struggle for their right to self- determination, freedom and independence from Philippine colonialism, as such are being subjected to brutal and inhuman wars of aggression;
Whereas, this being the case, the Bangsamoro women not only share the sufferings of the rest of the Bangsamoro people but they are the ones that truly bear the brunt, both physically and psychologically, of the colonial oppression and violence that the Bangsamoro homeland has invariably been experiencing since the first colonizers set foot on Moro soil more than four centuries ago; and
Whereas, in view of the foregoing, the Bangsamoro women, in the tradition of the great women and heroines of Islam, play very important role in the noble struggle of the Bangsamoro people for the right to self-determination, freedom and independence;
Now, therefore, the First Bangsamoro Women Assembly held on April 23-25, 2003 in Marawi City declares as follows:
We reaffirm our unwavering faith in Islam as the only deen or complete system of life that can provide true liberation and freedom to womanhood and to mankind in general.
We vehemently reject the Western concept of 'women’s liberation’ because it nurtures the culture of nakedness and the nakedness of culture that preclude the protection of woman from all forms of gender exploitation and oppression, and posits on her an adversarial role vis-à-vis man that runs counter to the Qur’anic framework which unequivocally defines and institutionalizes the harmonious and complimentary roles, relationship and partnership of woman and man in establishing an ideal human society.
We renounce the present neo-jahiliyyah that dominates our societies, including that in the Bangsamoro, where onerous social conditions compounded by ignorance, tyranny and superstition, among others, consign the observance of the rights, privileges, duties and responsibilities of women to lip service or even allow them to be suppressed, neglected or abandoned. In this connection, we deplore the evils of male chauvinism and arrogance as being the product of ignorance and deviation from Islam.
We remind and call upon our male counterparts to take serious heeds of the honor and dignity conferred by Islam upon the believing women, and to observe, protect and promote their rights and privileges and respect their sensitivities.
We call on and appeal to our ulama and leaders to properly address the problem of violations of Bangsamoro women’s rights for this is causing a social malaise affecting the Bangsamoro society.
We also lament and denounce the colonial wars of aggression in the Bangsamoro homeland that are invariably causing so much death and destruction in our communities and the wholesale violation of our human rights. It should be stated emphatically that in all these wars, it is the women, the children and the aged that are mostly the victims.
As Muslims, we stand firmly for peace and justice. In this context, we fully agree with and strongly endorse the popular consensus that the war in Mindanao, as in all conflicts and wars throughout the globe, should be resolved through peaceful dialogues, through the proper forums of the United Nations, and through democratic process such as a United Nations-supervised referendum in Bangsamoro areas in order that the Bangsamoro people will be given the opportunity to determine their political status whether to remain part of the Philippines or to be free and independent.
Finally, we resolutely believe that as women of the Bangsamoro, the institutionalization of our rights, privileges, duties, responsibilities and obligations can only be achieved if the Bangsamoro people’s right to self-determination, freedom and independence were to be restored, and peace anchored on justice finally and permanently reigns in our homeland.
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip on April 25th 2003