Lecture on Is Islam Fair to Women – Part-II
Islam as Religion and Muslim Society
Dr. Mozammel Haque
In order to understand Islam as religion, as faith vis-à-vis the Muslim society on women rights, it is essential at the very beginning to make it clear that Muslims of the United Kingdom came from different parts of the world with their own different cultural backgrounds, traditions, customs and practices. It is not always right to associate whatever Muslims are doing with their religion or saying that is Islamic. Thus practices and traditions in the Muslim society differ from the rules and regulations of Islam. Bearing that in mind, let’s start with the status of woman in Islam.
Now coming to the status of woman in Islam there are lots of questions. Lots of allegations have been made against the status of woman in Islam. Many books, articles, speeches and talks were delivered on the status of woman in Islam. These are there in the library, in books, still Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre wanted to talk about this because he thinks it is necessary to explain the practical things related with that. He mentioned first those questions which were raised as follows:
“For example, why women take half of men? Why man has this walaya; the guardianship for woman and woman do not have this. Why man has the right to divorce? Woman does not have the right to divorce; another question. Why we have to pay dowry when we have to marry? Why do men have more than one wife and the woman does not have the right to have more than one husband? Why, for example, woman must wear Hijab and man not – this is something also very important. Why we have, we call it, honour crime, against women; women mostly don’t have the same with man even if they practise the same thing? This is something very important,” mentioned Dr. Al-Dubayan.
ICC Director General first of all started with the issue of inheritance. He said, “Let’s start, as for example, with the issue of inheritance. Why women do have 50%? First of all, this is not correct hundred percent. Not in all cases that women have 50% of men. Sometimes women have more than men; it depends on who has left family when someone passed away. When someone die who is left in the family? He has a wife or he does not have a wife; may be his wife died before him. How many daughters he has; or she has? How many sons he has or she has? How many uncles? Is there any father or any mother? This calculation is always done on the basis of the rest of the family who are there. It is not a sharp judgement that is you have to follow it when someone died okay the woman turn 100%; no, sometimes take more.”
Ilm ul Faraiz
There is one branch of Islamic Jurisprudence which talked about the subject of inheritance. This branch is known as Ilm ul Faraiz, Science of Rights. Talking about this Dr. al-Dubayan said, “This is actually a branch of jurisprudence of Islam how to divide the inheritance of the deceased. Before the judge does this, he must ask the family who dies, for example, the father; does he have children? Yes, how many are they? Are they daughters or sons? How many sons? How many daughters? Does he have a father? Yes, his father is still alive. Does his mother still alive? Yes. Does he have a brother? Yes. Half-brother from mother only or from father only? Does he have full brother, father and mother same; there are. It is a very complicated issue that you have to see who is there.”
Religious Responsibility of Man
Dr. al-Dubayan said, “Financially, the man or the husband or the father; it is one of his duties to spend money for his wife - clothes, food, house, whatever she needs. It is a duty of the man; it is not the duty of woman. Even in some families, may be woman is a business woman, and she has mashallah lots of money in bank and then man does not have that much money; but still the duties is not here of woman, unless she agrees to do something to help. But when we come to the rights of religion itself; then the money must come from the father or the husband to the woman even if the woman is the richer. They are talking about the religion. Don’t mix this with tradition.”
“Now, that’s why in Islam, in those cases when the man has more than woman, the man has lot of duties financially for the family more than the woman herself,” he explained.
Talking about the practice in the Muslim society, Dr al-Dubayan mentioned, “When we come to the Muslim society, unfortunately, we find lot of misunderstanding. Some people even confiscate property from the wife and they think it is their own property. This is not right; this is her money. Unless she agrees you cannot touch it. Otherwise you will come back to the protection of her property. It is haram to touch it from behind her. Sometimes some people who is authorised by the woman to deal with the business; for example, he is a manager of her company. Company is owned by the wife. I saw some cases like this. Some women are very much successful. They have good minds to plan and they are very active. They can make their own business. So okay, there is nothing in the religion itself. And then because she needs somebody to be the head of this company; she can employ her husband because he is her trusted person and her husband is actually responsible for everything in the company. Now Islamically, if he wanted to touch anything for his own purposes, he must get permission from her; because this is her money.”
Responsibility came from the husband to the wife
In the earlier case when woman has the money then if husband needs money he has to take the permission of her wife because the money belongs to her. Now think about the alternative situation where woman has to take money from her husband. Dr al-Dubayan dealt with this situation and explained the regulations of Islam. He said, “Woman can take as much as she needs the money. An woman came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and say to Rasullullah: ‘Abu Sufian is a little bit of greedy person; so he sometimes did not give her money for me and my children; am I allowed, is it halal I take from his money as he does not give.’ Prophet Sallullahu wa sallam said, ‘Yes, just little for your need; for your children. When you need and he refused to give; you can take yourself for your children. This is a case from the husband to the wife is allowed.”
“So you see why? Because the man; it is his responsibility to spend money for the family,” said Al-Dubayan.
Responsibility of father for the children
Now coming back to the responsibility of the children: Who will be responsible for the children under whatever condition, in the family, in case of divorce, in case of custody of mother? Talking and explaining about this situation, Dr. al-Dubayan explained the Islamic point of view, Islamically. He said, “Sometimes couple divorced; the woman takes children and the children live with her. If the court gives the custody of children to the mother; the mother takes the children and lives with them. Is it fair in Islam that this mother will struggle whole life to spend to bring up this children? Because the custody she was given by the government; the father may have the money and live happily and enjoying his life. No; because all the expenses of the children must come from the father; not from the mother. So he must put permanent funds transfer to his children; he must give every month part of his money to his children based on how much they need for their schools, for their food, for their school fees, for whatever they buy or even for the rent they live in the house. The father must pay the rent for his children because expenses of children are the responsibility of the man.”
It is understood that when the custody of children is given to the mother by the court, even in that case the responsibility of the children remains with the father, the man. Now, in case of a woman is divorced, in that situation, what will be the responsibility of the man for his divorced wife? Dr. al-Dubayan again explained Islamic point of view. He explained, “If the woman is divorced, she will have this right. She will enjoy this right for three months; this is the Iddat period. We are talking about Iddat. Islam gives three months only after divorce. Why? This is a chance for woman and the man to revise themselves; may be, change their minds; may be, the old love will wake up; and everybody will remember the day the old days when they started; then he or she will regret and say ayujubillah himinis saitan nir razim; I will come back. Okay agreed. So there is also chance for three months.”
“After this three months, khalas; it’s over. Her expenses will be stopped because it’s over. She is away; she is independent but not the expenses of the children; stay with you all the time till he/she becomes adult; they can arrange their life or their livelihood,” said Dr. al-Dubayan.
Practice in Muslim Society
Now again, coming back to the practice in the Muslim society, unfortunately, we find different pictures. Talking about this situation, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “In practice, in the Muslim community; unfortunately, you will find those who are taking money from their wives and they think it is their own money. Sometimes even they denied. This is exactly like stealing; because you are taking something which is not yours at all.”
On the question of Walaya or Guardianship
Now coming to the subject of Walaya or what we call it guardianship, Islam is very clear about this. Speaking about Walaya or guardianship, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “Prophet sallallu wa sallam was very clear about this. When it is about marriage, does woman was asked for marriage? We have to ask her opinion and then go to the father; we cannot force her. If she says no; her word is final. But if she says yes, we go to the father to settle it. This is it and the father must agree.”
Not guardian in financial matters
Dr. al-Dubayan explained, “The father is not a guardian when it comes about finance. Father is not a guardian when it is a business about financial rights or properties or something. Father is a guardian when it is a marriage only. Daughter herself can sell; can rent; give a loan without any permission from anybody; because financially she is totally independent. She can deal this alone. This is very very important to make it clear.”
Society unfair with women
Talking about how woman is treated in the present-day modern Muslim society, Dr. Al-Dubayan said, the society sometimes unfair with woman. He gave an example: “Divorced women in many cases were taken as guilty people. Actually in many cases I see, first of all, Talaq is in the hands of man, husband himself, he is the man who can initiate or start Talaq. So why then we blame woman for it; if it happens or takes place. The man did it. This is very very important.”
“Societies are unfair, not Islam. Societies take any divorced woman as a person who committed something like a big sin or committed something like a big fault; she did not like her life that’s why she is divorced. And we don’t know; if we investigate or research; may be we will find she is right and the man is wrong; who knows that? Nobody knows,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan.