AN APPRAISAL OF RIGHT OF WOMEN TO INHERITANCE UNDER ISLAMIC LAW

ABSTRACT
Rights of women are one of the widely discussed yet debatable issues across the Western and Muslim world. It is seen in the Muslim societies that many women are deprived in terms of inheriting property after the demise of their parents. This is largely happening due to the negligence of practicing Islamic teachings regarding inheritance at individual and family level. However, Islam has placed a dignified position for women in family and society in all sectors. Particularly the principle of inheritance of property has been clearly stated in the holy Qur’an. In this background, this paper emphasises on exploring (a) Qur’anic and Prophetic stand on women’s right to inheritance, (b) the main obstacles that impede women in getting inheritance rights in family and its remedies from the Islamic perspectives. This paper adopts an analytical approach to study this vital issue. Under this approach, the study analyses the relevant data from the two fundamental sources of Islam, Qur’an and Sunnah, along with jurisprudential views and provides solutions to solve the problems related to Muslim women’s inheritance right in family. Findings of this paper indicated that if the Muslim family practices the Islamic teachings regarding the distribution of inheritance among the heirs, it will eradicate the existing discrimination among men and women in this regard and enable women’s financial steadiness in family and society.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
• GENERAL BACKGROUND
There are some obstacles and impediments which prevent an inheritor to benefit from the assets left by his/her deceased relation. Broadly, there are four cases consisting of the obstacles, bar or impediment to inheritance, they include Homicide (Qatl), difference of religion, Apostasy (Riddah), and Slavery. Some jurists, however, includes difference of domicile as an impediment to inheritance1. Each one of them functions independently from another and bars the beneficiary from materializing his right of inheritance.

Every culture and society accorded women a particular status and position. Women’s oppression in every spheres of their life is a common phenomenon and most of the time women stand degraded in the family (Cornwall, 2016; Ali, Solihin & Haque, 2018), particularly when it comes to right to inheritance. However, right of women in the family about inheritance is well described in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Women do not really have equal rights as men do but they hold special rights in heritance, dignity, and guardianship of children custody in the family. This is because Islam secures their financial rights which must be handled by lawful guardian (father, brother & husband etc) as an obligatory responsibility in all circumstances of their lives. For example, a woman’s financial needs as a daughter must be fulfilled by her father (Sūrah al-Baqarah: 233). If she is an orphan, she must be provided for financial aid by her guardian from among her paternal grandfather or uncles.

Further, when she is married, it is obligatory for her husband, based on his capabilities, to bear all her financial expenses that she is entitled for as a wife. Allah (SWT) says in Sūrah al-Baqarah verse 233, “…The father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis…” (Al-Hilali, & Khan, 1434H). This is also approved by the Qur’an, verse 34 of Sūrah al-Nisāʼ and verse 6-7 of Sūrah al-Talāqʼ. A husband must provide food, clothing, house, medical treatment and other necessary things for his wife (Al-Zuhaylī, 2008, p. 121).

Moreover, as Muhammad Zuhaylī states that according to Jamhūr al Ulamāʼ when her position in the family is as a sister, her brother must bear all her financial needs based on his capabilities. Lastly, if she does not have any male members in her family to fulfil her financial needs (Al-Zuhaylī, 2008, p. 121), then she must find her own financial resources. In this circumstance, the country and rich people must find financial resources for her, so she can maintain her daily life with respect and dignity (Jawad, 1998).

In Jāhiliyyah (ignorance) era women were not considered as heirs for inheritance left by their parents ((Tobi, 1994). According to Qatādah, before the advent of Islam, women and children in the Arabian Peninsula were not allowed to receive inheritance left by their parents (Al-Zamakhsharī, 1407 H, vol. 1, p. 476). During that time, it was a customary tradition that only those who can ride horses and show their bravery in the battlefield will be considered for inheritance (Hussain, 1987, p. 533).

Nevertheless, Islam is very encouraging and affirmative on the issue of women’s right in term of gaining property ownership in the field of economics particularly in the field of inheritance property (Shatzmiller, 1995; Scott, 2009). Islamic teachings the Qur’an and the Prophetic traditions are the complete guidance for mankind. It does not only describe with regards to private acts of worship and moral principles but also well explained about all dealings regarding financial matter, particularly in the matter of inheritance distribution method among the heirs. According to al-Jibaly (2005, p. 1), the distribution of inheritance among heirs is religious act, thus it is necessary to understand it correctly to implement in our life.

However, the current paper is divided into three segments. In the first segment, it will explore the definition of inheritance from the Islamic perspective. In the second segment there will be two parts, in the first part the paper will highlights briefly about the ancient societies socio-cultural traditions and some religious belief about women’s right in inheritance. In the second part, the paper will be gathered all the pertinent of sacred texts related to women’s right to inheritance and it will be analysed with the view of Qur’anic commentators, Prophetic traditions along with jurisprudential views. Finally, this study will emphasis to highlights the main obstacles which hinder Muslim women from getting their due rights in inheritance left by the deceased.

• STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Women constitute a major group of human kind who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. Despite statutory provisions and judicial authorities upholding women‘s rights as was done in the cases of Mojekwu v Mojekwu8 and Mojekwu v Ejikeme9, the reality is that women are still denied equal opportunity to inherit property with men. Some women still lose out completely from their husband‘s estate, due to ignorance and strict application and observance of repugnant customary practices, which prejudice against the status of women in the society and reduce them to mere second class citizens after men and cuts their bargaining power in economic, social and political affairs in a given place and at a given time.

The provision of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) has specifically and unambiguously state those that are debarred from inheritance. This debarment is either partial or complete.

But the problem lies on the arguments forwarded by each school of Islamic Jurisprudence or jurists with respect to a particular bar on inheritance. It will not be feasible for the Muslim world if these arguments can go on without careful regard being had to the fundamental provision of Qur’an and Sunnah.

The second problem is in respect of the research work itself. This topic i.e. “An Analysis of the Impediments to Inheritance under Islamic Law” is a vital topic that concerns every aspect of the distribution of estate of a Muslim, particularly where there is a marriage relationship between a Muslim man and non-Muslim woman and it give rise to protracted litigation especially where the legitimacy of one of the potential heirs is in dispute.

There was no practice in giving inheritance to women’s in the era of Jāhiliyyah (ignorance) and the ancient societies and all the other religions except Islam. Studying the ancient societies’ socio-cultural tradition and patriarchal social system, we would find that there is no comprehensive law for woman’s inheritance along with their brother’s after the demise of their parents. Most of the ancient societies considered woman as subordinate to man in family and in society. Status of women in In Greek society considered as second-class citizens and they were subject to men as inferior (Che, J. 2017). Women’s job in the family is to taking care of the household tasks and follow the husbands order (Gabriel, K. A, 2016). In ancient societies women were not considered as a shareholder of inheritance along with their male relatives after the demise of their parents. There are many examples can be found in different religions in this regard, for example, in Judaism, women are not considered for inheritance, whether they are a daughter, mother or wife. This law exists in the book of “Ashah”, the book of Genesis Chapter 21 (Tobi, 1994; Al-Rafāʻī, 1976). They also believe that women are the doors of evil by which Satan can enter the human body and invalid the law of God (Khan, 2012, p. 123). In addition, in Babylon traditions and social system, women were not considered for any inheritance left by her parents. She was only considered for inheritance wealth if there were no men in her family (Muskani, n.d, p. 97).

• AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE RESEARCH WORK
It is the object of this work to;

• Trace the history of inheritance prior to and after the advent of Islam to identify what constitute impediments to inheritance for women prior to and after the inception of Islam.

• Analyze what constitute permanent and temporary bar to inheritance for women.

• Look into different arguments provided by different Islamic schools of though in respect to those impediments; and

• Propound workable solutions to the problems relating to those impediments in the Muslim community.

• JUSTIFICATION
This research work will,

• Provide reading materials for undergraduate students of inheritance;

• Educate the generality of Muslim community on impediments to inheritance for women and its factors;

• Help other scholars and researchers to improve their work by including the new areas which they overlooked or neglected.

• Benefit judges, lawyers as well as student of Islamic law to understand in a broader sense what constitute impediments to inheritance under Islamic law.

• SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of this research will be limited to Islamic law of women inheritance. But some reference may be made to other legal systems whenever there is a need to do that. The work will first consider the nature of inheritance prior to Islam and then after the advent of Islam, then deal with the issue of impediments under the subsequent chapters.

• RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
The research methodology adopted for this thesis I essentially doctrinal approach. Reliance is placed on textbooks, journals, seminar papers as well as conference papers which were accessed both from the libraries and outside sources.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 54 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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