- Islamic Law and Gender Equality: Could There be a Common Ground?: A Study of Divorce and Polygamy in Sharia Law and Contemporary Legislation in Tunisia and Egypt
- Human Rights Quarterly
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 27, Number 2, May 2005
- pp. 562-596
- View Citation
- Additional Information
This paper seeks to address whether or not there could be a common ground between applying Islamic Sharia law and gender equality through an examination of the textual Sharia rulings regarding polygamy and divorce, a comparison of this theoretical framework with the applied laws in Egypt and Tunisia, and, finally, an attempt to show the relationship between the divine texts, jurisprudence, and the role of Ijtihad in responding to social change. The paper argues that the deterioration of women's rights in many Islamic countries has nothing to do with their Islamic nature but rather with their patriarchal nature. Islam introduced a number of revolutionary rights to women at the time of revelation; therefore, the spirit of the Quran points towards ultimate equality between the sexes in a gradual process, similar to the case of slavery. As the Quran puts great emphasis on the right to seek justice and the duty to do justice, and because the first aim of Sharia is to maintain justice and defend public welfare, all means to achieve justice and public welfare are Islamic in nature. The dynamic nature of Islamic teachings, the evolving character of Sharia, the spirit of Islam towards women's rights, the principles of justice and public welfare, and the essentiality of feminist Ijtihad leave no room for doubt that a common ground could be found between Islamic law and gender equality.