"WOMEN'S RIGHTS IN THE ISLAMIC WORLD: THE EFFECT OF ISLAMIC LAW"The study explores the possible factors determining the rights of women in the Islamic world and discusses in details the effect of Islam as it stands today according to Islamic Law. The rights that women enjoy in the Islamic world vary from one country to the other. Still all of these women are subjected to the patriarchal conditions of the Islamic societies and the Islamic Law provisions that institutionalise discrimination against women when it comes to social, economic, and political rights. The factors include the culture and traditionalism, the political regime, the relation between the state and the religious establishment, and the level of socio-economic development. Culture and traditionalism when contributing to the survival of patriarchy have a negative effect on the development of women's rights. And culture is found to exert less traditional elements when the society has been exposed for a sufficient period of time to foreign cultures especially western. The relation between the state and the religious establishment is important because it specifies the role the religious establishment maintains in the process of decision making. The type of regime affects the rights of women depending on the democratic elements the regime is characterised with. The Islamic factor influences the rights of women through two channels: a direct one through the Islamic Law provisions that are still in practice and which institutionalise male-dominance and gender-based discrimination, and an indirect one through correlating positively or negatively with the factors mentioned above. Due to its gender and religion based discrimination, and lack of tolerance, the absence of the concept of basic equality, Islam is found in conflict with the premises adopted in the study -the modern notion of citizenship, human rights, and democracy. The need to reform or divert from Islamic Law is emphasised in order to make Islamic Law compatible with these notions in an attempt to improve women's rights in the Islamic world. The direct effect of Islamic Law on the rights of women is studied by presenting most of the provisions that are still in practice and that institutionalise rights to women inferior to men's. Also the relation between these provisions and patriarchy and traditionalism is considered with reference to how patriarchy and traditionalism block the development of women's rights. Finally, since through out the study the need to reform Islamic Law has been emphasised, the possibility to reform Islamic Law provisions is studied. The sources of the Law are discussed. There are various arguments supporting reforms and there are more arguments rejecting it. Still the important point is that reforming Islamic Law has Islamic legitimacy, that is one can find support within the sources of Islam, the Qur'an and the Sunna (traditions), permitting changes to accommodate new conditions and circumstances.