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Muslim widows versus other religions


as salam alaykom

Reading on this borad and other sites, I observed how strongly non Muslims are occupied with waging fierce criticism campaigns against Muslim women, in some cases, they even go to the extend that they accuse us of not being able to realise how oppressed, not respected, put in a low level we are. I wonder, and I will take this on good will, they must be of course concerend for us. However, I never see, or may be I m short sighted, those media campagins, organised platforms, or other forms of communication channels introduce the status of widows for instance in many religions/cultures/ethnic groups. Sobhan Allah, just one example; i.e the Sati practice in India:

I m not sure no one expresses an exagerated alarm just as they do when talking about how much the Muslim woman is degraded for having to cover, be obedient to husband, recieve half the the inheritance compared to a male, two women are required for testimony in cases of debt, might be subjected to polygany, and and. What you are about to read is really disturbing and alarming. Alhamdulelah I m a Muslimah whose rights were well protected and preserved by Allah the Creator.

Laws, Customs, Tradition, and Religion

Across cultures, religions, regions, class, and caste, the treatment of widows in many developing countries, but especially in the South Asian subcontinent and in Africa, is harshly discriminatory.

Patriarchal kinship systems, patrilocal marriage (where the bride goes to the husband's location), and patrilineal inheritance (where succession devolves through the male line) shore up the concept that women are "chattels" who cannot inherit and may even be regarded as part of the husband's estate to be inherited themselves (widow inheritance). Where matrilineal kinship systems pertain, inheritance still devolves onto the males, through the widow's brother and his sons.

Disputes over inheritance and access to land for food security are common across the continents of South Asia and Africa. Widows across the spectrum of ethnic groups, faiths, regions, and educational and income position share the traumatic experience of eviction from the family home and the seizing not merely of household property but even intellectual assets such as pension and share certificates, wills, and accident insurance.

"Chasing-off" and "property-grabbing" from widows is the rule rather than the exception in many developing countries. These descriptive terms have been incorporated into the vernacular languages in many countries, and even (e.g., Malawi) used in the official language in new laws making such actions a crime.

The CEDAW or "Women's Convention" and the Beijing Global Platform for Action require governments to enact and enforce new equality inheritance laws. Some governments have indeed legislated to give widows their inheritance rights. But even where new laws exist, little has changed for the majority of widows living in the South Asian subcontinent and in Africa. A raft of cultural, fiscal, and geographical factors obstructs any real access to the justice system. Widows from many different regions are beginning to recount their experiences of beatings, burnings, rape, and torture by members of their husbands' families, but governments have been slow to respond, their silence and indifference, in a sense, condoning this abuse.

In India, many laws to protect women have been passed since independence. But it is the personal laws of each religious community that govern property rights and widowhood practices. The world knows of the practice of widow-burning (sati), but little of the horrors widows suffer within the confines of their relatives' homes, how they are treated by their communities, or their fate when abandoned to the temple towns to survive by begging and chanting prayers. There are approximately 20,000 widows in Vrindavan, the holy city; Varanasi; Mathura; and Haridwar.

Common to both regions are interpretations of religious laws, customs, and traditions at the local level that take precedence over any modern state or international law. Widows in any case, especially the millions of illiterate widows living in rural areas, are mostly ignorant of the legal rights they have.


Mourning and Burial Rites

All human societies have sought ways to make death acceptable and to provide opportunities for expressing grief and showing respect to the dead person. In societies where the status of women is low, the mourning and burial rituals are inherently gendered. Rituals are used to exalt the position of the dead man, and his widow is expected to grieve openly and demonstrate the intensity of her feelings in formalized ways. These rituals, prevalent in India as well as among many ethnic groups in Africa, aim at exalting the status of the deceased husband, and they often incorporate the most humiliating, degrading, and life-threatening practices, which effectively punish her for her husband's death.

For example, in Nigeria specifically (but similar customs exist in other parts of Africa), a widow may be forced to have sex with her husband's brothers, "the first stranger she meets on the road," or some other designated male. This "ritual cleansing by sex" is thought to exorcise the evil spirits associated with death, and if the widow resists this ordeal, it is believed that her children will suffer harm. In the context of AIDS and polygamy, this "ritual cleansing" is not merely repugnant but also dangerous. The widow may be forced to drink the water that the corpse has been washed in; be confined indoors for up to a year; be prohibited from washing, even if she is menstruating, for several months; be forced to sit naked on a mat and to ritually cry and scream at specific times of the day and night. Many customs causes serious health hazards. The lack of hygiene results in scabies and other skin diseases; those who are not allowed to wash their hands and who are made to eat from dirty, cracked plates may fall victim to gastroenteritis and typhoid. Widows who have to wait to be fed by others become malnourished because the food is poorly prepared.

In both India and Africa, there is much emphasis on dress and lifestyles. Higher-caste Hindu widows must not oil their hair, eat spicy food, or wear bangles, flowers, or the "kumkum" (the red disc on the forehead that is the badge of marriage). Across the cultures, widows are made to look unattractive and unkempt. The ban on spicy foods has its origins in the belief that hot flavors make a widow more lustful. Yet it is widows who are often victims of rape, and many of the vernacular words for "widow" in India and Bangladesh are pejorative and mean "prostitute," "witch," or "sorceress." The terrible stigma and shame of widowhood produces severe depression in millions of women, and sometimes suicide.


On the same link, a visitor posted this following very interesting comment:

Excellent. It does miss the point of all the "widows" who's husbands are not dead yet. In the USA deffinitions have changed and laws too so that any woman can be cast out of a marriage through no fault of hers. They call it No Fault Divorce. Religious beliefs on these matters are not at all honored. Compliance with current secular only customs alone are honored. So, there again, the wives/widows are all alone, marginialized. And it is the Jewish and Christian divorcees that are persecuted by their own the worst. Teaching them they are to believe their groups Scriptures they then shove them off into Singles groups which teach exactly the opposite. Either way, they are damned. It is no better but for the possibliites of longer lives, segragated. Or complete renumciations of their faiths. Again, damned of they do, and damned if they don't. Instead of these women having to give their children into early marriages they give them into foster care where more often then not, abuse occurs too. It is not better. In fact, which is worse, a long suffering death, or early death, to force them to renounce their faiths? How is making so many women live on food banks, clothing bankds, selling their reputations to live on SSI/SSD, lifelong sentances of therapy, and/or giving up their children into foster care better?

However, I just would like to note something, the visitor said in Judaism and Christianity, actually, I m not into making this type of comparison. If I do so, as if I say that Allah Changed His laws, may Allah Forgive me, Allah Changes no laws. Allah's laws are the same since Adam till Mohammad blessing and peace be upon all of them. Mankind is the one who gave himself the liberty to distort Allah's laws for his own interest. I mean what kind of benefit a family attains of depriving the widow her rights or subject her to such disgrace. La hawala wala qowata ila billah.



Just one Ayah covers the comprehensive approach a widow has to be treated with:

"And those of you who die and leave behind wives should bequeath for their wives a year's maintenance and residence without turning them out, but if they (wives) leave, there is no sin on you for that which they do of themselves, provided it is honourable (e.g. lawful marriage). And Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise." (Quran 2:240)

Certainly, Allah Is the Creator and fully Aware may He be Glorified of the areas where mankind has intervened and distorted. Allah Is highly concerned for the rights of human beings, all of them. To address the problem of being unjust to widows, Allah strictly sat a rule that the husband has to leave a will allowing his widow to remain at home and be thrown out, as was the case before Quran was revealed.

I just introduced one Ayah clearly preserving her right, leave alone that a widow is allowed a 4 months and 10 days waiting period unlike the divorcee who is allowed the time equal to 3 monthly periods. Even in this Allah Manifests how closely He understands our feelings. A divorcee will certainly get over the pain more quickly than a widow. She can get over the problems and re marry, unlike the widow who would be in deeper pain since the loss was natural, I mean she didnt choose to get out of the marriage, but rather the beloved husband was lost thru death. What kind of a touching law is this?? it is Allah's law.



Masha'Allah, jazaky Allah khayr sister Muslimah, honestly those who read this and still think that women in Islam are oppressed, then Subhan Allah, they are not blind in vision but blind hearted.

Alhamdulilah, I thank Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'la that I am a PROUD MUSLIMAH WOMAN





Moving to other examples, not widows though, I was thinking to myself, why no one, I mean I never came accross any media outlet launching serious criticism againt the Japanese Geisha. Those women who voluntary start their path at early age, devoting full time for speical training in order to become professional entertainers for men. No one targets them with criticism for the strange and complicated hair style, or the extra ordinary heavy make up they have on. Leave alone the kimono and that they have to put their feet, since childhood, in a wooden small mould to prevent feet growth as small feet is a sign of beauty.

But media portrays a Muslims woman as oppressed, disrespected by men, living in a male society, just because she has to cover and be obedient to her husband, father or brother. Why the media is not focused on those examples I wonder!!!



Was not expecting any other reply from you John, sorry but you are not getting any point.


Is this something that applies only to females? or does this apply to males also that may be delaying marrage until after their education?

Does it apply only to Muslims? Or would people in other cultures/religions be in a similar situation should they choose to persue their career or education prior to marriage?



as salam alykom Flesice09

Welcom to the board, Insh a Allah you benefit of your stay. Do you care to further explain your question, I m afraid I did not really understand the point you are asking about. I mean the point you are asking whether or not applies to males as females, where in the original thread does it say about education.


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