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Empowering Women: The Importance of Property Rights in Islam

Islamic law emphasizes fairness and justice in the distribution of inheritance, granting women their rightful shares. However, throughout history, women have often been denied this fundamental right.
by Seema Sabah - 23 May, 2024 783
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Islam champions the idea of equal rights for both men and women, empowering women by granting them fundamental rights, such as the right to education, the right to own and inherit property, the right to marriage, the right to work, and the right to participate in social, economic, and political spheres. These rights are enshrined in Islamic teachings.

Among these rights, Islamic law ensures that women have the right to own property and inherit wealth, providing them with economic independence and security. Islamic law emphasizes fairness and justice in the distribution of inheritance, granting women their rightful shares. However, throughout history, women have often been denied this fundamental right.

In pre-Islamic times, it was common practice in Arabia for inheritance to be distributed only among males. Islam determines the share of the heir and declares that the basis of inheritance is close kinship, not the need of the needy. Close kinship refers to blood relationships or marriage relationships. According to Sunni belief, the Qur'anic injunctions do not reject the old Arab law but improve it to include women in inheritance.

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In many legal systems and cultures, women have faced obstacles when it comes to owning property. In some societies, including the Pashtun community, the persistent denial of property rights to women remains a grave injustice. This practice, rooted in male dominance and fear of familial wealth division, robs women of their rightful ownership and shares. By perpetuating this inequality, not only are women deprived of economic empowerment, but families also forfeit the opportunity for collective prosperity.

According to reports from the Federal Ombudsman, also known as the Wafaqi Muhtasib Secretariat, since 2023, out of 699 cases registered concerning females in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa who have been denied their rightful property shares within their families, only two have received their rightful shares. The rate of property right denials in Peshawar has been alarmingly high since 2023, with 343 females being deprived of their property rights. Following the death of the head of the family, typically a male in Pashtun families, women often do not receive their fair share of the family property.

However, many women in the Pashtun culture choose not to report cases of property denial, even though the actual rate of denial is likely much higher than what's officially recorded. This could be due to various cultural factors that discourage women from speaking up and seeking justice. It is very important to promote awareness and support for these women so they feel empowered to share their experiences and seek the help they deserve.

It is imperative to challenge these norms and advocate for gender equality in property rights. Empowering women with ownership ensures not only their financial security but also fosters stronger, more equitable societies. It's time to dismantle these barriers and embrace a future where every individual, regardless of gender, has equal access to property rights and ownership.