Equal before Allah, unequal before man? : negotiating gender hierarchies in Islam and international law
This study engages in a conceptual analysis of human rights in Islam and international law, and the application of this analytical discourse to explore the nature of women's human rights in the Islamic tradition. It has been argued that women's human rights in Islam are not entirely irreconcilable with current formulations of international human rights instruments emanating from the United Nations. The basic premise of the argument stems from a recognition that the Islamic legal tradition is not a monolithic entity. On the basis of its main sources, namely the Quran, Hadith, Ijma and Qiyas, Islamic law lends itself to a variety of interpretations that have far reaching implications for women's human rights in Islam. (Part I)A further factor raised in this study is the disparity between the theoretical perspectives on women's human rights, and, its application to Muslim jurisdictions determined by elements of cultural practices, socio-economic realities and political expediencies on the part of governments. The present study uses the example of Pakistan to demonstrate the divergence between theory and practice of Islamic law in these jurisdictions. The concept of what has been termed an emerging 'operative' Islamic law, consisting of a combination of elements including principles of Islamic law, secular codes of law and popular custom and usage has also been introduced. (Part II)Part III of the thesis is devoted to an evaluation of the development of the international norm of non-discrimination on the basis of sex and some 'Islamic' human rights documents affecting women's human rights. The analysis provides an insight into the response of Muslim States to international human rights instruments affecting women through a discussion in the light of reservations to the Women's Convention. The study concludes by posing the question whether a move towards convergence between international and Islamic schemes of women's human rights is discernible or not.