In today’s world, Muslim women are known to actively affirm their responsibilities and rights, nullifying any preconceived notions that portray Muslim women as being oppressed and repressed. The Holy Book, Qur’an, states that both men and women are obligated to practice same religious responsibilities and will be rewarded accordingly on their day of judgement. However, there is a notable difference in the circumstances for both men and women when discussing certain instances; these passages are being interpreted and studied by both men and women. For instance, as per the Islamic understanding of the Qur’an verses, Muslim men are considered responsible for financial supporting women.
In other words, Islam provides women with a greater financial security when compared to men. For instance, married Muslim women are bound to be given marital gifts at the time of marriage along with keeping all the existing and future income & properties for the purpose of their own security (Allen, 1999). Hence, she is not required to spend a single dime of her own income or property on the household i.e. she is entitled for complete financial support during her marriage & Iddah i.e. the time period right after divorce, along with child support in case she has a child. It is important to note that, in reference to the Islamic Qur’an, since a family includes of genders, men and women, both the genders hold equal rights in the possession of the property.
The following report sheds light on the financial rights of Muslim women as per the norms of the religion of Islam. The report compromises of a detailed account of the financial rights that Muslim women actively practice today, which they believe are offered to them by the Qur’an. The report below is subdivided into Muslim women’s financial responsibility, financial rights of wives, provision of marital gifts and the Islamic law of inheritance.
During the ancient times, women of Islam were given no right to inherit any financial support from the generations above and even if they did, they were still treated as inferior to men. Women were not allowed to have their own legal independent personality and had no right to receive any form of financial support as inheritance (Ali, 1979). As per the ancient legal systems, even if the daughters, back then, received little inheritance, her child did not. Whereas, in the case of a son, the inheritance received was not only for the son himself but also for his children. Similarly, some other systems allowed women to inherit however not in the expected form of “an appointed share;” if the progenitor desired, he was allowed make a bequest, favouring the wife or daughter.
Well, time has changed and the Islamic laws of inheritance have become free of all the “defects” and “short-comings” of the past. The Qur’an specifically mentions that the women of Islam are equally obligated to receive inheritance, irrespective of their status i.e. whether she is a mother, daughter, sister or wife (Ali, 1979).. As previously mentioned, a Muslim woman is guaranteed to have financial support at every stage of her life i.e. whether be it her role as a daughter, sister, wife or mother, until death. However, in order to balance out the additional advantages that are ensured for women by Islam, certain provisions were made that allow Muslim men to inherit twice as much as the Muslim women. In other words, women hold possessions over a share which is half of what men will receive from the progenitor.
Islamic law of inheritance states that a husband is to receive twice of what the wife will, a brother will receive twice of what the sister will and a son will receive twice of what thedaughter will receive; there is an exception in the cases of fathers and mothers. The Islamic law states that if the parents of the deceased are alive, then they are obligated to receive one sixth of the property left behind (Allen, 1999).. In short, the males will inherit more than what the women will, however, considering the financial responsibilities of a Muslim man towards his family and household, this law can be said to be justified, especially when the Muslim women are under no obligation to spend a single penny of their inheritance for sustaining her family, household or even herself. Since the Muslim men are responsible for all females i.e. wife, mother, sisters, daughters etc. in his family, it is acceptable to allow them to inherit twice as much of what the Muslim women will inherit from their progenitors.
As mentioned earlier, a woman practicing Islam is not obligated to any financial responsibilities when it comes to maintaining and sustaining a family. In other words, no Muslim woman is required to financially support her household, even in case of possession of income & property. Men practicing Islam i.e. the father or son or brother are required to provide their family with all the financial support necessary, thus, the responsibilities lies on their shoulders. This applies to both married and unmarried women; all the financial needs of a Muslim woman, before marriage, are to be fulfilled by her brother & father. Once married, this becomes the duty or responsibility of her husband and her son (Ali, 1979).
In addition to the above, it is important to note that a Muslim woman has the equal right on the sources of income and properties possessed by her husband. A working women in Islam, is by no means required to spend a single dime of her earnings; all the earnings she saves and makes, remain her property. It is her right to choose, whether if she wants to financially contribute for the well being of her household or not. It is important to note that, no matter how financially stable the women may be, it is her husband’s duty or responsibility to provide his wife and family with basic boarding, lodging, clothing and fulfil other financial aspects.
However, in cases where the husband is suffering from any disability or illness or unemployment, she may be required to use her earnings or savings so as to provide her family with all the necessities; note that women are not legally obligated to do this. Similarly, a woman is entitled for complete financial support during her marriage or in case of widowhood or divorce, during the waiting period (Abd Al-Ati, 1977). In context of divorce, women may require financial support of minimum of one year or until or unless they remarry within the year after divorce. Moreover, it would be true to say that a Muslim woman is guaranteed to have financial support at every stage of her life i.e. her role as a daughter, sister, wife or mother, until death.
From this historical perspective, acknowledgement in the Quran states that women’s right of owning property should be an important one because the position of women is strong according to the Holy text. During the Prophet’s period, women had all the right over their property. On general perspective, the law of Islam lets women to have, use and dispose their property but the detailing into the matter clearly states that on marriage, the women lose their right on property and it gets transferred to her husband. Women in Islam are reserved in nature and property ownership in limited space is not possible and so there are restrictions.
As previously mentioned, at the time of marriage, the bride is on the receiving end i.e. she is presented with marital gifts from the groom that no one but the bride has a control over. The proposal from the groom comprises of a marital gift, often regarded as Mahr. In Islam, no marriage solemnizes until the bride is offered with Mahr, making Mahr a compulsion. Though, there is no limit to what can or cannot be offered as a Mahr; Islam encourages provision of lower Mahr because it is believed that an inflated Mahr is more likely to burden the newly married couple and may result in starting their news lines with a negative imbalance or financial exhaustion. The sole purpose of Mahr is to ensure the bride with financial security for her future; remember, this “marital gift” will solely remain the property of the woman and that no family members of hers or the groom himself will posses any share or control over it (Mace 2001).
Unlike other cultures, where the bride and her family are dumped on the financial responsibilities, Islam prohibits any form of direct or indirect demands of dowry. It is seen in certain cultures that the bride and her family are expected to compromise and are demanded of marital gits, making all the financial responsibilities fall onto the girl’s and her family’s shoulder. However, Islam strictly discourages any such demands until or unless the bride or her family willingly offer the groom or his family with something of such type; indirect or direct forcing or demanding is strictly prohibited (Abd Al-Ati, 1977). This is solely to ensure the bride’s financial security along with her integrity; it is believed that the married life of the newlyweds should not begin on a negative note, ensuring their happiness.
As a wife, a Muslim woman is entitled for equal possession of the properties owned by her husband and is bound to receive marital gifts at the time of marriage along with keeping all existing and future income & properties to ensure self financial security. Thus, it can be said that Islam grants Muslim married women with an independent personality. At the time of marriage, the bride and her family are by no means obligated to present the groom or his family with any sort of marital gift. In fact, it is the groom who is required to offer the bride with a marriage proposal that comprises of a marital gift. It is important to recognise that this “marital gift” will solely remain the property of the woman and that no family members of hers or the groom himself will posses any share or control over it (Mace 2001).
At the time of divorce, the bride may retain all her marital gifts presented to her at the time of marriage along with all her possessions and earnings that she saved during her marriage period. The husband has no right to control or have a share in any of the women’s financial properties until or unless she, herself presents him with the offer (Ali, 1979). Additionally, as previously stated, as a working wife, the woman is not expected to contribute to the financial well being of her family i.e. as a working wife, she is by no means obligated to financially contribute for the sustainment of her household and family. All her earnings and savings will remain her property, until or unless she willingly decides to contribute and allows her husband to posses his control over or share her property. Again, no married women, no matter how rich or financially stable, is under the obligation of providing her family with any support; it is solely the responsibility and duty of her husband to fulfil basic needs of boarding, logding, clothing, consumables and other aspects of household.
A married Muslim woman can be said to retain her own family name and independent legal personanility. However, in certain countries, due to absence of the financial security measures mentioned in Islam or other reasons of survival, Muslim women may be required or forced to financially support their family and seek employment, due to circumstances that cause them to recognize their role as mothers.
Additionally, an important difference that differentiates the Qur’an from other systems or faiths is their attitude towards inheritance of property by Muslim women in case of a deceased relative. Islam truly believes in providing all females with the right to inherit their determinate share, further abolishing any unjust customs. Similarly, Islam also critically takes into consideration the importance of dower and maintenance; according to Islam, both dower and maintenance are effective and essential when consolidating a marriage since they ensure coherence and harmony within the domestic family (Abd Al-Ati, 1977). Any abolition of dower and maintenance is likely to result in disintegration within the family structure. Also, it is believed that there is a possibility that it may push women towards prostitution. Thus, it is important to understand that the compulsion of dower and the maintenance has consequently reduced the Muslim women’s share of inheritance; since the Muslim men are burdened with this responsibility and the women’s financial commitments have been reduced, this Islamic law of inheritance operates as a reimbursement that compensates men for the extra burden they are fraught with.
In other words, a rational justification for the above would be that since the financial obligations and duties of a Muslim man exceed that of a Muslim woman, it becomes necessary for men to inherit twice as much as the women. One needs to take into account all the “advantages” ensured for women by Islam which include of receiving marital gifts and not having to spend any of their own earnings or properties for sustenance, so as to understand that Muslim men are simply being compensated for the extra burden that they are fraught with by letting them have twice as much of the inheritance as the women (Allen, 1999). Moreover, one needs to realize that Islam fervently encourages family life and discourages divorce; single life is a rare exception within the Islamic society and if one was to notice, most Muslim marriage-aged men and women are married. In light of the above, if would be highly appreciated that one recognizes the importance of the inheritance rules and realizes that these are simply meant to counteract the imbalance within the society so as to let a society sustain or survive time devoid of any class or gender wars.
Islam provides women with a greater financial security when compared to men. The Holy Book, Qur’an, states that both men and women are obligated to practice same religious responsibilities and will be rewarded accordingly on their day of judgement. However, as per the Islamic understanding of the Qur’an verses, Muslim men are considered responsible for financial supporting women. A woman practicing Islam is not obligated to any financial responsibilities when it comes to maintaining and sustaining a family; she can be said to retain her own family name and independent legal personanility (Ali, 1979).. Though, in certain countries, due to absence of the financial security measures mentioned in Islam or other reasons of survival, Muslim women may be required or forced to financially support their family and seek employment, due to circumstances that cause them to recognize their role as mothers.
The Islamic law of Inheritance is of utmost importance when discussing the financial rights of a Muslim woman. Islamic laws of inheritance have become free of all the “defects” and “short-comings” of the past; the Qur’an specifically mentions that the women of Islam are equally obligated to receive inheritance, irrespective of their status i.e. whether she is a mother, daughter, sister or wife. Though, in order to balance out the additional advantages that are ensured for women by Islam, certain provisions were made that allow Muslim men to inherit twice as much as the Muslim women (Allen, 1999). In other words, women hold possessions over a share which is half of what men will receive from the progenitor. One should realize that Islam fervently encourages family life and discourages divorce; single life is a rare exception within the Islamic society. For this reason, inheritance rules are simply meant to counteract the imbalance within the society for reassuring sustenance of life.
Ali, Y.A., 1979. The Holy, Qur'an: Translation of verses is heavily based on A. Yusuf Ali's translation “The Glorious Qur'an” text translation, and Commentary, The American Trust Publication
Abd Al-Ati., Hammudah., 1977. “Islam in Focus”, The American Trust Publications
Allen, E. A., 1999. “History of Civilization”, General Publishing House, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Mace., David., Vera., 2001. “Marriage: East and West”, Dolphin Books, Doubleday
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