Monday, November 5, 2012

Gender wars

Zahir Hoosain and I decided that we weren't really the types to spend a week lounging on a beach. Instead, we spent our honeymoon on a tour of Egypt. It was quite an experience being enveloped by such amazing history, standing at the foot of the pyramids and being face to face with the sphinx. After about a week of traipsing through tombs in the scorching sun, though, we thought that maybe we were the types to lounge on a beach after all. 

Whilst in Egypt, I picked up an interesting booklet titled " Women in Islam, Versus Women in the Judaeo-Christian Tradition:The Myth and the Reality"
It is written by Dr. Sherif Abdel Azeem. The publication very simply looks at the differences between Islam, Christianity and Judaism with regard to women. There are 15 short chapters dealing with issues such as female education, mothers, polygamy and the veil. 

A chapter that interested me was the one dealing with inheritance. It is not without some shame that I reluctantly admit to not completely  understanding and therefore questioning Islamic inheritance law. The reason behind this is  Feminism. For a while, I subscribed to the notion that "Anything a man can do, a woman can do better." It is only in the past few years that I have come to realise just how silly that idea really is. It simply isn't true. Allah swt has created man and woman differently, each with strengths and weaknesses and he has created us so that we may play different roles in society. A woman cannot do everything that a man can just as a man cannot do everything that a woman can. 

With regard to inheritance law, Dr. Abdel Azeem says, "The general rule is that the female share is half the male's except the cases in which the mother receives equal share to that of the father. This general rule if taken in isolation from other legislations concerning men and women may seem unfair. In order to understand the rationale behind this rule, one must take into account the fact that the financial obligations of men in Islam far exceed those of women.."

"A bridegroom must provide his bride with a marriage gift. This gift becomes her exclusive property and remains so even if she's later divorced. The bride is under no obligation to present any gifts to her groom. Moreover, the Muslim husband is charged with the maintenance of his wife and children. The wife, on the other hand, is not obliged to help him in this regard. Her property and earnings are for her use alone except what she may voluntarily offer her husband.

Besides, one has to realise that Islam vehemently advocates family life. It strongly encourages youth to get married, discourages divorce and does not regard celibacy as a virtue. Therefore, in a truly Islamic society, family life is the norm and single life is the rare exception. That is, almost all marriage-aged women and men are married in an Islamic society. In light of these facts, one would appreciate that Muslim men, in general, have greater financial burdens than Muslim women and thus inheritance rules are meant to offset this imbalance so that the society lives free of all gender or class wars."

A while ago I wrote a post titled, "Real Men." I think that post was also a little misguided. In response to a comment on that post, I wrote that the roles don't matter, it's the elusive mutual respect that does. The Islamic view is quite simply the "answer" to gender wars. 

The booklet can be found online using this link:


  1. Nice post. Where's the "Real Men" post you're referring to?

    1. Thanks, go to

      I was actually referring to my response to a comment made by you