By Jude Ndukwe
The recent call by the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar 111, on the Senate, not to pass the Gender Equality Bill because, according to him, the Bill is anti-Islam, is not only false, retrogressive, oppressive but also a continued conspiracy against the total emancipation of the female folk from the stranglehold of the high and mighty male chauvinists using religion as a cover.
Such call by the Sultan and others who toe his line of thought is an attempt to continue the subjugation of the female folk and treat her like an inferior being created by God at the mercy of man while quoting from only a portion of the Quran to justify their position without considering its stand as a whole.
For example, the popular verse of the Quran usually used to justify the oppressive treatment and segregation of women in Islam especially as it concerns their right to inheritance which was the crux of the Sultan’s opposition to the bill is found in Surah Al-Nisaa 4:11 where it states that “A male’s share shall equal to that of two females”. Even when this is so, we know that some women are not even allowed a share of anything from the inheritance just because they are women who should have no say in our environment.
However, what the opponents of the bill including the Sultan would not tell us is that this is only a part of that verse of the Holy Quran.
In the same chapter and verse, the Quran further says “… in case there are only daughters, more than two shall have two-thirds of what has been left behind. And if there be only one daughter, her share shall be half — and if the deceased has children, the parents shall inherit a sixth each”
It is instructive to note here that Allah enjoins the daughter to have a lion share of the inheritance left by the deceased in the above circumstance. If there are only two daughters, they shall enjoy two thirds of what has been left behind, and if only one daughter, she shall inherit a whopping half of the father’s wealth while the rest may be shared with other heirs including uncles even if the Sultan is one of them.
It does not matter if the uncles are 100. The only daughter and child takes half of the share while others share the remaining half. But this is not the impression created by some selfish Muslim leaders.
Looking closer at that injunction by Allah, one discovers that he also commanded that for someone that died leaving behind both children and parents, “the parents shall inherit a sixth each”. This means that the father shall inherit a sixth of the deceased wealth and the mother shall also inherit a sixth of the wealth. Father and mother both have equal share of the inheritance even though the mother is a woman.
Nothing can further prove the equality of both men and women in Islam and in the sight of Allah than this. Yet, we have allowed our Muslim women to be treated like sub-humans while erroneously and brazenly heaping the blame on Allah!
In verse 176 of the same chapter, the Quran states thus: “They ask you. Say: Allah enjoins you about your kalalah heirs that if a man dies childless and he has only a sister, she shall inherit half of what he leaves…” But how many sisters in Islam are allowed to enjoy anything from what their brothers leave behind not to talk of inheriting half of his entire wealth?
The brothers, uncles and other male relatives would come from far and near, brandishing muscles of emptiness and the ripeness of an incubated wait, praying over the years for the demise of another just to pounce on their sweat and wealth.
According to The Islamic Centre of Greater Toledo [Status of Woman in Islam: Is Woman Equal to Man or Not? (Inheritance Equality)], published on 8th of January, 2014, “The expression ‘woman has one share and man has two shares’ which people normally use is wrong. It is not that way. A more correct expression would be ‘the son has two shares and daughter has one share’ because the mother is a woman and the father is a man and they inherit equal shares from their son. So our expression, linguistically, is wrong when we say the male takes twice as much as the female because this is not correct. There are cases where males and females take equal shares so it is more appropriate to say the son has two shares and the daughter has one share.”
We have been told so many lies about Islam on so many subjects including this one by some self-serving Islamic leaders all just to feather their own nests. It is the same way we have been told that Islam does not allow women to work, to drive, to participate in sports and politics, etc. But today, those barriers are being dismantled with increased knowledge about the true teachings of Islam as more and more women are being liberated from the antics of false leaders. Today, even in Saudi Arabia, women can now participate in politics and sports, drive etc. In the days of darkness, it was not so!
But who is to blame for this long-held tradition of treating women like inferior beings in Islam? In an answer to one Dr Mansoor during a session at the Islamic Center of Greater Toledo, the coordinator had this to say: “Some people now here will say but this is not happening in Pakistan and this is not happening in Egypt and this is not happening in Lebanon. I agree. It is not happening because the Muslims are crooks. However, don’t condemn Islam. Condemn the Muslims”.
He went further to say, “ In Pakistan it is “harām” for the girl to have a share in the estate of her father. She married outside the family so they don’t like the estate of Mr. Ali to go to Mr. Ibrahīm. In Lebanon, some people convert from Sunni to Shi’i because they can play with that thing, although, they have the same Qur’an! I don’t know from where they get these ideas. But that is the work of the Muslims it has nothing to do with Islam”.
Yes, there is one form of discrimination or the other against women especially in our cultures, the point here is that such discriminatory acts are perpetrated and promoted by self-seeking leaders who have betrayed the trust reposed in them to protect all and sundry irrespective of gender just so they could continue to justify their hold to certain positions and privileges at the expense of the woman.
Today, there are women, plenty of them who work and are the breadwinners of their families. They cater for both themselves and their husbands’ families, making wealth for all relations of both sides. Yet, when it comes to sharing inheritance, such women are reminded that they cannot partake in it because they are women! What a world!
So when next the Sultan of Sokoto tells you that the Gender Equality Bill is anti-Islam, tell him it is a lie!
Let the bill be revisited!