Monday, February 8, 2016

'To be fair give your boy, girl a songkok each...'

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.


The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort 
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.

DURING an 'ustaz' (religious teacher) 'tazkirah' (lessons) on 'nafkah' (livelihood allocation) at a 'masjid' near my house recently, he asked his audience what did they understood about fairness.

He then recalled a P Ramlee movie in which there was a scene where two thieves divided their shares on their loot - 'satu untuk engkau', satu untuk aku' (one for you, one for me) which made his audience burst into laughter.

"If you believe that the concept 'one for you, one for me' is fair, then think about this -  you as a father when you go home after this 'tazkirah', stop at a store and buy a songkok each for your Ahmad and Aminah. Both get a songkok, that's fair isn't it?

"That's not fair. It is 'bangang' (foolish)," said the 'ustaz'. "For Ahmad it is great for him to have a songkok, but for Aminah, a 'tudung' (head covering) might please her.

"So what's the meaning of 'fairness'? It is to place something at a right (suitable) place and time," said the 'ustaz'. "If you agreed that buying a songkok each for Ahmad and Aminah was not a fair action but to be fair is to give him a songkok and her a 'tudung', let's us continue our discussion...

Regarding 'nafkah', the ustaz said a man has a very heavy responsibility towards his wife and family, his parents, his siblings and those under his care. Muslim man has been given the position of 'qawwaam' (protector and maintainer) over women.

It is because of the characteristics which Islam instills in him, the qualification it has given him and the conditions and limits it has imposed on him. Allah SWT says in the Qur'an with the meaning: "Men are 'qawwaam' of women, because of Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means..." (Qur'an 4:34)

Thus, regarding women's right of inheritance, Allah SWT, stated in the Glorious Qur'an, with the meaning: "Allah commands you as regards to your children's (inheritance); to the male, a portion equal to that of two females." (Qur'an 4:11)

Why two parts to the males an one part to the females? This is NOT FAIR shouted many women liberation movement. They wanted the concept of 'one for you, one for me'. For them that is fair, said the 'ustaz'.

Yes, to those who misunderstand Islam claim that Islam does injustice to women in terms of inheritance. They are in the opinion that it is unfair to grant the male a double to that of the female even though they are children of the same parents. Allah SWT, offered a full and detailed method of women's inheritance in the Qur'an and Sunnah.

Allah has determined all the shares of all the relatives in respect to their relationship to the deceased. As He the Most Wise said: "There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether the property is small or large, an obligatory share." (Qur'an 4:7)

The 'ustaz' explained that the responsibilities of men and women are different. A husband 'wajib' (must) provide 'nafkhah' to his wife and family members. If he failed to do so he would be 'berdosa' (being sinful) and would be punished not only in the Hereafter but also in the world such as loosing 'barakah' (blessing) in his life and he would be called by the 'Pejabat Agama' (Religion Department).

The husband must (wajib) provide for the necessities of his wife and family such as a place to shelter (house), clothing, food and needs for example living in this modern world, education for his children, medical expenses, transportation and so on, said the 'ustaz'.

"But a wife is not required to give 'nafkah'. If she owned some monies and properties or has an income, those are her's and her husband has no right to 'touch' them. What is required from her is to be obedience to her husband and she is 'in charge' of everything inside her husband's house," he said.

The 'ustaz' said in our society nowadays many husbands failed to provide for the 'nafkah' - some took it lightly, they thought it was right to share the responsibilities with the wives especially those who had jobs. 

"If a husband failed to provide for the 'nafkah', a wife could even 'steal' from her husband," warned the 'ustaz' who cited the case of Hindun, the wife of Abu Suffian. Such as the case of Hindun during the time of the Prophet s.a.w. complained to the Prophet that her husband refused to give adequate maintenance to her and her child. The Prophet instructed to take of her husband’s property "what is sufficient for yourself and your child according to custom."

According to the 'ustaz', other than 'nafkah' for well-being of a family, a husband must also provide for a special 'nafkah' for his wife - for her to buy her personal necessities items such as toiletries and makeup, Many 'modern' husbands failed to do so, especially if their wives had their own incomes.

"The correct way for a husband to excuse himself from providing the personal 'nafkah' to his 'rich wife' is by asking her to 'halal' (forgive or to consider as settled)," said the 'ustaz'. "If she agrees than it is okay, but if she insists, the husband must pay the 'nafkah' to her."

Other than providing for his wife and family, a man is also entrusted to look after the welfare of his parents and siblings. A husband (man) responsibilities are too heavy, thus, demanding a 'fair', 'just' or 'equal' share of inheritance for both male and female Muslims, who do not have equal financial obligations and responsibilities, is an unfair and unjust demand. 

It is only fair and just to give preference to a male heir, in light of his financial responsibilities, over the female heir from the inheritance of the father, mother or others. Considering all this, the fact that a female is still entitled by the Islamic law to a half share of the portion of inheritance received by the male, and sometimes an equal share, is indeed fair, just, and generous.

Islam views men and women to be equal in their humanity. The Holy Qur'an did not address men alone, when treating general issues in life; but meant both for men and women to hold due responsibilities in this regard. Thus, the Qur'an values the roles of male and female believers alike, for Allah says: “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.”(Qur'an 33:36)

Men are men and women are women. Hence, both men and women, go along side by side practicing their duties before Allah, in accordance with His Messenger’s teachings, so that one’s life would be a portray of one’s sound actions… All that includes men and women; thus, male and female believers ought to abide by Allah’s holy decisive speech.

Yes men are men and women are women and to those who choose to equal men and women in every aspects of life; think why in sporting events even at the Olympics men and women are separated based on the sexes. Why not have men and women compete among themselves say in the 100 meter dash because they are equals...and that is 'fair' according to some of us!

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