ACCORDING to Islamic jurisprudence based on the Qu’ran a marriage contract – “Mahr” – may be used as an instrument by which a woman can lay out her expectations about the shape she would like her marriage, and her life, to take.

In the early days of Islam, under Sharia Law, it was understood that women entered marriage equally, unlike previous regimes in which she was a chattel.

A woman many secure her rights to work outside the home at any job she likes or she may re-assert her rights to have her husband support her financially even if she has a job or is independently wealthy. She can specify the sum of money she expects to receive should the marriage end in divorce or should she be widowed. She can also negotiate the rights to divorce her husband should he take another wife.

She can reserve the rights not to cook, to clean or even to nurse her own children. She can demand to receive a regular “stipend” should she opt to become a housewife! Islam predates the demands of Western feminists by more than a thousand years!

Moreover the Qu’ran does permit a husband to beat his wife ... though he should use nothing more injurious that a “miswak” – that is, a “twig” which also commonly serves as a toothbrush!

At least that’s my interpretation of Sharia Law. So I say to the Venerable Archbishop “Bring it on, Rowan!”

Paul Pickup