Talks

Azza Soliman
Jurisprudence of reality

Biography

Azza Soliman

Azza, a lawyer and women's rights activist. She is the general manager of the Center for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance (CEWLA - in consultative status with the UN ECOSOC) which she has co-founded in 1995. Azza Soliman is advocating for a new religious discourse with a special focus on issues pertaining to women's rights. Through the creation of a multi-sector forum, controversial fatwas on women's issues are revised and reinterpreted to reflect changes in society's needs and demands. She created Religious Reform & Renewal Forum (RRRF) for social scientists, lawyers, politicians, and religious leaders to regularly meet to discuss and produce informed public statements about relevant issues and causes related to women in Islam. She is trying to bridge the gap between Sharia (Islamic religious law) and fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence offering religious interpretations complementing sharia) on women's issues, by changing the current single faceted religious discourse to a new, multi-dimensioned one, working to produce fatwas that are both based on the original purposes of sharia and are able to meet society's current needs To date, Azza has managed to influence a number of laws in Egypt, namely, providing rights for children born out of wedlock-such as requiring DNA testing in a paternity suit, as well as including the mother's name on all birth certificates.

In a very provocative talk, Azza gives a brief account of her experience with religious men in Egypt in her attempt to reshape the religious discourse about women's rights and surprises the audience with the commonalities she finds between them.