Does Shari`ah Law Support Inequality? Part 2

07 May, 2017
Q Is it true that equal rights before the law do not exist under Islamic law? One citizen, one vote does not exist under Islamic law? What about women’s rights, why is there discrimination between women’s rights and men’s rights? Also, what about minorities? I heard that minorities - that is, non-Muslims - enjoy rights and protections at the pleasure of the Muslim community that are ever-subject to the capriciousness of a rights-canceling fatwa.

Answer

Salam (Peace) Michael,

Thank you for your question and for contacting Ask About Islam.

Please find the second and final part of the answer to your question below. Find the first part at the link here.

Many critics of Shari`ah Law point to the discrepancy in inheritance – sons receive twice as much as the daughters. However, there are social reasons for this. The son is expected to take care of the fatherless family, appropriating funds to care for his sibling(s). This financial, social, and moral duty becomes incumbent upon the son.

It is common for a son who has just buried the father to hear: “You are the man of the house now: you are responsible now.” 

The financial responsibilities of the father fall on the son. Furthermore, a son is expected to start a family and spend on his dependents. The husband becomes financially responsible for his wife, although she maintains financial independence.

She, moreover, retains her inheritance as her own, and she is not obliged to share it with her husband. She does not carry the financial burdens appointed to her brother. 

Shari`ah Law forbids a husband from claiming control of his wife’s earnings, capital, and holdings. She keeps it all. Compare that with the fact that in most Western nations, women could not own property at all until the late 19th/early 20th centuries. 

According to Shari`ah Law, the wife is given a pre-determined financial gift at the time of the marriage (mahr), which is written down as a term of the “nikah” or marriage contract. The mahr is to ensure that the wife has enough finances in case of widowhood or sudden divorce. 

Furthermore, Shari`ah Law unambiguously forbids the forcing or coercing of women into a marriage they do not want. Too often in the Arab world, girls are forced to marry whom their parents —usually the father— deem appropriate.

However, this is contrary to Shari`ah Law, when Islam swept through the Arabian Peninsula, it liberated women by declaring that a woman’s consent has to be obtained for marriage, something unprecedented in the world of the 6th and 7th centuries. 

Minorities’ Rights

You wrote, “Minorities – that is, non-Muslims – enjoy rights and protections at the pleasure of the Muslim community that are ever-subject to the capriciousness of a rights-canceling fatwa”. 

That is a gross factual error. Rights accorded to non-Muslims are not devised by a clerical council, or an imam. They are deeply-enshrined in the Quran. Since the Quran is the principle source of Shari`ah Law, no human mandate can alter, manipulate, or reinterpret what it states. No fatwa can cancel any God-given rights. 

As for non-Muslims, the Quran clearly states what means:

{Those who believe [in the Quran], and those who follow the Jewish [scriptures], and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in God and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.} (Quran 2:62)

Also, we need to notice that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is mentioned more than any other prophet in the Quran, even more so than Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). The Quran also says what means:

{And there are, certainly, among the People of the Book [Jews and Christians], those who believe in God, and that which has been revealed to you and in that which has been revealed to them, humbling themselves before God: They will not sell the Revelations of God for a miserable gain! For them is a reward with their Lord, and God is swift in account.} (Quran 3:199)

Non-Muslims are called dhimmis and were required to pay a levy or jizya. The jizya was not paid as a bribe for practicing their faith, but rather as compensation for not serving in the army, protection for Crusading armies and tribal warfare. It is a tax for services and protection that the Islamic government must provide. No matter where we live or who we are, we all pay taxes.

While most so-called journalists scream that the jizya is a tool of inequality, they fail to see that there is a tax levied on Muslims as well, the zakat, which non-Muslims are not required to pay. 

Thank you again for your question and please keep in touch. 

Salam.

Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

3 Major Goals of Islamic Shariah

How Shariah Brings Value to Our Lives

Out Of Context – Shariah Law vs. Penal Code