The relationship between secularism, democracy, religion, and gender equality has been a complex one across Western democracies and still remains contested. When we turn to Muslim countries, the situation is even more multifaceted. In the view of many Western commentators, the question of women’s rights is the litmus test for Muslim societies in the age of democracy and liberalism. This book critically re-engages this too simple binary opposition by reframing the debate around Islam and women’s rights within a broader comparative literature that examines the complex and contingent historical relationships between religion, secularism, democracy, law, and gender equality, with the goal to challenge the taken-for-granted connection between secularism and democracy and its positive effects on women’s rights.
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