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In 1989, I came to Malaysia to join the faculty at the International Islamic University. Within one month of my arrival, I attended a meeting held by a group of Muslims, mostly Malaysian women, who had been meeting to try their hand at addressing some issues regarding Islam and gender justice. They were primarily a study-group involved in raising their own consciousness about Islam.

I suggested that instead of reading books by Western feminists or by Muslim women writing from various cultural contexts, that we should re-read the Quran. As it happened, I had just completed my PhD research on that topic and would soon publish the findings of that research in Malaysia under the title Quran and Woman .

I was most pleased to work with this small group of women, to share my research information and to step up to the challenges presented to me on Islamic activism. I worked intimately as a member of Sisters in Islam for the full three years I was living in Malaysia.

When my IIU contract was completed, I returned to the US and continued my research and activism. On several occasions, Sisters in Islam consulted me about various projects they were involved in and they offered me many opportunities to work at conferences and workshops they have organised, in Malaysia and elsewhere on a 'paid fee' basis. As a paid consultant my status had already changed radically as early as 1992.

We managed to coordinate as best we could to continue our partnership until the time the group became registered as SIS Forum Berhad. I have nothing qualifying me to be a member of a registered NGO in Malaysia, but I continued my membership with SIS and was involved as friends with various members of the core group, but I cannot say I was included in the organisational structure. I did not assist in its foundation and its arduous efforts to keep growing and working on gender in Islam.

Meanwhile, my own work as an academic and an activist was under demand, so I took my own path in the struggles. Eventually, my ideas and activities met face-to-face with neo-conservative Islamic authorities and I faced some confrontations that both increased the constituency of supporters and also produced some backlash. This work was not done in the name of Sisters in Islam, in consultation with them or as part of their organisation. Most often, it was done without their knowledge. It is therefore unfair for those looking to discredit SIS to associate my name or my activities as part of Sisters in Islam or their own diligent work.

I am writing to make it clear to the public that I support Sisters in Islam and many other organisations, but I am not a full member in any of them due to my own opinions and research on various issues and my particular methodologies regarding gender justice and Islamic reforms.

Please separate the name of Dr Amina Wadud from the name of Sisters in Islam. I will continue to support them and occasionally work for them, if invited and available. For over a decade now, they have played no part in support or opposition to my independent agenda, whether controversial or considered important additions to progress in Islamic thought and practice.

I have already spoken with SIS' executive director about this so that Sisters in Islam may work without the negative stigma of may name attached to them and also that I may work as freely, openly and directly on issues of concern to my overall agenda regarding Islam and gender.

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