Gender Equity in Islam|
By Jamal Badawi
CHAPTER TWO: THE ECONOMIC ASPECT
THE RIGHT TO POSSESS PERSONAL PROPERTY
One aspect of the world-view of Islam is that everything in heaven and on earth belongs to Allah:
To Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth. . .
As such, all wealth and resources are ultimately "owned" by Allah. However, out of Allah's mercy He created mankind to be, collectively, His trustees on earth. In order to help mankind fulfill this trusteeship, he made the universe serviceable to mankind:
And He (Allah) has subjected to you, as from Him, all that is in the heavens and on earth: behold, in that are signs indeed for those who reflect. (Quran 45:13)
It is the human family that is addressed in the above, and in other verses of the Quran. And since that family includes both genders, it follows that the basic right to personal possession of property (as Allah's trustees) applies equally to males and females. More specifically:
FINANCIAL SECURITY AND INHERITANCE LAWS
2. Financial security is assured for women. They are entitled to receive marital gifts without limit and to keep present and future properties and income for their own security, even after marriage. No married woman is required to spend any amount at all from her property and income on the household. In special circumstances, however, such as when her husband is ill, disabled or jobless, she may find it necessary to spend from her earnings or savings to provide the necessities for her family. While this is not a legal obligation, it is consistent with the mutuality of care, love and cooperation among family members. The woman is entitled also to full financial support during marriage and during the waiting period (iddah)8 in case of divorce or widowhood. Some jurists require, in addition, one year's support for divorce and widowhood (or until they remarry, if remarriage takes place before the year is over).
From what is left by parents and those nearest related, there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be small or largea determinate share. (Quran 4:7)
With regard to the woman's right to seek employment, it should be stated first that Islam regards her role in society as a mother and a wife as her most sacred and essential one. Neither maids nor baby sitters can possibly take the mother's place as the educator of an upright, complex-free, and carefully reared child. Such a noble and vital role, which largely shapes the future of nations, cannot be regarded as "idleness." This may explain why a married woman must secure her husband's consent if she wishes to work, unless her right to work was mutually agreed to as a condition at the time of marriage.
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