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The Draft of a Letter Sent to the governor of Zamfara, Nigeria About the Adultery Case

18 Dhul Qiddah 1421 [February 12, 2001]

Governor AlHajj Ahmed Sani

Zamfara State Government
Government House, P.M.B 01050
Gusau

Zamfara State
Nigeria
Fax: [011-234-63-202178]

Your Excellency,

As Salaam Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakaatahu.

The Network of Progressive Muslims is a loose network of Islamic scholars and activists from Egypt, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, South Africa, Spain, Iceland, Tunisia, Mexico, Canada, Germany, the UK and
the USA, among other countries. 

As Muslims, we are working towards a renaissance in Islamic civilization that we hope will bring social justice; entrench equity; uphold human rights; foster pluralism; develop tolerance; nurture
democracy; fight racism; eradicate patriarchy; and establish a just peace in our fragile world community. These are, after all, the objectives of the shari'ah. Ultimately, we, like all concerned Muslims, hope to achieve a closeness to Allah by realizing His Will on earth. 

As members of the world Muslim community, we followed with deep anguish the case of our sister, Bariya Ibrahim Magazu who was, we believe, wrongfully convicted of zinah and for giving false witness,
by a Shariah court in your State, and was later awarded 100 lashes by a man in front of a large crowd. 

We are writing to you to express our outrage and anger at the lashing of this teen-age mother; a punishment that, we believe, did not meet the basic requirements of justice under the Shariah. Clearly The
Quran goes out of its way to provide protection to women recognizing their vulnerability in matters extra-marital or pre-marital sex. A woman may get pregnant as a result of such an act; a man never does. 

We believe that, in terms of the correct understanding of the shari'ah, the judgment against Bariya and the subsequent punishment were unjust and not consistent with the Islamic requirements of
evidence. We believe that many essential aspects of the shari'ah for such a case were overlooked. We have argued this in the attached Shariah opinion prepared by one of our members, Asifa Quraishi
esquire. Asifa Quraishi is a doctoral student at Harvard Law School, writing her S.J.D. thesis in comparative Islamic and American constitutional legal theory. She holds an LL.M. from Columbia Law
School (focusing on federal habeas corpus law), a J.D. from U.C. Davis and a B.A. from U.C. Berkeley. She has held federal clerkships in the Ninth Circuit United States Court of Appeals and has published
articles in the fields of Islamic and comparative law, including gender issues. 

Our submission to you now, even though Bariya's punishment has already been carried out, is to appeal to you to view differently such cases that might come to you or to your shari'ah courts in the
future. We make this submission to you because you had yourself asked for Islamic opinions on the matter that might be different from the judgment issued by the Shari'ah court. We understand your request to
be an attempt at infusing the application of shari'ah in Zamfara with justice and compassion and an attempt at arriving at the best possible Islamic judgment. We believe that our submission looks at
the case and the issues involved from a perspective that better fulfils the Shari'a requirement of justice. 

The Network of Progressive Muslims is joined in this submission to you by the following Muslim organizations. The Initiative for Islamic Studies, Hamburg, Germany; SIS-Sisters In Islam, based in Kuala
Lumpur, Malaysia; The Institue of Islamic Studies, Bombay, India; The Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa; Muslims Living with Cancer, Pennsylvania, USA; and The Council of
Pakistani Candaians, Toronto, Canada. 

We are sure history will remember your act as one of statesmanship and magnanimity and your re-examination of this case and new perspective with which you approach similar cases in the future as
acts of statesmanship. 

May Allah reward you,

Yours in the struggle for Islam.

Tarek Fatah
Co-ordinator
Network of Progressive Muslims,
South Africa

Zainah Anwar
Executive Director
Sisters in Islam
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Halima Krausen, Principal
Mehdi Razvi, Head of Fiqh Dept.
Initiative for Islamic Studies
Hamburg, Germany

Asghar Ali Engineer
President
Institue of Islamic Studies
9B Himalaya Apts., 6th Road, TPS III
Santacruz East
Bombay - 400 055

Kathleen Weber
Muslims Living with Cancer
7215 Glenthorne Road
Upper Darby, PA 19082
USA

Shurah Yabafazi, South Africa
(an advocay group focused on a women centered approach to MPL
reform in South Africa)

cc:
Dr. Ayesha Imam,
BAOBAB, Nigerian Muslim Women's Organization
[ayesha@baobab.com.ng]

President of Nigeria
[president.obasanjo@nigeriagov.org]

Muslim Women's League
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Los Angeles, CA 90010
(323) 258-6722

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