University of South Florida
The Oracle Newspaper
March 21, 2003
Studying the Quran from a non-patriarchal perspective enlightened and angered Riffat Hassan. She realized the Quran does not discriminate against women, which she said is a misconception many people have about the Muslim religion.
"I became convinced during this course of my research that the Quran does not discriminate against women," said Hassan, the founder and president of the International Network for the Rights of Female Victims in Pakistan. In a lecture titled "Gender and Islam," Hassan spoke in the Grace Allen room of the Library about Islam's misguided association with discrimination of women in the Middle East.
"Not only does it not discriminate against women, it gives to women a lot of special rights and is very protective of their rights," Hassan said. "The discrimination comes from society, not from the Islam religion."
Hassan said since the 1970s, any law in Muslim countries that has been passed in the name of Islam has never been reversed. She said the reason such unjust laws still discriminate against women is because the societies view men as superior. The cause of this idea, Hassan said, is derived from the biblical story of Adam and Eve.
Hassan said there are three ideological assumptions derived from the Bible that support the idea that men are superior to women. She said God created Eve from Adam's rib for Adam and Eve got Adam thrown out of Paradise.
"It is not possible for me to over emphasize the negative impact that the rib story has on women, not only in the Christian and Judaic religions, but also in Islam," Hassan said.
Hassan said the correct strategy for eliminating the inequality of women is to educate people accurately about the Quran and Islam. She also challenged some of the legitimacy of the Hadith, extra Quranic stories about the life of the prophet Muhammad.
“Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them; then if they obey you, do not seek a way against them; surely Allah is High, Great.” Surah 4:34 (The Qur’an)