The Financial Independence of Woman in Islam
By: Martyred Ayatullah Murtada Mutahhari
One thousand four hundred years ago, Islam passed this law and ordered: To the men a share from what they have earned, and to the women a share of what they have earned. (4:32)
In this verse the Qur’an considers men to have a right to the fruits of their labour and efforts. In exactly the same way it considers women to have the right to the fruits of their labour and efforts.
In another verse the Qur’an ordained To the men a share of what parents and kinsmen leave, and to the women a share of what parents and kinsmen leave. (4: 7)
It means that for men there is a share in the wealth which their parents or relatives leave behind at death, and for women there is a share in what their parents and kindred leave behind on their death.
This verse has established the right of inheritance of women. There is a long history regarding the dispute as to whether woman has a right of inheritance or not, to which we will refer, if God wills, afterwards. The Arabs of the pre-Islamic period did wish to grant the right of inheritance to women, but the Holy Qur’an firmly established that right.
So the Qur’an gave financial independence to women thirteen centuries before European women achieved it, with the difference that, first of all, the motive of Islam in giving financial independence to women was nothing but Islam’s humanitarian aspect and its sense of divine and communal justice. In the case of Islam there were no such initiatives as the avarice of the factory-owners of England, who, in a desire to get more and more profits, got his law passed, and then trumpeted through-out the world that they had given official recognition to female rights and had acknowledged the equality of the rights of men and women.
Secondly, Islam gave financial independence to women, but, according to Will Durant did not destroy family ties, and did not ruin the basis of the family. It did not set up wives to confront their husbands and daughters to confront their fathers in rebellion and revolt. Islam brought about a great social revolution with these two verses, but quite a peaceful harmless and safe one.
Thirdly, all that the western world did, according to Will Durant, was that it relieved woman of the drudgery of her house work and imprisoned her in stores and factories for hard work and toil. In other words, Europe took one set of collars and chains off the body of woman, and stuck on another set, no less heavy than the former ones. But Islam freed woman from the bondage and slavery of man within his house and outside it, on the land, and, by making it compulsory for man to provide for the upkeep for the whole family, freed woman from all sorts of obligations and impositions on her own spending, as also the spending of the other members of the family. In the eyes of Islam, woman, despite her having a right in agreement with the human instinct to earn, save and add to her wealth, is in no manner responsible for procuring the necessities of life. These things should not put a strain upon her, and should not deprive her of her pride, beauty and honour, which are always associated with her peace of mind and tranquility.
Anyhow, what can we do? The eyes and ears of some of our writers are too tightly closed for them to think over these in disputable historical and philosophical realities.