One Tiny Stipulation

So ‘Iraqis back women’s rights’ – with a stipulation. A stipulation that renders the whole idea pretty much worthless.

A survey conducted by Iraq’s constitution drafting committee showed that 69 per cent of respondents support full rights for women – as long as the freedoms don’t contradict Islam…

The survey I think is not all that reliable because of the methodology, but never mind, because what I want to look at, and poke with a stick, is the basic idea: that women’s rights are okay as long as they [why does the article shift without notice from rights to freedoms? they’re not interchangeable] don’t contradict Islam.

That’s a problem. That’s a big problem. Imagine if you were told – ‘Yes you are entitled to human rights – provided they don’t contradict Christianity/Taoism/Wicca.’ You’d feel pretty anxious and worried about what does and what does not contradict whichever religion was in question, wouldn’t you. Does your allotment of rights include the right not to be sacrificed to the gods without written consent of the sacrificee, or not?

That’s why it’s a problem when religion is allowed to trump ‘rights’ – because you just can’t trust religions to come up with rights-compatible systems, or Books. Especially not religions that were started a good few years ago, before notions like women’s rights had gotten much of a foothold. It’s really not such a great idea to tie modern legislation and constitutional protections to a set of ideas worked up two or three or five thousand years ago.

You can get an idea of the kind of thing from the Hizb ut-Tahrir site.

The work of Hizb ut-Tahrir is to carry the Islamic da’wah in order to change the situation of the corrupt society so that it is transformed into an Islamic society. It aims to do this by firstly changing the society’s existing thoughts to Islamic thoughts so that such thoughts become the public opinion among the people, who are then driven to implement and act upon them. Secondly the Party works to change the emotions in the society until they become Islamic emotions that accept only that which pleases Allah (swt) and rebel against and detest anything which angers Allah (swt).

That’s the basic framework – what pleases Allah is good and acceptable, what angers Allah is bad and detestable. Only – how do you know? Or how do they – the people in charge – know? By consulting the Book. But – sometimes there are conflicting interpretations. What do you do then? Oh – whatever. You ask the approved ‘scholars’. But then how can you be sure the scholars are right? How can you be sure you actually know what does please or anger Allah? Doesn’t it look as if there’s room for error or trickery or both here? How can you tell that someone somewhere along the line has not simply written down what he wants and called it the word of Allah? Put it this way – if someone had done that – how would you know? What would you accept as evidence that someone had in fact done that? Anything?

Well, we know the answer to that question, which is the point Irshad Manji has been making. Let’s hope she makes headway. But meanwhile, women’s rights in Iraq look to be headed for the memory hole.

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