Islamic Shariah and particularly the benign Islamic provisions pertaining to female inheritance and alimony of the divorcee have come under the hostile scrutiny of the mass media and the westernised opinion-makers today. These “intellectuals” and self-appointed well-wishers of the Muslim community, without even bothering to have even a cursory glance at the crude discrepancies and inconsistencies found in virtually every legal system of the world, and particularly in the Indian civil law, regard these scientific Islamic laws to be grossly violative of the women’s rights. They also dub them root cause of the Muslim women’s “backwardness and subjugation”. This caricature of Islamic law although initiated in the occident in the form of sweet intellectual revenge in the aftermath of its crushing military defeat at the hands of the Muslims in the Crusades in the Medieval period, has found a contemporary pastime with their perpetual disciples in the orient, and particularly the saffronized media of India as well. The procedure these committed and soft-spoken zealots adopted under the guise of objectivity is selectivity and presentation of the Islamic law in total isolation with the other connected provisions thereby distorting the true spirit behind such legislations. Such overzealous are they in their mission that they refuse to publish even decent rejoinders by the community countering their mischievous propaganda, thereby virtually blocking the debate. Thus there is a systematic media management at the hands of a committed syndicate which enjoys the privilege to shape one’s public image and perception according its whims and fancies. All this in the name of such noble epithets of mass consumption like “free press” and “free flow of information”.
Indisputably, Islam is the first and the lone religion of the world to accord women their due and rightful status in the society nearly one and half millennium ago when they were mostly treated as any other marketable commodity and even their mere right to life was a mirage. All its provisions are undoubtedly natural and scientific as it is the only religion to have successfully exhorted man to ponder deep and ascertain the rational and judicious reasoning behind all its enactments. Take for instance the provision of female inheritance. Here the males such as the father, son, husband etc., have been provided with double the share of their female counterparts such as mother, daughter, wife etc. Let this seeming imbalance of the Shariah be seen in the perspective of the central provision of absolutely no financial responsibility on the part of any female member of the family. According to this provision, whatever the female members inherit shall belong only to them without any provision of its spending, and shall continue to grow as their bank-balance. Even an earning female member is not obliged to spend anything from her income upon the family. All the burden of maintaining it rests with its male members. A person is obliged to maintain, among other family members, his sister and has to arrange for her marriage as well. And if she happens to lose her husband, again he is legally bound to provide for her sustenance. It is a distinguishing hallmark of Islamic jurisprudence to posses the finer delicacies and sensitivities wherein even a seemingly unattended right of an individual is more fully and appropriately provided elsewhere. After this “in-context” presentation of the law of inheritance can the “women-are-half-human-in-Islam” contention of the so-called intelligentsia hold water any more? Further, the “sincerity” of the proponents of natural justice could be gauged from the provision of equal inheritance rights in our civil law. If the son and the daughter should inherit equally, then why should the son alone be held legally responsible under Sec.125 CrPC for maintaining his aged parents and other members of the family and let the married daughter get away with equal share in inheritance to her in-laws without any responsibility of supporting her parental house having cast upon her? Is not it a clear case of state-sponsored feminism?
Take again the case of alimony of the divorcee. Islam provides for her maintenance by the ex-husband during her iddat period. If she has an infant with her, her maintenance extends to the period of fosterage of the baby. The burden of maintaining the children in all probability squarely falls upon only their father. Except under these circumstances, the divorcee is obliged to maintain herself or has to be maintained collectively by those male members of her parental family who would inherit her estate. The ratio of their responsibility corresponds to their respective entitlements in her estate. The ex-husband cannot be held responsible on this count as he has not been provided to inherit her. It is a natural corollary that only that person should be made to spend who is supposed to receive rather than the one who does not. After all marriage is Islam is just a contract contrary to the union of the two souls concept as enshrined in the religions where the ancient religious authority still predominates such as Hinduism and Christianity, and as such, held indissoluble until recently. Although the Christianity and Hinduism, bowing to strong popular demands and natural urge and taking a leaf out of the book of Islam, permitted dissolution of marriage but, in the bargain, they cast the entire responsibility of maintaining the divorcee on her ex-husband. They absolved the present and blood relatives and inheritors of the estate of the divorcee of any responsibility to maintain her and passed the buck onto an ex-relative who would not inherit her. Is this the sort of natural justice and equity our so-called intellectuals striving so vigorously or are they just indulging in a redundant Islam-bashing exercise with some ulterior motives?