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An Interview With Amal Ben Hadda: Islam, Women And Rights

19/12/2016 12:52 GMT | Updated 19/12/2016 12:53 GMT

After travelling through the North African nation of Morocco for more than a month, it became very evident to me, that like in much of the rest of the world, Morocco has a problem with discrimination against women. It was evident in the way that men leered at women on the street. In the way that men casually laughed at complaints of sexual harassment. In the way women told me that they didn't want to walk on the street because it was just too uncomfortable. By the time that I arrived in Casablanca, Morocco's largest city, there was no doubt in my mind that discrimination was a problem for women throughout Morocco. Though the question remains is why? Why throughout the world are women subject to such blatant discrimination from men?

Well I had the tremendous pleasure of meeting Amal Ben Hadda, a Moroccan engineer who was able to shed some light on why women face discrimination in Morocco. In her apartment in the centre of Casablanca we met to discuss women and the role Islam in perpetuating discriminatory beliefs against women in Morocco. The following is an exert from what Amal had to say,

One of my favorite things to do is to read. A while ago I began to read a number of different books that discussed the various interpretations of Islam. The more that I read, the more I began to realize a number of things.

I realized for example that people just read the Quran without trying to understand what has been said. After reading the "Shajarah code decoded," by Imad Hassan, I felt more convinced that many of our religious beliefs are just traditions that are in fact far away from Gods original message.

As a result there have been many misconceptions in Islam about women.

It's commonly believed within the Muslim world for example, that women were created from Adam's rib. They believe that, "if you try to straighten the rib, you will break it, and if you leave it, it will remain crooked." This belief is used by some to stigmatize and condemn women, to suggest women are bent in nature.

I used to believe in this as well . . . even though it sounds unbelievable.

Traditional religious scholars use the hadiths, texts created by men two centuries after the death of the prophet, to criticize women. For example, they say that women are ungrateful to their husbands and because of this, there are more women in hell than men.

I think that such beliefs are demeaning towards women and are completely against the Quran's original message.

The author Imad Hassan released wrote the book entitled "My mother isn't deficient in mind and religion," in which the author defends Muslim womens rights. He explains how the Quran has just been interpreted to suit men's interests. The Quran in fact allows women many rights but they have largely been denied due to discrimination from men. Nowhere in the Quran can you find a statement that says women should not have rights.

In the Quran it actually says that there is no difference between men and women.

Women have just been brainwashed to believe that they are inferior to men. They have been taught to believe that they are emotional and less rational.

We need to review everything that has been written by men throughout history and ensure that it is in compliance with the Quran before deciding its reliable.

This includes reviewing the parts of the Quran that give women rights.

In Morocco a lot of progress has been made for women's rights and it continues to be an ongoing priority for the Moroccan king. However, women need to continue to question what has been told to them about their role as women. They need to stop thinking that they are not as superior as men.

There is nothing in Quran that says women are inferior to men.

I believe strongly in god and I want to have the rights that the Quran says that I should have. Not what men say I should have. Women can't sit around and wait for their rights to come to them, they have to fight for them.