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Does God Distinguish Gender?
By Lynne Rogers
Courtesy of Women Make Movies
Rights and Wrongs, the Story of Women in Islam Directed by Corine Huq Women Make Movies, 2011
In “Rights and Wrongs, the Story of Women in Islam,” filmmaker Corinne Huq returns to the Quran to reestablish the precedents for women’s rights set forth by the Prophet Mohammed. Huq tackles the rights of women, like her predecessors such as Moroccan sociologist and feminist Fatima Mernissi, by taking a sura from the Quran, bolstering it with a historical context, and then demonstrating how that practice has evolved or been ‘hijacked’ in a variety of Muslim countries around the world.
Huq also includes interviews in the film with leading scholars and activists to support her thesis. For instance, scholar Leila Ahmed points out that “justice lies at the heart of Islam,” a notion that greatly appealed to Mohammed’s female followers. In fact, Muslim women during the Prophet’s time had the right to divorce and inherit property. She wryly adds that, despite the number of Muslim female leaders in the Islamic world, no one ever bothers to ask why Islam produces more female leaders than the West. Scholar Amina Wadud, author of a seminal study on women and Islam, examines the Quran for its original language, and teases out the wide latitude for interpretation and the potential misappropriation of language.
Another scene in the film focuses on the call to prayer sung by Wadud, a woman, while other Muslims protest outside. And in yet another scene, writer and journalist Asra Nomani, who returned to the United States after the death of journalist Daniel Pearl, likens her protest in the United States to worshipping in the mosque. Furthermore, teacher and multiple rape victim Mukhtar Mai, succeeds in prosecuting her five assailants in Pakistan in the name of Islam. All the above examples illustrate that each community establishes its own religious praxis, but also leave room for interpretation. Huq recounts the ancient history of Islam and examines the problems of interpretation that arose after the death of the Prophet. She does not proselytize, and her conclusion merely urges Muslims and the general viewership to examine their own communities and themselves. “Rights and Wrongs, the Story of Women in Islam” provides an informed contribution to anyone interested in conducting a similar study.