Women demand equal blood money [Archives:2005/856/Front Page]

July 4 2005

Mohammed bin Sallam
SANA'A- A number of Yemeni religious scholars unanimously agreed that there are no clear-cut legal evidences that prevent making blood money of women equal to men's in case of their death.

They all pointed out the matter is controversial and no clear-cut evidence was mentioned in Quran or Hadith to prevent women's blood money from being equal to men's.

A number of religious scholars and researchers, who attended the forum that was organized last Monday by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hussein al-Ahmar, Parliament Speaker in his house, stressed on the importance of the intellectual and scientific meetings to promote dialogue and heated debates on the woman's blood money.

A controversy was provoked by the article forwarded to the specialist committee at the Parliament within the frame of the law of penalties and crimes stipulating the woman's blood money should be half the man's.

The attendants have shown their opinions on what was included by a number of papers presented on the matter, but they did not agree on a unified decision and considered it a controversial issue due to the multiplicity of sects in Yemen.

Objectors to the amendment of women's blood money have not shown any evidence to support their objection either from the Quran or the Sunna (Sayings and acts of Prophet Mohammad peace be upon him).

Mosque preachers at the capital waged a campaign against efforts expended by some human rights organizations to amend the law article forwarded to the Parliament in this respect. They considered the woman's blood money being half the man's is one of the principles of Islam that can never be amended.

Additionally, the new law draft presented to the Parliament for amending the woman's blood money encouraged women activists to discuss with their colleagues all what is relevant to women rights in the Holy Book.

After a series of studies, symposiums and lectures, some religious hardliners waged a media campaign seeing the matter to contradict the Islamic Shari'a and violate conventions signed by Yemen, most important of which is the convention of fighting discrimination against women.

This legal file created a chance for talking about different sects that do not agree on a specific woman's blood money. Al-Shafia, al-Hanafia and al-Malikia made the blood money of the Muslim woman equal to that of a Jewish citizen and said that it should be half the free man's.

Regarding the ongoing controversy on women's blood money, Dr. al-Mortadha Zaid al-Muhatwari told the Yemen Times that al-Zaidia Sect has a similar view to other sects on the matter and the woman's blood money is half the man's.

There are many contemporary religious sheikhs including Mohammad Abdu, Rashid Ridha, Mahmoud Shalton, al-Azhar Preacher, Mohammad al-Ghazali, al-Qaradawi and Dr. al-Muhatwari who support making woman's blood money equal to the man's.

The supporters claimed that consensus made by some religious scholars is not based on any Quranic verse or Hadith, but they based their claims on inherited narrations.

Al-Muhatwari added that making discrimination between souls is a taboo and the Quranic verses reveal that any soul is 100% equal to other soul.

With respect the blood money of a Jew or a Christian, al-Muhatwari argued their blood money is equal to that of Muslims unless they are conquerors, and if a Muslim killed a Jewish subject, he must be executed unless he pays the blood money.

On her part, Rahmah Jujairah, Chairwoman of Yemeni Presswomen Forum mentioned: “I never bear in mind that Islam makes a discrimination between human beings, and all human beings, males females are equal in the eye of Allah.

She added: “it is illogical to turn a blind eye to discrimination issues and violence against women and considering them unequal to men since it is women who bread men and care for them.