By Ziba Mir-Hosseini
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Richard C. Martin is a professor of Islamic reviews and heritage of religions at Emory University
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Extra resources for Control and Sexuality: The Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Contexts
Social reality is far too complex. Religious beliefs and practices are not only shaped by the cultural contexts in which they originate, function and evolve, but they also influence cultural phenomena. Law, too, not only controls behaviour but is also shaped by religious as well as cultural practices; all these beliefs and practices are, in turn, subject to relations of power − rulers, governments, structures of inequality. The meanings of laws and religious practices also change with shifts in the power relations in which they are embedded, and in interaction with other cultures and value systems.
9 Control and Sexuality: The Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Contexts specific circumstances and developments. Thus, notwithstanding the idiosyncrasies of each studied society, they allow for a comparative analysis of each scrutinised sub-theme. The final, concluding remarks of this study are, in particular, based on such comparative insights. 6 Parallel to such attempts, however, the public is also continuously fed by simplistic and historically unsubstantiated accounts of zina regulations, which are then employed by religious, political and military elites to justify the crimes and human rights violations committed on this pretext.
Yet, for these punishments to be executed, the accused person must either have confessed to the offence – just once or repeatedly, depending on a particular school of fiqh – or refused to take an oath of denial (Shalakany 2008: 46–47). The only alternative left has been the unlikely testimony of four ‘righteous’ Muslim male witnesses that they have “personally seen the act of ‘ilaj’ or penetration in flagrante delicto” (Shalakany 2008: 47). The testimony of less than four appropriate witnesses or any significant difference in their accounts would make them liable for the hadd offence of qadhf (slander).