Nobel Surprise


Muslim Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, a human rights and democracy activist, has been awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. Ms. Ebadi has worked tirelessly to promote the rights of women and children in Iran and worldwide. She is the first Muslim woman to win the award. 

"As a lawyer, judge, lecturer, writer and activist, she has spoken out clearly and strongly in her country, Iran, far beyond its borders," the awards committee said in the citation.

In her research and as an activist, she is known for promoting peaceful, democratic solutions to serious problems in society. She takes an active part in the public debate and is well known and admired by the general public in her country for her defense of freedom of speech and political freedom.

She is the founder and leader of the Association for Support of Children's Rights in Iran. Ebadi has written a number of academic books and articles focused on human rights. Among her books translated into English are The Rights of the Child. A Study of Legal Aspects of Children's Rights in Iran (Tehran, 1994), published with support from UNICEF, and History and Documentation of Human Rights in Iran (New York, 2000).

Ms. Ebadi served as Iran's first female judge during the Shah's era. But after the 1979 revolution, Islamic clerics ruled that women could not sit as judges. That interpretation of Sharia law is now coming under question and some clerics have called for allowing women judges.

At a news conference in Paris Ms. Ebadi said that in her view, "there is no difference between Islam and human rights." 

The newly awarded Noble Laurite also added that she opposed any foreign intervention in Iran.

"The fight for human rights is conducted in Iran by the Iranian people and we are against any foreign intervention in Iran," she said.

In Rome the news was received with some disappointment where Pope John Paul II was being considered among the favorites to win the prize. A Vatican source said Pope John Paul II will send a message of congratulations to Ms. Shirin Ebadi.

In Washington, spokesmen at the White House and the State Department applauded the recognition for Ms. Ebadi.

European leaders appeared jubilant over the selection of an Iranian woman who works as an advocate for human rights. President Jacques Chirac of France called her an "exceptional choice," and Chancellor Gerhard Schroder of Germany celebrated her dedication to "tolerant coexistence and an understanding between cultures."

Conservatives in Iran who run the judiciary are cautious in recognizing this award and see it as outsiders now trying to intervene in Iranian politics. But Iran's reformist Government says it is "happy" with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize.

"We are happy that an Iranian Muslim woman was qualified to be noticed by the world community for her activities in bringing about peace," official Government spokesman Abdollah Ramazanzadeh said.

"We hope that we could use her expert views more in Iran."

For his part, Vice President Ali Abtahi says the award highlights the active role of Iranian women in trying to shape how the Islamic republic is run.

"I am very happy that an Iranian and above all a woman has won the Nobel Peace Prize," he said.

"The fact that a lawyer has won this prize gives us hope that the judicial system will change its methods."

Ms. Ebadi was selected among 165 nominees for the prize which comes with award money of $1.3m


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  25 Comments   Comment

  1. Janet Kazimi from USA

    I belive this is wonderful: For any man to think that it is propaganda that a women of any faith and especially a muslim woman is not entitled to being the best she can be, should be ashhamed of themselves and how can they continue to pray as they do and recite the Quran is what I would call a true hippocrite Shame on you!

    I congratulate her for having the courage to try and help others less fortunate then herself and wish that I could shake her hand and tell her so

  2. Janet Kazimi from USA

    I belive this is wonderful: For any man to think that it is propaganda that a women of any faith and especially a muslim woman is not entitled to being the best she can be, should be ashhamed of themselves and how can they continue to pray as they do and recite the Quran is what I would call a true hippocrite Shame on you!

    I congratulate her for having the courage to try and help others less fortunate then herself and wish that I could shake her hand and tell her so

  3. Susan from US

    She has embarrassed herself, her nation and the Muslim Ummah for not wearing her Islamic dress code. I don't understand what a piece of cloth on her head could have done to her? If she is ashamed of what Islam is all about, then we all should be ashamed of her.

  4. Abdul Mohiuddin from USA

    Many of the people think of Ms. Ebadi winning the Nobel prize as a big accomplishment. No doubt, winning the nobel prize deserves great respect. Now, why did she get that nobel prize? Dont you guys realize what is going on. The "civilized" countries ironically gave the nobel prize to a muslim female, who happens to be a feminist, and a pro-democracy lady who has differing views against the Islamic republic of Iran. Their goal was to award this to her so more muslims become what society calls moderate muslims, those who take islam as a Jummah thing only or even better those who are in favor of ideas similar to the christian protestant church. Also, this would cause more and more muslims to go against non-democratic countries in the middle east. Oh muslims of the world, wake up and sniff through the political garbage thrown at you, and come back to Islam. The knowledgeable people know that the only thing stopping muslims is their lack of understanding of their own religion...learn and practice.... salamualaikum.

  5. haafisa zulaiha siraj from srilanka

    I think this award was definitely worth it! Shirin ebadi is a symbol of hope to muslim women around the world. With this award she has changed the opinions of muslim women around the world. Inshallah! Islam will get the respect it deserves. Ameen!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Ahmed from UK

    As usual Romesh you go off on useless tangents. Whether a Hindu woman or any other person wins a prive awarded by the guy who invented dynamite means nothing to me. Its not "mourning" to point out that the prize is based on politics and thats a fact so your childish patronization is irrelevent. If Arundathi Roy won the prize, every Shiv Sena goon, yourself included would up in arms about it. The Vedic scriptures are very clear on the low position of woman in Hindu society.

    Further more, what is it with you people who can only validate yourselves when handed a prize by some European ? Quite an inferiority complex we have dont we ? Take your insecurites elsewhere Chander, perhaps the good ol' sang parivar.

  7. Romesh Chander from US

    REPLY TO H:A;

    How do you know Muslims don't like the prize?

    As usual, you did not even care to read my post #18430. Most of the muslims who wrote on this website did not like it. The entire muslim press is silent. The entire muslim polity is silent. No comments absolutely. Even AlJazeera made no comments. Saudi's probably represent her a 'woman with immoral character' by showing her without the headscarf. Read my post. Looks like the entire muslim world is in deep mourning (not really shock).

    By the way, I have noted over the last few weeks that you have given the following countries you are writing from: Chechnya, Tikrit, Islamcity.com.

    Strange.

  8. H.A. from Islamicity.com

    Hey Ramesh!!!

    - Muslims are happy that Mrs. Ebadi won the Nobel Prize. How do you know that Muslims are not happy?

    Do you want Muslims to worship her? Remember Muslims only worship ONLY ONE TRUE PARTNERLESS GOD. We do not worship human beings like Christians do. And we do not make statues/idles, and worship them for few hours and then dump them into water like you HINDUS do.

    Mr. Ramesh, it seems to me you have plenty of time to waste at Islamicity.com. Why don't you go to Bombay, India and solve your prostitution problem? Does not prostitution violate human rights? India has the 2nd highest HIV/AIDS problem right after AFRICA. Don't you think it would be wise to do something about it?

    You are sitting in the WEST and chewing Lobster while millions of Hindus do not have anything to chew. Spend your time and resources to send them so that they can chew something. It is time for you to GROW UP!!!

    You are welcome at Islamicity or other Islamic site, but I think you are wasting too much time here. You should be doing something meaningful. Remember my God, if not your God, will hold you accountable for how you spend you time. I do not think you have many years left so...wake up now ... grandpa "Starlight".

  9. Romesh Chander from US

    To Ahmed:

    Well, no Hindu woman won a Nobel Peace Prize. if a Hindu womann had won it, you can rest assured that not only Hindu women but also Hindu men will be celebrating it in the streets, not going into mourning like muslims are doing it; I am also sure, in these circumstances, both, muslim women and men would have joined into celbrations. And Indian press would have a field day, not like muslim press which has not issued one single comment so far.

    Hey, would Mrs Ebaji like to share her prize with a Hindu woman and see how hindus react?.

  10. Yahya Bergum from USA

    I am still confused by Quran 33:32. If women are behaving in a pious manner should they then also be avoiding softness in speech? Or perhaps might it be that such directives should not be applied equally to all women - as if all women were equal with respect to the authority vested in them by Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala)?

    I am new to Islam. Regarding my hope to be shown the truth, I am grateful to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) for Muslim patience. Jazak Allahu khair.

    Assalamu alaikum.

    --Yahya Bergum

    PS. It is my understanding that Muhammad Asad (may peace be upon him) promoted constitutional assurances of rights for women. For a sample of his writings, please refer to the article at http://www.islamicity.com/articles/Articles.asp?ref=IC0301-1827

  11. Marjan from US

    Congratulation to Ms.Ebadi and may Allah (SWT) help you to use your position for the benefit of the Muslim umah and for the bettering of our Muslim children. The west is very ignorant of the right the Muslim women, now you have the chance to tell the truth about Islam. You have the chance to tell the world the truth about Islam.

  12. Ahmed from UK

    .. Romesh Chander is at it again. Buddy, if you are concerned for woman perhaps you should consult the Hindu Vedas which is not only anti-woman, but anti-human. The Novel prize is given on the basis of politics, politics which I dont care for.

    You Hindus and your fake blood libel against Muslims is nothing but a vechicle to justify your hatred of a religion not based on caste. A look at the way you treat minorities in India speaks for itself. I'll say it again, stick to your regimen of cheesy Bollywood flicks instead of engaging in discussion on issues beyond the scope of your shallow understanding.

  13. Romesh Chander from US

    There has been little or no comment from press or officals from any of the muslim countries; just only small and straighforward reporting of the news. So far, there has been no comment from any of the established muslim organizations (CAIR, ISNA, etc.) based in US; if there were any reported human rights violation of a muslim in US at any time, these organizations would have jumped on the news promptly and would have vehemently criticised.

    It seems that either islam and human rights are incompatible or muslim woman should not get any recognition. Probably she is a threat to Islam and its keepers (mullahs).

    Arab News (Saudi Arabia) reported about the news with a beautiful smiling picture of Mrs Abadi, but surprisingly, no headscarf; how will that go in Saudi Arabia. Probably they will think that she is not a 'good muslim' and hence must be, at least ignored, if not issue a fatwa on her head.

    Will she be invited for any kind of lectures in any of the muslim world? I have serious doubts about it.

    I think the muslim world is shocked and scared of human rights issues. They have, instead of celebratining, have gone into deep mourning; how long will that mourning last? probably, a few centuries.

  14. Adamu Ibrahim Muhammad from Nigeria.

    Did Mrs Ebadi embarked on her so called "Human Rights" campaign simply cos' she was made to realise that Allah Has said there shouldn't be a woman Judge in Islam?

    If the answer to above is yes. Then Mrs Ebadi rather than being congratulated for this award given by the Orientalists! should be reminded of the catastrophe she is asking for herself from Allah, so that she change her cause and embrace the true teaching of the Nobel Prophet. The issue here is clear When a decree is given by Allah Or his Messenger(Muhammad SAW) NO MUSLIM under any guise should have a second opinion nomatter how highly placed in Knowledge or Society. After all how much knowledge do we(the entire World population) have? Not even a drop of the ocean compared to the knowledge of Allah. It is clear therefore that we are limited to our reasoning. No women judges implies NO WOMEN JUDGES. To interprete it otherwise is to fall under the group describe by Allah in Quran 4:149 & 150.

    The muslim should realise that he is not in this world for recognition by this or that, for the sake of materialism. He is here for one purpose only to worship Allah. And how do we achieve this? By giving true worship to Him and only Him alone. Obeying his commandments and following His final prophet wholeheartedly. This and only this can see us achieve our goals in life, including even the Nobel Laureate, only this time it will the final ticket to an everlasting bliss. May Allah continue to guide us to the straight path. Ameen.

  15. Mujeeb Ahmed from Washington, DC, USA

    Congratulations to Shirin Ebadi, Esq, on her being awarded the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. For a Muslim, and a woman at that, to be selected among in a worldwide competition should be taken as an encouraging sign from Allah to all Muslims around the globe.

    I am somewhat surprised by the comments in this opinion posting from fellow Muslims who would bash Ms. Ebadi for standing up for justice, human rights and Islamic-based democracy for her ellow citizens in Iran.

    Granted any "recognition" or "applause" from the Vatican and the Bush Administration should be taken with a grain of salt, I do wish that international Muslim advocacy groups would take this opportunity as a demonstration of how Muslims contribute to peace.

  16. muhammad faraz from india

    Well its good that a muslim woman has got the noble peace prize.

    But whats the aim of behind giving this prize to muslim woman?

    to enforce change in shariah law? to prohibit polygamy? to change divorce laws?

    its matter to think about...

  17. Serge Valdemar from USA

    Bimillah ir-Rahman ir-Raheem

    Anytime a member of the muslim community achieves something in the world my heart is overcome with joy. It is even more special that it happens to be a muslim woman. I believe it has been long overdue. Insha Allah, there will be more to come.

  18. Was Raj from USA

    Her stand that Islamic Shariah law deprives the right of women is absolutely wrong. Islam is the first religion that established the right of women. I hope she could read the Qur'an closely so that she could understand the Islamic Shariah before making any comment.

  19. Danya from USA

    Congratulations.

    Although I think Shirin Ebadi was definitely deserving of the prize, I do not believe that is the sole reason the committee chose her. Ebadi has democratic views which coincide greatly with that of the Western world, therefore recognition of her political stance and personal views is being hilighted as to use her as an example for the rest of the Muslim world. In this way, she is being lauded and awarded for agreeing with the very views the West wants to enforce on the Muslim world. I am sure that Ebadi will use this opportunity to the benefit of the Muslims and the Ummah, Insha'Allah, and that she will bring to light many issues that have not been unearthed.

  20. S. Kashif Haque from USA

    Salaam aleikum,

    This award really means nothing. It is named after a guy who discovered the principles of the explosive dynamite. When you have nominees such as Bush and Sharon for this award, the whole thing becomes a cruel joke. Westernized Muslims or people who wish to meld kufr into Islam, i.e. preach that "Western style-democracy and Islam are one" etc. will find this award as the penultimate accomplishment for them. The last (acceptable) "Muslims" of note who won this were

    Yasir Arafat and Anwar Sadat. Enough said.

  21. Kovitz from Canada

    Here we go again!

    First, congratulation to Ms. Ebadi for the award, I have nothing against her but I have doubt about the sincerity of the award. What is the motivation behind this crap? This will not happen if Iran is not a Muslim country. There are many of Palestinian women who are working for the same principle. They gave the award to Arafat before and look how they treated him.

    This message is to the Iranians people! Please do not fall into the traps. Remember! The next stop for the American imperialist is Iran or Syria.

  22. Raghuram Malladi from India

    Good that this lady was selected for the Nobel Peace Prize. The very fact that a Muslim Woman was selected is testimony to the fact that Islam as a religion doesnt preach hatered... it is only the misguided muslims who are degrading the name of a religion. My best wishes & congrats to Shirin Ebadi, I wish people like her continue with their good work & the lord almighty gives them the needed strength.

    God Bless Her & the whole of mankind.

  23. Shuja from Toronto, Canada

    The following analogy is presented to the readers:

    1) Anwar Sadat received the prize because he had recognized, made peace with Israel and destroyed the Arab cause;

    2) Arafat had received the prize because he saved the soul of Israel from Intefadah. Basically he had played the role of a sub-contractor to Israel;

    3) Today, the award was given to a lady who is advocating the rights of the people, however, indirectly these criminals of Nobel prize have chosen Iranian lady to put Iran on the map because of its nuclear activities. Remember, Iran is the only country that officially calls Israel as its arch enemy.

    Amazing similaries. Israel is the common factor.

  24. MASOUD from BOSTON, MASS USA

    As a proud Moslem, I would like to congratulate Ms. Ebadi and all Moslem women around the world for this special prize.I am sure that every Moslem woman or man and child deep down feel very proud about this prize, after all this is a first time that a Moslem woman recieved nobel peace prize. This is specially important as a role model for our daughters in islamic countries. As for Moslem men it is important to understand that Islam and human rights go hand and hand, and we(men) should know that one of miracle of Quran is its advanced meaning in any given time(we sould not stick with same tafsir that was done 1000 years ago and try to re-define our understang of Quran and apply it to today's life)this does not mean we should lose our islamic values. Islam is a religion of peace, tolerance, equality and kidness for everybody regardless of thier gender, color of skin, nationality or religion. Each individual should go back and read Quran and refresh thier understanding of Allah's wisdom. May Allah enlighten all of us....

  25. Ahmed from UK

    Congrats to the winner. However, one should question the motives behind the Nobel commitee's selection. This comes at a time when Iran is being pressured by the usual criminals to surrender its sovreinty under the guise of nuclear inspections. The prize is motivated by politics and not by genuine sincerity. Remember prizes were also awarded to jewish war criminals like Begin, Rabin and Perez for signing treaties they never followed through on.

    Finally, I'm glad Chirac and Shroder see this as a step towards tolerance, how about they extend some tolerance to Muslim girls in their respective countries who are being barred from education because of the way they dress ?