This is an intelligently argued article sent to us by Miss Kiran Rizvi. She rightly argues that laws are eventually an outcome of the peculiar circumstances of the prevalent time period. Therefore laws have to be judged in the context of those circumstances. This way of looking at the laws also makes it essential to rethink the current interpretation which is rooted in those times. Miss Kiran’s argument is that the spirit of Islam itself provides justification for reinterpretation of the laws, particularly those which pertain to women.
by Kiran Rizvi
Contrary to the popular belief Islam neither favors nor victimizes women. What I mean by this is that Islam doesn’t go out of its way to hurt or protect women because of their special status in the society. The current interpretation of Islamic laws is more consistent with the circumstances and laws prevalent in the 7th century Arabia. Therefore it affords the same treatment of compassion to ALL members of the society which are disadvantaged, such as slaves, orphans, women and seniors. However no special treatment is given to women outside the general category of the ‘disadvantaged’.
Feminists believe that Islamic laws are barbaric and demeaning to women. They site divorce laws, rape laws, bearing witness, wife-beating, unfair distribution of property and lack of autonomy to make decisions etc. to make their case. They are correct and incorrect at the same time. Islamic laws are a combination of tribal laws as they existed (and were well accepted in the society at the time) and some modifications brought out by Islam to steer these laws in favor of those who ended up holding the short end of the stick. It is not the “Islamic” portion of the tribal laws that is barbaric, but the “tribal” portion of the Islamic law! And yes, it is very hard to distinguish one from the other.