by Greg Spearritt
Commenting on the current situation in Pakistan, Tanveer Ahmed writes in the Sydney Morning Herald:
Laws that were designed to protect women in the tribal clans of the sixth century now hold back the aspirations of half the population. What women now need protecting from, within Islam, is the idea that they need so much protection.
It’s another case of human customs, developed for a specific cultural and social context, becoming set in the cement of religion. Even in Australia, where real religious fervour has ebbed to a record low, ideas once enshrined in religious text or edict continue to have a powerful effect. Whether the issue is homosexuality, the roles and rights of women or voluntary euthanasia, we still have centuries-old views from entirely different cultural contexts exerting their influence by dint of their association with religion.
‘Progressive religion’, however, is not an oxymoron. Religion that can move with times and distinguish custom from substance and principle is happening more and more (and now more!) in Australia - and even in America.
Thank you Tanveer Arhmed for making this point so well, and thank you Greg for bringing this to our attention. Few people seem to be prepared to speak against women's second class status in Islam.
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