Women’s Rights under Shariah Law

Conference: “The Plight of Minorities in Arab and Muslim Countries: What Should the US Do” Washington DC October 26, 2010


       What is shariah and what does it say about women, the status of women, their place in society?

       How is Islamic law on women implemented in practice around the world?

       What should the U.S. do about it?

       Not a Muslim, not a scholar of Islamic law: use, quote Islamic sources

      o Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, Umdat al-Salik (Reliance of the Traveller: A Classic Manual of Islamic Sacred Law), rev. ed., trans. Nuh Ha Mim Keller. (Beltsville, Amana Publications, 1994)

      o Reliance of the Traveller is Shafi’i law, but there is little difference among the 4 Sunni schools of jurisprudence (or Ja’fari, main Shi’a one) as regards treatment of women

      o Bukhari, Muslim (hadiths)

      o Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee, Theories of Islamic Law: The Methodology of Ijtihad., 2d ed., (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2002)

      o Majid Khadduri, War and Peace in the Law of Islam, (Baltimore, 2006)

      o Mohammed Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, 3d rev. ed., (Cambridge, UK, The Islamic Text Society, 2003)

      o Abu al-Walid Mohammed ibn Ahmad ibn Rushd, (aka Averroës), The

      Distinguished Primer (Bidayat al-Mujtahid wa Nihayat al-Muqtasid)

      o Yousef al-Qaradawi

      o Al-Azhar

      o OIC

       Shariah is Islamic law – deeply rooted in Islam’s doctrinal texts: Qur’an, Sunna (hadiths, Sira), ijma, qiyas – no one can just quote verses from Qur’an, but must understand how usul al fiqh, the jurisprudence of shariah, interpreted the Qur’an – Islam is a juridical religion

       Literally means a straight path (Quran 45:18)

       Shariah is held by mainstream Islamic authorities to be the perfect expression of divine will and justice and thus is the supreme law that must comprehensively govern all aspects of Muslims’ lives, irrespective of when or where they live

       Shariah is characterized as a "complete way of life" (social, cultural, military, religious, and political), governed from cradle to grave by Islamic law

       Many millions of Muslims around the world do not practice their faith in a manner consistent with shariah – BUT: those who do practice shariah have grounds for arguing that their version of Islam is the authoritative one

       Those who claim that there is no single shariah are either ignorant of the facts about shariah, or deliberately dissembling, taqiyya

       Since 1970s, shariah has been lavishly financed and propagated by Islamic regimes (particularly Saudi Arabia and Iran), through the offices of international organizations (particularly the Muslim Brotherhood and the Organization of the Islamic Conference)

       Remember: Universal Declaration of Human Rights was rejected by all OIC members with Cairo Declaration (1990) – affirms shariah as sole source of Muslim perspective on human rights (Articles 24 and 25)

       In Islam, under shariah, the woman’s place is in the home. Period. Under "protection", control of male relative from birth until death.

       Preservation of family "honor" dependent on male family members’ ability to control women to ensure her chastity, thus male bloodline of family. Woman is property meant to ensure perpetuation of family’s male bloodline.

       Essential inequality of women with men under Islam

       o Shahih Bukhari 1.6.301

        Volume 1, Book 6, Number 301: Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri:

        "Once Allah’s Apostle went out to the Musalla (to offer the prayer) o ‘Id-al-Adha or Al-Fitr prayer. Then he passed by the women and said,
      "O women! Give alms, as I have seen that the majority of the dwellers of Hell-fire were you (women)." They asked, "Why is it so, O Allah’s Apostle?" He replied, "You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you.
      A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you." The women asked, "O Allah’s Apostle! What is deficient in our intelligence and religion?" He said, "Is not the evidence of two women equal to the witness of one man?" They replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her intelligence. Isn’t it true that a woman can neither pray nor fast during her menses?" The women replied in the affirmative. He said, "This is the deficiency in her religion."
       Abhorrent behavior that is condoned or commanded by shariah includes the following:
      o Underage and forced marriage ï‚· Quran Sura 65:4 describes the waiting period for a divorce to be final: "Such of your women as have passed the age of monthly courses, for them the prescribed period, if ye have any doubts, is three months; and for those who have no courses (it is the same)."
      al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter n9.0, "A Woman’s Postmarital Waiting Period", n9.2, pg. 567: "A waiting period is obligatory for a woman divorced after intercourse, whether the husband and wife are prepubescent, have reached puberty, or one has and the other has not."  
      o Honor killing

      ï‚· al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter ol.2, pgs. 583-84 enumerates those categories of Muslims who "are not subject to retaliation" for killing: "(4) a father or mother (or their fathers or mothers) for killing their offspring, or offspring’s offspring."  

      o Female genital mutilation ï‚· al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter o4.3: "Circumcision is obligatory (for both men and women…..for women, removing the prepuce of the clitoris…)." Yusuf Ali minimizes things here.  

      o Polygamy

      Quran Sura 4:3: "…marry women of your choice, two, or three, or four…"

      al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter m5.2: "(Imam Ghazali) One should make love to one’s wife every four nights, as is fairest, since the number of wives one may have is four…." o Domestic abuse

      Quran Sura 4:34: "….And to those women on whose part ye fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next) refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them…."

      al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter m10.12, Dealing with a Rebellious Wife, pgs. 540-542

      (c) "if keeping from her is ineffectual, it is permissible for him to hit her if he believes that hitting her will bring her back to the right path….."

      o Marital rape

      Quran Sura 2:233: "Your wives are as a tilth unto you, so approach your tilth when or how ye will…."

      al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler. Chapter m5.1: "It is obligatory for a woman to let her husband have sex with her immediately when (a) he asks her; (b) at home; (c) and she can physically endure it."

      "Clearly there cannot be any "rape" within the marriage. Maybe "aggression", maybe "indecent activity." (President of the Islamic Sharia Council in Britain, Sheikh Maulana Abu Sayeed, March, 2010 interview: http://www.thesamosa.co.uk/index.php/news-and-features/society/431-uk-sharia-chief-there-is-no-such-thing-as-rape-within-marriage.html

      Rejected both the characterization of non-consensual marital sex as rape, and the prosecution of such offenders as "not Islamic."

       " …to make it exactly as the Western culture demands is as if we are compromising Islamic religion with secular non-Islamic values. In Islamic sharia, rape is adultery by force. So long as the woman is his wife, it cannot be termed as rape".

      o Divorce by the husband only

      "Divorce is valid from any: (a) husband, (b) who is sane, (c) has reached puberty; (d) and who voluntarily effects it."

       al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter n1.1, pgs 554+  
      o Inequality Before the (Islamic) Law  
       Qur’an Sura 2:282: "O ye who believe! When ye deal with each other, in transactions … and get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her.
       al-Misri, Reliance of the Traveler, Chapter o24.7, "The testimony of the following is legally acceptable….(1) two men; (2) two women and a man;…."

       Practical results: where Shari’a most closely followed – Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Sudan, and now Somalia — women are most limited.

       They are subject to the strictest dress codes (and punishments for violating those codes are meted out by the religious police and the Islamic courts).

       They are required to be accompanied by a male relative, and in Saudi Arabia, the country with a legal code closest to the Shari’a, women cannot even drive.

       Hudud punishments include flogging, stoning to death for moral infractions under shariah

       8-yr. old Yemeni girl who sought a divorce from her 20-something husband

       13-yr. old Somali rape victim who was then stoned to death

       Saudi grandmothers in their 70s who are flogged for being seen in the company of an unrelated male
      Conclusion – Recommendations

       U.S. policymakers, financiers, businessmen, judges, journalists, community leaders and the public at large must be equipped with an accurate understanding of the nature of shariah and the necessity of keeping America shariah-free

       Practices that promote shariah –establishment or promotion in public spaces or with public funds or facilities and activities that give preferential treatment to shariah’s adherents – are incompatible with the Constitution and the freedoms it enshrines and must be proscribed.

       Sedition is prohibited by law in the United States. To the extent that imams and mosques are being used to advocate shariah in America, they are promoting seditious activity and should be warned that they will be subject to investigation and prosecution.

       Textbooks used in both secular educational systems and Islamic schools must not promote shariah, its tenets, or the notion that America must submit to its dictates. Schools that promote anti-constitutional teaching should be denied taxpayer funding and lose their charters, accreditation and charitable tax status.

       Compounds and communities that seek to segregate themselves on the basis of shariah law, apply it alongside or in lieu of the law of the land or otherwise establish themselves as "no-go" zones for law enforcement and other authorities must be thwarted in such efforts. In this connection, assertion of claims to territory around segregationist mosques should be proscribed.

       American leadership figures—president, Congress, NGOs, non-profits like CDHR, academics/scholars, media figures—must speak out honestly about shariah and what it says about women

       When horrific stories—like above—become known via the media and Internet, it is obligation for those of us who cherish freedom, equality in human dignity of men/women, Muslim/non-Muslim, and the rights we hold inalienable and are enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, to speak up, to denounce both those who commit such atrocities and the legal system of Islamic law, shariah, that commands such barbarity

       We must also champion and applaud the courage of those Muslims and former Muslims who dare to speak up about the abuses that are codified in shariah: CDHR Founder and President Ali Alyami, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan, Nonie Darwish, Ibn Warraq, Magdi Allam, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser

       Unless genuine moderates and reformers are given freedom and security to speak out, despite shariah law on slander and apostasy, there is no hope that the millions of Muslims who reject the abuses of shariah can ever prevail over the dominance of those who insist upon adherence to the doctrine and its global imposition on all of us

      Women in Islam: An exegesis By Abul Kasem at http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/abulkazem/Women_in_Islam.htm

      Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert with a focus on Middle East, national defense, WMD, and counterterrorism issues. Specific areas of expertise include Islam and Iran. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments, and acquiring extensive expertise in counterintelligence, counternarcotics, and counter-proliferation issues with a career regional focus on the former Soviet Union, Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. She has served in or visited over two dozen nations worldwide, and speaks several languages, including Spanish, Bulgarian, French, German, and Russian, and currently is studying Farsi.

      Now a private consultant, Lopez also serves as Vice President of the non-profit forum, The Intelligence Summit, and is a Professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and Security Studies (CI Centre), where she teaches courses on the Iranian Intelligence Services, and the expanding influence of Jihad and Sharia in Europe and the U.S. She is affiliated on a consultant basis with DoD contractors that provide clandestine operations training to military intelligence personnel. Lopez was Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee, a Washington, DC think tank, from 2005-2006. She has served as a Senior Scientific Researcher at the Battelle Memorial Institute; a Senior Intelligence Analyst, Subject Matter Expert, and Program Manager at HawkEye Systems, LLC.; and previously produced Technical Threat Assessments for U.S. Embassies at the Department of State, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, where she worked as a Senior Intelligence Analyst for Chugach Systems Integration.

      Lopez received a B.A. in Communications and French from Notre Dame College of Ohio (NDC) and an M.A. in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She completed Marine Corps Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia before declining a commission in order to join the CIA. Lopez is a member of the Board of Directors for the Institute of World Affairs and also serves on the Advisory Board for the Intelligence Analysis and Research program and as an occasional guest lecturer at her undergraduate alma mater, NDC. She has been a Visiting Researcher at Georgetown University and a guest lecturer on terrorism, national defense, international relations, and Iran there, at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA, and the National Defense Intelligence College in Washington, D.C. Lopez is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on subjects related to Iran, Islam, counterterrorism, and the Middle East and is the co-author of two published books on Iran.

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