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Cintia Lanton

R. Masters
History 134
Women Living Under Sharia Law

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Shari'ah is an Arabic word that defines a path that is to be followed. The Islamic law is known
to Arabic natives as Sharia, and is a moral and religious code of ethics. Sharia covers the economy,
politics, criminal activity, and even intimate matters such as ones hygiene, sex, prayer, diets, and
everyday etiquette. Obeying this law that is considered to be an infallible law by God is what the
Muslim faith has been notorious for. However, the women who have under Sharia law face
discrimination that has become a part of their lives while the men reap the benefits.
There are five supplements that aid the fundamentals of the Sharia;The Qur`an, Sunna, Qiyas,
Ijmaa, and Ijtihad. The primary source of Islamic law is the Quran, which is said to be Gods words.
Although the Qu`ran contains legal prescriptions, it is mainly focused on guidelines and ethics. A
secondary source called the Sunna is made up of practical traditions and model behaviors of the
prophet Muhammad. The Qiyas is for reasoning, Ijima is the consensus among Muslim scholars,and
the Ijtihad advises to use ones own jurist when the Qu`ran and Sunna are silent.
The opportunity to gain an education is equal amongst men and women. Islam is a religion of
knowledge;reading and learning are greatly encouraged because all knowledge is God, and it is a duty
to seek it. In order to fulfill their religious duties such as fasting, dieting, and prayer, men and women
have to attain an extensive knowledge. The prophet not only wants women to be educated and become
teachers, he wants them to participate in the Muslim community. The Shari'ah reforms brought
inheritance rights for women.
Before Islam women could not enjoy legal rights or financial independence. They were
deprived of any inherited land, and it would be divided amongst the male family members. This was all
secured for those who classified in the Shari'ah as vulnerable.i [Women, children, and the elderly fall
under the vulnerable category.]
The first person in the Arab world to believe in the message of Muhammad was his wife, Khadija.
Although Muhammad treasured women, he brought on some harsh concepts and enforced cruel

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practices. He believed that women were heartless, inferior, only served the purpose to procreate, clean
and obey their husbands.ii "The significance of marriage consists of the supremacy ofthe husband... Marriage is a religious act...
that gives the man ruling power over the woman, for the benefit of humanity". (Abdo, 2000: 57)
The family chooses the husband the woman is to marry;she doesn't even need to be present.
This limits her freedom even further and puts her under constant supervision. The marital arrangement
is similar to a business matter,marriage is a contract between man and woman;the woman who is
beautiful and has a great dowry is prized. The woman will not see the man before they marry-so if he is
already married, she will just have to accept the fact. A man can practice polygamy and marry outside
of the Muslim faith, but the woman, of course, cannot.iii [Marry those women who you like-two, three, or four. And if you fear youre
being unjust to them, then only marry one or whatever is in your just hands

If he takes more than one wife,they will live in the same home and he will just divide is time
between them. The view on sexuality and marriage is shaped by the Islamic law; the Qu`ran, Sunna,
and Sharia all have a say in the matter. It is much easier for the man to obtain a divorce than the
woman;he just has to declare it in public three times. There are four reasons that will allow a woman to
divorce her husband: if he abandons her, if he doesn't support her financially, if he abuses her, or if he
has a dangerous/contagious disease. Just as a divorce between christians, reconciliation is encouraged,
but if good relations between the two cannot be attained, the divorce is permitted. Just as the
difficulties we have in America, women are paid less then men,but their work is generally dangerous
and hard.
To prevent any illicit sexual relations, a woman's genitals are mutilated, and her face and body
are covered. The Sunna proposed female circumcision because it would increase please for the man,
and control the womans sexual urges. An uncircumcised woman is unnatural and even when she's
circumcised, her chances of marrying are lowered because she's considered a danger to society. The
woman would orientate herself to her husband and no other man. A womans purpose is to procreate

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but she will still be discriminated against, and an infertile woman is taunted and carries great shame.
If she gives birth to a daughter, it is shameful;if a son is born, he will bring joy to everyone.
This is very difficult for me to imagine because we all come from a woman. How can a man dictate
when you have a baby, how you nourish the baby, and is only happy depending on the sex of the babywhen it is actually up to the man whether or not she gives birth to a boy or girl? The circumstances for
these women are greatly unjust. Discussing the number of children to have is strange and is not
done;the choice is not hers but God's.
The woman will bear as many children as she can for her husband. According to Sharia, a
woman who is deflowered or raped, could be found guilty, killed, or imprisoned. She would have to
prove she did not consent to the sexual act; this could possibly be done with another woman because
two women are equal to one man. The feminists who've acted for a change in the law wanted to put an
end to polygamy, work on the legislation concerning divorce and the children,iv[If there is a divorce the children would
remain with the man; and he dies, the children will remain with his family.]

and they wanted to have a better recognition as the mother.

Although change has been attempted, feminists have been outnumber by women who want to keep
tradition alive and who think living any other way would be a disgrace.
Unfortunately, in some cultures your gender lays out a life for you that is not desirable if you
are a woman. Even though the circumstances women face under Sharia law and the Prophet
Muhammad's standards are repeatedly questioned, the answer always favors keeping the tradition


ivWorks Cited
Zakaria, Rafia. "Sharia, Justice, And The Politics Of Intimacy." Asianetwork Exchange 19.1
(2011): 7-16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
NICOLAU, INGRID. "Women's Rights In Islam." Contemporary Readings In Law & Social
Justice 6.1 (2014): 711-720.Academic Search Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
STRATE, Ligia. "The Contemporary Egyptian Woman In Islamic Background Perception And
Self Perception."Scientific Journal Of Humanistic Studies 4.7 (2012): 7-14. Academic Search
Complete. Web. 23 Nov. 2014.
Nasir, Jamal Jamil. The Status of Women under Islamic Law: And under Modern Islamic
Legislation. London: Graham & Trotman, 1994.
Mashhour, Amira. Human Rights Quarterly vol 27 No.2(may,2005),pp 562-596