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by Jane Bate and Bryan Hermansdorfer, ©2021

(Oct. 11, 2021) — [See previous installments in this series here.]

That the status of women is lower than that of men in Islam is undeniable. A case in point is Reliance of the Traveller (ROTT) o4.9: “The indemnity for the death or injury of a woman is one-half the indemnity paid for a man.” Similarly, a woman’s testimony in court is worth half of that of a man: ROTT o24.7. Additionally, a woman is not considered capable of making her own decisions; rather, she must, throughout her life be managed by a male guardian – her father, husband, brother, uncle or son under a prescribed sequence.

And if you imagine that a woman needs merely to walk out her front door to breathe the air of freedom, think again. A husband has the right, according to ROTT m10.4, to forbid his wife to leave the home: “It is not permissible for a woman who believes in Allah and the Last Day to allow someone into her husband’s house if he is opposed, or to go out if he is averse.”

Well, you may think, she could always divorce her husband. Although, if a man desires to divorce a wife, he needs merely to say three times, “I divorce you,” and the deed is done, the following excerpt (ROTT n1.1) illustrates the wife’s lack of rights:

“Divorce is valid from any:

(a) husband;

(b) who is sane;

(c) has reached puberty;

(d) and who voluntarily effects it.”

Until the divorced woman remarries, she retains custody of her young children. Once she remarries though, the custody of those children reverts to the father. The reason given for that is: “…because married life will occupy her with fulfilling the rights of her husband and prevent her from tending the child.”

Next month’s column will further discuss a woman’s lot in life.

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