Secularism: A Woman's Way Forward?


Old Town

Written by Farida Farouk

In my religion and spiritual search, I happened to come across literature for authors, especially women who have influenced my interpretation and understanding of Islam. For a long time, I refused to read anything written by Muslim men since they had dominated the conversation for far too long. But through the work of scholars such as Nasr Hamed Abu Zeid, Mohammad Arkoun and Abdullahi An-Naim I learned that some men could be as feminist as the best of us!

On March 18th 2005, a scholar of Islam and a feminist by the name of Amina Wadud became the first woman on record to lead a public, mixed-gender Friday prayer where she led the same number of men and women in prayer. Both women and men were standing side by side, praying together, not behind the men, nor in different room and with a woman leading them.

One of the very important markers of a country’s progress is the treatment of women and the way they are viewed in the society. This method is considered to be one of the important methods of measuring the country’s prosperity or the lack of it. Countries that subordinates women to men should not hope to make a path to progress. The male superiority over women concept is completely out of step with the spirit of the age, against basic human rights, and a hindrance in the way of progress.

For centuries, we have had male-dominated and too often misogynistic interpretations of Islam that for every page of a man’s obligations and duties wrote two for women. These misinterpretations took the faith far off the path that was set more than 14 centuries ago, when, we are taught, Islam gave women rights that made them the envy of women in Europe’s Dark Ages.

These misogynistic interpretations of the religion steam from male insecurity. A confident man who believes in himself, his intellect, his abilities and with a strong sense of self does not need to assert his superiority over women. Countries that abide to certain positions to only men uses up only half its potential in the way of intelligence, performance, productivity and education; countries that do not make full use of all assets remains in a state of underdevelopment.

Despite verses in the Quran telling men to release his wife who no longer wants to be married to him, the legal system had allowed men to do the opposite: beit el ta3a, which allows a man to hold his wife against her will, and to hurt her, both psychologically and financially. Years later, the khul3 law, empowering women to exercise a human right that entitles her to divorce her husband was proclaimed. This law represents an important step forward, however, there is alot more to be done, for example, a woman should have the right to obtain a divorce for prejudice, whether material or moral. More specifically, it is essential to include a standard marriage contract which stipulates that the woman could terminate the contract at any time and that man would not take a second wife.

Nowadays, women throughout the region are second-class citizens, a national is a citizen who is described as someone who is a native or naturalized member of a state. When Arab women marry foreigners they don’t have the right to extend citizenship to their husbands nor children. In many cases, where a woman has been widowed, divorced, or abandoned, or if her husband is not a national in the country where the couple reside, her children have no access to citizenship or its rights.

We find that children of those women have no access to education, health care, land ownership, and inheritance. In the same token, there are no limitations to men for giving the nationality to their wives and children. This inequality not only denies women their right as citizens; it also denies children their basic rights as human beings.

Family laws based on Shariaa ask women to have a male relative’s permission in several areas. This increases the dependency of women on their male family counterparts in economic, social, and legal matters. For example, in many Arab countries adult women must obtain the permission of their immediate male family members such as husbands, fathers or brothers in order to obtain a passport, travel to a different country, start a business, or get married.

The twenty-first century will be the beginning of eliminating political Islam. I think change will start from Iran. In that country, women presented the first and the most effective challenge to the Islamic regime by courageously questioning the right of Islamic authority to define the conditions of their lives. The most hopeful signs and the most remarkable force for change continue to come directly from Iranian women, both in Iran and in exile.

Secularism and the establishment of egalitarian political systems are two key factors to improving the conditions of women. This can be done by taking the following measures:

- the complete separation of religion from the state

- definition of religion as the private affair of individuals

- removal of references to a person’s religion in laws, on identity cards, and in official papers

- elimination of religion from education

  • the complete separation of religion from the state
  • definition of religion as the private affair of individuals
  • removal of references to a person’s religion in laws, on identity cards, and in official papers
  • elimination of religion from education



  • http://blog.eyas-sharaiha.com/ Eyas

    Thank you for this well written article! Personally, I agree with all your wishes, and I do think that secularism, specifically the concept of separation of the religious institution from the state is essential. Before imperialism, Islam was developing organically and the possibility of a naturalized democratic and liberalized muslim state was becoming more plausible, but since the clash of the west with the east, and with the rise of religious extremism, I think society was damaged, and liberal Islam is no longer a possibility. This works out for me, as I would have preferred secularism anyways. But I mention this because, this is one issue where the main hindrance, I feel, is not a few ruling elite throughout the Arab world, but rather the society en masse is holding tight to Islam, often strict, fundamentalist islam, and view any “liberalization” or “secularization” as a victory of the west, and selling our most basic principles.

    Your article is intended to mobilize (or more accurately, intice) a certain group of people, and does so successfully. However I'd like to ask, how do you think one can advocate for, or popularize, social change in this specific aspect to the masses?

  • Dana

    Dear Farida,

    thank you so much for an interesting article which I completely enjoyed reading, in addition to some of your previous thought-provoking articles which I have been able to read since I was introduced to 7iber (not so long ago :) ). I agree with almost all of what you have mentioned in there, but I am a bit confused as to the last two points you make: “removal of references to a person’s religion in laws, on identity cards, and in official papers [and] elimination of religion from education”, especially the second point. Do you mean by that religion as an independent subject to be taught, or the way it possibly influences the curriculum and criteria for other subjects? if the first, surely religion has great benefits in teaching children basic morals and ethics, in addition to possibly enriching one's knowledge of the history of the Islamic world, maybe even enriching arabic language skills?

    I definitely agree that the way it is being taught now, or at least some of the things it focuses on, is possibly misguided and challenges the changes we aspire to instil in our society..but dont you think dropping it all together from the educational system is to give up and give in to the misrepresentation imposed on it today? yet I do completely agree that we need to rethink the way we learn and teach it..

  • Wesam

    Yes, secularism is the way froward for Muslims, the same way it was for Europe and the rest of the civilized world.
    The key to the advancement of any nation is the status of women, and by that I mean how educated and how much power and freedom they have, either at home, or in the workplace or under the law and how much influence they have in society in general.

    But unfortunately, most Muslims believe something completely illogical and unscientific, they believe that the way forward is by sharii'a law, and we're are constantly told by our clerics and imams that the only way Muslim countries can advance is by adopting sharii'a, and having those same imams and clerics in power.
    The only thing you need to do to when elections -for example- in any Arab country, is to hand out booklet with four words on them…”Islam is the solution”, and people will overwhelmingly for vote for you without even knowing who you are.
    I think it's going to be a very long time before muslims can open their eyes and start to seriously think about secularim.

  • Astro

    As long as you and other muslims keep on dreaming that islam is being misinterpreted nothing is going to change, islam in not being misinterpreted to be being against women, islam is biased.

    How can you call the teachings of mohammad misinterpretation…

  • faridafarouk

    Eyas- Thank you for your positive comment and encouragement.

    The Arab world is certainly captivated by two powers: the political regimes and the religious clerics.The general masses you mention are mobilised by the religious authority to adhere to their religious indoctrines and interpretations of the religion. No matter how you look at things you will see that there is an alliance between the political leadership and the religious authority. One of the main problems we witness today is that the clerics have become the leading shapers of public opinion.

    Although Islamists and religious establishments are sometimes enemies of the regime, the government; they often favor their activities over those of liberals since both the islamists and the religious establishments often but not always advocate similar ideas that reinforce the regimes’ positions.

    Moreover, their strength also frightens people into supporting the regime. For instance, speakers of Islamic Extremism are given a free hand to spread their ideas by all means (as long as they are not overly critical of the regime). On the other hand, Islamist preachers use the media such as satellite stations to condemn liberals and reform while not being allowed to voice negative remarks toward the regime.

    I think changes would need to come about through several venues- here are two very important and crucial ones that would affect social changes and the status quo:

    1. A political leaderhsip that is willing to lean towards a rational interpretation of history and a vision for the future. A leadership that works towards achieving radical procedural change within the structure of the islamic scholarly community and that is willing to herd this community into harmony with the age of science and the progress of humanity. This change will not be brought about with the regime having an iron fist over the people and can only happen in a democratically open platform

    2.Educational reform in all schools and institutions with a new generation of followers who believe that in this day and age societies cannot be led by men of religion but by the latest discoveries in science, management, ideas and information technology.

  • http://www.kinziblogs.wordpress.com kinzi

    Farida, thank you for the points you make here.

    After 7iber's last few posts on the hijab, things both you and another writer, I have been studying the role of women in the Torah, New Testament. and asked Muslim friends about the role of Khadija, a business woman.

    In reading Proverbs 31, words of an Arabian Queen mother to her son in what to look for in a wife. The majority of the acrostic poem is about her investments, her organizational skills of home and business, her care for the poor. Nothing about what was one her head, staying home and being submissive (although submitting in strength is a great quality of character), it said her works praise her, as did her husband and his community leaders. Her husband trusted her in the market place.

    Khadija was a trader, maintaining a business, a community leader out in the market place.

    Jesus Christ Himself had nothing to say to women about their manner of dress or head covering. He did not say anything to us about our very presence causing a man to lust. Women were a part of His circle of friends, an important part of His ministry.

    He did have plenty to say to men about the abuse of power, lusting after women and financial gain, and His harshest words were to religious leaders who misrepresented God's truth, stole from widows, and applied harsher rules than the religious law gave provision for .

    I think some of today's religious leaders (from all faiths) would do well to go back over His teaching and writings and see how closely their actions today mirror the hypocrisy of Jewish religious leaders of that time.

  • faridafarouk

    Dana- I am glad you enjoy reading my articles and agree with alot of the issues I discuss.

    Here is my response to your questions:

    1. I do believe in a secular system where a person is not identified by their religion but by who they are, and what I mean when I say removing references of religion in law I am mostly referring to issues related to inheritance and applying secular laws that govern equality inheritance between both men and women.

    2. Regarding religion in schools- let me just start by agreeing with you about wwhat you said regarding current teaching methods-students are taught to memorise the information and then regurgitate information.On the most part, students are not encouraged to think, use their rational or discuss matters. From a very young age, they are taught to do as they are told and grow up doing exactly that!

    According to me, having good ethics and moral values comes from a strong moral code, being helpful to others, displaying noble character traits as altruism, tolerance and a strong work ethic.

    Now regarding religious education- I do think that religion should not be a mandatory subject and can be an elective class that is taught oustide the school setting. Instead of mandating a religion class where children are seperated according to the religion they follow; students should study comparative religion, modern logic, philosophy, psychology, and history, as well as economics and political theory.

    If parents want to teach their children about religion as a seperate subject and not a mandatory one in school- certain reforms are essential. Those changes should include revising the curricula of religious schools, learning about all schools of interpretation instead of only a single school which is common practice. Another important change would be that instead of studying only the rulings and interpretations of the schools of interpretation, students would also learn about the evidence used to arrive at these interpretations, as well as
    other methods of interpretation.

  • Hamzeh N.

    A classic example of how progressives in the Arab and Muslim world should NOT ask for gender equality.

    When you say the word “secularism” in the Muslim world, you invoke fears and doubts related to every aspect of people's lives. People will list tens of reasons of why secularism is bad, they'll talk about moral decay in society, division among members of the same faith (mainly Islam here), compromising the Palestinians' struggle for freedom, erasing centuries-old traditions, eliminating our Eastern character, diluting our culture, etc. etc.

    Do any of these have to do with gender equality? Can anyone say that by allowing a woman to divorce her husband, we'll be compromising the Palestinian question or diluting our culture.

    What you want is not very hard to do, but you're setting yourself up for failure when you ask for things that are pretty much impossible in our society, like eliminating religion from education. I don't think women will appreciate the notion that they will have to wait until religion is no longer in schools for the road to gender equality to be paved, let alone walked! That won't happen in anyone's lifetime I guarantee you. And worst of all, it's not even a prerequisite for gender equality.

    You don't need to solve the problem of secularism (which is almost impossible now), before solving the problem, or at least most major problems, of gender inequality.

    Lets just have some focus.

  • Z. M.

    I share with you the hope for secularism throughout the region, but I wish I was as optimistic as you are about eliminating political Islam in the near future, actually I think the opposite is more likely;

    -How is it possible for the mainstream to accept secularism when the Islamist propaganda machine has wrongfully labeled the very word 'secularism' in a way that it is not accepted by people anymore? Many have been brainwashed to perceive secularism as 'kufr' or anti-Islam.

    -Are the Arab and Muslim societies ready and mature enough to embrace real secularist democracy under secularist laws? Deep inside societies are still kind of supremacist, narcissist, and I mean by this that we do not tolerate different opinions, methods, or beliefs (My way is the only right way, and you have no right to talk about your way) though it's extent differ by country. We -as societies- do not willingly obey laws unless they are enforced upon us, perhaps it's all the residue of centuries of religious and political oppression! This must change before we can progress towards secularist democratic societies.

    -Whenever any form of democracy is introduced political Islamists easily and overwhelmingly win and rise to power though they rarely have any real reform program, from labor unions and student councils, to parliaments, from Algeria to Bahrain to Egypt to Gaza to Iraq… The magic phrase 'Islam is the solution' as mentioned, the motto is that is abused by their political arms to implicitly refer to Islamic parties, banks, insurance co., schools, media….. As this parallel economy is flourishing, it comes one step closer each day towards replacing the known face of economy, thus making it harder for a chance of secularist states.

    -Even in Jordan, unfortunately the atmosphere is not very encouraging, the right of divorce that was gained by women several years ago (khul3) is now being scrapped off the new civil law (A law that was entirely formulated by religious authorities, which I'm not sure if it's the first time but hope is not), and whenever any publication is banned – today another novel for a Jordanian writer was banned – the mainstream will hail imposing such restrictions, even demand reducing their civil rights if religion was the justification.

    -Bottom line, if you pass a referendum in the Arab world today maybe 9 out of 10 will vote for Sharia' over Secularism, most of them not knowing the differences between both or what their rights under each law will be, but only reacting to what was injected through media and teachings. Sorry if I'm being pessimistic, but is there any way to convince people that secularism is not what is accused to be? And that it is the best way that guarantees their religious rights, personal rights, diversity, alongside social and scientific advancements. And how is it possible to undo the damage done through the past 30 years to the idea of secularism, maybe the people of Iran as you mentioned are more ready because they learned the hard way, but do the rest of us need to learn the same way too?

  • faridafarouk

    ZM- thank you for your comments and elaboration. I do understand where you are coming from and how you see the political islamisation as it is right now and what it represents.

    Let me start by saying that I agree with you on many of the points you have made and also add that the religious, educational, cultural and media institutions in arabic-speaking societies have created a mindset that considers the call for progress and modernity a call to accept a cultural invasion and the loss of cultural specificity- this equates with the definition you provided for what secularism stands for in the region- in order for the religious authority to keep an iron fist on the average person, they need to define ideas against their ideologies and beliefs in negative terms related to religion and cultural values.

    Just like the religious authorities uses the religion to discourage people from understanding such terms as secularism and modernity, the same applies to the arab regimes who have become experts at explaining their failings away. The justification they use is that the people cant handle being ina secular democtratic environment by pointing to the culture and saying it is unsuited to forms of democracy. Or they point to the history, and say that in modern times they would have done much better had they not had to deal with the intrusions of imperialists, zionists and cold warriors.Of course no one will deny that these factors have influenced the region drastically, especially the formation of Israel, but arab regimes have also had their share of keeping things stagnant and use islam as one of their main pillars for maintaining power. No matter what shortcomings exist in the society, no matter how slow the pace of development, no matter how low living standards, and no matter how often the government fails, the regimes remain in power!

    I do think that the majority of muslims remain unaware of the atrocious passages in the quran and hadith either due to the fact that they were written in old classical arabic or the high illiteracy rate in the muslim world. Moreover, muslims generally know what their imams and religious leaders tell them about islam.
    However, muslims who are aware of these passages ignore them or privately interpret them within historical contexts.

    Although I do believe that educational reform could bring about changes in the younger generations and the generations to come but other important factors such as economic development, jobs, literacy, normal schools, and medical care would make people oppose radical islamists. Freedom of expression would back this process of course.

    An economically independent citizen, even with a modest level of education, is usually rational. Until then, the tunnel is long and thorny. This project is costly, but promising.

    Unfortunately, neither the arab nor the islamic regimes nor their religious establishments would,at present, allow any reform of islam in a democratic and free climate. That implies self-suicide for both. Therefore, reforming islam and moving onto a secular state will have to wait yet for two to three decades until this becomes a tangible reality.

    I would like to add that reform in Tunisia dates back to the 1950s thanks to the strength of political leader, Bourghiba, who was backed by an eminent Muslim jurist, Tahar Haddad (1899-1936). Often, Bourghiba established laws and asked muftis to justify them according to tradition. For example, Tunisian legislation recognizes monogamy only. Has mandating this law made Tunisia a less muslim country?? it certainly hasnt!

    There are many issues and obstacles at stake, I know I sound too optimistic but someone needs to remain positive and only hope that change will come about sooner than later.

    In concrete terms the islamic system that covers different fields is currently out-dated with problems pertaining to democratization at the political level(where the seperation of religion and state needs to be implemented); social justice problems at the socio-economic level; family law and women's rights at the basic level.

  • faridafarouk

    ZM- thank you for your comments and elaboration. I do understand where you are coming from and how you see the political islamisation as it is right now and what it represents.

    Let me start by saying that I agree with you on many of the points you have made and also add that the religious, educational, cultural and media institutions in arabic-speaking societies have created a mindset that considers the call for progress and modernity a call to accept a cultural invasion and the loss of cultural specificity- this equates with the definition you provided for what secularism stands for in the region- in order for the religious authority to keep an iron fist on the average person, they need to define ideas against their ideologies and beliefs in negative terms related to religion and cultural values.

    Just like the religious authorities uses the religion to discourage people from understanding such terms as secularism and modernity, the same applies to the arab regimes who have become experts at explaining their failings away. The justification they use is that the people cant handle being ina secular democtratic environment by pointing to the culture and saying it is unsuited to forms of democracy. Or they point to the history, and say that in modern times they would have done much better had they not had to deal with the intrusions of imperialists, zionists and cold warriors.Of course no one will deny that these factors have influenced the region drastically, especially the formation of Israel, but arab regimes have also had their share of keeping things stagnant and use islam as one of their main pillars for maintaining power. No matter what shortcomings exist in the society, no matter how slow the pace of development, no matter how low living standards, and no matter how often the government fails, the regimes remain in power!

    I do think that the majority of muslims remain unaware of the atrocious passages in the quran and hadith either due to the fact that they were written in old classical arabic or the high illiteracy rate in the muslim world. Moreover, muslims generally know what their imams and religious leaders tell them about islam.
    However, muslims who are aware of these passages ignore them or privately interpret them within historical contexts.

    Although I do believe that educational reform could bring about changes in the younger generations and the generations to come but other important factors such as economic development, jobs, literacy, normal schools, and medical care would make people oppose radical islamists. Freedom of expression would back this process of course.

    An economically independent citizen, even with a modest level of education, is usually rational. Until then, the tunnel is long and thorny. This project is costly, but promising.

    Unfortunately, neither the arab nor the islamic regimes nor their religious establishments would,at present, allow any reform of islam in a democratic and free climate. That implies self-suicide for both. Therefore, reforming islam and moving onto a secular state will have to wait yet for two to three decades until this becomes a tangible reality.

    I would like to add that reform in Tunisia dates back to the 1950s thanks to the strength of political leader, Bourghiba, who was backed by an eminent Muslim jurist, Tahar Haddad (1899-1936). Often, Bourghiba established laws and asked muftis to justify them according to tradition. For example, Tunisian legislation recognizes monogamy only. Has mandating this law made Tunisia a less muslim country?? it certainly hasnt!

    There are many issues and obstacles at stake, I know I sound too optimistic but someone needs to remain positive and only hope that change will come about sooner than later.

    In concrete terms the islamic system that covers different fields is currently out-dated with problems pertaining to democratization at the political level(where the seperation of religion and state needs to be implemented); social justice problems at the socio-economic level; family law and women's rights at the basic level.
    ZM- thank you for your comments and elaboration. I do understand where you are coming from and how you see the political islamisation as it is right now and what it represents.

    Let me start by saying that I agree with you on many of the points you have made and also add that the religious, educational, cultural and media institutions in arabic-speaking societies have created a mindset that considers the call for progress and modernity a call to accept a cultural invasion and the loss of cultural specificity- this equates with the definition you provided for what secularism stands for in the region- in order for the religious authority to keep an iron fist on the average person, they need to define ideas against their ideologies and beliefs in negative terms related to religion and cultural values.

    Just like the religious authorities uses the religion to discourage people from understanding such terms as secularism and modernity, the same applies to the arab regimes who have become experts at explaining their failings away. The justification they use is that the people cant handle being ina secular democtratic environment by pointing to the culture and saying it is unsuited to forms of democracy. Or they point to the history, and say that in modern times they would have done much better had they not had to deal with the intrusions of imperialists, zionists and cold warriors.Of course no one will deny that these factors have influenced the region drastically, especially the formation of Israel, but arab regimes have also had their share of keeping things stagnant and use islam as one of their main pillars for maintaining power. No matter what shortcomings exist in the society, no matter how slow the pace of development, no matter how low living standards, and no matter how often the government fails, the regimes remain in power!

    I do think that the majority of muslims remain unaware of the atrocious passages in the quran and hadith either due to the fact that they were written in old classical arabic or the high illiteracy rate in the muslim world. Moreover, muslims generally know what their imams and religious leaders tell them about islam.
    However, muslims who are aware of these passages ignore them or privately interpret them within historical contexts.

    Although I do believe that educational reform could bring about changes in the younger generations and the generations to come but other important factors such as economic development, jobs, literacy, normal schools, and medical care would make people oppose radical islamists. Freedom of expression would back this process of course.

    An economically independent citizen, even with a modest level of education, is usually rational. Until then, the tunnel is long and thorny. This project is costly, but promising.

    Unfortunately, neither the arab nor the islamic regimes nor their religious establishments would,at present, allow any reform of islam in a democratic and free climate. That implies self-suicide for both. Therefore, reforming islam and moving onto a secular state will have to wait yet for two to three decades until this becomes a tangible reality.

    I would like to add that reform in Tunisia dates back to the 1950s thanks to the strength of political leader, Bourghiba, who was backed by an eminent Muslim jurist, Tahar Haddad (1899-1936). Often, Bourghiba established laws and asked muftis to justify them according to tradition. For example, Tunisian legislation recognizes monogamy only. Has mandating this law made Tunisia a less muslim country?? it certainly hasnt!

    There are many issues and obstacles at stake, I know I sound too optimistic but someone needs to remain positive and only hope that change will come about sooner than later.

    In concrete terms the islamic system that covers different fields is currently out-dated with problems pertaining to democratization at the political level(where the s

    eperation of religion and state needs to be implemented); social justice problems at the socio-economic level; family law and women's rights at the basic level.

  • http://maysaloon.blogspot.com Maysaloon

    I disagree with you on the central premise of your essay, in fact I disagree with you completely and I think your article might be causing more harm than benefit in spite of your best intentions. I think that your argument fails for a number of reasons, in spite of the fact that you have given the subject considerable thought. I will state these in order, concisely and clearly. Please forgive my intrusion.

    Firstly I started off agreeing with much that you said considering the situation of women and how dire it has become. It is ironic yet predictable that all good things can eventually become corrupted and the Arab and Muslim world is no exception to this rule. In fact one of my key beliefs is that what we call “Islamic” history is in fact a history of peoples who were Islamic. Islam itself is a distinct and clear concept which, like any other belief, influenced people in different ways. In the same way that a man with a knife and who is good might use it to make himself lunch by chopping an onion, whilst a bad man would use it to harm other people. It would be nonsensical to make a rule that would make all knives blunt when the function of a knife qua knife is in its sharpness. The real problem is in he who wields it.

    The first problem you encounter is in your idea of secularism as the only way forward for women. The answer is no, it is the Qur'an. It is through the Qur'an that you as a woman will be able to break the stranglehold of any unjust man. In fact it is through the Qur'an that any human being will find themself diametrically opposed to injustice in any shape or form. Scholars and hypocrites got a stranglehold on interpretation? “Read!” was the first word given from the Qur'an, we can shatter their chains by understanding it and applying its lessons in our lives. As Muslims we have nothing to fear but Allah. Hence you will find that the first Muslim men who opposed the Persian Shah, who challenged the rich oligarchs of Meccan society, or who broke the stranglehold of the Byzantines and their rich monks and churches were men who also strived to be just in their relationships with their wives. That is because the Qur'an is there to free human beings from subservience to other human beings and make them all equal in subservience to Allah. It is in effect a revolution waiting to happen whenever there are people willing to make the effort and understand, then apply its principles.

    My second problem with your conception of secularism is that we actually do have it in the Middle East and North Africa. From Morrocco to Saudi Arabia, yes Saudi Arabia, the rulers do not rule according to religious principles, they rule arbitrarily according to their desires. Saudi Arabia employs the religious police as part of an old power sharing agreement whence they can oppress and enforce their austerity on the population, as long as the ruling family live and rule as they please, and they do. In a strict sense, it is therefore a secular government. Note that secular and democratic are two different things. Now you have indeed mentioned the role of the twin oppression of the state and “religious” institutions but I think a closer inspection on your part will show you that really we are dealing with one thing, oppressive government. Oppression, injustice. That is the enemy. Sometimes it is in a suit, sometimes it is in an American uniform or Israeli or British flag, sometimes it is wearing a dishdasheh and has a scruffy beard reaching down to the waist.

    Also, Tunisia is hardly a paragon of a secular utopia and I know because I have a considerable circle of Tunisian friends from various sectors of society there who keep me informed and tell me what it is really like for a person who is a Muslim there. The Tunisian secular imposition has been as disastrous in every level as the Turkish experiment has been, and just as misguided. Thankfully Turkey is making considerable inroads in reversing the damage caused by the Ataturkian schism.

    In fact the only courageous example of a non-secular Islamic state is that of Iran, although it is still far from perfect. Through unbelievable challenges, the Islamic revolution in Iran inspired Muslims around the world by defying some very strong countries that wished to keep the unjust Shah in power. For the first time in modern history, a revolution was neither for the left nor for the right. Neither liberal nor conservative, it was Islamic. Secondly by maintaining the religious obligation of jihad against those who occupy and oppress Muslims, something which continues to the present day. In fact the Islamic Republic provided active support to Bosnian Muslims at a time when nobody seemed interested that they were being slaughtered. It is unfortunate that the media portrays the internal power struggle between the wealthy bazaris backed by Rafsanjani on the one side and Ahmadinejad and Khamenei on the other as some kind of cry for freedom. The majority of Iranians voted for Ahmedinejad, the same Iranians who do not wear trendy jeans and sunglasses and who couldn't care less about the internet and blogging or partying because they are busy enough trying to make a living and be good Muslims.

    Secularism itself is a European concept, arising from the particular oppression of the Catholic Church, an institutionalised religion that is not at all the same as in Islamic countries, where grass roots Islam is the norm and the “Sultan's Islam” is paid a mere lip service to. In fact the rise of secularism was actually a power struggle between kings who wanted absolute power in their own kingdoms instead of the Church's absolute power, so it is not in fact something that the people cared about or wanted. They faced the same misery either way. To sum up it is extremely dangerous to try to put somebody elses shoe on your own foot. You'll just end up hurting yourself and walking will be painful.

    In the Muslim world, up until quite recently in history, the last 200 or so years, the standard of living was of a much better quality than that in Europe and North America. The reason for this is not simply, as some people mistakenly claim, the ossification of culture, science and learning. In brief it is a process which was begun by a combination of the black plague, the Mongol ransacking of the Levant and the concurrent improvement in European weaponry and shipmaking and the collapse of the old silk road and traditional trade routes, as well as the collapse of industry in Egypt following the plague and successive wars and invasions. Additionally the discovery of gold in South America sent gold prices plummeting, destroying the traditional gold route that passed through the Maghreb to Europe and plunging Muslim North Africa into economic recession due to inflation. There is much academic research that has been carried on in this area and I can recommend some of it if you like.

    Finally, you say above that there are certain things in the Qur'an which are “abhorrent”. That is quite a surprise to me as I got the impression that you are a Muslim which begs the question why you think that a central part of your faith disgusts you. What is it that is abhorrent about the Qur'an to you? I'm happy to help clear up misconceptions as I know there are many people who are actively trying to portray the Qur'an and Muslims in a negative light, sometimes out of envy and sometimes out of spite, yet they do so in the name of “love”, ironic since they are fighting against Allah, not people who happen to be Muslim to varying degrees.

    I think whilst I have only briefly touched upon the main issues that you have not considered, I am happy to elaborate on any particular issues. Of course we are all welcome to disagree and I am the first to admit doing so with many (in fact all) of your commentators as well as yourself. Truth won't upset me whether it comes from your lips or mine and it saddens me to see so many fine minds unaware of the immense potential and wealth that we can draw upon from our own heritage and belie

    fs without trying to implement flawed and in most cases foolish experiments to solve our problems.

    Yours sincerely,
    Maysaloon

  • http://maysaloon.blogspot.com Maysaloon

    I also apologise if my comment has spelling mistakes or seems a bit disjointed, it is quite late and I'm extremely tired.

  • wesam

    This comment has been removed by the administrator.

  • Z. M.

    Thank you for your thorough reply Farida,
    You have covered most of the factors that are preventing reform in the region.
    Maybe before we can progress all misconceptions about secularism shall be cleared to the average citizen by enlightened writers, thinkers and individuals who believe it's not only woman's but the whole society's way through.

    One of the main reasons that is impeding reform in the region is the ongoing Palestinian cause and the injustice that has been going on for 60 years, this injustice is fueling support for political Islamist groups thus shifting the entire society towards far right, while Islamists are accusing secularism and secularists of being pro-Western, maybe this should be first cleared out for the average Arab that secularism is not a political stand, there can be Islamic parties under secularist laws (Like in Turkey), socialist, liberal, etc. And that people must differentiate between the West (as a civilization that we can learn a lot from) and Western foreign policies (that is subject to another factors).

    As a man I believe that no real progress can be made in any nation while half of it is marginalized, any real change shall begin with women, because those who experienced inequity the most were the first throughout history to rise up and speak out, and only secularism guarantees the rights of all components of the society.

  • faridafarouk

    Maysaloon, thank you for your very detailed elaboration. Let me start by saying that if you would read my response to ZM you would know my opinions about several points you have made.

    The fact that you refer to the quran is very typical of people who cant and will not seperate religion from state and believe in politicizing islam. I never said that Tunisia is a secular country, all I said was that Tunisian legislation recognizes monogamy only which is a step forward.

    What you mentioned and I am quoting you here “by maintaining the religious obligation of jihad against those who occupy and oppress Muslims, something which continues to the present day” is a product of an extreme ideology. Verses like 89 of Surah 4 which says, “Slay the enemy wherever you find them” becomes a powerful tool for justifying the unjustifiable. Those who take a violent, political, radical line will say for example that the verse I just mentioned overrides all the preceding verses that speak of tolerance and welcoming.

    Regarding what you said about secularism- no honest person would ever say that the dictators of the muslim or arab world are secular. They are self-serving opportunists who serve only themselves. The true secularists of the muslim world are still persecuted and cursed in muslim nations because both the clerics and the governments wish to keep the refreshingly secular and liberal views of men from their people.

    Some people show no shame nor any intellectual honesty when they spit on the work and reputation of human rights activists in those countries by exposing their blatant ignorance of those countries when they call them secular.

    This is why there should be a strict separation between religion and state with only a secular democracy based on the universality of human rights as the answer to our challenges.

    And also, a secular muslim is a muslim who believes and practices a strict separation of religion and politics, not someone who is opposed to religion, submission to god doesn’t mean submission to ugly men wearing frocks and silly turbans while screaming hateful fatwas at a silenced audience

    The solution to our problems is in our own heads, not in the hands of those who peddle religion as their profession. Sheikhs may be good or bad, but their job is not to provide leadership or the solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. Let them lead the prayers, give the sermons that no one listens to, and collect their monthly pay checks. Thats it.

  • http://maysaloon.blogspot.com Maysaloon

    Farida,
    Thank you for your response, yes thank you your earlier comments were helpful to clarify and help me understand your points, but the problem remains, you cannot say that our rulers are not secular because they are “bad”. In fact the meaning of secular is a neutral one, it does not have any particularl ideological slant. Therefore the Khmer Rouge, the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany and Sweden are all secular states. Democracy is also not the same as secularism, and it is interpreted differently in different countries. In Britain for example, what is commonly called democracy is actually quite different from popular perceptions, here the elections are based on a principle known as “first passed the post”, which elects MP's regardless of the number of people who actually voted for them. So democracy itself is a far from clear term, practicality and political pragmatism define how democracy is implemented. Ancient Greek democracy excluded women, slaves and poor people from voting, yet it was a form of what is popularly referred to as democracy. Aristotle referred to it as the “least worst form of government” due to the fear of mob rule, Plato was dead sent against it as it was democracy which executed the father of philosophy, Socrates.

    So the terms you use are ambiguous and not at all certain, and they are subject to debate.

    Secondly you refer to passages in the Qur'an arguing that they can be interpreted to wage war. In the United States, creative interpretation of the constitution means that the last time the United States declared war was in World War II, yet we all realise that it has technically been at war with countless countries since then. See Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Granada, Iraq 1 and 2, Bosnia, and so on. So it is not that the Qur'an is inherently violent, it is man who is inherently violent. Therefore it is not helpful to use the Qur'an as an example of why religion should be separate from the state.

    Thirdly, as I said previously, religion is separate from the state. As I have said repeatedly, Arab rulers are in fact secular even if they are not democratic and they are oppressive. But they do not rule according to the principles of religion, they employ corrupt people to use religion to oppress people. There is a difference and it is not wise that we ignore it because there is enormous potential for revolutionary change in Islam and in fact in any religion, see Liberation Theology in Latin America, where in spite of the oppressive nature of the Catholic church – it was far more interested in assisting America against the Soviet Union than to speak against atrocities by governments in Latin America – priests rebelled against injustice and mobilised the poor to revolt. So again, I ask you to reconsider your position, there is much you have not taken account of.

    Finally, I don't doubt the integrity and honesty of many human rights activists, but many of their positions, whilst admirable in rejecting the “Sultan” are also wrong because they are against the laws of the Qur'an, the laws that are also being rejected by the Sultan for your information.

    I stand by my position that the separation of religion from the state is a sham argument, simply because they are in fact already separate and those, like yourself, who argue otherwise usually demonstrate a lack of clarity in the terms they employ, and they use them wantonly with little care of what the actual situation is like.

    I agree the solution begins in our heads, but the Sheikhs are not a distinct class and it is not a profession, like a priesthood, we are all shepherds to each other, and all Sheikhs. If some people have abused this responsibility, then we should only blame ourselves for not knowing our Islamic rights and obligations. It is our responsibility to learn and live our principles and we must accept this and stop blindly following every brightly coloured pied piper or bearded mullah. That's all there is to it.

  • Wesam

    @Maysaloon

    The quran is the way forward??
    I'm sorry but that's more of a joke than an intelligent argument…
    Do you have any scientific studies to back up that claim? No, you don't.

    The “only” reason you say that, is because you believe that the quran is word of god.
    So please spare me the nonsense of you trying to justify your claim and your argument against secularism by trying to make an intelligent argument.

    Just admit that the ONLY reason you're against secularism is because your religion is against it.
    That's illogical, unscientific and at best stupid.

  • faridafarouk

    ZM- Thank you for a very eloquant response. I cant agree with you more about the palestinian issue and how islamic groups are abusing the occupation to market themselves and take over the political power and control the minds of many!

    We surely do need more men like you who are willing to accept women as their equal and who feel confident and secure refusing to want to control womens' lives and fate through religion, culture and tradition.

    I would like to include a quote that was mentioned in Obama's speech at the Entrepeneurship Summit where he said “countries that educate and empower women are countries that will prosper”

  • http://maysaloon.blogspot.com Maysaloon

    Wesam,
    I'm sorry but I think you're way over your league here. There are some excellent books about politics, philosophy and history you can start with. I recommend something by Hopsbawm, admittedly he is a Marxist but his books are a helpful view of modern and contemporary history

    The other thing I recommend you read is something about political philosophy, you can start with the Greeks or you can read for Rousseau, Kant or even Marx. Don't worry about Islamic political philosophy yet, that's a different kind of animal and you need to get to grips with the basics first.

    The reason I'm recommending you do all of that is because you've already made an ass of yourself once. If you make a smarter comment next time then people would think you were just having a bad day instead of knowing that you're just an ignorant man with a keyboard.

  • JoKun

    Forgive me if I'm going to sound like an ass too, but I couldn't stop laughing reading you're first post, although I didn't read the whole post, and I agree that wesam sounded just as ignorant as you did.

    Religious books are all inventions of humans who didn't how the world was created at the time, and “god” was their best explanation of it.
    Most of civilized world today (unlike the uncivilized muslim world) is not only secular but mostly atheist.

    I suggest you start by reading something by Richard Dawkins, or “The Future of an Illusion” by Sigmund Freud.

  • PrinceMosaic

    My first attempt to write a comment after I ended up with the last few exchanges/posts above!

    An Intelligent writer: Farida a “Free” thinker is taking a very challenging topic to discuss among other “Free” thinkers and readers…

    I myself, did not read the basic elements that We may put forth to start a Debate or Discussion that the ultimate Goal or End is empowering Human Beings in any form or shape. What I mean by that, we start reading the piece that Farida shared with us, we jump into expressing our feelings, learning, experiences, prejudices, intolerance, fears, etc… and we start shouting at each others… therefore the topic is diluted or never discussed anymore!

    Can we first, step back and agree on the premise: what are we trying to accomplish here?

    Accept the fact, that we are all different people with many different backgrounds, up-bringing, experiences, and intelligent… and we can be “Civil” enough to respect each others to continue this enriching exchange!

    Please re-focus your energy — and take a breath… and agree that it's “Fine” to disagree…

    Calling people names and labels and soon put their images on “Most Wanted List” or “Sexual Predators List”, or mocking others is not the way!

    The name calling is very discouraging to continue to read, unless I convince myself that the name calling is acceptable to exchange and therefore it is all good.

    Wesam and Maysaloon am very sure both of you have all good intentions to debate this topic and I look forward to hearing more… I have learned from both of you here. And, I appreciate the Work of Dr. Farouk here to start the fire of “Free Thinkers”.

    Cheers!

  • Areej

    I think the recent protests and riots in Iran are proof enough that the religious regime is not really working, the argument that the Quran is the way for women to gain equality, will only make sense if you're a Muslim yourself, but what if you're not?

    Maysaloon:
    “Finally, I don't doubt the integrity and honesty of many human rights activists, but many of their positions, whilst admirable in rejecting the “Sultan” are also wrong because they are against the laws of the Qur'an”
    If you really believe that, then what's the point of reading all the books that you mentioned?
    Sounds to me that that point was based on the pure belief in the Quran, and nothing else. Philosophy, politics and history had nothing to do with it, and you don't have to be on a certain league to see that that doesn't really make sense “unless” you believe the Quran to be the word of God.

    Just to be clear, I don't want to associate myself with Wesam, but I have to admit that he had a point there.
    Arrogance and name calling from both of you are not really intelligent arguments.

    @Hamzeh N.
    I think gender equality and secularism are directly related, most of the issues that people have problems with today when it comes to women's rights are mostly based on sharii'a law, for example: inheritance and divorce, how can you ask for equality in inheritance without mentioning secularism?

    I agree that secularism is the way forward for women, because it was tried in other countries, it worked and it's still working, and because no one has ever come up with an argument for Islamic law or sharii'a that is not purely based on faith and faith only.

    And honestly, I have yet to meet or hear of a Muslim scholar who will not resort to name calling and accusations of treason and conspiracy against Islam when they are debated about secularism, as Z.M. mentioned earlier.
    Part of the problem are people like Wesam who also resort to name calling and ridiculing of Muslims whenever they talk about secularism, which gives people that idea that if you're secular you must against Islam.

    Farida, I really appreciate you talking about this issue, but unfortunately, I think secularism is not coming to the Arab world anytime soon…

  • ramseytesdell

    Wesam –

    I want to remind you that respect is a key word of our commenting policy. I expect that you will disagree and hope that a vigorous debate will take place, but to take low shots and fire attacks simply to upset or offend is not a useful debate skill, and one that we won't tolerate on 7iber.

    Please keep your comments respectful, or find another site to comment on.

    ramsey
    editor 7iber.com.

  • Hamzeh N.

    You said yourself that you can't think of any Muslim scholar who will not resort to conspiracy theories when you mention the word “secularism.” That's my point. Why give your opponents ammo against you when your goal can be achieved by delivering a very focused message (e.g. giving women equal nationalization rights) as opposed to a very broad one (e.g. separate religion and state).

    I disagree with what you said regarding most injustices being back by religious rules and regulations. Consider the following:

    1- Discrimination against women in nationalization rights has nothing to do with religion, but mostly to do with politics. A secular Jordan will still impose those rules against women giving citizenship to their children.

    2- Discrimination against women in the work place happens for all sorts of reasons. In the US for example, women are paid less than men on average, they are discriminated against because companies incur higher costs during maternity leave, and God knows what other reasons people use to pay women lower wages than men. CEOs in the US are overwhelmingly men just like they are in the Middle East. Worst yet, today a lot of discrimination happens in the work place because of religion but in the opposite direction of that which you're thinking about. Women who wear hijab are discriminated against in many businesses in the Arab and Muslim world and especially in secular societies. In extremist “secular” countries like France and Turkey, these women are discriminated against by law! Of course, there's always Saudi Arabia and the discrimination against women participating in the labor force there via the prohibition on mixing of the sexes, but the biggest proof that low participation in the labor force is not driven by law is actually Jordan, which has the worst participation rate of females in the labor force of any country in the world (at least the 133 countries investigated by the WEF), worse than Saudi Arabia. There's no law in Jordan that bans women from work or bans them from mingling with male coworkers, so why do they not participate in the labor force. It's either a personal choice, or their families stop them from doing it. Either religion has nothing to do with it, of if it does, secularism cannot help that because the drivers for that law participation rate are not in the law.

    3- Discrimination against women in inheritance cannot be fixed by secularism either. A secular system of laws has no way of fixing it because it gives people complete freedom to define their will. People will simply start writing “Islamic wills” that follow the rules that are set by their religion (give my son 200 but give my daughter 100). If you try impose a system of laws that says people need to distribute their inheritance equally among their children, then your message is really about “equality” and not “secularism,” and that's exactly what my point was. We need to focus on the important point here, equality. How do we do that? Secularism is not always the answer.

    4- Discrimination against women in marriage (polygamy). A minor problem these days for most of us, but yes, religions like Islam allow men to wed multiple wives, while they do not allow women to do so. But women have an easy way of combating this which they never use; the marriage contract. There is an excellent example of a Jordanian woman who actively worked on a marriage contract that set several conditions, one of which (if I remember correctly) was that the husband shall not marry another woman. This was featured on the Aramram web site, search for it.

    5- Discrimination against women in divorce is also not driven by religion. Unfortunately, it seems that Jordan has taken a step back recently by removing the “khulu3″ from the civil law, but khulu3 is an Islamic thing and it's an example of how the religion itself has hooks in it to give women equal rights in some of the most important aspects of life, like marriage/divorce. Why did they remove it from the civil law? Surely it was not for religious motives, since khulu3 itself is backed by the religion in this case.

    6- Discrimination against women in criminal law (the honor crimes case). The law in Jordan that discriminates against women here has nothing to do with religion. Yes, the people who put this law into place were Muslims, but they will most likely still be there in parliament even if we have a secular country. They will still keep this law in place.

    I hope this explains why it is important to carefully think about how you want to work towards your goal and why you need a focused message.

    Asking for secularism because you want equal rights for women is like asking for world peace because you want an end to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

  • Areej

    Actually, now that clarified your point, I don't totally disagree with you.
    But I don't just call for secularism to end discrimination against women, there are several other reasons why I think secularism is a good idea for Jordan and every other Muslim country.

    I'm sorry I had to very brief, it's too late and I'm tired, but I mostly agree with you.

  • Ayman

    From your previous posts: “I don't doubt the integrity and honesty of many human rights activists, but many of their positions, whilst admirable in rejecting the “Sultan” are also wrong because they are against the laws of the Qur'an”

    So in other words, if someone does something good with good intentions it's still wrong if it's against the quran? I'm sure that implies that if someone does something bad that goes with the teachings of the quran that makes it ok?
    I'm sorry, but that doesn't even rise to the level of common sense and logic, but I have to admit that that argument is on a whole different league…not a good one though.
    Why did you waste your time reading books if in the end the only thing that matters is what the quran says?

    And before you start with the insults and your irrelevant book recommendations, I have a book for you, it's called “Logic For Dummies”, although it could be a bit hard for you…but you should at least try it.

    One more thing, I don't agree with wesam, or what he said in the last comment…

  • jaraad

    Dear Ramsey and 7iber editors,

    I know you are trying to create an environment for everyone to express himself in a more civilized way. I appreciate your comment and warning for Wesam but he went over the board with his last comment. I hope you delete his comment, it is a disgrace to leave such comment on a very respectful and open minded site as yours.

    Regards,

  • Hamzeh N.

    I'm not saying the pro-secularism crowd shouldn't speak. I'm just saying results are better achieved when the messages are more focused, especially when the odds are stacked so much against the broader wishes like a secular Middle East.

  • bambambi

    Just to make a few points here.
    Most problems of inequality are a mix of cultural and legal issues, when it comes to legal the problem is that most of those laws hinge on religion and to be able to supersede religious based laws you will need to unhinge them from religion and annul the argument for anything that is only backed and based on religious thought. So inheritance won't be changed unless you unhinge it from religion.
    The case in jordan atleast, and the majority of the world as well there shall be no personal contract that contradicts or supersedes laws of the country, so while a woman can write a contract limiting her husbands marriage to herself … that contract is void is the husband chooses to.
    as for points 1, 5, and 6 those are actually all related to religion … when it comes to nationalization it stems from the issue of a women being unable to give her sons her name, and lack of control over her own life in islam. khulu3 has no bases in islam sadly and you are welcome to look it up… its like divorce for the catholics. and there are bases for honor crimes and crimes of passion in islam.

    @maysaloon
    you are absolutely delusional since the blame you place on others is something that you do plenty of in your comments. For instance claiming that secularism is a western invention (roots of it is actually all over islam and islamic history and Ibn rushd is the grandfather of it) and secularism being practiced by arabic countries when the fact of the matter that most countries state their religion as islam and have their laws inspired by islamic laws. If you can give me one case where an arabic country other than tunis that over turned one of its islamic inspired laws that was based solely on religion i might reconsider … otherwise you are still delusional mr. “i live in england away from everything that i claim to stand for because i can't stand to live there”

  • Walid

    Not to be too simplistic about things…

    There's a lot of crap floating around masquerading itself as religious law and thought where it is in fact purely folkloric tradition rather than religious interpretations.
    One of the worst of these is that the male is superior by virtue of a penis, which is completely wrong.
    Secularism will not take place in this part of the world as religious law, politics, insecurities and more will always be intertwined in a Gordian knot.

    Be that as it may just looking at the posts in reply to Faridas well formulated piece, it showed why we as a people will never agree to disagree civilly, usually it boils down to name calling and labelling, we just can't , just look at the TV and see whenever you have two factions it nearly always is a debacle which ends up in name calling shouting etc.

    One has to ask why the clerics of most religions consider women weak and chattel? Why even after signing the women's rights decrees Jordanian women can't give their children the nationality (unless “Wasta” is involved)? Inheritance? Divorce?
    The list goes on and on… Answer is very simple Men fear Women, it boils down to that, there is no other explanation for the misogyny going on in the Arab Moslem world.

    I think it is a matter of education and awareness, yet I see so many educated so-called “civilised” men who look down upon women, and I see many educated women who perpetuate the cycle of ignorance forced upon them by men.

  • http://www.a-tale-of-three-beans.blogspot.com MommaBean

    Hamzeh,

    I wanted to respond to a couple of your points. First, I think you are right in your thought that the end goal needs to be very clear. However, some of your arguments are flawed as they are written from the perspective of a man :).

    Also, discrimination in inheritance as a CODE OF LAW can be fixed by the separation of religion from state. When I, as a Christian, can choose to whom my assets will be distributed and in what proportions, then I can choose to use an Islamic formula or not. Clearly as a Christian, I would not use the Islamic

    I also wanted to say to Maysaloon, that if you think that there is separation between religion and state in a country like Jordan you are sadly mistaken. When my child goes to a Christian school and is forced to memorize countless verses from the Quran, I assure you there is NO separation between religion and state. The government curriculum is based upon religion. It is not based upon great Arabic poets or thinkers or anything else. So, if this is, indeed, separation of religion and state, please don't show me a state that is NOT separate. We make choices and live with things that we may not like, but let's not pretend that it's something it's not…

    Oh, and Farida, thanks for another thought-provoking conversation. Your willingness to take on touchy subjects is admirable…

  • Hamzeh N.

    while a woman can write a contract limiting her husbands marriage to herself … that contract is void is the husband chooses to

    I don't see your point. Are you saying that the husband should NOT be able to withdraw from the marriage contract (i.e. get a divorce)? Or are you saying that the husband can simply choose not to marry the woman on this condition? If that is the case, then so be it, I don't see what the problem is!

    I'm not sure where you got the idea that “khulu3″ has no basis in Islam, as I am sure there have been well documented cases of women being allowed to end their marriages from their husbands. Ok, even if I were to assume (mistakenly) that you're right, my point is that it is at least allowed in Islam and has been well studied and regulated within that scope, yet our parliament has chosen to remove it, why? Not for reasons that are based on religion.

    As for nationalization, what you said doesn't make sense. What does the name have to do with what nationality you have? And how is that supposed justification something that is based in religion? Lack of control over her own life? Care elaborate? There's some recursion in that logic.

    As for the bases for honor crimes and crimes of passion in Islam, I would be very curious to know why the parliamentarians who continue to keep the discriminating laws in place, and the judges who continue to abuse article 98 do not resort to these bases. What are they?

  • Hamzeh N.

    MommaBean, some of my arguments are flawed just because I am a man? Really? That's your reason? Of course everything I say is going to be from a man's perspective, just like everything you say is going to be from a woman's. So what?

    I'm with you on everything you said regarding inheritance. See how easy it is for two people to agree when they are talking about a very specific case and when the message is focused? However, what you said only applies to Christians and a small minority of Muslims. The point I was making is that discrimination against women in Islam, the religion of the vast majority addressed here, would most likely not go away. Muslim women, who constitute the vast majority of the subjects in question here will still face the 2:1 inequality. So yes, your problem as a Christian might be fixed, but you're only ~6% of Jordan's society. I'm sorry if I chose to address 90% of the problem in my comments while ignoring the small part.

  • Someone

    The western world has achieved respect for women through secularism. Women empowerment, and equality between genders are now deep rooted in western society.
    This video is a demonstration of that:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRdHsuuXxfk

    (if you haven't noticed, I'm being satirical)

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    Answer is very simple Men fear Women, it boils down to that, there is no other explanation for it

  • The Guest

    The Arab World has a very long way ahead. Unless it gets religion out of the way, there is absolutely no way for progress. At least here it could be possible somehow (by an endless struggle), considering that Jordan isnt such a religious country compared to the others.
    I crap up when I see the combination of “Muslim” and “Feminist.” Everyone is familiar with what the Koran thinks of women. No course of hermeneutics can put this otherwise. It is stated explicitly how women are inferior to men, that 2 women are worth 1 man in court. Not to mention the thousands and thousands of warrants for killing non-believers (pretty much everyone who's not a Muslim). The texts are not moderate; people are, and we thank goodness for that.

  • http://7akifadi.com 7aki Fadi

    I first agreed with Farida but after reading your comment I agree with you %100.

    Well said!

  • http://7akifadi.com 7aki Fadi

    I first agreed with Farida but after reading your comment I agree with you %100.

    Well said!

  • Dina

    Very interesting, but why such strong views towards moving against religion and the state of power in the country? The things done by the woman in the Friday prayers is not acceptable mentally. You say that you are strongly in your research path of spiritual understanding of Islam. Forgive me, but you seem way lost in between, tangled up by hatred and God knows what.

  • Dina

    Now what the hell dose “Carry Out” has to do with all of this?!