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Muslims in most countries surveyed say that a wife should always obey her husband. In 20 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims believe a wife must obey her spouse.

Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan

Muslims in South Asia and Southeast Asia overwhelmingly hold this view. In all countries surveyed in these regions, roughly nine-in-ten or more say wives must obey their husbands. Similarly, in all countries surveyed in the Middle East and North Africa, about three-quarters or more say the same. Across Central Asia, most Muslims say that wives must obey their husbands, although views vary from country to country.

Open issues

In most of the Southern and Eastern European countries surveyed, fewer than half of Muslims believe a wife must always obey her spouse. Muslims in the countries surveyed are not united on whether women should have the right to terminate a marriage. In 12 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, at least half of Muslims say that sons and daughters should have equal inheritance rights. In South Asia and Southeast Asia, opinion differs widely by country.

Women in Muslim Family Law by John L. Esposito

Across the Middle East and North Africa, fewer than half of Muslims say sons and daughters should receive the same inheritance shares. Attitudes toward gender issues may be influenced by the social and political context in which Muslims live. For instance, levels of support for equal inheritance by sons and daughters is often more widespread in countries where laws do not specify that sons should receive greater shares. Indeed, in most countries where laws do not mandate unequal inheritance for sons and daughters, a majority of Muslims support equal inheritance.


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In the remaining 11 countries, opinions of women and men do not differ significantly on this question. Similarly, when it comes to the issue of equal inheritance for sons and daughters, Muslim women in nine countries are more likely than Muslim men to support it. But in the 14 other countries where the question was asked, the views of women and men are not significantly different. Attitudes of both Muslim women and men may reflect the prevailing cultural and legal norms of their society.

Overall, the survey finds that Muslims who want sharia to be the law of the land in their country often, though not uniformly, are less likely to support equal rights for women and more likely to favor traditional gender roles. Differences between those who want sharia to be the official law and those who do not are most pronounced when it comes to the role of wives.

In 10 of the 23 countries where the question was asked, supporters of sharia as official law are more likely to say wives must always obey their husbands. Muslims who favor an official role for sharia also tend to be less supportive of granting specific rights to women.

Islamic law and the rules of war

For instance, in six countries, those who want Islamic law as the official law are less likely to say women should have the right to divorce, including in Russia percentage points , Morocco and Albania Additionally, in seven countries, supporters of sharia as the official law of the land are less likely to say sons and daughters should receive equal inheritance. And in five countries, those who favor sharia as the official law are less likely to believe a woman should have the right to decide whether to wear a veil in public. See Quran In limiting, combating, or on the contrary justifying violence against them?

Through these questions, and through the innovative comparative method applied to them, this book offers a fresh new synthesis to these questions and a spur to new research.

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Sam Harris: Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace

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