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Monday 8th of March 2021
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The cause of woman’s being deprived of inheritance

The cause of a woman’s being deprived of inheritance was to prevent the transfer of family property to another family. According to the old idea the role of the mother in the birth of a child was considered to be insignificant. Mothers were considered were considered as mere containers in which the man’s sperm developed and out of which a child came into existence. For that reason they believed that the children of someone’s son were the issue of a man and thus they were a part and parcel of his family. On the other hand the children of his daughters were not his children but the children of the husband of the daughter and they belonged to the family of the husband of the daughter. Consequently if a daughter inherited and afterwards her children succeeded her that. would cause situation where the wealth of one family would pass on to a different family.

In the book Irth dar huquq-e madani-e Iran (Inheritance in the Civil Laws of Iran) written by the late Dr. Musa ‘Amid on page 8 after his remark that ‘in ancient times it was religion which laid the foundations for the formation of families and not natural ties ’ he says:

“The religious spokesmanship of the family (under the patriarchal system) was with the grandfather of the family and after him the religious rites and rituals of the family were performed only by the male children generation after generation. The ancients considered that the male children were the only source of continuation of their lineage. The father of the family life-giver to his son as he was also transferred his religious beliefs and the religious rituals the right to keep the Fire alive and the right to recite special prayers also. 1

As is mentioned in the Hindu Vedas and in the laws of Greece and Rome the power of generation is confined to men and the result of this antiquated belief was that the family regions were the special concern of men. Women had no business and concern with religion except through their fathers and husbands….. and because they had no hand in religious rituals they were naturally deprived of all family privileges. Afterwards when with the improvement of the economic situation an occasion for inheritance arose women were deprived of that right.”

There were other reasons also for woman’s being deprived of inheritance. One of them was their weakness in combat. In societies where preferences and prerogatives were based on heroism and valour and one war-faring person was preferred to a hundred  thousand non-war like persons woman was naturally deprived of inheritance because of her weakness in the performance of acts of defence and bravery.

Arabs of the pre-Islamic age were against were against woman’s receiving inheritance for this very reason and when there was a male member of a family however distant in the ranks of inheritance he may have been they never gave inheritance to a woman. So when the verse of inheritance was revealed and it distinctly stated:

To the men a share of what parents and kinsmen leave and to the women a share of what parents and kinsmen leave whether it be little or much a share apportioned. (4:7)

It was rather a shock for the Arabs. Incidentally in those days the brother of Hasan ibn Thabit the well-known poet of the Arabs died and left behind him a wife and a few daughters. The sons of his uncle seized all his property and spared nothing for his wife and daughters.

The wife of the dead man brought a complaint against them before the Holy Prophet. The Prophet called them before him. They submitted that woman is not in a position to arm her and fight against an enemy. “It is we who have to take the sword in our hands and defend ourselves and these women.” So wealth should also belong to man. Nevertheless the Holy Prophet then recited to them the commandment of God.

 

1. This describes the situation in Ancient Iran (Tr.)


source : http://www.maaref-foundation.com
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