In history, it can be observed that western views are the prominent ideology in the world. It seems that for centuries Western and Islamic ideals have clashed and caused many disputes then and now. Women’s Rights in Islam have been a very controversial topic in the ‘western’ media for quite some time now. Often one of the most pressing topics has been the ‘expected’ dress code of women, as well as many pre-Islamic practices such as honor killing that have been abolished. It is not often understood that the exercise of these pre-Islamic actions that do in fact restrict the rights of women are the exception not the norm. But, looking at tradition can also lead to the understanding that women in fact are elevated in society due to Islam. The shared tradition in the western world and in Islam of marriage includes both men and women equally. Therefore it seems fitting to analyze legal affair that equally includes both men and women, which exists in both the western and Islamic world. While examining the “rights” of anyone it is important to establish the guidelines of what “rights” actually entail. Hence, for the purpose of the presented argument when the ‘rights’ of women are referred to throughout this paper, it will be referring to rights that comply with the standards of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam. Through an analysis of Islamic Shari’a law pertaining to men and women equally, it is revealed that the advent of Islam has improved the rights of women in the Muslim world in comparison to pre-Islamic Arabia. This is divulged through the exploration of pre-Islamic Arabia and Islamic Marriage practices and how they uncover the status of gender equality in Islam.
Islam is intertwined with its politics and religion so it is important to abolish the western views of Shari’a Law is imagined to be, and decipher between law and personal choice pertaining to Islamic views. One of the most common misconceptions that fuel the debate of women’s rights in Islam is the veil or ‘Hijab’. Though the Qur’an mentions modest clothing, never does it mention the modern take on the Hijab today. “The practices of veiling and seclusion were adopted by the Arabs from previous civilizations mainly by the upper classes as a sign of status and prestige.” Further, many Quranic verses suggest this modesty for both sexes, for example Al Nour, 24, verse 30: “Say to the believing men That they should cast down Their eyes and guard Their private parts; that is purer for them. And God is well acquainted with all that they do.” (24:30) Though some may interpret verses from the Quran as suggesting to the practice of the Hijab, in reality it is a personal choice for women. Often women choose to wear it out of devotion to their religion and their society, forced observance is not the norm.
When a new religion or school of law is formed, it is assumed that these laws are created and governed to maintain the...