The rights of women in Islam: The question of ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres for women’s rights and empowerment in Muslim societies

  • Saira Bano Orakzai University of New England, Australia Visiting Fellow, School of Advanced Study, University of London


The question of women rights and empowerment in Islam are one of the most controversial issueswithin the Islamic schema of human rights. The rights of women as given in the Qura’n and the traditionsof Prophet Muhammad were a revolutionary step in the 7th century Arabia. However, the context drivenreforms of rights of women in Islam is subject to many challenges in the traditional Muslim societies. Thispaper examines the question of women rights in Islam based on ‘public’ and ‘private’ sphere of life and itsimpact on the question of women empowerment. Drawing on hermeneutic–relativist approach, the articlereveals the dialectical nature of interpretation of rights of women in Islam. The article also examines thequestion of classical and reformist understanding of rights and empowerment and suggest an approachfor understanding of ‘public’ and ‘private’ spheres of life according to the cultural context of the Muslimsocieties.