Quran underscores complete equality
Saturday, September 27, 2008 By Mohammed Elfiki
This article is in response to a column entitled "Sharia law spreads influence," by Cal Thomas, which you published in July.
Once again, Mr. Thomas is spreading misunderstanding about Islam. He has written a piece that takes a naive view about Sharia law. He has made Islam look like a religion that is against women's rights. In fact, Islamic law protects women more than any other laws.
The Quran provides clear evidence that woman is completely equated with man in the sight of God in terms of her rights and responsibilities. ("Whoever does good, whether male or female, and he is a believer, we will most certainly make him live a happy life, and we will most certainly give them their reward for the best of what they did.")
Woman, according to the Quran, is not blamed for Adam's first mistake. Both were wrong, both repented, and both were forgiven. In one verse, Adam was specifically blamed. ("Then they both ate of it, so their evil inclinations became manifest to them, and they both began to cover themselves with leaves of the garden, and Adam disobeyed his Lord, so his life became evil (to him).")
Islam gave women a variety of rights 1,400 years ago. In Islamic law, women have an unqualified right to own property, a right that does not change in marriage. She is also free to dispose of her property in any way she likes, without consulting anyone. A Muslim woman is not required to change her maiden name in marriage, a symbolic demonstration that even in marriage, Islam recognizes her independence. It was not until the late 1870s in England (and later elsewhere in Europe) that married women achieved the right to enter contracts and own property.
In most cases in Islamic law, the female's share of inheritance is half that of the male's share. However, women are less burdened financially. Men are financially responsible for all the female dependents in the family. Women do not have any financial obligations. Even if the wife is rich, she is not required to spend a penny on the household. The full responsibility for her food, clothing, housing, medication, recreation, etc., is her husband's.
Domestic violence is rare in a typical Muslim family. Every husband knows that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, never hit a woman in his life. He actually said, "The most perfect believers are the best in conduct, and the best of you are those who are best to their wives."
In Islam, a woman cannot be forced to marry anyone without her consent. A woman can also marry without parental approval according to the Hanafi school, which is taking place in Muslim countries such as Egypt. When the continuation of marriage relationship is impossible for any reason, men are still taught to seek a gracious end for it.
A divorced woman has the right to custody of the children. If she gets remarried, custody goes to her mother, if she is alive. If not, then custody goes to the mother of the father, then to the adult sisters of the children, then to the aunts.
No wonder three-quarters of those who revert to Islam in a country like Britain are women. No wonder, also, why the most senior judge in England, Lord Phillips, declared Islamic legal principles in Sharia law may be used within Muslim communities in Britain to settle marital arguments and regulate finance.
Mohammed Elfiki, of Syracuse, is a graduate of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, and an Islamic studies scholar.