Prof. Steven D. Jamar, Dir. LRW Program
sjamar at LAW.HOWARD.EDU
Wed Mar 4 16:57:45 PST 1998
The reason for the women's attire in Iran is not that the Quran mandates the
chador or any other particular atire other than modest. The reason is the same
reason Michael notes later in his post - custom.
It is often very hard to distinguish the dictates of the Quran from the dictates
Islam from the dictates of custom. Over the centuries they have become
intertwined and what once were purely social customs are often believed by
religious adherents to be mandated by religion. And so it is, as they
understand the religion.
The most egregious example of this I know of is female genital mutilation which
is not mandated by Islam, but is believed by many to be required by Islam.
But this is different only in degree, and not in kind (in the sense of tangling
social mores with religious dictates), from various Christian sects which ban
music and dancing and other pleasures.
So there are some interesting implications for law here perhaps. What if the
whole town believes music and dance is bad - like in the movie Footloose, for
example -- and they trace that to the teachings of a misguided preacher and so
ban dancing. Is this case different from a town which knows that dance leads to
sex and sex to pregnancy and so bans dances for anyone who is not married (for
reasons public morality - let's say divorced from religious motives)?
Steven D. Jamar
Professor of Law
Director, Legal Research & Writing Program
Howard University School of Law
2900 Van Ness Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
President, Legal Writing Institute
vox: 202-806-8017 fax: 202-806-8428
email: sjamar at law.howard.edu
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