News : The Abu Dhabi Fatwa Call Centre Where Women Have the Answers
Abu Dhabi, June 30, 2014 -- The phone rings, the caller has a question about her Muslim faith, and an Islamic scholar provides the answer.
As the scholar offers advice, Shamma Al Thaheri listens intently: soon, she will be providing the answers herself.
Shamma, 26, is one of six young Emirati women being trained at the fatwa call centre in Abu Dhabi run by Awqaf, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments.
They are all master’s degree graduates from Mohammed V Agdal Abu Dhabi University, a branch of the Moroccan university.
Shamma, Fatima Dahman and Shaikha Al Kaabi, all decided to specialise in Sharia after hearing of Awqaf scholarships at Mohammed V University.
Fatima, 25, and Shamma were among four young women chosen from 500 applicants in the first batch of recruits.
"We were interviewed on our general knowledge of Islamic studies, social skills, moderate opinions, speaking skills, confidence and the Arabic language," says Shamma. "They would give us a verse from the Quran and ask how we would interpret it."
During the interviews the applicants were also given theoretical situations and asked how they would apply their knowledge.
"They asked me if I was giving a lecture about wearing a hijab and a member of the audience was not wearing one, what would I do?" says Shaikha.
"I told them I would not attract attention to her, so I wouldn’t embarrass her, I would just address the issue generally."
Fatima said her family was delighted for her to train to become a mufti.
"They always tell me, you will educate us and bring blessings to the family," she said.
Dr Al Waseef explained that although the graduates had the required education, it was entirely different to know how to apply that knowledge in real life.
Every Wednesday all the muftis meet to discuss fatwas about contemporary issues that are not directly mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah.
Of the 50 muftis who work at the fatwa centre, three are female. There are plans to have 100 muftis working there by 2016.
Khalid Al Hassani, head of the fatwa department, said the UAE leadership believed it "vital to qualify nationals in the field of Sharia and especially the fatwa aspect, because of its great importance in directing society and imposing moderation and balance.
"It is equally important that women nationals qualify in fatwa so that Emirati women will have a role in religious awareness in the female society."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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