Opinion, August 2003, www.aljazeerah.info
Problems Divorced Women Encounter
Arab News, 8/29/03
Q. In Western countries, when divorce takes place, the woman takes half the husbandís property. In Islam the woman is left on her own, with nothing to survive on. If she becomes a dependent of her parents or her brothers, she is made to feel herself a burden. She is often ill-treated. Few divorcees have a chance of getting married again. Her life is ruined. How can she survive?
M.Y. Qureshi, Dammam
A. The entire social system is different in the West, where a woman has to work for her living, throughout her life. Thus, when she gets married, she contributes to the family finances. She shares in paying for the house she and her family live in, and she makes an equal payment to the family budget. As such, it is only fair that she takes half the family assets when the marriage breaks up.
Islamic law is made for Islamic society, and applied by a Muslim community whose members know that they are answerable to God for their deeds. In Islamic society, no woman has to work for her living. Her living expenses are the responsibility of her parents, her husband, or her brothers or other relatives. In this case, she contributes little or nothing to the family finances. How could she claim half the assets if the marriage breaks up? I realize that many Muslim women suffer a great deal as a result of being divorced. But this has nothing to do with Islam. It has much to do with the local culture or traditions. Take, for example, the case of a divorceeís second marriage. In some Muslim societies, a divorcee is presumed responsible for the collapse of her marriage. People do not enquire into the case before blaming the woman for the divorce. But this is totally un-Islamic. It is often the case that the man is more to blame for his marriage ending in divorce. Besides, divorce is made lawful by God, so that an unsuccessful marriage is terminated in a satisfactory way to both parties and to their children.
Unfortunately, circumstances and local traditions may get in the way and prevent the proper implementation of Islamic rules. In a poor family, where a man can hardly manage to look after his wife and his own children, he does not want to increase his burden by looking after a divorced sister. In communities like those of the Indian subcontinent, where traditions borrowed from non-Muslim communities, the marriage of a woman is a financial burden for her parents. When she is divorced, she gets nothing back. The financial loss to her family is huge. Hence, divorce is not looked upon as a case where two people are not compatible. It is a case of wasting life savings. Hence, a woman is expected to stick it out, whatever the situation is, in order not to be the cause of wasting such an amount of money. Hence, tradition has militated against the welfare of divorced women.
The answer to all these problems is that Islamic rules are applied in society, in all aspects of life. This ensures fairness for all.
Non-Muslimsí Entry into Saudi Arabia
Q.1. I heard that the Prophet said that non-Muslims must not be allowed to enter Saudi Arabia. Is it true?
Q.2. Is it obligatory that Muslim countries should help one another when they are in a situation of emergency? If so, why do they not do so?
A. Aziz, Dammam
A.1. No, this is not true. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was established in the twentieth century, and the Prophet did not mention it in any way. What he did was to make clear that the area around Makkah, which is known as the Haram area, is not permissible for non-Muslim to enter. The same is the case in an area around Madinah. This is a religious question.
A.2. Yes, Muslims are required to help one another, both as individuals and states, particularly when a Muslim community is under threat by a foreign power. This is part of the requirement of mutual help that God requires of all Muslims. The fact that in different periods of history, Muslims did not only fail to honor this obligation, but went to war against fellow Muslims, means that either party or both were not up to Islamic requirements. During the Crusades, for example, some rulers of Muslim areas collaborated with the Crusaders against their fellow Muslims. Eventually, their hold on power weaned, and they were replaced by rulers like Salah Al-Deen, or Saladin, who was strongly committed to the Islamic cause and was able to unite large Muslim areas under his command, fight the Crusaders and liberate Al-Quds, or Jerusalem, after it had remained occupied for around 90 years.
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