MCGILL UNIVERSITY RECEPTION: KEYNOTE ADDRESS: On Understanding Shari‘a: The Challenge of Gender Equality

In the course of the twentieth century, established interpretations of Shari‘a encountered the ideals of universal human rights, equality and personal freedom. In this encounter, some Shari‘a-based legal rulings came to be seen as unjust and discriminatory, and as based on hypocritical, or at best contradictory, interpretations of the textual sources. In this lecture I trace the shifts in understandings of Shari‘a and relations between Muslim legal tradition, the state and social practice, with particular reference to the Islamic Republic of Iran, ruled 1979 by custodians of the Shari‘a, and to Musawah, a global movement for equality and justice in Muslim family laws launched in 2009.