Muslim legal tradition does not treat men and women equally. At the root of this discrimination lies a theological assumption: God has given men authority over women. This assumption is justified with reference to a Qur’anic verse (4:34) and is expressed in two key legal concepts that underlie the logic of most contemporary Muslim family laws. One, qiwamah, generally denotes a husband’s authority over his wife. The other, wilayah, refers to the right and duty of male family members to exercise guardianship over female members and the privileging of fathers over mothers in guardianship of their children.
Based on exciting new feminist research, Men in Charge? critically engages with this assumption and challenges male authority and gender discrimination from within the Muslim legal tradition. The authors trace how male dominance came to be inherent in the tradition, show how it is produced and sustained in contemporary times, and indicate how the tradition can be reformed in order to promote gender equality and justice.