Just as our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was first entreated to “Read,” so too did the founders of Musawah, for the ideas of a moment to became seeds for a movement.

Musawah owes our beginning to Sisters in Islam, a Malaysian NGO that itself was started in 1988 by a group of Muslim women who came together to critically read the Qur’an through a hermeneutical approach in order to address the injustices women faced under the Shari’ah (Islamic law) system. In her opening speech of the meeting to launch Musawah in 2009, co-founder and former executive director Zainah Anwar asked an important question:

For many of us, it is an article of faith that Islam is just and God is just. If justice is intrinsic to Islam, then how could injustice and discrimination result from the codification and implementation of laws and policies made in the name of Islam?” 

It was a question that has set many people on their own searches for answers, for truth, for justice. Like many, Musawah’s founders started with the Qur’an and the Sunnah, and turned their curiosity and engagement to the Muslim legal tradition, but they also did something new—they unearthed the insights and understandings that ordinary women build through their life experiences as a worthy form of authority and knowledge of living Islam. 

Knowledge building is at the heart of Musawah and all those who join us in seeking justice; to quote another of Musawah’s co-founders, Dr. Ziba Mir-Hosseini, on this link to feminism:

“It is a knowledge project in the sense that it sheds light on how we know what we know about women’s rights in law, including laws that take their legitimacy from religion, enabling us to challenge, from within, the patriarchy that is institutionalised in a legal tradition.”


These knowledge building videos illustrate core concepts of law reform efforts. They are in English, with subtitles in ARABIC and FRENCH, and have been been translated into DHIVEHI.


Who Provides? Who Cares? Changing Dynamics in Muslim Families

This thematic paper examines economic and parental rights and responsibilities in Muslim families using the holistic Musawah approach.


Our engagement with the juristic concepts of qiwamah and wilayah developed a new understanding in order to campaign and advocate for laws and practices that promote equality and justice in Muslim families.


A project by Musawah in collaboration with Sonaksha and Ezrena Marwan