Sunday, March 15, 2015

Recognizing common ground: Islam and women’s Human Rights

Title        : Recognizing common ground: Islam and women’s Human Rights
Time       : 10.30 -12.00, Saturday, March 14, 2015
Sponsors: Musawah Global Movement for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family

A portrait illustrating how women are not expected in family
One of the questions raised in this session is what happens when Islamic law meets human rights? Girls are not allowed to go to school in Pakistan and in some other countries in Middle East; further, girls and women are considered as a burden for family since they are weak both physically and mentally. Therefore, child marriage becomes the option for family to get rid of their daughters and earn some money from the bride groom. Girls and women seem to be powerless and their human rights are ignored. Is this how Islamic law treats girls and women? A study was conducted in Egypt to disclose the answer.

By involving 15 Egyptian NGOs working on Personal Status Law (PSL) reform, the study seeks to understand the view of Islamic law toward human rights and changes in the criteria of validity and authority affecting knowledge used and produced today. Islamic law is defined as the theoretical work developed by Fugaha, and later used to develop the contemporary Egyptian PSL.

PSL in Egypt needs a reform as it has caused problems in real life. Women has unequal rights to men, for example men can easily divorce his wife by using verbal commitment, yet it would involve several stages of administrations if a woman demands a divorce from his husband. The PSL contradicts the needs of today’s real life, so people are developing mechanism to deal with it to avoid the gaps in PSL. However, the reform intended in this study does not aim to change the Shariah law or God’s law as it is obviously against the religious beliefs of Egyptians. The point is that people tend to mix between regulations made by human and Shariah law, so this study also encourages Egyptians to separate between Shariah law and conventional law.

It is confirmed that the law written in Qur’an is not against Human rights. Men and women are supposed to be treated equally. Child marriage is also forbidden, particularly when it is done without the child’s agreement. Law and regulations implemented today have to be tested in Qur’an, whether they really come from God and those are what God means. Nonetheless, for some topics, such as homosexual and lesbians are very clearly explained that they are against the Shariah law, but discriminating them and using violence are not allowed either.

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