'Woman is a field, a sort of property that a husband may use or abuse as he sees fit,' says the Koran" (Croutier 20). This doctrine of women, recognizable in the history of Islamic countries to the present day, is consistent with such traditions as polygamy, slavery, and the purdah (formerly harem, in its broadest sense configured as the confinement of women to the domestic sphere) perceived, particularly in the West, as politically retrograde.
Hale says that, as a practical matter, Sudan has a "pluralistic" legal system, in which sharia , civil, and customary law have coexisted for nearly a century" (5). However, in 1983, and again in 1992, Sudan outlawed zar ceremonies. Hale attributes the ban chiefly to an ideology of Islamist statism; zar is considered pre-Islamic, meaning that its origins and attributes predate the seventh-century appearance of Islam and hence fall outside the circle of doctrinally acceptable religious or social practice. It shares that attribute with female circumcision (aka genital mutilation), another controversial practice that is not officially linked with Islam but that has a long cultural lineage in Muslim countries. But female circumcision is not as roundly criticized by mainstream Sudanese politicians as zar ritual is. Where zar differs from female genital mutilation is that the former is perceived as belonging to women in Sudan whereas the latter is