Islam and the Status of Women

Sharifah Zuriah Aljeffri

Thursday 1 May 2003

Supported by the Australia Malaysia Foundation Inc


As a founding member of the Sisters in Islam, an Islamic feminist organisation in Malaysia, Zuriah Aljeffri explains that the true principles of Islam enshrine equality between men and women and support justice, equity, freedom and dignity within democratic states.
A renowned Malaysian artist with works exhibited at the Vienna United Nations Conference on Human Rights, Zuriah has a background in law, public relations and cultural affairs.  She has given papers on ‘Understanding Islam’ as well as participating in inter-faith dialogue at home and abroad.

Sisters in Islam's:

Sharifah Zuriah AljeffriSharifah Zuriah Aljeffri was born in Kedah Province in North Malaysia where her father was the first Malay Principal appointed to an English Language Secondary School. She received a liberal education combining Islamic studies with Western education at the Father Barre’s Convent School.

From 1965-76 she studied law at the Inner Temple, London, receiving a Diploma in Public Relations and completed courses in Roman Law, Constitutional Law and Legal History and Criminal Law. She has a Diploma in Public Relations from the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia. From 1967-1971 she was the Organising Secretary of the Selangor Consumers Association and was an advocate for the rights of consumers. From 1971 to 1993 she was the Cultural Affairs Adviser for the US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

Aljeffri is the only Malay artist to have crossed the cultural divide in Malaysian visual art practice through the study and application of Chinese brush painting, commencing in 1976 under Master artist Anthony Sum. She has made a cultural bridge in Malaysian society.

Aljeffri has coordinated international conferences, most recently Islam and Politics, Deputy Prime Minister’s Department, Kuala Lumpur, (2002); Rights at Home, International Study of Islam in the Modern World, the Netherlands, the International Movement for a Just World (JUST) and Sisters in Islam, (2003).

As a founding member of Sisters in Islam (1988), an Islamic feminist organisation in Malaysia, Zuriah Aljeffri has served on the National Executive (1997-1999). Through scholarly application of Islamic text Sisters in Islam has to some extent been able to create awareness of the true principles of Islam, principles that enshrine the concept of equality between men and women, and to strive towards creating a society that upholds the Islamic principles of equality, justice, freedom and dignity within a democratic state. In June 2001 Aljeffri was a participant at the International Human Rights Training Program in Montreal, Canada, organised by the Canadian Human Rights Foundation. Foundation. She has given a paper on ‘Understanding Islam’ and ‘The status of Women in Islam’ as well as participating in inter-faith dialogue at home and abroad.