Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Inferior status of women - a bird's eyeview of the old problem

Nasir Khan, December 12, 2016

The question of inferior status of women runs through many old civilisations but not all. For instance, in ancient Persian civilisation that flourished under Achaeminid and Sassanid rulers, women were given a much more exalted status than under the Greek and Roman civilisations.

However, under the teachings and the rule of Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century A.D. some steps towards the recognition of their rights to property and contractual marriages were taken but they were mostly a replica of the traditional practices of the tribal society of Arabia. The only innovation was that they were loosely codified in the holy book of Islam. The claim that pre-Islamic Arab women enjoyed no rights is contrary to historical evidence.

Soon after the end of the rule of Prophet Muhammad’s successors and the frequent internecine conflicts between the contending parties for political power and domination as in old pre-Islamic times, there was also a backlash against the improved status of women. Within a few decades, under the Omayyed dynastic rule women were relegated to a secondary status as compared to men.

What is striking here is the fact that this had more to do with the emergence of Islamic jurisprudence and its hold on a growing Muslim society as a whole and the status of women in particular! The triple divorce formula belongs to that juridic tradition and basically has little to do with the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. 

Note: But what is a triple divorce formula in Islamic sharia law? In brief,  when a Muslim man says to his wife: I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you, then under the Islamic law and social practice a legally binding divorce comes into effect.

NEW DELHI: In a major boost to women's rights, the Allahabad high court today called the Islamic practice of divorcing a woman by saying the word 'talaq' three successive…

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