Islam and Respect of Woman Rights (1/2) [Archives:2005/894/Opinion]

November 14 2005


Arabs used to deprive women from many legal rights prior to Islam such as inheritance shares. However, Islam came to stop this unfair treatment towards women; women in Islam have legal rights similar to those of men but with some variations. Qura'n stresses the equality of right for men and women “And due to them (wives) is similar to what is expected of them, according to what is reasonable (2:228). Qura'n confirms the right of both men and women to get inheritance shares “For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much- an obligatory share”.(4:7) Qura'n, 4:11,12,176, illustrates the distribution of inheritance among male and female. Therefore, mothers, daughters, and wives get fair inheritance shares. Inheritance in Islam gives the male a portion double of what a female may get, and the husband gets higher portion from his wife's inheritance than she gets from his. This may be viewed as an unjust treatment toward women by non-Muslims, but when we analyze the responsibility of a husband in a Muslim family, we will realize that this distribution is just; as a husband must provide his family with all their daily needs, upholding the household and protection, while the wife has no obligation to provide the family with financial support. So what she gets from the inheritance is her right which she can willingly give it to charity or help her husband so that she may be rewarded by Allah. Now we understand that a man spends his share in supporting his family including his wife but a woman has the right to keep her share for herself and she has full control over her property. She can sell, buy and make contracts with others without seeking permissions from her father or her husband or any one. Muslim women got their legal rights since the advent of Islam fourteen centuries ago while women in the west had to wait until recent centuries to get their fair legal rights.

A wife has the right to defend herself when her husband accuses her of adultery. She can nullify this accusation according to the procedure mentioned in Qura'n “And those who accuse their wives (of adultery) have no witnesses except themselves-then the witness of one of them (shall be) four testimonies (swearing) by Allah that indeed, he is of the truthful. And the fifth (oath will be) that the curse of Allah be upon him if he should be among the liars. But it will prevent punishment from her if she gives four testimonies by Allah that he is of the lairs. And the fifth that the wrath of Allah be upon her if he was of the truthful” (24:6-9). Also a woman can fulfill her vows or pledges without seeking any permission from her father or her husband or any person except when a wife performs voluntary fasting. If she is fasting, her husband cannot have sexual relations with her during the day so she should inform him to make sure he is not in need of such thing. A wife has also the right over her husband in bearing children. If her husband decides not to have children, he should get the permission from his wife because she has the right to have children.

Men have one more degree above women for their responsibility toward family maintenance and protection. But this one more degree over women does not mean that men have full control over women because according to the above verse from Qura'n women have rights similar to those of men.

A woman also has the right to accept or reject a man who wants to marry her, Also a wife has the right to self-divorce through the court with or without the consent of her husband.