A case study in the obstacle that sharia poses for the advancement of women’s rights: Islam elevates women, and we’ve got sharia law, so what more can they ask for? The mentality is comparable to a short-sighted (though apocryphal) pronouncement often attributed to Bill Gates, circa 1981, that “640K [of RAM] ought to be enough for anybody,” where sharia is the “640K”: It’s all you “need,” and all you’re going to get.
“Bahrain Shiite clergy feud with parliament over family law,” from Agence France-Presse, January 3:
MANAMA (AFP) “” Bahraini Shiite Muslim clergymen on Saturday declared that a proposed family law cannot pass parliament and insisted that only the Shiite religious authority has jurisdiction over family matters.
The six Shiite clergymen said the law, which was referred to parliament for approval on Saturday, should be drafted by clergymen and approved by the highest Shiite marjaia (Shiite religious authority) Ali al-Sistani.
“Such a regulation dealing with Islamic law must have the approval of the highest Shiite marjaia and not a council of representatives with no expertise on sharia (Islamic law),” Sheikh Mohammed al-Shihabi of the Shiite Muslim Scholar Council told AFP.
In the absence of a personal status law in Bahrain, sharia, in both its Sunni and Shiite interpretations, has been the only arbiter when it comes to marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance.
Islamic Sunni and Shiite courts rule on family and other personal cases.
The Shiite clerics in December said a plan for the Gulf kingdom’s legislative authority to bring in a family law was an unnecessary and provocative move.
Bahraini women activists have long been demanding that a law regulating personal status issues be enacted and that related disputes be referred to civil courts, instead of to religious courts headed by clergymen.
Meanwhile, Britain has accommodated activists lobbying for the opposite.