“Call for Islamic texts re-interpretation,” from Emirates News Agency (WAM):
NEW YORK “” The President of the United Nations General Assembly, Shaikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa, has issued a strong call for re-interpreting Islamic texts in order to address the social, educational and other constraints impeding the equality of women in the Middle East.
Pointing to the dynamism of Islamic Shariah to adapt to the changing situations, she called for new interpretations of the texts in the light of the new life circumstances.
A vague and unhelpful remark, without substantive historical examples provided, perhaps aiming to sell the possibility of a kinder, gentler Sharia to an American audience.
“The concept of human rights is based on the notion that all human beings are born with equal and inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms,” Shaikha Haya noted in an address to a panel discussion on May 16 on “Women and Human Rights in the Middle East” at Rutgers University, New Jersey, US.
That’s a fair assessment of “human rights” in the Western sense, but among people who believe that the Qur’an is the direct and eternal word of Allah, how will one go about getting them to challenge the fact that the Qur’an sanctions wife-beating (4:34), sets a woman’s testimony as equal to half that of a man (2:282), allows marriage to pre-pubescent girls (65:4), and more? If one believes that “human rights” are defined by the dictates of the Qur’an and Sunnah in accordance with will of Allah, he or she would obviously have a difficult time seeing either as being in violation of “human rights.”
She said the situation stems in part from the interpretation of Islamic text. “Women are subject to family laws that are Shariah-based, which strictly follow the interpretations of Islamic scholars who lived 1,000 years ago at the beginning of Islam. These interpretations are applied now without making any allowances to the very different social contexts of today,” she said.
“In fact, these interpretations are sanctified as holy which prevent them from criticism and change. This is one of the main reasons behind the discrepancy between personal status codes on the one hand and the current social circumstances on the
The General Assembly President blamed a “lack of rational interpretations of the texts that integrate the current social circumstances.”
It would improve many women’s lives the suggested reforms were to occur, but all of these proposals easily draw allegations of bid’ah, or introducing innovations to the Islamic religion, which is forbidden, due in part to the immutability of the Qur’an, as well as the fact that it upholds Muhammad as “a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day” (33:21).