Islamic Ethic and the Spirit of Gender Equality

When I was in New York, my big sister and I were making virtually the same amount of money – paycheck wise. In fact, I probably make more if I factor in scholarship money and grants from college. However, her savings were significantly higher than mine. Who are my kidding? With the crazy cost of living, I could barely even have any savings.

The difference in our abilities to save is a result of the family structure we practice. Normative of Islam, we practice gender roles. The bulk of the financial responsibilities of the household rest on the man. So while we have similar incomes, she had more money because her husband takes care of bills as I also do in my family.

So with this in mind, if my father estate were to be shared, I would get more than her being a male child. For example, If our dad leaves $20,000 for both of us – assuming we’re the only children – I would get something around $13,000 and she would get roughly $7000.

Getting more than her here would be fair you would agree because the normative Islamic culture is that I’m spending twice more than she does regularly out of obligation.

Why am I writing this?

We live in a modern, largely secular, capitalist, materialist world where money takes fore in everything. And whether we acknowledge it or not, our psychology is definitely influenced by the social, and our theology is not immune from it either.

So when you read in the Qur’an about inheritance laws:
يُوصِيكُمُ اللَّهُ فِي أَوْلَادِكُمْ ۖ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الْأُنْثَيَيْنِ ۚ

Concerning your children, God commands you that a son should have the equivalent share of two daughters.
-Sura An-Nisa’, Ayah 11

Instead of wracking your head and becoming frustrated that this is a blow on the face of your cherished feminism, take a step back and realize that you cannot view the Islamic religious ethics of equality from the prism of a western, materialistic feminist epistemology. If you do so, then you have no one to blame but yourself for any dissonance or frustration that ensues thereafter.

Always keep this in mind when you’re reading ayahs of Qur’an or the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.


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