Dower and Maintenance - III
- :Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari
We have mentioned the Islamic point of view regarding dower and its philosophy. Now let us take up the question of maintenance.
It should be kept in mind that like dower, maintenance also has a peculiar form in the Islamic law, and it should not be confused with the practice in the non-Muslim world.
Had Islam allowed man to engage woman to work for him and to appropriate her earnings, the reason why a husband has to maintain his wife would have been evident, for it is clear that if a man exploits another man (or an animal) economically he has to bear his (or its) expenses of life. If a coachman does not give fodder and barley to his horse, it will not carry a load for him.
But Islam has not allowed man to exploit woman. On the other hand, woman has a right to own property and to earn money, and a husband has no right to lay his hands on what belongs to his wife. At the same time, it is incumbent on him to meet the expenses of the family. He has to maintain his wife and children and to bear the expenses in connection with servants, the household etc. For what reason?
Unfortunately, people with a Westernised mentality are not prepared in the least to think over such things. They often repeat the same adverse remarks, in the context of Islamic law, which the Europeans justifiably make against their own legal system.
It is perfectly right to say that the maintenance of a wife in the West, up to the beginning of the 19th century, was a sign of the slavery of woman, because there the woman was bound to run the household of her husband gratis, without having any right of owning anything. Obviously in this case whatever food, clothing etc. was given to her was not different from the daily ration of a prisoner or the portion of fodder given to a beast of burden.
However, the case of Islam is quite different. It is a unique system in the world which absolves woman from administering the domestic life of man, gives her complete economic independence, and at the same time exempts her from making any contribution to the family budget. Here we have a different philosophy, which of course, requires our special consideration.
Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"
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