Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Can Sharia/Muslim laws be feminist?

The following statement from Women Living Under Muslim Laws explains how Islamic laws can be feminist, instead of the way the name of Islam is used to justify many patriarchal and un-Islamic laws such as FGM (female genital mutilation) - which is nowhere to be found in The Qur'an. 

Some of my favorite statements:
"WLUML knows from its own research* that laws said to be Islamic, which laws are said to derive from Islamic jurisprudence or 'fiqh' (often wrongly referred to as 'sharia'), or considered in conformity with Islam vary enormously from country to country - hence proving laws and the jurisprudence (fiqh) they are said to have been derived from are man-made rather than God-given. Furthermore they include elements from culture and traditions that have nothing to do with religion, as well as colonial laws when these best suit the interests of local patriarchy. This is how local traditions such as muta'a marriage or FGM (female genital mutilation) are adopted as part and parcel of 'religion.' This is also how the newly independent Algeria in the 1960s deprived its women citizens of any access to contraception and abortion, using a long abandoned French law dating from 1922."

"From the religious point of view alone, the Qur'an itself can be read and interpreted in different ways. Diversity (iktilaf) is an accepted tradition in Islam. Tunisia took the historic decision in 1956 to forbid polygyny (aka polygamy), as legislators pointed out that the Qur'an clearly indicated both that equal treatment between wives is required and that it was not possible for a man to treat several women perfectly equally; conversely Algeria in 1962 used the same verse to allow a man to have 4 wives and legitimize polygamy. Which of these contradictory interpretations conforms with 'sharia'?"

For feminism,

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