Islamism’s war against women

Our scholars need to understand that human Rights can’t be implemented only through the lens of scriptures. It’s time we looked at the scriptures through the lens of human rights and resisted Shariah law.

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Anjem Choudary: "I'm smiling because Shariah is coming"
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Raheel Raza
On 23 September 2011 10:47

One of the warning signs of fundamentalism has been identified by the International organization, Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) as anti-women policies.

Whether it’s attacks on freedom of movement, the rights to education and work under authoritarian and theocratic regimes, or imposition of unjust laws – there is a serious struggle at hand for women to get equal status and justice which I outline as gender jihad.

To regard any person as property to be used and controlled is an insult to God, humanity and this earth. The Qur’an does not so much ‘grant rights’ to women as it does affirm that women arrive in this world with full rights by nature of being alive. 

The entire discourse in the Qur'an on women is rights based but in Shariah, thanks to man-made secondary literature, the discourse is duty based.

I have absolutely no doubts in my mind, as a believer, that God did not create women to be mistreated and used as second class human beings in any faith. Instead, men have misused and twisted concepts in Islam to legitimize their crimes against women.

Let me give you a quick one-o-one on Shariah. Shariah is a word that means flowing path to water – i.e. it reflects fluidity and is supposed to be totally flexible and applicable to this day and age, dealing with current issues.

Shariah is mentioned only 3 times in the Qur'an, where it means moral and ethical guidance. Observant Muslims implement these guidelines in their life without any side-effects because a) they are not forcing it in the public sphere and b) they are not using it as a parallel legal system in a non-Muslim environment; Shariah itself states that it cannot be introduced into a non-Muslim country. 

That Shariah has played a pivotal role in Islamic history as a means of bringing diverse groups of Muslims within a single legal religious framework, is beyond dispute. However I don’t for a moment believe that the spread of shariah is an intrinsic element of Islam in the life of every Muslim, certainly not as public law.

The claim made by some Muslims that Shariah is “divine” cannot be validated logically or theologically.

It is derived from four sources, namely, the Qur’an (the scripture of the Muslims), Hadith & Sunnah (sayings and practices of the Prophet, not all of which are validated) Ijma’ (consensus of the community) and Qiyas (analogical reasoning) or Ijtihad (independent judgment).  Of these sources, only one - the Qur’an - is believed by Muslims to be divine.

Over time shariah has stood still, without development, and has therefore started to stink; an inevitable outcome when water is left stagnant. It has become totally man-made and at the same time it has facilitated some of the most heinous and violent phenomena.

First let’s study honour killings. Here’s the shocker: Part of article 340 of the Penal Code states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty. 

Last year I was invited to the UNHCR to present a paper asking the UN to table honour killings as an international criminal offense. I was up against the Organisation of the Islamic Conference – almost entirely made up of Muslim men; perhaps the most intimidating moment of my life.

I pointed out that what is particularly shocking is that, after murdering a sister or daughter, these criminals are walking away scot-free because the Islamic law of Quisas (or retribution), allows the heirs to pardon the murderer – so the father, for example, can pardon a son who kills his sister.

A Jordanian with an American doctorate who spent 12 years as a hospital administrator in the US, when asked whether he would kill a daughter who had sex outside marriage." said, “I would do what I have to do.”

Then, of course, we have the phenomenon of female genital mutilation (FGM). UNIFEM estimates that more than 130 million girls and women alive today have undergone FGM, mainly in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries. What is more, a further two million girls a year are at risk of adding to the former statistic.

And it’s happening on our doorsteps too. FGM is being practiced among immigrant communities in Europe, North America and Australia and many governments are turning a blind eye to this epidemic because they believe it’s based in faith. 

Sheikh Yussef Al-Qaradhawi, one of Sunni Islam’s most influential clerics and a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood favors partial circumcision for women as a moderate, just, and reasonable solution best suited to reality. In a Fatwa on this issue, he wrote, “Anyone who thinks that circumcision is the best way to protect his daughters should do it. I support this, particularly in the period in which we live.”

Now, what do educated, modern men say about stoning which is also not sanctioned by the Qur'an?

The Saudi Ambassador to London, Ghazi al-Qusaibi, said that stoning may seem irrational to the western mind, but it is "at the core of the Islamic faith." He also says that Westerners should respect Muslim culture on this matter. It may (or may not) come as a surprise that per capita Saudi men are known to be most adulterous.

Finally, let’s not forget rape which has become a weapon of war in many parts of the world.

The Qur'an does not mention rape and severely prohibits Zina (sexual relation between a man and woman not married to each other). However, rape is considered as Zina in Shariah law because, even though forced on the victim, sexual relations have taken place.

According to the 2004 Annual report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, the National Commission on the Status of Women in Pakistan reported that Sharia courts in Pakistan have punished many thousands of raped women by long term imprisonment.

It became so chronic that raped women stopped reporting incidents to police and it’s no surprise that majority of the people in Pakistani jails are women.

In Nigeria 13 old rape-victim Bariya was lashed 100 time for illicit sex with an additional 80 lashes for accusing 3 rapists without proof. And what constitutes as proof?

        (a) The accused makes confession, or

        (b) There are at least four Muslim adult male witnesses

Unsurprisingly, therefore, a simple denial is usually sufficient to evade the course of justice.

Women themselves will bring about the change we need.

Work is already being done from within the faith. Sisters-in-Islam in Malaysia, for example, are working hard to re-define shariah law.

My friend, Hasan Mahmud who is a researcher with the Deen Research Centre, and an on expert on shariah law, writes:

“Many Muslims have, since childhood, been indoctrinated with the belief that shariah has the force of absolute law. Which is why it is so important to break the artificial attachment between Islam and Shariah law. Islam without political Shariah law existed for centuries from Sind to Indonesia. Unbelievable it may seem to some Westerners, traditional Islam is tolerant, peaceful, gender-just and pluralistic. Unlike Shariah law it does not play hide-and seek with scriptures. Its theological base is much stronger than that of Shariah. It is the strongest weapon in the battle against Shariah doctrine. Lest we forget Shariah-doctrine is the informal constitution of Radical Islam.”

Our scholars need to understand that human Rights can’t be implemented only through the lens of scriptures. It’s time we looked at the scriptures through the lens of human rights and resisted Shariah law.

Raheel Raza is the author of 'Their Jihad - Not My Jihad'. You can visit her website at www.raheelraza.com

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