Calls for gender equality in inheritance 'against Islamic teachings,' says Egypt's Al-Azhar

Ahram Online , Tuesday 15 Aug 2017

Abbas Shuman
File Photo: Sheikh Abbas Shuman, the deputy sheikh of Egypt's al-Azhar institute, talks during an interview with AFP at his office in Cairo on November 16, 2015. (Photo: AFP)

Egypt's Al-Azhar criticised on Tuesday an announcement by the president of Tunisia that his country is looking to allow for equal inheritance between men and women.

Although it did not mention Tunisia by name, a statement by Al-Azhar -- considered the world's most prominent authority on Sunni Islam -- said the concept of equal inheritance is "against Islamic teachings."

In the statement, deputy of Al-Azhar Sheikh Abbas Shuman said equality in inheritance is "unjust for women and is not in line with Islamic Sharia."

"The call for equality in inheritance between genders is unfair because women can already inherit more than men in some instances," the statement read.

According to Sunni Islam, inheritance for males is double that of females in most instances, with some exceptions including the mother and father of a deceased person both receiving one-sixth of the deceased's possessions.

Al-Azhar's statement also named an example where a mother would receive a bigger share of her deceased daughter's legacy, with the mother receiving one-third and the brother inheriting one-sixth.

On Sunday, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi said that his country is seeking to establish equality between men and women in inheritance; the first Arab country to make such a move.

He also announced the formation of a committee to study the matter.

Al-Azhar's statement also denounced a call by President Essebsi to ammend the law to allow for marriage between a non-Muslim man and a Muslim woman.

"Such a marriage would obstruct the stability of marriage," Shuman said, arguing that a non-Muslim husband would not allow his Muslim wife to practice her beliefs as he is not a believer in her religion.

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