Most important human right in our lifetime, Part 3

Most important human right in our lifetime, Part 3

I suppose we can divide human rights into two types: those that people want, and those they don’t want. In the preceding parts of this thread, I’ve set out what I think is one of the hardest cases of the second type. I’ve pictured a Muslim woman (taking the term Muslim generically for present purposes—there are of course many Muslim sects with many variations of practices) who, in the exercise of her own volition, chooses to be legally inferior to men. I’ve tried to articulate her position, which is a composite of the views I have heard after many years of listening and study.

However, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides for equality before the law for all persons and prohibits discrimination on the ground of sex (Article 26). It also provides for the equal right of men and women to all civil and political rights (Article 3). Thus there is a clash between this norm of international law and the preferences of Muslim women.

Exacerbating this clash is the fact that Muslim men are united with Muslim women on this score: both sexes believe that men are superior to women—legally, socially, physically, and according to the tenets of Islam. Moreover, their nations stand behind them. Today, as I write these words, the newspapers are reporting the final text of the proposed Iraqi constitution. It provides in Article Two (1)(a) that “No law may contradict Islamic standards.” Let’s look at the relevant Islamic standard provided in the Qu’ran:

Men have authority over women because God has made the
one superior to the other. Good women are obedient. As for
those from whom you fear disobedience, admonish them,
forsake them in beds apart and beat them.

Quibbling aside, it seems to me that no fair-minded person can compare the texts of the ICCPR and the Qu’ran and conclude that they are substantively compatible with each other.

In approaching the problem of a clash between the law and deeply held religious/cultural practices, let us briefly consider two easier cases. The first case is that of Christian Scientist parents refusing to let their six-month-old child be operated upon to remove an intestinal blockage. Here the law intrudes: it prohibits the parents’ interference and requires that the operation proceed. The second case is that of female circumcision. Even though this practice is widespread in Muslim communities throughout northern Africa, the law on the books in those countries forbids it.

These cases are easier because our case of the inequality of Muslim women is generally accepted by all persons living within the nation that authorizes the inequality. Thus not only do we have a clash between international law and religious/cultural practices, but we also have a clash between international law and a state’s domestic jurisdiction. On all counts, this clash is so enormous as to lead us to revaluate our commitment to the rule of law.

I think revaluation is always healthy. The “law” should not blindly dominate our lives. I’ve argued elsewhere that even the word “should” should not apply to legal commands. A rule of law, as Kelsen pointed out, is simply a calculation: “if you choose to do X, the state will do Y to you.” There is no “should” or “ought” about it at all.

If Kelsen’s essentialist view is accepted, then we have to go outside the law to see whether the law “should” be obeyed. Morality (at least as Kelsen sees it) is external to the law. Thus it is morality that provides the “should” factor. But morality, by its very nature, cannot apply to every law that is enacted without ending up contradicting itself. Thus morality must pick and choose among the legal rules. Some “ought” to be obeyed; others (like the law requiring apartheid decades ago in South Africa) “ought not” to be obeyed.

Hence, in comparing the ICCPR with the Qu’ran, “the law” will only take us a small part of the way. What we really have here looks like a clash of morality. How do we deal with that?

One way to deal with it is through moral relativism. We might say that although women and men ought to be equal before the law, this equality applies only in parts of the world. In other parts, where both men and women agree that women ought to be inferior to men under the law, then THEIR morality dictates a result opposite to the one we would reach.

I think moral relativism is incoherent. I believe there is a clear moral answer to the clash between equality and inferiority for women. I believe in moral absolutism, which I acknowledge up front is an arrogant doctrine. I’ll try to defend my position in my final blog, coming soon to a theatre near you, either Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

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I’m a Muslim man and I disagree with this statement: “Exacerbating this clash is the fact that Muslim men are united with Muslim women on this score: both sexes believe that men are superior to women—legally, socially, physically, and according to the tenets of Islam.”

There is no consenus among Muslim men (or women) on this.

And on your point about Islam and the Iraq constitution, it is worth recalling that the transitional constitution under which Iraq is currently operating also recognises Islam as the source of all laws and forbids laws that conflict with Islam; and, yet, this has hardly entrenched Islamic law or anything else in Iraq.

It’s also worth noting that the same provision in the proposed constitution that says Islam is the source of all laws also guarantees protection for women and other minorities and basic human rights.

With the greatest respect, the fear mongering should stop.


[With the greatest respect, the fear mongering should stop.] I don’t think that anyone at this site is fear-mongering. That is not the issue. The topics being discussed here are real topics that have real implications for international law and governance. I will tell you what the problem is in the west with Islam. The problem in the west is that western nations are struggling with two very specific weaknesses within our laws and government. The first weakness is the inability to see hostility outside of the traditional western colonialist role. That means the only evil that is seen is capitalist evil involving traditional power groups, and yet those groups are now marginalized in favor of minorities (women and other minorities). For example, in Zimbabwe, the dictator Mugabe was allowed to ethnic cleanse white farmers from their lands, starving millions of people because as I said, only certain groups are defined as hostile. Where there once were 5,000 active farms producing food, now there are less than 450. Zimbabwe was once the largest producer of food in Africa, but because of neo-Marxism, it is now a prime candidate of humanitarian aid instead. Remarkable, isn’t it? But to internationally-driven feminists, millions… Read more »


Would Islam tolerate 65 out of 490 students getting pregnant at school as just happened at this American high school? (13% of the entire high school’s girls are pregnant)

This is an interesting subject. What would Sharia Law do in such a case? How would Islam react to this situation in Islamic countries?

In America, when 65 out of 490 young girls get pregnant in a high school, 13% of all the female students, American feminists celebrate it. So help me out here and explain to me what Islam would do in this example if a local Imam found out that 13% of a school’s underage children became pregnant in an Islamic community.



Here’s what happened in one rich man’s household. He had his 18-year-old daughter tested for virginity and the doctor reported that she had lost her virginity. She explained to her father that she fell off her bicycle and there was bleeding. However, she had a girl friend who underwent the same test with the same result. The families put two and two together.
The rich man hired private detectives, no expense spared, who found out after much searching that the two young women were messing around with a couple of Pakistani young men. The police, at the bidding of the parents, arrested the young men and interrogated them. They confessed and named the two girls.

Now we are at the rich man’s home on Sunday morning. Everyone is gathered around the pool, including servants, relatives, children, in-laws, etc. Some men appear who are holding the young girl tightly. They take her into the pool and hold her head under water. Everyone watches her drown.


Looking at how Islamic law was formed, we need to look at the society it was born into. Which is the Arab tribal society Islam as a faith was founded in, is, a patrilineal and patrilocal society (like other cultures of the day) Prior to Islam, Women, in this part of the world had little or no rights at all, beyond being practically the property of the man. In such desert societies women also were the source of shame that they might bring unto the man (the roots of honor killing). Islam came and change all that, It made it a precondition for a Muslim that in order to be a good Muslim he has to be good to his household first, to treat mothers, wives and daughters as equal human beings, not lesser. The Koran, in many places emphasizes that the road to heaven must go through treating women fairly and well. Islam, as shocking as it may seem to many non-Muslims, alleviated the woman to a much better status than she had before Islam. Islam made the woman equal to man before God, gave them, inheritance rights (non existence before), gave them the right to marry, and divorce,… Read more »


Professor D’Amato said: [Now we are at the rich man’s home on Sunday morning. Everyone is gathered around the pool, including servants, relatives, children, in-laws, etc. Some men appear who are holding the young girl tightly. They take her into the pool and hold her head under water. Everyone watches her drown.] That circumstance is with a female that has chosen her partner and remained with the one partner as well. You know as well as I do that the American high school incident involved girls with perhaps numerous sex partners, so many that multiple accusations against many different boys (and men) will appear for each case of pregnancy to determine who will test out for DNA tagging of the ‘daddy’ in each pregnancy. So western ‘values’ in regards to the law is going to surprise many Islamic men, not that they haven’t perhaps been informed that one of the key issues of the ‘great satan’ is our lack of moral values in how we allow our women to treat themselves as well as how men treat them. The only thing that we will see exported to Islam is feminism. What does Islam export to the west? Oil. How can… Read more »