Financial Rights of Women

In Islam, greater financial security is assured for women. Women in Islam have been given more financial security, as compared to the men.  They are entitled to receive marital gifts, to keep present and future properties and income for their own security. No married woman is required to spend a penny from her property and income on the household. She is entitled to full financial support during marriage and during her ‘Iddah (waiting period after divorce) in case of divorce- and if she has children, she is also entitled for child support.

No Financial Responsibility:

A woman in Islam does not shoulder any financial obligations; it is the man who shoulders this responsibility in the family. It is  the duty of the father or the brother, before she is  married to look after her lodging, boarding, clothing and  financial aspects, and it becomes the duty of her husband or her son, after she is married.

If a Woman works, which she is not forced to – all earnings she makes are absolutely her property.  She is not obliged to spend from it on the household, unless she wants to do so with her free will. Irrespective how rich the wife is, the duty to give lodging, boarding, clothing and look after the financial aspects of the wife remains that of the husband.

Her property as a Wife:

Since its advent, Islam has granted married women the independent personality. In Islam, the bride and her family are under no obligation whatsoever to present a gift to the groom. It is the groom who must present the bride with a marriage gift. This gift is considered her property and neither the groom nor the bride’s family have any share in or control over it. The bride retains her marriage gifts even if she is later divorced. The husband is not allowed any share in his wife’s property except what she offers him with her free consent. The Quran has stated the Islamic position on this issue quite clearly in the verse (which means): And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. But if they give up willingly to you anything of it, then take it in satisfaction and ease[Quran 4:4]

The wife’s property and earnings are under her full control and for her use alone since her, and the children’s, maintenance is her husband’s responsibility. No matter how rich the wife might be, she is not obliged to act as a co-provider for the family unless she herself voluntarily chooses to do so. Spouses do inherit from one another. Moreover, a married woman in Islam retains her independent legal personality and her family name.

Inheritance:

Centuries ago, Islam gave the right of inheritance to women. If one reads the Quran – in several verses in Chapters like [Quran 4], [Quran 2] and [Quran 5], it is mentioned that a woman has a right to inherit, regardless of her status; whether she is a wife, a mother, a sister, or a daughter.

Generally, a Muslim woman is guaranteed support in all stages of her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister. These additional advantages of women over men are somewhat balanced by the provisions of the inheritance which allow the male, in most cases, to inherit twice as much as the female. This means that the male inherits more but is responsible financially for other females: daughters, wives, mother, and sisters, while the female (i.e., a wife) inherits less but keeps it all for investment and financial security without any obligation to spend any part of it even for her own sustenance (food, clothing, housing, medication, etc.).

One of the most important differences between the Quran and other faiths is the attitude towards female inheritance of the property of a deceased relative. Islam abolished all unjust customs and gave all the female relatives inheritance shares, unlike other faiths. In The Quran, Allaah Says (what means): 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 large –a determinate share[Quran4:7]

Muslim mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters had received inheritance rights thirteen hundred years before Europe recognized that these rights even existed. The division of inheritance is a vast subject with an enormous amount of details in different verses in the Quran, such as [Quran 4:7,11,12,176].

Rational justification of shares:

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, as we stated earlier.

A bridegroom must provide his bride with a marriage gift, which becomes her exclusive property and remains so even if she is 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 realize that Islam fervently 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. After a simple comparison between the financial rights and duties of Muslim women, one can safely state that Islam has treated women not only fairly but generously.

Compulsory Marital Gift for a Woman:

When a woman gets married, she is on the receiving end.  She receives a gift – she receives a marital gift, which, in Arabic, is called Mahr. This is mentioned in the Quran in the verse which says (what means): And give the women (on marriage) their dower as a free gift; but if they, Of their own good pleasure, remit any part of it to you, take it and enjoy it with right good cheer[Quran 4:4]

For a marriage to solemnize in Islam, Mahr is compulsory. However, in Islam, there is no lower-limit, nor is there an upper limit for Mahr – but Islam encourages lower Mahr, because an inflated Mahr would burden the couple (and not only the husband) and makes them start their lives with a negative balance, or at least financially exhausted.

There are various cultures which have crept into the Muslim societies, which reversed the issue and made the financial obligations of the marriage lie on the shoulder of the wife (to be) and her family. Demanding dowry from the wife, directly or indirectly is prohibited in Islam. Nonetheless, if the parents of the girl give her something out of their own free will, then this is accepted – But demanding or forcing directly or indirectly, it is prohibited in Islam.

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