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Does Shari`ah Law Support Inequality? Part 1

07 May, 2017
Q Is it true that equal rights before the law do not exist under Islamic law? One citizen, one vote does not exist under Islamic law? What about women’s rights, why is there discrimination between women’s rights and men’s rights? Also, what about minorities? I heard that minorities - that is, non-Muslims - enjoy rights and protections at the pleasure of the Muslim community that are ever-subject to the capriciousness of a rights-canceling fatwa.


Salam (Peace) Michael, 

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam. 

Please find part one of the answer to your question below. Find the second and final part at the link here.

To understand Shari`ah Law, one must understand first and foremost that it is not the law of man, but, according to Muslims, the Law of the Divine – God – as enshrined in the Quran.

It can therefore not be manipulated, added upon, or removed. Any attempts to do so render the law un-Islamic. 

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Shari`ah Law consists of rules and guidelines that are bequeathed to humanity from the Creator and form the governance of humanity at large, between Muslims and other Muslims, Muslims and non-Muslims, humans and the Divine, humans and the environment, and humans and the animals.

Shari`ah Law is not meant to be used as a way of control, but rather as a progressive and humanitarian force for stability, reform, and justice. 

Women’s Rights

You wrote, “Equal rights before the law do not exist under Islamic law. One citizen, one vote does not exist under Islamic law.”

These are misrepresentations of the Quran, but it is understandable why the West would perceive Islam as being unjust to women; too often cultural practices that exist in Arab and Muslim societies may not necessarily reflect the teachings of the Quran and often are in stark contradiction to Shari`ah Law.

The Quran states first and foremost what means:

{The submitting men, the submitting women, the believing men, the believing women, the obedient men, the obedient women, the truthful men, the truthful women, the steadfast men, the steadfast women, the reverent men, the reverent women, the charitable men, the charitable women, the fasting men, the fasting women, the chaste men, the chaste women, and the men who commemorate God frequently, and the commemorating women; God has prepared for them forgiveness and a great recompense.} (Quran 33:35)

The Quran also says what means:

{Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: You are members, one of another: Those who have left their homes, or been driven out therefrom, or suffered harm in My cause, or fought or been slain,- verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath; – A reward from the presence of God, and from His presence is the best of rewards.} (Quran 3:195)

While the Quran is replete with God’s commandments that man and woman are equal in His eyes, it is prudent to reflect on the following verse, which says what means:

{O people, We created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of God is the most righteous. God is Omniscient, Cognizant.} (Quran 49:13)

Perhaps the most telling sign of Islamic equitability in the eyes of God is where it says what means:

{The devil whispered to them, in order to reveal their bodies, which were invisible to them. He said, “Your Lord did not forbid you from this tree, except to prevent you from becoming angels, and from attaining eternal existence.” He swore to them, “I am giving you good advice.” He thus duped them with lies. As soon as they tasted the tree, their bodies became visible to them, and they tried to cover themselves with the leaves of Paradise. Their Lord called upon them: “Did I not enjoin you from that tree, and warn you that the devil is your most ardent enemy?”} (Quran 7:20-22)

Then the chapter goes on saying what means:

{Get you down. With enmity between yourselves. On earth will be your dwelling-place and your means of livelihood – for a time.” He said: Therein shall you live, and therein shall you die; but from it shall you be taken out [at last].} (Quran 7:24-25)

In the above verses there is consistent reference to “them” – indicating a pairing, not a division. Nowhere does God in the Quran pinpoint blame on either Eve or Adam, but on them together. They sinned together. They were punished together. And elsewhere in the Quran, we learn that they were forgiven together.

This indicates a Divine understanding of equality. Islam does not acknowledge the false idea of Eve’s sin, as if she has sinned alone. 

Compare this with the Biblical Genesis: 

[Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die’.” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.] (Genesis 3:1-6- emphasis added)


[To the woman He [God] said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.] (Genesis 3:16- emphasis added)

As any student of medieval history knows, Biblical references to the status of woman were an oft used excuse for the witch hunts of Europe and indeed an inspiration for the anti-feminist ranting found in Malleus Maleficarum – a guidebook on the culpability of women in witchcraft written by two monks in 1486. 

Please continue Reading part two at the link here

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

How Shariah Brings Value to Our Lives

Out Of Context – Shariah Law vs. Penal Code

3 Major Goals of Islamic Shariah