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Graf Isolan
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There is strong criticism of those who work for rights and status of women by conservative Islamists and they are accused of imitating Western feminism. However, those struggling for women’s rights and status in third world countries in general and, in the Islamic countries in particular have to struggle against much greater odds. These odds remain insurmountable even if these women work within the framework of Islam. Many Muslim countries like Kuwait even refuse to give its women right to vote. The Saudi Government does not allow its women to drive even when accompanied by their husbands.

Male domination is not at all Islamic, though it is justified in its name. Men use some selective verses from the Qur’an, ignore their social context and use them to perpetuate their domination. They conveniently ignore the verses empowering women or laying down equality of both the sexes. In fact in verses like 2:219 and 2:228 there is clear statement about equality of both the sexes and yet they are totally ignored and instead they quote verses like 4:34 to establish their domination. Saudi law not allowing women to venture out alone is not Qur’anic but based on a hadith which prohibits women going out alone. Even if the hadith is authentic, as there are thousands of ahadith which are not authentic due to the lack of proper reference, one totally ignores the social conditions then and now. It is interesting to note that while the Saudi Government does not allow women to drive cars the Iranian Government has started exclusive taxi service to be run by women.21

Thus Iranian women can not only drive private cars but can also be a taxi driver. Similarly while the Kuwait Government refuses its women to vote other Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and other countries allow them to vote even some Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangladesh had women prime ministers. How does one explain these contradictory practices? Are their different Islams or there are differing attitudes towards women? Such gross contradictions are really difficult to gloss over in the name of Islam. It all depend either on social conditions of that country or on political exigencies as explained in the earlier part.

It is a fact that Muslim women enjoy differing degree of rights in different Islamic countries. While in Turkey Mustafa Kemal Pasha (1881-1938) introduced secular Swiss code thus according equal rights to both men and women on one hand, and, the total restrictions in Saudi Arabia on the other hand. In other Muslim countries like Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan etc. there is comparatively greater latitude of freedom for women. It is because the rulers in these countries are more liberal towards women.


21 The idea of seclusion also has increased the percentage of women in other jobs, such as taxi driver. Recently twelve taxi agencies have been set up in the holy city of Mashhad; staffed and managed entirely by women, they employ 200 female taxi drivers who own their cars and are provided with cell phones (Zaneh Rouz 2001).

There is strong criticism of those who work for rights of women by conservative Islamists and they are accused of imitating Western feminism. [...]

[...]

And those struggling for women's rights in third world countries in general and, in the Islamic countries in particular have to struggle against much greater odds. These odds remain insurmountable even if these women work within the framework of Islam. Many Muslim countries like Kuwait even refuse to give its women right to vote. The Saudi Government does not allow its women even to drive even when accompanied by their husbands, let alone go out alone in public.

[...] Male domination is not at all Islamic, though it is justified in its name. Men use some selective verses from the Qur'an, ignore their social context and use them to perpetuate their domination. They conveniently ignore the verses empowering women or laying down equality of both the sexes. In fact in verses like 2:219, 2:228 and 33:35 there is clear statement about equality of both the sexes and yet they are totally ignored and instead they quote verses like 4:34 to establish their domination. [...]

[...] Thus the Saudi law not allowing women to venture out alone is not Qur'anic but based on a hadith which prohibits women going out alone.

Even if the hadith is authentic one totally ignores the social conditions then and now. [...]

[...] It is interesting to note that while the Saudi Government does not allow women to drive cars the Iranian Government has started exclusive taxi service to be run by women. Thus Iranian women can not only drive private cars but can also be a taxi driver.

Similarly while the Kuwait Government refuses its women to vote other Muslim countries like Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Egypt and other countries allow them to vote. How does one explain these contradictory practices? Are their different Islams or there are differing attitudes towards women? Thus it is not Islamic sources but men's attitude which matters.

And when Muslim women demand their rights - and Islamic rights at that - they are denounced as western feminists. It is a fact that Muslim women enjoy differing degree of rights in different Islamic countries. While in Turkey Mustafa Kemal Pasha introduced secular Swiss code thus according equal rights to both men and women on one hand, and, the total restrictions in Saudi on the other hand. In other Muslim countries like Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Jordan etc. there is comparatively greater latitude of freedom for women. It is because the rulers in these countries are more liberal towards women.

[...]

Some Muslim countries like Pakistan and Bangla Desh had or have women prime minister and some Muslim countries like Kuwait do not accord women right to vote. Such gross contradictions are really difficult to gloss over in the name of Islam. It all depends either on social conditions of that country or even on political exigencies.

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(Graf Isolan), WiseWoman
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