Treatment of women is a much-debated topic worldwide. All humans—male and female— are made in God’s image. So it’s dreadful that in some places women still don’t have even basic rights. This is often the case in Muslim countries. There, women can sometimes seem like “second-class citizens.” But in Tunisia, President Beji Caid Essebsi is promising to submit an equal rights proposal to his parliament.
Historically, the laws in much of the world are rooted in the commands found in the Bible. Rulers and regular folks alike believed that freedoms of speech, conscience, assembly, and so on came directly from God the Creator.
In Tunisia, as in many Muslim countries, laws are based on Islamic sharia. Sharia is a set of religious principles that dictate Islamic life. Some areas of sharia are similar to traditional concepts of law. Others are not.
For example, unequal treatment of females is standard practice under sharia. Often, women cannot drive, hold office, wear certain clothing, or choose their own husbands. Sharia also usually grants daughters only half the inheritance given to sons.
Many Muslims disagree on how to reconcile the differences between sharia and traditional modern law. But most Muslim religious leaders say sharia is the law of their holy book, the Qur’an. To them, sharia law isn’t changeable.
Changing the inheritance laws to be fairer to women is part of Essebsi’s proposal. He believes Tunisia’s constitution backs him up. He says, “Tunisia is a state based on citizenship, the will of the people, and the supremacy of law” rather than religion.
For years, Tunisia has been a leader in the Muslim world for women’s rights. This summer, Tunisians elected a woman as mayor of Tunis, the capital. Souad Abderrahim is the first woman ever in that post.
Changes like these aren’t popular with many in the region. Thousands of Islamic men and veiled women marched to protest the changes. Many held signs. One banner read: “Qur’an text before any other text.”
Christians might sympathize with those who believe that no law should go against their holy book’s teachings. However, clinging to any belief that does not acknowledge the one true God is wrong—and may have eternal consequences.
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all. — 1 Timothy 2:5-6