ABUJA – Nigeria’s most senior Muslim scholar rejected a new gender equality bill, which gives both men and men an equal share of inheritance, saying it offers a violation of Islamic law.
“Our religion is our total way of life. Therefore, we will not accept any move to change what Allah permitted us to do,” Sultan of Sokoto, Mohamed Sa’ad Abubakar, said at Qur’anic recitation ceremony in northern Zamfara state, BBC reported on December 28.
“Islam is a peaceful religion; we have been living peacefully with Christians and followers of other religions in this country. Therefore, we should be allowed to perform our religion effectively,” he added.
The new gender equality bill, which proposes that women and men inherit an equal share, has triggered debates over the past months.
It was pushed by activists who claimed the bill would end discrimination against women.
In October, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said it did not find anything wrong with the bill because in “Christianity inheritance is shared equally between male and female”.
Earlier March, Nigeria’s senate rejected an earlier version of the bill, saying it was incompatible with Nigerian culture and religious beliefs.
Lawmakers say they will consider public opinion before a decision is taken on which aspects of the bill to approve and which aspects to reject.
The Sokoto Caliph was the ruler of the Sokoto Caliphate, in Northwestern Nigeria, since the 18th century.
The official title is Sultan of Sokoto and includes the title “Amir-ul-Momineen”. The post has become increasingly ceremonial since British rule, but the Sultan, considered a spiritual leader in the Muslim community in Nigeria, can still carry a lot of weight with Fulani and Hausa people from northern Nigeria.
Islam views both men and women to be equal in the sight of Allah and equally responsible in their (religious) duties as outlined for them in the Qur’an.
Allah has stated three types of shares for a woman’s inheritance, a woman has an equal share as that of the man, a woman has an equal share to that of the man, or a woman has half the share of a man.
This means that the minimum of her shares is half, and considering that a female has no continual financial responsibilities as a child, sister, wife or mother, and these responsibilities are always on the men of the family.