A Palestinian cleric has said that women who keep Facebook, Twitter and other internet account passwords secret from their husbands are violating the Islamic Sharia law.
According to a video posted to YouTube by the TV service of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the Palestinian cleric, Sheikh Khaled Al-Maghrabi, said in a lecture delivered at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on December 16 that husbands are entitled under the Sharia code to demand to know their wives’ Facebook and other social media passwords.
“In marital relations, the wife must not keep any secrets from her husband. If the wife has a cell phone and she uses a password, but refuses to give her husband the password, this constitutes a violation of Islamic law. This is prohibited. A woman is not allowed to block her cell phone from her husband.
“If, for example, she has a Facebook account with a password, but her husband does not know the password, this constitutes a violation of Islamic law, because her husband must be able to check her Internet account at any time. That is his right! He is entitled to demand this.
“Under no circumstances whatsoever may a woman have a cell phone, a laptop, or any kind of Internet account, which is locked with a password that is unknown to her husband. This would constitute a violation of Islamic law regarding marital relations.”
And you don’t need to ask Sheikh Al-Maghrabi to know that he does not believe that women are entitled to know their husbands’ Facebook and other social media passwords.
While Westerners would consider such imposition on women draconian, similar restrictive tendencies with regard to women’s rights and freedom are found in the traditional Christian cultures of the Western world. However, the influence of progressive secularism in the Western world has acted to temper the tendency to extremes commonplace in the Muslim world.
The Sharia legal system purports to provide a theocratic model as superior alternative to the secular models of law and governance. The belief in the divine inspiration of Sharia law means that, in theory, it is not subject to revision. Yet in reality, the interpretative elaboration of Sharia law (“fiqh”) beyond the skeletal framework provided in the Koran and the Sunnah is influenced by the cultural outlooks of the scholars and legal authorities conducting the interpretation across the ages.
In recent years, Muslim feminists in Islamic countries have raised their voices boldly, arguing that the current dominant trends in the interpretation of “family law” under the Sharia code are based more on cultural attitudes and beliefs than strict interpretation of the Koran.
According to Muslim feminist Ziba Mir Hosseini in her paper “Towards Gender Equality: Muslim Family Laws and the Sha’riah,” family laws in the Muslim world “are the products of sociocultural assumptions and juristic reasoning.”
“I argue that Muslim family laws are the products of sociocultural assumptions and juristic reasoning about the nature of relations between men and women. In other words, they are ‘man-made’ juristic constructs, shaped by the social, cultural and political conditions within which Islam’s sacred texts are understood and turned into law.”
Hosseini’s argument reveals the weakness inherent in the argument by ISIS militants that the shocking criminality of their reported acts of enslavement of women is necessarily consistent with Islamic law. What Matthew Barber, an expert in the Islamic State from the University of Chicago, described as ISIS’ “twenty-first century slavery project” is seen by many liberal Muslims as ISIS exploiting the loopholes in a legal system that has medieval origins to pander to the concupiscence of its fighters.
But the fact that the ISIS understanding of the application of Koranic regulations on slavery to the 21st century is not universally accepted in the Muslim world was demonstrated dramatically in a recent report about an unnamed Iraqi man who has dedicated himself to buying girls — including Yezidis, Christians, and Muslims — from ISIS slavery to reunite with their families.
MEMRI, the organization that translated the video, was founded in February 1998. It describes itself on its website as dedicated to “inform the debate over U.S. policy in the Middle East” and bridging “the language gap between the West and the Middle East and South Asia, providing timely translations of Arabic, Farsi, Urdu-Pashtu and Dari media, as well as original analysis of political, ideological, intellectual, social, cultural, and religious trends.”