Unfortunately, the misinterpretation of the holy scriptures in all religions creates laws that in many cases either favor men or are simply made by men. Out of a human natural feeling, whoever makes the law will make sure that the law fits the ego and the most comfortable social and political climate. For this reason, Muslim women feel that laws concerning, marriage, divorce, family homes, custody of their children, inheritance, polygamy and other family and social laws are very unfair to them.
In many cases those laws are against Islam and Islamic teachings, but they are still in use in Muslim countries. The feminine opposition to those rules and even the opposition of a minority of men who think that women are treated unfairly is met with an aggressive response and an accusation of being against God, religion, and the rules of Islam. The fear of being called an infidel, a non- believer, an enemy of God or being victim of radical violence, makes it taboo and both men and women are scared to express their real opinion.
This problem is not proper to Islam, other religions have extremist or conservative groups who would act the same toward women, forgetting that women are their mothers, their sisters, their wives and daughters. The demonstration in Tunisia and the declarations of those women of all ages, lifts the veil on serious problems.
After the death of the father, the daughter gets half her brother’s share, and the mother gets one eight of what he left. In the time of the prophet, men had to provide for women either they had money or not, their financial status did not matter. The father provides for his wife and daughter, after his death, the son takes over. He receives a share while his sister receives half, but he has to provide for her with his share. She is completely taken care of and does not need her money.
If she works, neither her brother nor her husband who becomes in charge of providing for her after her marriage, can ask her for her money or make her provide for herself with her income. Women had money they did not use in the time of the prophet, except for what they gave to charity. The prophet often advised them to invest their money and participate in the nation’s economy.
It is true that Islam gives women the right to ask for divorce, to own property, the freedom to use their money independently from men, to work, to seek education, but how much of that is a reality in Muslim countries? The mentality changed so badly, that a father asks his daughter to provide for herself, and a husband asks his wife to provide for herself because she works, some husbands even threaten the wife with divorce or are abusive if she does not give her paycheck, knowing that it is against Islam.
In the case of inheritance, the brother finds it unfair to provide for his sister who has her inheritance in the bank and who possibly has an income as well. If he is married, the sister in law also finds it unfair to share her husband’s inheritance or income with his mother or sister or both while she needs the money to raise her children. In order to avoid problems and possibly losing his family which would be unfortunate for him, the son decides to ignore the Islamic law.
It happened to witness in many Muslim families, after the father’s death, the mother forced to leave her home if her children decided to sell it, or one of her sons decided to make it his home with the consent of his siblings. Her part of inheritance being only one eight of the value of her home gives her no say in the matter. Nursing homes and shelters in Muslim countries are full or mothers, daughters and sisters who have nowhere to go.
Many women ended up homeless with their children when the husband repudiates the wife and gets married again in the family home she is not entitled to after the divorce. The custody of her children depends on the ex-husband’s will. He can take the children from her if he wishes, and if she seeks a new relation after her divorce or marries another man, she loses custody by law. If she is a widow, her in-laws can take the children from her if she remarries, which explains why in Muslim countries widows and divorced women rarely get married because they have children, while men get married immediately after death or divorce with the blessing of the society.
The rules of Islam in these particular matters could be appropriate fourteen centuries ago, but since the mentality and the society changed, the laws should change too. Especially the law of inheritance that is hurting Muslim women to a painful level that is being ignored by the governments and the religious authorities, who happen to not feel the pain because they are men and not women.
The March 11th , 2018 demonstration in Tunisia happening more than one thousand and four hundred years after the revelation, referred to in the New York Times article is so descriptive of the pain Muslim women are feeling from the unfairness of laws that need to change so they can be treated as equal to men and finally have the same rights.