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The Special Philosophy of Islam in Respect of Family Rights

With regard to the rights of man and woman, Islam has a special philosophy of its own which differs from what happened 1400 years ago and what is happening now. It does not believe that in all cases man and woman have the same rights and obligations. In certain cases their rights and obligations are different, with the result that in certain cases their position in this respect is similar, and in certain others dissimilar.

This is not because Islam, like some other schools of thought, looks at woman contemptuously or considers her to belong to an inferior sex. Islam differentiates between the two sexes for some other valid reasons.

You might have heard that the followers of the Western systems refer to the Islamic rules of dower, maintenance, divorce, polygamy and the like in a way, as if they were insulting to woman and derogatory to her position. They mislead the people into the belief that these rules are unreasonable and clearly in favour of man.

They say that during the entire period of history, prior to the 20th century, all laws and rules in the world were based on the presumption that man belonged to a superior sex and that woman was created for his benefit and enjoyment. The rights accorded by Islam also revolve round man's interests, and are no exception to the general rule.

They assert that Islam is the religion of the male sex. It does not recognise woman to be a full human being. That is why it has not accorded her equal rights. Had it recognised her as a full human being, it would not have allowed polygamy; it would not have given man the right of divorce; it would not have considered the evidence of two females equal to that of one male; it would not have fixed the share in inheritance of a female as half of the share of a male; it would not have ordered the naming of a price for woman under the name of dower, and would not have made woman dependent on man for maintenance, instead of making her economically and socially independent. The Islamic teachings in all these cases show that Islam looks at woman contemptuously. Islam claims to be a religion of equality but, at least in the case of family relations, no equality has been observed by it.

They maintain that in the matter of rights, Islam gives a clear preference to man, and that is why it has given all these concessions to him.

If we like we can put their argument into a logical form thus: Had Islam considered woman to be a full human being, it would have accorded her rights similar and equal to those of man; but as it has not done so, it does not consider her to be a full human being.

Adapted from the book: "Woman and Her Rights" by: "Shahid Murtaza Mutahhari"

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