Over one lakh women attended the first day of the three-day Sunni Ijtema at Azad Maidan on Friday. The religious congregation, which is in its 31st year, is the largest gathering of Sunni Muslims in India. Friday’s event, which was exclusively for women, started at 3pm with a recitation from the Quran and an inaugural prayer by Sayyed Moin Ashraf. This was followed by a session on ‘women’s share in father’s and husband’s property’ by Mufti Nizamuddin Sahad, head of fatwa department, Islamic University Ashrafiya Mubarakpur.
Dispelling popular perceptions that Muslim women are not entitled to fair shares in family property, Sahad said that religious laws make men and women financially independent. “A woman enjoys financial independence and no one is entitled to take any part of her property except with her consent. In Islam, greater financial security is assured for women. They are entitled to receive marital gifts – Mahr and to keep present and future properties as livelihood for their own security.”
Sahad added that Muslim women are entitled to financial support during marriage, during the waiting period – iddah – in case of divorce, and child support. “A Muslim woman is generally guaranteed support in all stages of her life, as a daughter, wife, mother, or sister,” he said.
The advantages enjoyed of women over men in property rights are balanced by the provisions of the inheritance which allow the male, in most cases, to inherit twice as much as the female, Sahad explained. “This means that the male inherits more but is responsible financially for other females: daughters, wives, parents, and sisters, while the female inherits less but can keep it all for investment and financial security without any legal obligation to spend any part of it, even for her own sustenance,” said Sahad.
He quoted the Quran, “... Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s inheritance: to the male a portion equal to that of two females...”, explaining that this injunction has nothing to do with the inferiority of woman, with the reason behind this inequality in share being that the male has been given the role of the breadwinner. He also talked about the rights of widows.
Another theme at this year congregation – higher education – was discussed by Maulana Sayyed Aminul Qadri who spoke on ‘importance of women’s education and their role’.
The audience was told that women are the ‘architects of the society’ who shape the character of generations. "The Quran very strongly differentiates between the knowledgeable and ignorant human being," the audience was told.
Qadri quoted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as saying: “Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim [males and females].”
The religious books make no distinction between man and woman with regard to the pursuit of knowledge, said Qadri who added that women are commanded to educate themselves in the same way as the men. "If the mother is educated, cultured, pious, possessing moral integrity and wisdom, then the child will get his or her share of all these qualities. The doors of spiritual elevation are open to woman in the same way as they are open to men," he said.
Talking about the arrangements made at the event, Sunni Dawate Islami the organiser, said that over 400 buses were engaged to bring the audience to the meeting. Around 1000 female and 1500 male volunteers managed the arrangements. Apart from metal detectors, there were 500 'wazukhanas' for members of the audience to perform ritual ablution before prayers.
Takeaways from the day's events
- All the great teachers of mankind were indebted to a woman.
- Behind every great man there is a great women.
- Men and women financially independent in Muslim economic system.
- A woman enjoys financial independence and no one is entitled to take any part of her own property except with her consent.
- Females in some societies are denied legal shares in inheritance, which is against teachings of Quran.
- Quran emphasises that the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.
- The mother is the first teacher of the child.
- Children learn from their parents' action more than their words.
- The doors of spiritual elevation are open to women in same way as open to men.