The Dignity and Capacities of Women as Equal Bearers of Human Rights
This chapter deals with one of the most challenging areas in interhuman relationships, namely, the treatment of women and religious minorities in Muslim societies. Although both women's rights and the rights of minorities present Muslim jurists with the challenge of rethinking of a number of past rulings in the Shari'a, it is the human rights of women (more than half of the Muslim population) that requires methodological expansion and legal enactments for protection. Whether it is in the area of personal status or laws of inheritance, the issues related to women's human rights demand not simply revision but also abandonment of some past juridical decisions. The crisis of epistemology has shaken the confidence of male‐dominated Muslim seminaries in which judgments regarding women's concerns and legitimate claims were formulated without a single female legal scholar participating in deliberations that affected a woman's position in private and public sectors. Women activists in the Islamic world have correctly pointed out that without women's participation in the constitutional debates, for instance, in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, it is impossible to see how certain universal norms of human rights based on recognizing human dignity and the capabilities of women can be implemented without constitutional guarantees promoting quality of life for women in all Muslim states.
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