Human Rights Compatible with Islam?
of the Rights of Women in Muslim Communities
By Riffat Hassan, Ph.D.
University of Louisville, Louisville,
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Section One: Introduction
Section Two: Western Perception
of Islam and Muslims,
and the Portrayal of Muslim Women in Western
Section Three: Muslim Women
and Human Rights: The Unarticulated Quandary
Section Four: Sources of
Section Five: General Rights
Section Six: Rights of Women:
Versus Muslim Practice
Section Seven: Notes
Though the Universal declaration of Human Rights
is called "Universal", it "was articulated
along the lines of historical trends of the
Western world during the last three centuries,
and a certain philosophical anthropology of
individualistic humanism which helped justify
them" . The basic assumptions underlying
the Declaration were a) of a universal human
nature common to all the peoples, b) of the
dignity of the individual, and c) of a democratic
social order .
In the decades since the Declaration, the term
"human rights" has become an integral part
of both political and popular discourse, particularly
amongst Western, and Western-educated, persons.
Until very recently most of this discourse
has been in largely secular terms. In fact,
it is frequently assumed, as well as stated,
by many advocates of human rights, in both
Western and non- Western (including many Muslim)
countries, that human rights can exist only
within a secular context and not within the
framework of religion.
Underlying the stance that the concept of human
rights is fundamentally secular, and, therefore,
outside of, and even antithetical to, the worldview
of religion, is - of course - a certain view
of religion in general, or of particular religions.
In Muslim countries such as Pakistan, for instance,
it is often remarked by secular-minded proponents
of human rights that it is not meaningful to
talk about human rights in Islam because as
a religious tradition, Islam has supported
values and structures which are incompatible
with the assumptions which underlie the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights.
What needs to be pointed out to those who uphold
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to
be the highest, or sole, model, of a charter
of equality and liberty for all human beings,
is that given the Western origin and orientation
of this Declaration, the "universality" of
the assumptions on which it is based is - at
the very least - problematic and subject to
questioning. Furthermore, the alleged incompatibility
between the concept of human rights and religion
in general, or particular religions such as
Islam, needs to be examined in an unbiased
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Since the nineteen-seventies there has been
a growing interest in the West in Islam and
Muslims. Much of this interest has been focused,
however, on a few subjects such as "Islamic
Revival," "Islamic Fundamentalism," "The Salman
Rushdie Affair," and "Women in Islam," rather
than on understanding the complexity and diversity
of "the World of Islam." Not only the choice
of subjects which tend to evoke or provoke
strong emotive responses in both Westerners
and Muslims, but also the manner in which these
subjects have generally been portrayed by Western
media or popular literature, calls into question
the motivation which underlies the selective
Western interest in Islam and Muslims. It is
difficult to see this interest as being positively
motivated given the widespread negative stereotyping
of Islam and Muslims in the West.
Though there are a number of Americans who had
not paid any serious attention to Islam or
Muslims until the Arab oil embargo of 1973
or the Iranian Revolution of 1979, propaganda
against Islam and Muslims is nothing new in
the West. It is as old as the first chapter
of Islamic history, when the new faith began
to move into territories largely occupied by
Christians. Dante, the great poet of medieval
Christianity, perceived the Prophet of Islam
as the "divider of the world of Christendom
and assigned him to all but the lowest level
of hell for his grievous "sin". St. Thomas
Aquinas, the most outstanding scholastic philosopher
who owed such profound debt to the thinkers
of Muslim Spain, described Islam as nothing
but a construct to accommodate the lust of
Muhammad . What far-reaching shadows were
cast upon the future by powerful Christian
voices such as those of Dante and Aquinas can
be glimpsed from Thomas Carlyle's historic
lecture on "The Hero as Prophet. Mahomet: Islam"
in the series entitled On Heroes, Hero-Worship
and The Heroic in History. Writing in mid-nineteenth
century, Carlyle urged his fellow Christians
to dismiss "our current hypothesis about Mahomet,
that he was a scheming Imposter, a Falsehood
Incarnate, that his religion is a mere quackery
and fatuity" .
Given the reservoir of negative images associated
with Islam and Muslims in "the Collective Unconscious"
of the West, it is hardly surprising that,
since the demise of the Soviet Empire, "the
World of Islam" is being seen as the new "Enemy"
which is perhaps even more incomprehensible
and intractable than the last one. The routine
portrayal of Islam as a religion spread by
the sword and characterized by "Holy War",
and of Muslims as barbarous and backward, frenzied
and fanatic, volatile and violent, has led,
in recent times, to an alarming increase in
"Muslim-bashing" - verbal, physical as well
as psychological - in a number of Western countries.
In the midst of so much hatred and aversion
toward Islam and Muslims in general, the out-pouring
of so much sympathy, in and by the West, toward
Muslim women appears, at a surface level, to
be an amazing contradiction. For are Muslim
women also not adherents of Islam? And are
Muslim women also not victims of "Muslim-bashing"?
Few Muslims can forget the brutal burning of
Turkish Muslim girls by German gangsters or
the ruthless rape of Bosnian Muslim women by
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Since the modern notion of human rights originated
in a Western, secular context, Muslims in general,
but Muslim women in particular, find themselves
in a quandary when they initiate, or participate
in, a discussion on human rights whether in
the West or in Muslim societies. Based on their
life experience, most Muslim women who become
human rights advocates or activists, feel strongly
that virtually all Muslim societies discriminate
against women from cradle to grave. This leads
many of them to become deeply alienated from
Muslim culture in a number of ways. This bitter
sense of alienation oftentimes leads to anger
and bitterness toward the patriarchal systems
of thought and social structures which dominate
most Muslim societies. Muslim women often find
much support and sympathy in the West so long
as they are seen as rebels and deviants within
the world of Islam. But many of them begin
to realize, sooner or later, that while they
have serious difficulties with Muslim culture,
they are also not able, for many reasons to
identify with Western, secular culture. This
realization leads them to feel - at least for
a time - isolated and alone. Much attention
has been focused, in the Western media and
literature, on the sorry plight of Muslim women
who are "poor and oppressed" in visible or
tangible ways. Hardly any notice has been taken,
however, of the profound tragedy and trauma
suffered by the self-aware Muslim women of
today who are struggling to maintain their
religious identity and personal autonomy in
the face of the intransigence of Muslim culture,
on the one hand, and the imperialism of Western,
secular culture, on the other hand.
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Before addressing the issue of human rights
in Islam, it is useful to clarify that the
Islamic tradition - like other major religious
traditions - does not consist of, or derive
from, a single source. Most Muslims if questioned
about its sources are likely to refer to more
than one of the following: the Qur'an or the
Book of Revelation which Muslims believe to
be God's Word transmitted through the agency
of Angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad; Sunnah
or the practical traditions of the Prophet
Muhammad; Hadith or the oral sayings attributed
to the Prophet Muhammad; Fiqh (Jurisprudence)
or Madahib (Schools of Law); and the Shari'ah
or code of law which regulates the diverse
aspects of a Muslim's life. While these "sources"
have contributed to what is cumulatively referred
to as "the Islamic tradition", they are not
identical or considered to be of equal weight.
Of all the sources of the Islamic tradition,
undoubtedly, the most important is the Qur'an
which is regarded by Muslims in general, as
the primary, and most authoritative, source
of normative Islam.
To many Muslims the Qur'an is the Magna Carta
of human rights and a large part of its concern
is to free human beings from the bondage of
traditionalism, authoritarianism (religious,
political, economic, or any other), tribalism,
racism, sexism, slavery or anything else that
prohibits or inhibits human beings from actualizing
the Qur'anic vision of human destiny embodied
in the classic proclamation: "Towards Allah
is thy limit" .
In the section entitled "General Rights" which
follows, an account is given of the Qur'an's
affirmation of fundamental rights which all
human beings ought to possess because they
are so deeply rooted in our humanness that
their denial or violation is tantamount to
a negation or degradation of that which makes
us human. From the perspective of the Qur'an,
these rights came into existence when we did;
they were created, as we were, by God in order
that our human potential could be actualized.
Rights created or given by God cannot be abolished
by any temporal ruler or human agency. Eternal
and immutable, they ought to be exercised since
everything that God does is for "a just purpose"
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A. Right to Life
The Qur'an upholds the sanctity and absolute
value of human life  and points out that,
in essence, the life of each individual is
comparable to that of an entire community and,
therefore, should be treated with the utmost
B. Right to Respect
The Qur'an deems all human beings to be worthy
of respect  because of all creation they
alone chose to accept the "trust" of freedom
of the will . Human beings can exercise
freedom of the will because they possess the
rational faculty, which is what distinguishes
them from all other creatures . Though
human beings can become "the lowest of the
lowest", the Qur'an declares that they have
been made "in the best of moulds" , having
the ability to think, to have knowledge of
right and wrong, to do the good and to avoid
the evil. Thus, on account of the promise which
is contained in being human, namely, the potential
to be God's vicegerent on earth, the humanness
of all human beings is to be respected and
considered to be an end in itself.
C. Right to Justice
The Qur'an puts great emphasis on the right
to seek justice and the duty to do justice
. In the context of justice, the Qur'an
uses two concepts: "'adl" and "ihsan". Both
are enjoined and both are related to the idea
of "balance", but they are not identical in
"'Adl" is defined by A.A.A. Fyzee, a well-known
scholar of Islam, as "to be equal, neither
more nor less." Explaining this concept, Fyzee
wrote: "...in a Court of Justice the claims
of the two parties must be considered evenly,
without undue stress being laid upon one side
or the other. Justice introduces the balance
in the form of scales that are evenly balanced."
. "'Adl" was described in similar terms
by Abu'l Kalam Azad, a famous translator of
the Qur'an and a noted writer, who stated:
"What is justice but the avoiding of excess?
There should be neither too much nor too little;
hence the use of scales as the emblems of justice"
. Lest anyone try to do too much or too
little, the Qur'an points out that no human
being can carry another's burden or attain
anything without striving for it.
Recognizing individual merit is a part of "'adl",
The Qur'an teaches that merit is not determined
by lineage, sex, wealth, worldly success or
religion, but by righteousness, which consists
of both right "belief" ("iman") and just "action"
(" 'amal") . Further, the Qur'an distinguishes
between passive believers and those who strive
in the cause of God pointing out that though
all believers are promised good by God, the
latter will be exalted above the former .
Just as it is in the spirit of "'adl" that special
merit be considered in the matter of rewards,
so also special circumstances are to be considered
in the matter of punishments. For instance,
for crimes of unchastity the Qur'an prescribes
identical punishments for a man or a woman
who is proved guilty , but it differentiates
between different classes of women: for the
same crime, a slave woman would receive half,
and the Prophet's consort double, the punishment
given to a "free" Muslim woman . In making
such a distinction, the Qur'an while upholding
high moral standards, particularly in the case
of the Prophet's wives whose actions have a
normative significance for the community, reflects
God's compassion for women slaves who were
While constantly enjoining "'adl", the Qur'an
goes beyond this concept to "ihsan", which
literally means, "restoring the balance by
making up a loss or deficiency" . In order
to understand this concept, it is necessary
to understand the nature of the ideal society
or community ("ummah") envisaged by the Qur'an.
The word "ummah" comes from the root "umm",
or "mother". The symbols of a mother and motherly
love and compassion are also linked with the
two attributes most characteristic of God,
namely, "Rahim" and "Rahman", both of which
are derived from the root "rahm", meaning "womb".
The ideal "ummah" cares about all its members
just as an ideal mother cares about all her
children, knowing that all are not equal and
that each has different needs. While showing
undue favour to any child would be unjust,
a mother who gives to a "handicapped" child
more than she does to her other child or children,
is not acting unjustly but exemplifying the
spirit of "ihsan" by helping to make up the
deficiency of a child who need special assistance
in meeting the requirements of life. "Ihsan",
thus, shows God's sympathy for the disadvantaged
segments of human society (such as women, orphans,
slaves, the poor, the infirm, and the minorities)
D. Right to Freedom
As stated earlier, the Qur'an is deeply concerned
about liberating human beings from every kind
of bondage. Recognizing the human tendency
toward dictatorship and despotism, the Qur'an
says with clarity and emphasis in Surah 3:
It is not (possible)
The institution of human slavery is, of course,
extremely important in the context of human freedom.
Slavery was widely prevalent in Arabia at the time
of the advent of Islam, and the Arab economy was
based on it. Not only did the Qur'an insist that
slaves be treated in a just and humane way ,
but it continually urged the freeing of slaves .
By laying down, in Surah 47: Muhammad: 4, that prisoners
of war were to be set free, "either by an act of
grace or against ransom" , the Qur'an virtually
abolished slavery since "The major source of slaves
- men and women - was prisoners of war" . Because
the Qur'an does not state explicitly that slavery
is abolished, it does not follow that it is to be
continued, particularly in view of the numerous
ways in which the Qur'an seeks to eliminate this
absolute evil. A Book which does not give a king
or a prophet the right to command absolute obedience
from another human being could not possibly sanction
slavery in any sense of the word.
That a man, to whom
Is given the Book,
And the Prophetic Office,
Should say to people:
"Be ye my worshippers
Rather than Allah's"
On the contrary
(He would say):
"Be ye worshippers
Of Him Who is truly
The Cherisher of all." 
The greatest guarantee of personal freedom for
a Muslim lies in the Qur'anic decree that no
one other than God can limit human freedom
 and in the statement that "Judgment (as
to what is right and what is wrong) rests with
God alone" . As pointed out by Khalid M.
Ishaque, an eminent Pakistani jurist:
The Qur'an gives to responsible dissent
the status of a fundamental right.
In exercise of their powers, therefore, neither
the legislature nor the executive can demand
unquestioning obedience...The Prophet, even
though he was the recipient of Divine revelation,
required to consult the Muslims in public affairs.
Allah addressing the Prophet says:
"...and consult with them upon the conduct
of affairs. And...when thou art resolved, then
thy trust in Allah" .
Since the principle of mutual consultation ("shura")
is mandatory , it is a Muslim's fundamental
right, as well as responsibility, to participate
in as many aspects of the community's life
as possible. The Qur'anic proclamation in Surah
2: Al-Baqarah: 256, "There shall be no coercion
in matters of faith"  guarantees freedom
of religion and worship. This means that, according
to Qur'anic teaching, non-Muslims living in
Muslim territories should have the freedom
to follow their own faith-traditions without
fear or harassment. A number of Qur'anic passages
state clearly that the responsibility of the
Prophet Muhammad is to communicate the message
of God and not to compel anyone to believe
. The right to exercise free choice in
matters of belief is unambiguously endorsed
by the Qur'an  which also states clearly
that God will judge human beings not on the
basis of what they profess but on the basis
of their belief and righteous conduct ,
as indicated by Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 62 which
Those who believe (in the Qur'an)
And those who follow the Jewish (scriptures),
And the Christians and the Sabians,
Any who believe in God
And the Last Day,
And work righteousness,
Shall have their reward
With the Lord: on them
Shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. 
The Qur'an recognizes the right to religious
freedom not only in the case of other believers
in God, but also in the case of not-believers
in God (if they are not aggressing upon Muslims)
In the context of the human right to exercise
religious freedom, it is important to mention
that the Qur'anic dictum, "Let there be no
compulsion in religion"  applies not only
to non- Muslims but also to Muslims. While
those who renounced Islam after professing
it and then engaged in "acts of war" against
Muslims were to be treated as enemies and aggressors,
the Qur'an does not prescribe any punishment
for non-profession or renunciation of faith.
The decision regarding a person's ultimate
destiny in the hereafter rests with God.
The right to freedom includes the right to be
free to tell the truth. The Qur'anic term for
truth is "Haqq" which is also one of God's
most important attributes. Standing up for
the truth is a right and a responsibility which
a Muslim may not disclaim even in the face
of the greatest danger or difficulty .
While the Qur'an commands believers to testify
to the truth, it also instructs society not
to harm persons so testifying .
E. Right to Acquire
The Qur'an puts the highest emphasis on the
importance of acquiring knowledge. That knowledge
has been at the core of the Islamic world-view
from the very beginning is attested to by Surah
96: Al'Alaq: 1-5, which Muslims believe to
the first revelation received by the Prophet
Asking rhetorically if those without knowledge
can be equal to those with knowledge ,
the Qur'an exhorts believers to pray for advancement
in knowledge . The famous prayer of the
Prophet Muhammad was "Allah grant me Knowledge
of the ultimate nature of things" and one of
the best known of all traditions ("ahadith")
is "Seek knowledge even though it be in China."
According to Qur'anic perspective, knowledge
is a prerequisite for the creation of a just
world in which authentic peace can prevail.
The Qur'an emphasizes the importance of the
pursuit of learning even at the time, and in
the midst, of war .
F. Right to Sustenance
As pointed out by Surah 11: Hud: 6, every living
creature depends for its sustenance upon God.
A cardinal concept in the Qur'an - which underlies
the socio-economic-political system of Islam
- is that the ownership of everything belongs,
not to any person, but to God. Since God is
the universal creator, every creature has the
right to partake of what belongs to God .
This means that every human being has the right
to a means of living and that those who hold
economic or political power do not have the
right to deprive others of the basic necessities
of life by misappropriating or misusing resources
which have been created by God for the benefit
of humanity in general.
G. Right to Work
According to Qur'anic teaching every man and
woman has the right to work, whether the work
consists of gainful employment or voluntary
service. The fruits of labour belong to the
one who has worked for them - regardless of
whether it is a man or a woman. As Surah 4:
An-Nisa': 32 states:
Is allotted what they earn,
And to women what they earn 
H. Right to Privacy
The Qur'an recognizes the need for privacy as
a human right and lays down rules for protecting
an individual's life in the home from undue
intrusion from within or without .
I. Right to Protection
from Slander, Backbiting, and Ridicule
The Qur'an recognizes the right of human beings
to be protected from defamation, sarcasm, offensive
nicknames, and backbiting . It also states
that no person is to be maligned on grounds
of assumed guilt and that those who engage
in malicious scandal-mongering will be grievously
punished in both this world and the next .
J. Right to Develop
One's Aesthetic Sensibilities and Enjoy the
Bounties Created by God
As pointed out Muhammad Asad, "By declaring
that all good and beautiful things to the believers,
the Qu'ran condemns, by implication, all forms
of life-denying asceticism, world- renunciation
and self-mortification. In fact, it can
be stated that the right to develop one's aesthetic
sensibilities so that one can appreciate beauty
in all its forms, and the right to enjoy what
God has provided for the nurture of humankind,
are rooted in the life-affirming vision of
K. Right to Leave One's
Homeland Under Oppressive Conditions
According to Qur'anic teaching , a Muslim's
ultimate loyalty must be to God and not to
any territory. To fulfill his Prophetic mission,
the Prophet Muhammad decided to leave his place
of birth, Mecca, and emigrated to Medina. This
event ("Hijrah") has great historical and spiritual
significance for Muslims who are called upon
to move away from their place of origin of
it becomes an abode of evil and oppression
where they cannot fulfill their obligations
to God or establish justice.
L. Right to "The Good
The Qur'an uphold the right of the human being
only to life but to " the good life ". This
good life, made up of many elements , becomes
possible when a human being is living in a
just environment. According to Qur'anic teaching,
justice is a prerequisite for peace, and peace
is a prerequisite for human development. In
a just society, all the earlier-mentioned human
rights may be exercised without difficulty.
In such a society other basic rights such as
the right to a secure place of residence, the
right to the protection of one's personal possessions,
the right to protection of one's covenants,
the right to move freely, the right to social
and judicial autonomy for minorities, the right
to the protection of one's holy places and
the right to return to one's spiritual center,
also exist .
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Muslim men never tire of repeating that Islam
has given more rights to women than has any
other religion. Certainly, if by "Islam" is
meant "Qur'anic Islam" the rights that it has
given to women are, indeed, impressive. Not
only do women partake of all the "General Rights"
mentioned in the foregoing pages, they are
also the subject of much particular concern
in the Qur'an. Underlying much of the Qur'an's
legislation on women-related issues is the
recognition that women have been disadvantaged
persons in history to whom justice needs to
be done by the Muslim "ummah". Unfortunately,
however, the cumulative (Jewish,Christian,Hellenistic,
Bedouin and other) biases which existed in
the Arab-Islamic culture of the early centuries
of Islam infiltrated the Islamic tradition
and undermined the intent of the Qur'an to
liberate women from the status of chattels
or inferior creatures and make them free and
equal to men.
A review of Muslim history and culture brings
to light many areas in which - Qur'anic teaching
notwithstanding - women continued to be subjected
to diverse forms of oppression and injustice,
often in the name of Islam, while the Qur'an
because of its protective attitude toward all
downtrodden and oppressed classes of people,
appears to be weighted in many ways in favor
of women, many of its women-related teachings
have been used in patriarchal Muslim societies
against, rather than for, women. Muslim societies,
in general, appear to be far more concerned
with trying to control women's bodies and sexuality
than with their human rights. Many Muslims
when they speak of human rights, either do
not speak of women's rights at all, or
are mainly concerned with how a women's chastity
may be protected. (They are apparently
not worried about protecting men's chastity).
Women are the targets of the most serious violations
of human rights which occur in Muslim societies
in general. Muslims say with great pride that
Islam abolished female infanticide; true, but,
it must also be mentioned that one of the most
common crimes in a number of Muslim countries
(e.g., in Pakistan) is the murder of women
by their husbands. These so-called "honor-killings"
are, in fact, extremely dishonorable and are
frequently used to camouflage other kinds of
Female children are discriminated against from
the moment of birth, for it is customary in
Muslim societies to regard a son as a gift,
and a daughter as a trial, from God. Therefore,
the birth of a son is an occasion for celebration
while the birth of a daughter calls for commiseration
if not lamentation. Many girls are married
when they are still minors, even though marriage
in Islam is a contract and presupposes that
the contracting parties are both consenting
adults. Even though so much Qur'anic legislation
is aimed at protecting the rights of women
in the context of marriage women cannot
claim equality with their husbands. The husband,
in fact, is regarded as his wife's gateway
to heaven or hell and the arbiter of her final
destiny. That such an idea can exist within
the framework of Islam - which, in theory,
rejects the idea of there being any intermediary
between a believer and God - represents both
a profound irony and a great tragedy.
Although the Qur'an presents the idea of what
we today call a "no-fault" divorce and does
not make any adverse judgements about divorce
, Muslim societies have made divorce extremely
difficult for women, both legally and through
social penalties. Although the Qur'an states
clearly that the divorced parents of a minor
child must decide by mutual consultation how
the child is to be raised and that they must
not use the child to hurt or exploit each other,
in most Muslim societies, women are deprived
both of their sons (generally at age 7) and
their daughters (generally at age 12). It is
difficult to imagine an act of greater cruelty
than depriving a mother of her children simply
because she is divorced. Although polygamy
was intended by the Qur'an to be for the protection
of orphans and widows, in practice Muslims
have made it the Sword of Damocles which keeps
women under constant threat. Although the Qur'an
gave women the right to receive an inheritance
not only on the death of a close relative,
but also to receive other bequests or gifts
during the lifetime of a benevolent caretaker,
Muslim societies have disapproved greatly of
the idea of giving wealth to a woman in preference
to a man, even when her need or circumstances
warrant it. Although the purpose of the Qur'anic
legislation dealing with women's dress and
conduct, was to make it safe for women
to go about their daily business (since they
have the right to engage in gainful activity
as witnessed by Surah 4: An-Nisa' :32 without
fear of sexual harassment or molestation, Muslim
societies have put many of them behind veils
and shrouds and locked doors on the pretext
of protecting their chastity, forgetting that
according to the Qur'an, confinement to
their homes was not a normal way of life for
chaste women but a punishment for "unchastity".
Woman and man, created equal by God and standing
equal in the sight of God, have become very
unequal in Muslim societies. The Qur'anic description
of man and woman in marriage: "They are your
garments/ And you are their garments" (Surah
2: Al-Baqarah: 187) implies closeness, mutuality,
and equality. However, Muslim culture has reduced
many, if not most, women to the position of
puppets on a string, to slave-like creatures
whose only purpose in life is to cater to the
needs and pleasures of men. Not only this,
it has also had the audacity and the arrogance
to deny women direct access to God. It is one
of Islam's cardinal beliefs that each person
-man or woman- is responsible and accountable
for his or her individual actions. How, then,
can the husband become the wife's gateway to
heaven or hell? How, then, can he become the
arbiter not only of what happens to her in
this world but also of her ultimate destiny?
Such questions are now being articulated by
an increasing number of Muslim women and they
are bound to threaten the existing balance
of power in the domain of family relationships
in most Muslim societies.
However, despite everything that has gone wrong
with the lives of countless Muslim women down
the ages due to patriarchal Muslim culture,
there is hope for the future. There are indications
from across the world of Islam that a growing
number of Muslims are beginning to reflect
seriously upon the teachings of the Qur'an
as they become disenchanted with capitalism,
communism and western democracy. As this reflection
deepens, it is likely to lead to the realization
that the supreme task entrusted to human beings
by God, of being God's deputies on earth, can
only be accomplished by establishing justice
which the Qur'an regards as a prerequisite
for authentic peace. Without the elimination
of the inequities, inequalities, and injustices
that pervade the personal and collective lives
of human beings, it is not possible to talk
about peace in Qur'anic terms. Here, it is
of importance to note that there is more Qur'anic
legislation pertaining to the establishment
of justice in the context of family relationships
than on any other subject. This points to the
assumption implicit in much Qur'anic learning,
namely, that if human beings can learn to order
their homes justly so that the human rights
of all within its jurisdiction - children,
women, and men - are safeguarded, then they
can also order their society and the world
at large, justly. In other words, the Qur'an
regards the home as a microcosm of the "ummah"
and the world community, and emphasizes the
importance of making it "the abode of peace"
through just living.
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1. Raimundo Panikkar, "Is the Notion of Human
Rights a Western Concept?" in Breakthrough,
p.31 (New York: Global Education Associates,
3. Aquinas quoted by E.W. Fernea in her presentation
on "Roles of Women in Islam: Past and Present",
at the Ta'ziyeh Conference held at Hartford
Seminary, Connecticut, on May 2, 1988.
4. Thomas Carlyle, "The Hero as Prophet. Mahomet:Islam,"
in On Heroes, Hero-Worship and the
Heroic in History, pp. 47-77.
5. Reference here is to The Qur'an, Surah 53:
An-Najm: 42; the translation is by Muhammad
Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought
in Islam, p. 57 (Lahore: Shaikh Muhammad Ashraf;
6. For instance, see Surah 15: Al-Hijr: 85; Surah
16: An-Nahl: 3; Surah 44: Ad-Dukhan: 39; Surah
45: Al-Jathiyah: 22; Surah 46: Al-Ahqaf: 3.
7. Reference here is to, Surah 6: Al-An'am:
8. Reference here is to, Surah 5: Al-Ma'idah:32.
9. For instance, see Surah 17: Al-Isra': 70.
10. Reference here is to Surah 33: Al-Ahzab:
11. Reference here is to Surah 2: Al-Baqarah:
12. Reference here is to Surah 95: At-Tin: 4-6.
13. For instance, see Surah 5: Al-Ma'idah: 8
and Surah 4: An- Nisa': 136.
14. A.A.A. Fyzee, A Modern Approach to Islam,
p. 17 (Lahore: Universal Books, 1978).
16. Reference here is to Sarah 53: An-Najm:
17. Reference here is to Surah 2: Al-Baqarah:
18. Reference here is to Surah 4: An-Nisa':
19. Reference here is to, Surah 24: An-Nur:2.
20. Reference here is to, Surah 4: An-Nisa':
25; Surah 33: Al-Ahzab: 30.
21. G.A. Parwez, Tabweeb-ul-Qur'an,(Urdu), Volume
I, p. 78 (Lahore: Idara-e-Tulu'-e-Islam, 1977)
22. Abdullah Yusaf Ali(translation) The Holy
Qur'an, p. 148 (Brentwood, Maryland: Amana
23. For instance, in Surah 4: An-Nisa': 36.
24. For instance in Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 177;
Surah 4: An'Nisa': 92; Surah 5: Al-Ma'idah:
89; Surah 9: At-Tawbah:60; Surah 24: An-Nur:
33; Surah 58: Al-Mujadalah: 3.
25. Muhammad Asad (translation) The Message
of the Qur'an, p. 778 (Gibraltar: Dar Al-Andalus,
26. G.A. Parwez, Islam: A Challenge to Religion,
p. 346 (Lahore: Idara-e-Tulu'-e-Islam, 1986).
27. Reference here is to, Surah 42: Ash-Shura:
28. Reference here is to Surah 12: Yusuf: 40.
29. "Islamic law - Its Ideals and Principles"in
The Challenge of Islam, p.157(A. Gauher, editor,
1980; London: The Islamic Council of Europe).
30. Reference here is to the Qur'an, Surah 42:
31. The Message of the Qur'an, p. 57.
32. For instance, see Surah 6: Al-An'am: 107;
Surah 10: Yunus: 99; Surah 16: Al-Nahl: 82;
Surah 42: Ash-Shura: 48.
33. For instance, see Surah 18: Al-Kahf: 29.
34. For instance, see Surah 6: Al-An'am: 108.
35. The Holy Quran, pp. 33-34.
36. For instance, see Surah 6: Al-An'am: 108.
37. Reference here is to Surah 2: Al- Baqarah:
256; The Holy Quran, p-106.
38. Reference here is to Surah 4: An-Nisa':
39. Reference here is to Surah 2: Al-Baqarah;
also see G.A. Parwez, "Bunyadi Haquq-e-Insaniyat"
(Urdu), in Tulu'-e-Islam, pp. 34-35 (Lahore,
40. Reference here is to Surah 39: Az-Zumar:
41. Reference here is to Surah 20: Ta-Ha: 114.
42. Reference here is to Surah 9: At-Tawbah:
43. For instance, see Surah 6: Al-An'am: 165;
Surah 67: Al-Mulk:15.
44. The Holy Qur'an, p. 194.
45. For instance, see Surah 24: An-Nur: 27-28,
58; Surah 33: Al-Ahzab: 53; Surah 49: Al- Hujurat
46. Reference here is to Surah 49: Al-Hujurat:
47. For instance, see Surah 24: An-Nur: 16-19;
also see Surah 4: An-Nisa': 148-149.
48. The Message of the Qur'an, p. 207.
49. For instance, see Surah 7: Al-A'raf: 32.
50. For instance, see Surah 4: An-Nisa': 97-100.
51. In this context, reference may be made to
several Qur'anic verses. e.g., Surah 2:Al-
Baqarah:229; Surah 3: Al-'Imran: 17,77; Surah
5: Al-Ma'idah:1; 42-48; Surah 9: At-Tawbah:
17; Surah 17: Al-Isra': 34; Surah 67: Al-Mulk:15.
52. For example, R.A. Jullundhri, "Human Rights
in Islam", in Understanding Human Rights (A.D.
Falconer, editor: Dublin: Irish School of Ecumenics,
53. For example, A.A. Maududi, Human Rights
in Islam (Lahore: Islamic Publications: 1977).
54. For instance, see Surah 4: An-Nisa': 4,19;
Surah 24: An-Nur: 33; Surah 2: Al-Baqarah:
187; Surah 9: At-Tawbah:71; Surah 7: Al-A'raf:189;
Surah 30: Ar-rum: 21.
55. For instance, see Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 231,241.
56. The reference here is to Surah 2: Al-Baqarah:
57. The reference here is to Surah 4: An-Nisa':
58. For instance, see Surah 24: An-Nur: 30-31;
Surah 33: Al-Ahzab:59.
59. The reference here is to Surah 4: An-Nisa':
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Gender Equality and Justice in Islam
Planning and Islamic Jurisprudence
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Being a Muslim Woman