Does Sharia Law Promote Women’s Rights? – by Cinnamon Stillwell


Dalia

In thinking about women’s rights, sharia law, or Islamic law, doesn’t typically come to mind.

Yet, according to a survey conducted by Dalia Mogahed, executive director and senior analyst of the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and appointee to President Obama’s Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the two are closely intertwined. Her survey alleges that a majority of Muslim women believe sharia law should either be the primary source or one source of legislation in their countries, while viewing Western personal freedoms as harmful to women.

The survey’s findings appear in the book, Who Speaks for Islam?: What a Billion Muslims Really Think, co-authored by Mogahed and John Esposito, Georgetown University professor and founding director of the Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, named for its Saudi royal benefactor. While Esposito is well-known as one of the foremost academic apologists for radical Islam, Mogahed is making her name as a shill for sharia law. Mogahed employs the Gallup poll, which has been criticized by knowledgeable authorities as misleading and unscientific, to portray sharia law as what Muslims women want.

She spoke earlier this month by phone to the UK-based Islam Channel women’s television program “Muslimah Dilemma.” Hosted by Ibtihal Bsis, a member of the Islamist organization Hizb ut Tahrir (Party of Liberation), and featuring national women’s media representative for Hizb ut Tahrir, Nazreen Nawaz, the interview (view here; complete transcript here) presented a biased, pro-Islamist platform for discussing Muslim women’s rights. Hizb ut Tahrir’s self-described objective is “to resume the Islamic way of life by establishing an Islamic State that executes the systems of Islam and carries its call to the world.”

So it was with ostensible credibility that Mogahed could utter such preposterous statements as:

…we found that the majority of women around the world associate gender justice, or justice for women, with sharia compliance whereas only a small fraction associated oppression of women with compliance with the sharia.

And:

The perception of sharia and the portrayal of sharia has been oversimplified in many cases, even among Muslims. It is usually associated with maximum criminal punishment and laws that are hard for people to understand holistically, around family law, that to many people seem unequal for women. So I think that part of the reason is that there is this perception of sharia is that sharia in not well understood and in fact, Islam as a faith is not well understood.

And, ominously:

Well, I think what my role is, is very clear to me: to convey to the advisory council and through the advisory council to the president and to other public officials what it is Muslims want.

In delivering these outlandish pronouncements, Mogahed was soft-spoken and careful to confine her commentary to the results of her study. Not so with fellow guest Nazreen Nawaz, who took up the bulk of the interview expounding didactically on the benefits to be bestowed upon humankind by the revival of a Khilafah state, or caliphate. The caliphate envisioned by Nawaz is a mythical one, hearkening back to the so-called “golden age of Islam,” where, according to the party line, all was progress and advancement and everyone lived in harmony. If we could only return to the halcyon days, she urged, all the considerable problems of the Muslim world would be solved. As she put it: “Islam came to solve human problems.” These utopian beliefs reflect those Marxists who insist that “real communism” has not yet been implemented, Stalinism or totalitarianism is an aberration, and that the solution lies in implementing a “true” Socialist state.

Claiming that the brutality of the Taliban in Afghanistan and the mullahs in Iran are distortions of sharia law rather than examples of its true implementation, Nawaz promised that under the proposed caliphate, rulers would be democratically elected and accountable to the people, while women’s rights would be protected.

Demonstrating the utter delusion of a fanatic, Nawaz alleged that:

We know that sharia pioneered rights for women. This idea that women have the same rights of citizenship to a man, this was unheard of in empires or civilizations of the past. And we know that Islam brought this.

Nonetheless, Nawaz conceded that “there is evidence from Islam that says the Muslim woman cannot be the ruler of a state. This is from the Islamic text,” but managed to justify this exclusion by pointing to recent Muslim women leaders such as the late Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan who, she claimed, have “brought very little in terms of the lives and the standard of living of women in these countries.”

She also defended Islam’s “strict regulations in terms of social laws” and expressed admiration for precisely those features of Islamic law that most oppress women:

…men and women cannot socialize, they cannot be alone together…in terms of lowering the gaze, all of these things, the dress code, they’re all there to insure that there’s a healthy cooperation so that men and women can focus at the job at hand.

In contrast, Nawaz condemned the West for allowing women too much personal freedom, citing the breakdown of the family and promiscuity as the results:

I think living in the West we see some of the fruits of this idea of liberty and this idea of freedom, where people are free to have any relationship they want to. I believe that it’s caused a lot of problems in the social structure, you have adultery, you have problems of teenage pregnancies….

These are indeed dire consequences, just not, as Nawaz believes, of personal liberty. Rather, they result from the dissolution of the moral framework that supports liberty itself. The struggle to maintain the family structure and women’s dignity amidst growing libertinism is alive and well  in the West. But when given the choice, who would trade liberty for the opposite outcome: totalitarianism?

saudi-women-outragedSharia-compliant feminism: Dalia Mogahed claims that Islamic law protects women’s rights.

Furthermore, Nawaz demonstrated a lack of understanding about how women’s rights, and indeed human rights, have been achieved historically in the West:

Women have made a lot of progress in the West in terms of economic, political rights, education, and so on. But I would reject the claim that these values of secularism, and liberal values, and even in terms of democracy have, that they can claim victory for this progress. Because if we remember history, women actually had to fight against these values in order to secure their rights….And women even today have to fight in secular democracies against discrimination of these levels.

In the face of this vigorous defense of sharia law and strident condemnation of secular democracy, Washington insider Mogahed said not a word. Only when prompted to comment directly on one of Nawaz’s diatribes on the fictional caliphate did Mogahed finally speak, and then she restated the results of the Gallup poll in such a way as to provide backhanded support for Nawaz’s Islamist views. As she put it:

What Muslims around the world tell us they believe is that the key to progress is attachment to their spiritual and moral values. They really do see, many of them, that Islam offers a solution for their problems and they see Islam as their society’s greatest asset. When we asked people what they admired most about the Muslim world, what they tell us is their attachment to Islam, Islamic values, value of hospitality, the value of family. So I think that whereas people around the world do feel that the problems are diverse, many of them do mention Islam as a part of that solution, and when we ask people what can Muslims do to help themselves, one of the most frequent responses is for them to unify and another is for them to follow Islam and make it a greater and more authentic part of their lives.

If making Islam a “greater and more authentic part” of Muslim’s lives results in the implementation of sharia law, based not in mythology but in contemporary practice, the predictable outcome is the furtherance of backwardness, repression, intolerance, and inequality afflicting the Muslim world today. Is this really, as Mogahed would have it, what Muslims want?

More to the point, is it really what Americans, looking to President Obama’s choice of Mogahed as his advisor on Muslim affairs, want?

Now that’s a subject for a poll.

Cinnamon Stillwell is the West Coast Representative for Campus Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum. She can be reached at stillwell@meforum.org.

  • Robert Wargas

    According to the warped mind of Naomi Wolf, Islamic law and cultural customs are a breathtakingly sexy alternative to the repressive-oppressive exploitation women endure in America.

    Wolf seems to have a romanticized (read: delusional) view of the Middle East as some type of exotic culture whose traditions are bearable simply because they aren't American. This type of irrationality forces her to conclude, a priori, that anything done in countries under Sharia law is always more acceptable than the most obvious human-rights advances in Western nations.

    Where's Edward Said when you need him to call out a fellow leftist for painting “the Orient” as some exotic source of perpetual mystique?

  • Proxywar

    “Her survey alleges that a majority of Muslim women believe sharia law should either be the primary source or one source of legislation in their countries, while viewing Western personal freedoms as harmful to women.”

    Two words, four syllables: Stockholm Syndrome!!!

    Enough said.

    “Women have made a lot of progress in the West in terms of economic, political rights, education, and so on. But I would reject the claim that these values of secularism, and liberal values, and even in terms of democracy have, that they can claim victory for this progress. Because if we remember history, women actually had to fight against these values in order to secure their rights….And women even today have to fight in secular democracies against discrimination of these levels.”

    Ahh yes, the convenient Moral Equivalence Argument. However, where her logic ultimately fails of course is by not recognizing that it was because of western values such as secularism, liberalism, and repersentive-democracy that women did not deny themselves equal-rights but fought for them. Thus, Women overthrew the Federal Goverments old-order no different than an American Revolution overthrew the old-order of King George the III. By contrast, in Sharia Law, Muslim women as this poll clearly showed fight to keep themselves oppressed,repressed, and subjugated to Allah's will. Where as our western values have brought economic, political, educational rights to Women, where as in Islamic theocracies Islam has brought nothing to Women except ahistorical myths, plenty of subjugation, and ostensibly Stockholm Syndrome!!!

  • josephwiess

    I don't believe this. How can you say Sharia law is good for women, when it allows a man to beat his wife for refusing to have sex? Or when it allows for genital mutilation, or it allows men to kill their daughters for marrying a man, or even being seen in public.

    Sharia law is incompatible with western culture, and it treats women as slaves and cattle. What kind of law tells women that they can't go out in public, or that they need a man to escort them shopping. And what kind of righteous law makes it possible for men to deny women the right to speak or say that she needs three other women to equal what a man says.

    So, let's all say no to sharia law in the west, and hell no to this global caliphate.

    • samy

      look at palstine where is thier human rights ???

  • USMCSniper

    Naomi Wolf doesn't want to leave that magic island when she was the ripening boy-hating teenager who chose lesbianism. How many times do we have to relive Naomi Wolf''s growing up and being turned on by women? How many books, how many articles, Naomi, are you going to impose on us so we have to be dragged back to your teenage-heartbreak years? This is regressive! It's childish! Move on! Move on! Get on with your menopause as you are now an aging you fruitcake.

  • http://www.theworldofgreasywrench.blogspot.com/ rich b

    I don't believe I've ever seen a more wonderful example of the term “rationalization” more clearly expressed than in the article above. In a generation or two past we would have called this woman “brainwashed”. Now days she's probably considered an excellent example of “diversity” or some other popular Liberal catchphrase. She's a great example of a culture that is “stuck on stupid”.

  • MUSPOX2GO

    MUSPOX HAS TO BE IRRADICATED LIKE SMALLPOX. MUSPOX IS MORE DEADLY THAN SMALLPOX. MUSLIMS ARE THE POX OF THIS EARTH. PLEASE HAVE NO DOUBTS. IN A THOSAND YEARS WILL THE MAFIA BECOME A RELIGION LIKE ISLAM HAS ?
    muslims should start realising that their forefathers were forced into this blood thirsty cult by blood and sword.they became muslims out of fear not because they loved islam. the new generation should set their forefathers' mistakes right by getting out of islam en mase (in big groups) and returning to their old peacefull religions of their great great grand parents before the muslims came and turned their lives and morals upside down. whatever is preached in that cult is the exact opposite of what good people and citizens should be. start the change now. only the muslims can help themselves smash this evil cult that has got them and their women and children by the throats.

  • Catherine

    She wants Sharia Law? Then give her a taste of it. Stone the bitch for daring to show her face outside her home. She's obviously a slut and is attempting to seduce men with this sluttish and indecent exposure of skin.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Christopher-Laity/1730599721 Robert Christopher Laity

    Make no mistake. Sharia Law is anathema to freedom. Obama is a closet radical Islamic supremacist appointing such people to facadical committees masquerading as “faith based”. Islam is NOT a religion:
    http://www.nmatv.com/video/618/What-Islam-Is-Not

    FITNA:
    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=FITNA

    See Geert Wilders in Philadelphia,Pa. on Oct.22,2009
    http://www.phillyfreedom.org/?p=4

  • MUSPOX2GO

    please xcuse the caps lock but i think the emphasis is very important……. THE KORAN IS NOT A HOLY BOOK….IT IS THE MOST EVIL AND RACIST AND SEXIST BOOK EVER WRITTEN. IT IS A SLUR TO THE WRITTEN WORD. IT IS AN INSULT TO HUMAN INTELLIGENCE. HAVE NO DOUBT. READ IT TO DISBELIEVE IT . ALL MUSLIMS SHOULD BE TRYING TO GET OUT OF ISLAM'S CLUTCHES . ALL MUSLIMS SHOULD BE TRYING TO GET OUT OF ISLAM'S CLUTCHES NOT ONLY FOR THEIR SAKE AND THEIR CHILDREN'S SAKE BUT FIRST THINGS FIRST FOR THE SAKE OF THEIR FOREFATHERS AND FOREMOTHERS WHO WERE CONVERTED TO THIS EVIL AND VILE CULT BY THE SWORD AND FRIGHT. FORGET CHRISTIANITY IF IT’S SUCH A BIG ISSUE …MUSLIMS NEED TO MOVE OUT EN MASSE TO SOMETHING LIKE BUDDHISM.

  • MUSPOX2GO

    MUSLIMS SHOULD START REALISING THAT THEIR FOREFATHERS WERE FORCED INTO THIS BLOOD THIRSTY CULT BY BLOOD AND SWORD.THEY BECAME MUSLIMS OUT OF FEAR NOT BECAUSE THEY LOVED ISLAM. THE NEW GENERATION SHOULD SET THEIR FOREFATHERS' MISTAKES RIGHT BY GETTING OUT OF ISLAM EN MASE (IN BIG GROUPS) AND RETURNING TO THEIR OLD PEACEFULL RELIGIONS OF THEIR GREAT GREAT GRAND PARENTS BEFORE THE MUSLIMS CAME AND TURNED THEIR LIVES AND MORALS UPSIDE DOWN. WHATEVER IS PREACHED IN THAT CULT IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF WHAT GOOD PEOPLE AND CITIZENS SHOULD BE. START THE CHANGE NOW. ONLY THE MUSLIMS CAN HELP THEMSELVES SMASH THIS EVIL CULT THAT HAS GOT THEM AND THEIR WOMEN AND CHILDREN BY THE THROATS.
    THE WEST SHOULD BE HELPING MUSLIMS WITH A FREE SERVICE OR A NOMINAL CHARGED SERVICE WHICH COULD TRACE EACH OF THEIR ANCESTRAL ROOTS OR RELIGION PRACTICED BEFORE THEY HAD TO BOW TO ALLAH OR DIE HORRIBLY. THEN THE CHOICE WOULD BE THEIRS TO CONTINUE IN THIS EVIL CULT OR OPT OUT TO WHAT WAS THEIR LIFESTYLE OR RELIGION BEFORE THE MADNESS CAME. THE SERVICE COULD BE CALLED BEFORE THE MADNESS . THE EDUCATED WEST HAS TO HELP THESE BARBARIC PEOPLE SEE THE LIGHT OF PEACE AND LAUGHTER SO THEIR CHILDREN AND WOMEN MAY APPRECIATE THE SUNLIGHT WHICH IS OUR PLANET’S BIRTHRIGHT.

  • Catherine

    I assume the ALL CAPS is an expression of your fierce determination to free people from the most oppressive, evil, hate-mongering “religion”, that is hell bent on world domination. Which actually makes it political rather than religious. Sort of reminiscent of the Nazi plan of world domination. With whom they collaborated I might mention.

    Unfortunately in this PC world we live in there is no way in hell that anyone in the west will advocate for this oppressed people in the way you wish. We have become a country of apathetic, lazy, cowards. A nation of “Quislings”, to use that apt word from WWII. The history of this once great nation, at one time the greatest ever on earth, has been forgotten by many, sanitized by liberals and those who have forsaken God in favor of a non-existent utopian, socialist, marxist, communist (take your pick) fantasy.

    Have faith. Take heart, The good news is that the end of the story is there for all to read. We can skip ahead to the last page and know how it turns out. Millions upon millions upon millions will suffer but GOD WINS in the end!

    JMJ

  • trodaball

    What's so wrong with burkas, honor-killings, beatings, stonings, education prohibitions and encouraging martyrdom and forced marriage ( i.e. rape ) of under-aged girls ? This is good wholesome women's liberation. No ?

  • carol

    Any born-American woman would see this woman as completely out of touch with the West, with Christianity and the Judaic traditions, and as focused on the worst evils of a free society as we focus on the brutal extremists in all religions including the Taliban. Islam is not a religion, it is a power structure determined to take over the whole world. Any woman who takes on this faith voluntarily (e.g., not born and bred into it and required to stay in it on pain of death) is an anachronistic, weak and dependent person at best, or at worst, an abject slave brainwashed into thinking that enslavement is a condition that is natural, protective of women, and safe.

    Let's not let these idiots out-breed us, OK?

  • M.A.Waheed

    Be ready to face the tourment In case u do not repent and try to read the TRUTH
    By your comment TRUTH is not going to change.

  • M.A.Waheed

    Be ready to face the tourment In case u do not repent and try to read the TRUTH
    By your comment TRUTH is not going to change.

  • Layla

    Wow! you people are clueless, living in laa laa land, full of hate, how sad!

    I'm happy where I am, thanks!
    A proud Muslim woman :-D

  • Gana

    Totally agree with you Laylas, so many people are full of hate.
    To muxpox , any religious book can be interpreted to sexist, evil and racist.

    Maybe you should try and ease your angry tension by working outdoors in a garden or trying indoor container gardening

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