This is the official blog of the Nigeria-based Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), a human rights organization which promotes, protects and projects the rights of Muslims. This group condemns terrorism and all acts of violence. Its motto is 'Dialogue, Not Violence'
Wednesday, January 18, 2017
BILL ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS: DON’T POLLUTE OUR CLEAN WATER
ON WOMEN’S RIGHTS: DON’T POLLUTE OUR CLEAN WATER
The Nigerian Senate has been rushing through a bill on
discrimination against women and equal inheritance shares since August 2016. The
bill has gone through its second reading. But the Sultan of Sokoto and
President General of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Muhammad
Sa‘ad Abubakar III, has already expressed strong objection to the bill.
The Muslim Rights
Concern (MURIC) is on the same page with the Sultan. We strongly condemn
attempts to interfere in the private lives of Muslims without consulting them.
The Nigerian Senate is fishing in troubled waters if it goes ahead with the
bill as planned without considering the position of Muslims.
We assert that Islam has already liberated Muslim women and they
are not discriminated against in any form. We remind Senate that discrimination
against women was common around the world in ancient times. It never obtained
in Islam. On the contrary, it was Islam which liberated women.
For the records, women were regarded as minors (no matter their
age) and inferior creatures in ancient Greece. In Rome, they were given away in
marriage without consent. Only males could inherit in India and any Indian
woman whose husband died must be burned alive. In Persia they were pawned away
in gambling. Female infanticide was the order of the day in ancient Arabia
before Islam as the woman who failed to beget a male child had her female child
But Islam changed all
that. The Glorious Qur’an liberated women. They can work, earn income and own
property (Qur’an 4:32). A Muslim woman is free to choose her own husband (Qur’an
4:19). Her dowry belongs to her (Qur’an 4:4). She can sue for divorce (Qur’an 4:128).
The husband is under compulsion to feed, accommodate and clothe his wife
according to his means (Qur’an 65:6 – 9).
What the brains behind the equal rights bill in Senate should have
done is to study what obtains among the various cultures in Nigeria before
attempting to impose any bill on us. It is an open secret that women are
discriminated against in some places in this country, particularly in Southern
Nigeria. Women are made to drink the water used to wash the corpse of their
dead husbands to ascertain whether or not they had a hand in their husband’s
death. They are not allowed to inherit their husbands.
But that does not apply to Muslim women. We accept the death of
husbands as Allah’s wish. It is not in our character to demonise our women or
to accuse them of witchcraft. We cherish them. We love them. Our women are our
mothers and daughters and Allah has instructed us to show them love (Qur’an
30:21) and treat them with kindness (Qur’an 4:19).
Therefore nobody should pretend to liberate Muslim women from
any perceived oppression. What have the champions of the equal rights bill done
about Muslim women who are disallowed daily from using hijab in this country?
Who gagged them when the hijab worn by a female Muslim candidate was yanked off
by a WAEC supervisor in an examination hall in August 2016? What have they said
so far since we have had to go to court to assert Allah-given fundamental human
right of female Muslim students to use hijab?
We advise Senate to
listen to the Sultan. The leader of Nigerian Muslims has spoken. We will not
stand akimbo while a group of legislators rubbish the word of Allah. Islam has
already legislated on the shares of women in inheritance and this is not
debatable as far as Muslims are concerned. Islam does not discriminate against
widows. It is certain traditional cultures which do. That does not warrant the
imposition of unIslamic laws on Muslims who have already been protected by
Islamic laws on inheritance.
It is equally didactic that the umbrella body of all Muslim
women organizations in the country, the Federation of Muslim Women Associations
in Nigeria (FOMWAN) reeled out its position paper on the issue on January 7,
2017. FOMWAN rejected the bill, supported the Sultan’s position and warned
Senate not to meddle with Muslims’ affairs. We also have it on good authority
that FOMWAN leadership met the originator of the bill, Senator Christine Biodun
Olujinmi last week and they told her their position.
One major problem with Nigeria is that those who claim to be
interested in reform always ignore the stakeholders, particularly Muslims. They
always pretend that certain perceived inequalities are general. They therefore
attempt sweeping changes. But Muslims do not need reforms which ignore their
Allah-given fundamental human rights. Nobody can love Muslims more than the
Muslims themselves. We refuse to be led by the nose. You cannot give us what we
already have. We already have clean and pure water. It is from Allah. It is
divine. Caveat emptor, don’t pollute our water.
should learn from the Indian Succession Act of 1925. Under this law, every
Indian woman can inherit equally with her male counterpart except those who are
Bhudists, Hindus, Sikhs, Jainists and Muslims. This means that the Indian Act
of 1925 recognized the laws of succession of Muslims and other faiths in India.
In other words, our senators can go ahead with the bill, but please exempt
Permit us, therefore, to round up by affirming our rejection for
the equal rights bill as passed by Senate. That law should not apply to
Muslims. We have our own succession law which is already recognized by the
Nigerian constitution. We support the application of the Senate bill to the
oppressed women in other religions and cultures in the country. They need it.
Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)