Thursday, May 19, 2022

EXPLAINED: Women in the Islamic world

The Koran, at the theological level, recognizes the equality of all believers within Islam. It even grants a certain status to non-Muslims who are part of the “Ahlul Kitab” (Jews, Christians, and Mazdeists) by considering them believers of part of the divine revelation, which is completed with Islam according to Islamic belief.

As a jurist and former law student I am very much struck by –and pay considerable attention to– the social, political, and legal nature of the Qur’an. It is no surprise that it has a strong jusnaturalistic component dividing society into a smaller corpus: the family and this, in turn, into two large entities: men (fathers-husbands-sons) and women (mothers-wives-daughters).

In the Koran, due to the nature of the religion and the conception of the family under the Semitic conceptions (a clear example is the juridical and social vision seen in Judaism, especially in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy with the division of life and its obligations between men, women, normal members of the tribe, priests etc…).

The juridical component, therefore, since the laws of Hammurabi, are part of the backbone of every Semitic religion born in the fertile crescent. It is not an exception. Our Christian civilization, in origin, also possesses this differentiation that is evident in Paul’s letters. However, in the transition from Christian society, with a religious base based on natural law and tradition, we have passed to the denomination of the “West” (desacralized Christianity) and Christian natural law has been replaced by juspositivism.

This juspositivism at the juridical and social level has dissolved those natural components that form the natural family: man-woman; father-mother; son-daughter; husband-wife. In today’s positivist society these roles are diversified, dissolved in the new conceptions of modernity: individual freedom and total equality.

There are, however, within the West, autochthonous elements that resist this change, but they are in the minority. However, the transition from the natural law of Islam to positive law has not taken place with sufficient force. In fact, in the Islamic theological conception, positive law (which is man-made and malleable) is considered abominable because it means equating it with Allah in his function as supreme legislator, understanding that Islam as a whole (Koran + Hadith + Ikma + Khiyas, the first two are primary sources and the rest are secondary or subsidiary sources).

Understanding this we can declare that no law of the Sharia or any legal code, however, secularized the judicial system of the Islamic country of the day maybe, can be contra legem understanding that no rule can contradict what the Koran says, concluding and giving status to the sacred book of a catalyst in its function of political, juridical and social constitution. This makes the Koran a book to be understood as a framework law that can be developed but without falling into contradictions.

This juridical element not only permeates the courts but is also a source of social observation by the active believer but also by the passive or cultural believer living in Islamic collective society (within the Islamic world) or an Islamic family society (Islamic community or family outside the Islamic world).

This implies that an important part of the Islamic society understands as natural the gender roles that in the West are increasingly blurred. In fact, the first objective of the Muslim is to be a good Muslim and that implies submission to Allah, the prophet Muhammad and his message; so there is no discussion as to the content of the same and the gender roles that are raised in the West are not raised in Islamic society, much less the struggle to eliminate them.

The basic difference between the two citizens is that: one seeks to preserve the natural law given by the pillars of their civilization and the other seeks equality among all and the freedom of the individual.

These conceptions are, however, entangled in a vicious circle with “Islamic feminism”. To begin with, feminism, as we understand it in the West, is originally an invention of the Western urban middle classes, which has been developing philosophically and politically in various directions: from the unhinged left-wing feminism to natural feminism (which considers that in the West the work of feminism is consumed in achieving real equality between men and women at the social, political and judicial levels).

There are places in the Islamic world where this reality is closer to the West than in others: in Syria there is a woman who is a general in the army (Nibal Madhat Badr), in Saudi Arabia until recently they could not drive and in Afghanistan the burqa awaits them.

The submission, therefore, to the man that is proclaimed from certain Islamic female sectors is a reality, therefore, that responds to the jusnaturalism stage, with theological basis, in which the Islamic civilization moves in general (although this civilization is very rich, contradictory and dynamic in general).

From the natural division that is advocated in the Islamic religion due to the difference in social functions of men and women (at the theological level, as believers, that is, before Allah both believers are equal) it is understood that men and women have different positions, functions, rights, and obligations before the community (society) and before the family, and this is the reality that we in Western society do not know, do not want, do not succeed or do not accept to understand.

Why? Because we are talking about differences that go beyond religion or ideologies, what exists between both societies is an abyss product of the existence of two radically opposed and naturally excluding civilizations that try to influence each other while they continue advancing along the paths of their own historical development.