The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (March 4-15, 2013), which is currently taking place at the UN headquarters in New York with the participation of representatives of UN member states, UN entities, and NGOs from across the world, focuses on the prevention and elimination of all forms of violence against women and girls, equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, and other key gender equality issues.
Ahead of the session, the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) issued a declaration signed by its head, Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, demanding that the UN "respect religious diversity and Islamic values in international agreements regarding women [and] children and [in all] other documents." The declaration explains that Islam upholds women's rights and opposes violence against women, but that the UN often issues documents "that contradict the [religious] creed of the [Islamic] nations, their values, and their honored Islamic laws," and then pressures Muslim governments to sign these documents.
The declaration states further that the UN's resolutions on women are aimed at "the elimination of any natural difference between men and women in roles and [in] legislation." Hence, the UN considers all the following to be a form of violence against women that should be eliminated: various Islamic laws on marriage, divorce, abortion, inheritance, and guardianship; the husband's right to have sexual relations with his wife, including without her consent; his sole responsibility for earning the family's livelihood; preventing women and girls from having access to contraceptives or from engaging in homosexual relations, etc.
In light of this, the IUMS demands that "the UN [realize] the necessity to protect [the] values, ethics, and laws [of the] revealed religions, sealed by Islam, as a means of preserving international peace and security." It also urges the Muslim countries to adopt a unified stance "rejecting any [resolution or document] that contradicts the Islamic shari'a and [the] revealed religions."
Many of the claims made in the declaration were repeated by IUMS member Dr. Muhammad Al-Dib in an article he published on the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood. He wrote that the UN document on the elimination of violence against women constitutes a brutal attack on Islam and on the Arab peoples, and called on the Muslim world to unite against it.
The following are excerpts from an English translation of the IUMS declaration, which was posted on the IUMS website, followed by excerpts from Al-Dib's article.
IUMS head Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi
IUMS: UN Conferences Often Take Steps That "Lead To The Fragmentation And Harming Of [The] Family"
"The International Union of Muslim Scholars demands [that the] UN respect religious diversity and Islamic values in international agreements regarding women [and] children and [in all] other documents. The union also asserts its rejection of violence against women and the necessity of 'releasing' these terms [sic], and demands [that] Muslim countries formulate a unified stance regarding these documents...
"The International Union of Muslim Scholars, representing mainstream scholars [of] the Muslim nation, observes the conditions of women in the world in general, and in the Muslim world in particular, and views the achievement of justice and [the goal of] assisting women in obtaining their natural rights as a true [contribution] to society, which is made up of two main components: men and women.
"Stemming from this view, Islam has – since [its earliest] days – devoted special care to women's rights within a frame[work] of complementarity, balance, and a [division] of roles [meant] to achieve good, happiness, and harmony within the family, which is seen as the nucleus of a happy society.
"However, the Union has [noticed] for a while that UN conferences are inclined in some cases towards steps that lead to the fragmentation and harming of [the] family. The resolutions of these congresses are adopted as international documents (like the CEDAW Convention, [the] Beijing Declaration, and others), while economic and political pressure is leveraged upon some Muslim governments to sign the documents, despite the fact that they contradict the creed of their nations, their values, and their honored Islamic laws.
"[In] the upcoming session, the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, to be held between March 4-15, 2013, a document entitled 'The Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls' will be discussed."
"[The UN] Considers The Woman's Motherhood Tasks A Form Of Unpaid Labor, And A Man's Qawama (Caretaking Or Responsibility) In The Family As A Form Of Violence Against Women"
"And although Islam [opposes] violence against women or any other human [being], the term ['elimination of violence against women'], according to international agreements issued by the UN, refers to the elimination of any natural difference between men and women in roles and [in] legislation. Hence, the UN considers all the following to be a form of violence against women that should be eliminated:"
"1. Considering motherhood-related tasks a woman's specialty. The document considers [these tasks] unpaid roles that cause the impoverishment of women inside the family, in contrast to a man's accumulation of wealth [by working] outside the home and gaining money.
"2. [The UN] considers a man's qawama (caretaking or responsibility) in the family as a form of violence against women.
"3. The differences stated [in] Islamic shari'a law between men and women, which stem from their complementary roles, [including differences in] marriage laws, divorce laws, [and laws pertaining to] polygamy, 'idda (the period of time a woman remains unmarried after divorce or the husband's death), inheritance, and other [matters]."
"The UN Considers Lawful [Sexual] Relations Between [Husband And Wife]... In The [Absence] Of Complete Willingness By The Woman... A Form Of 'Marital Rape'"
"4. The husband's right to have sexual relations with his wife. The UN considers lawful relations between a man and woman based on the man's desire, in the [absence] of complete willingness by the woman or at times that she doesn't approve of, as a form of 'Marital Rape,' and [holds] that, if he touches her without her consent, it is considered a form of sexual harassment. All [these] cases fall under the heading of 'sexual violence' in the view of the UN.
"5. Limitations imposed [on] the sexual freedom of women and girls; rejection of the idea of a woman's complete control over her body; [and] preventing girls from changing their sex... (laws [banning] adultery and homosexuality).
"6. Guardianship for the girl in the process of marriage.
"7. [Not] providing contraceptives [to] girls [and] banning abortion as a means of disposing of an undesirable pregnancy.
"8. The marriage of girls under the age of 18.
"9. Refraining from proving [the] legal parentage [of] children born out of wedlock (parentage [of] a father committing adultery)."
The UN Aims To "Withdraw The [Man's] Power To Divorce [His Wife]"; Grant "Complete Sexual Freedom To Girls"
"Based on this, the new document would demand the following concepts, which contradict Islamic law:
"1. Substituting qawama (male caretaking or responsibility) with partnership and [a] complete sharing of roles inside the family between the man and woman ([livelihood], childcare, household issues).
"2. Complete equality in marriage laws (canceling all forms of polygamy, 'idda, guardianship, dowry, [and] a man's [responsibility] for the family's [livelihood]; allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslims, and so on).
"3. Equality in inheritance."
"4. Withdrawing the [man's] power to divorce [his wife], referring it to the judiciary, and a sharing of all possessions upon divorce.
"5. Giving women the authority to file a complaint against her husband accusing him of rape or harassment. The concerned departments would be obliged to exact a penalty on the husband equal to the penalty specified for a person who commits rape or harassment against a woman of no relation to him.
"6. Granting complete sexual freedom to girls, [including] the freedom to choose her sex and the sex of her partner (i.e. to choose to have [either] natural or homosexual relations), in addition to raising the age of marriage to 18.
"7. Giving teenage girls access to contraceptives, training them to use [them], and allowing abortion [as a way] to dispose of an undesired pregnancy (under claims of sexual and reproductive rights).
"8. Equating an adulteress with a wife, equating children from an adulterous relation with legal children in all rights.
"The [upcoming UN] session [is also meant to] monitor the implementation of the document issued [in] the 53rd session, [titled] 'The Equal Sharing of Responsibilities between Women and Men,' which focused on the distribution of all roles and responsibilities inside the [home] between the man and the woman (care-giving and [financial] roles), which disrupts the concept of qawama, one of whose main pillars [is] the husband's complete responsibility for [everything] related to the family's [livelihood].
"A number of resolutions are planned to be issued based on proposals put forth by a number of states, which usually revolve around the same demands, [the chief] of which are gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly demands originating in the United States, European countries, Japan, and other [countries]. These resolutions also require careful study so that governments will not be entrapped into signing them.
"More dangerously, we should not fail to note the constant pressure by the UN on governments to withdraw reservations [over] signing the agreement, [which constitutes] a violation of the sovereignty of countries and [shows] contempt [for the] will of nations.
"Furthermore, there is constant insistence on signing the optional protocol appended to the CEDAW Convention, which gives the UN the direct right to interfere in a country's internal [affairs] and refer [its] government to the International Criminal Court in case of a complaint about a discriminatory law that differentiates between men and women (like the inheritance, polygamy, and guardianship [laws]... all of which are considered discriminatory laws according to the UN). In that way, the UN – within these resolutions – stands in clear opposition to the Islamic laws of shari'a."
The IUMS Stresses "The Necessity To Protect [The] Values, Ethics, And Laws [Of The] Revealed Religions"
"In view of this existing situation, the IUMS sees and confirms the following:
"First, the IUMS demands [that] the UN [realize] the necessity to protect [the] values, ethics, and laws [of the] revealed religions, sealed by Islam, as a means of preserving international peace and security.
"Second, the IUMS demands [that] Muslim countries formulate a unified stance rejecting [anything] that contradicts the Islamic shari'a and [the] revealed religions, whether in former documents like the CEDAW and [the] Beijing Declaration, or [in] later documents presented for discussion and signing.
"Third, the IUMS urges all participating governmental delegations to take heed of the will of their nations [and] to adhere to their Islamic shari'a law, to express reservations regarding these [UN] documents and [to] refrain from involvement in signing [any] more of them. The Union also demands [that] these delegations reject all aspects contradicting the Islamic shari'a in the document to be discussed in the 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women, refrain from compromising the reservations [made] at the signing the [of] international agreements concerned with women and children, and refrain from signing any protocols appended to these international agreements without consulting the scholars of the Muslim nations, their union, and the councils of senior scholars, in an attempt to preserve the identity of [the Muslim] nations and the sovereignty of [their] governments..."
IUMS Member Muhammad Al-Dib: The UN Document Is An Attack By "The Enemies Of Humanity" On The Arabs, Islam, And The Monotheistic Religions
In an article posted on the official website of the Muslim Brotherhood, IUMS member Dr. Muhammad Al-Dib wrote that the UN document on the elimination of violence against women constitutes a brutal attack by the "enemies of humanity" within the UN on the Arab peoples and on Islam and the other monotheistic religions. He urged the Muslims, both Sunni and Shi'ite, and the members of other monotheistic religions to unite against this document:
"At a time when many Arab states are engaged in rebuilding themselves from within, in a shift to democracy and in creating an environment suitable for development and progress, the herds of corruption and perdition within the UN, who are enemies of humanity, act to undermine the Arab peoples and to deprive them of the most precious things they possess: their honor and values, their Arab and Islamic identity, and their divine shari'a. These are their chief sources of strength and firmness and the reason they endure. The so-called UN is [nothing but] a back door for taking over societies and peoples and a tool in the hands of the imperialist powers and global Zionism, which want to vanquish our Arab and Islamic countries...
"[The UN document on violence against women is] a cruel and brutal attack not only on the Arab and Muslim peoples, but on Islam itself and on all the monotheistic religions. It demands action on all official diplomatic channels, along with popular efforts led by civil society organizations. It is a real test for the Al-Azhar institute, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and all civil society organizations dedicated to issues of family, women, and human services.
"[It is also a test] for political parties of various ideological orientations, which must rally the masses against this document and say firmly to the UN: The world has changed, and it is now the people's diplomacy that decides what is right and what is not. The Sunna and Shi'a must unite against this document on the regional level, and the Copts and Muslims must unite against it on the local level [i.e., in Egypt]. All parties must hold ongoing mass demonstrations in capitals and squares throughout the Arab world in order to prevent [the approval] of the document...
"This is an intifada not only for the sake of Islam but for the sake of Judaism and Christianity as well. [The document] is an attack on and an insult to not only Muhammad but also Jesus and Moses."
 Un.org, accessed March 6, 2013.
 Iumsonline.net, February 27, 2013. The original English has been edited for clarity.
 Ikhwanonline.com, March 3, 2013.
 Iumsonline.net, accessed March 6, 2013.
 The document in question is apparently the UN Secretary-General's Report titled "Prevention of Violence against Women and Girls," from December 20, 2012. The document can be accessed here.