An excellent article, and she makes an excellent case that fiqh rulings that justify zina and huddud laws are irrational and are not valid interpretations of the Quran. The fiqh rulings were made by Islamic scholars down through the centuries. They interpreted various passages in the Quran as meaning this or that.
For instance, the idea that women are supposed to cover up their whole bodies comes from an interpretation of the Quranic statement that women must cover up their “jewels” when out in public. In the Quranic context, it seems that the jewels refer to a woman’s private parts – her breasts, ass and pubic area. Somehow “jewels” was interpreted by partriarchal male scholars to mean that a woman had to cover up the near entirety of her body. Make sense? Of course not.
Zina and huddud laws are those that regulate sexual behavior. In practice, they have regulated the sexual behavior of women but not men. Women are imprisoned under these laws for adultery and fornication. Even women who are raped are imprisoned, incredibly enough, for adultery and fornication as in Pakistan’s huddud laws.
Zina laws are also the basis for the honor killings that are so prevalent in the Muslim World. Various excuses for honor killings that say that people other than Muslims also do this do not hold water as the practice is largely confined to the Muslim world.
Clearly though, honor killings are an Arab practice that spread to Arabized cultures such as Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Caucasus, Turkey and Berber North Africa. On the other hand, there seem to be Muslim nations where this does not occur especially where Islam was a recent foreign import and local religious traditions have not yet been usurped. Honor killings are rare to absent in Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burma, Cambodia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Albania and Bosnia.
The author shows that passages criminalizing sexual behavior actually refer to people having sex in public or where others can see them. So fucking in public and probably strip shows and pornography are covered but private sexual behavior is not.
In addition, the Quran grants divorce rights to women, yet fiqh rulings have always forbidden divorce by females and instead codified divorce initiated far too easily by males.
In Mohammad’s time, female Muslims were relatively free. They have only become more restricted with time. For instance, Ayesha was known to frequently preach in the mosque after Mohammad died. When was the last time you heard of a woman preaching in the mosque?
I have read a few of these feminist and progressive interpretations of Islam. While they make sense, they unfortunately seem irrelevant to our times.
This is because the Muslim world is going backwards and not forwards. All across the Muslim world, Muslims are getting more fundamentalist and less progressive and liberal. The spread of ISIS and Al Qaeda and their various offshoots, along with Islamists winning various elections in Egypt, Palestine, Yemen, Turkey and Iraq are indicative of this trend. Even where seculars won elections such as in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Lebanon and Tunisia, strong, often armed fundamentalist groups continue to operate. Each of these countries deal with armed Islamists stirring up trouble, in Pakistan’s cases, a world of trouble.
Show men one area where Muslims are liberalizing.
The Muslim World is evidence that clocks do indeed run backwards at times.