Text of Address by, Mrs. Sharifi Sadr
The Second International Conference on Human Rights and
Cultures: Legal Cultures in Support the Jurisprudence of
(12-14 November 2012, Tehran)
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
(O people ,observe your Lord ;the One who created you from one being ,and created from its mate ,then spread from the two many men and women)-Nesa1
Human rights are rooted in the nature of human beings and thus indivisible from the very existence of this masterpiece of creation. For this reason, the dignity, value and exalted worth of human person are the centerpiece in the teachings of divine religions. “Rights” in the divine logic are not originated in the conventions; rather they are bestowed upon human being by their creator. They are thus universal, independent of conditions, transcend all boundaries, be they temporal or geographical, and do not lend themselves to distinctions of race, sex or other superficial attributes and barriers. Nor do they sacrifice the rights and values of the individual for the well-being of the community, or the health of human society, as these rights emanate from the totality of human person.
In 1940s world powers waged a devastating war and in the end of that war, having caused huge losses in human lives, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other norms arising from the international human rights instruments were adopted based on certain historical backgrounds and social contexts, and given the particular cultural resources in dealing with the realities of the then international
It goes without saying that the human rights movement shall take a dynamic approach in order to be responsive to the concerns and requirements of the people in every era. The current human rights concepts and norms shall not remain static and they need to develop in line with the developments taken place in human life as well as his intellectual evolution. For this purpose employment of all civilization capacities, a major part of which has been already reflected in the legal culture of different nations, is an undeniable requirement.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Now, as a Muslim woman, I wish to refer very briefly to the approach of the Divine Book of Muslims, as one of the examples of our rich cultural asset, towards women. Unlike the impression and understanding of the people of the time, this Holy Book did not make any difference between man and woman. As explicitly reflected in the Surah I quoted at the beginning of my speech as well as other Quranic verses men and women have been created from a single soul and essence.
Based on the Holy Quran both man and woman at the beginning of creation were equally placed in Paradise and blessed with divine blessings. On different occasions Quran is referring to the mysterious story of Adam and Eve without describing women as a creature with satanic nature believing that every human being shall be responsible for his/her own acts and behavior. One of other humiliating views towards women in the ignorant culture at the advent of Islam was that woman is spiritually and mentally weak and she cannot reach the sublime spiritual positions.
This occurs while the Holy Quran doesn’t make any difference between men and women in this respect, stipulating that gender does not play any role to this end and every man or woman who can use his/her opportunity in the present world in an optimal manner will receive outstanding rewards and positions in the next world. Out of the negative attitudes towards women which still persists is that from the very first creation of human beings man has been master of woman and woman has been created just to please man and meet his requirements and accordingly woman is inferior to man and in another word she is secondary human being in every society.
This occurs while the Holy Quran does not consider man superior over woman and it stipulates that these two are supplements to each other. Whenever Quran speaks of a noble man or a holy male personality immediately after it speaks of a noble woman or a holy female personality. Quran is admiring wives of Adam and Abraham and it honors and fully respects mothers of Moses and Jesus, the Christ, stipulating that they have been so honored that the divine message was revealed to them and angles of the Almighty spoke to them. And even and as Quran reveals, Saint Mary was even fed by divine food sent by the Almighty God and reached divine and spiritual perfection.
The deep influence of the Islamic approach towards man and woman are quite visible in the revolution taken place with respect to Islamic jurisprudence of humanity.
The rights defined by Islam for women, in many cases, supersede those of man and the progressive aspects of the Muslim law cannot be witnessed, in several cases even in the contemporary modern judicial systems through the world. It goes without saying that investigating the Islamic jurisprudence of humanity in different areas of public law or private law and their introduction in order for them to be employed in the modern world can be significantly contributing to the further enrichment of the human rights concepts.
This drive within such a legal cultures asset whether in the field of Islamic or other civilizations is needed to be shouldered by scholars and academic personalities. To this the initiative adopted by the NAM Centre for Human Rights and Cultural Diversity, manifested in “Unity of Cultures towards the advancement of Human Rights” as its maxim, is considered as the core and prime objective of this centre in all its scientific activities. In conclusion I wish for success of such scientific activities and especially the efforts to be made by the participants of this conference towards further promotion of role of legal cultures in support of the jurisprudence of humanity.