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Gender Issues: Women Are Equal But Different

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Chapter Summary

Islamic canonical law, the sharia, regulates human conduct in every aspect from the sublime to the trivial, demanding close attention of the devout Muslim to the ubiquitous doctrines of their faith. In New Zealand, the issue of gender equality, or inequality, does not appear to be a huge problem in the Muslim community. In the eyes of tradition-minded Muslims, Islamic feminism is not only a contradictio in se, it is also a sign of a pernicious Western ideological influence that addles the mind of some women. New Zealand Muslims of South Asian extraction use the term purdah for gender separation. On the whole and with notable exceptions, Western conceptions of cultural and religious freedom and human rights related legislation make it difficult for authorities to ban the hijab. The burqa case gives a glimpse of the multi-facetted problems the pursuit of multiculturalism can open up.

Keywords: burqa case of 2004; hijab; Islamic canonical law sharia; Islamic gender separation; multiculturalism; New Zealand Muslim community; purdah



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