This article makes a case for the reform of traditional Muslim law of inheritance in the context of our times so that women can enjoy a stable, fulfiliing and independent lives. It includes a brief overview of the quaranic verses on inheritance, traditional rules of inheritance derived from these verses and the hadiths of the major schools of law, some examples of how these laws affect women, potential prospects for reform, and examples of reform from various countries of the world.&

The six position papers are part of eight position papers produced as part of a series on Islam, land and property, accompanied by a database, with proposed strategies which could enhance the knowledge and augment the capacity of UN-HABITAT and its partners to work more effectively in Muslim contexts. However, these papers have been written for a general audience without any assumption of knowledge regarding Islam, law or property rights and are therefore offer basic information as well as an opportunity to revisit first principles.

In this pioneering work, Siraj Sait and Hilary Lim address Islamic property and land rights drawing on a range of socio-historical, classical and contemporary debates and their practice. They address the significance of Islamic theories of property and Islamic land tenure regimes on the “webs of tenure” prevalent in the Muslim societies. They consider the possibilities with Islamic legal and human rights systems for the development of inclusive, pro-poor and innovative approaches to land rights. They also focus on Muslim women’s rights to property and inheritance systems.

Islamic inheritance regimes in the Muslim world continue to beguile advocates and feminists, non-Muslim and Muslim alike. One single characteristic, that women inherit far less property than men under Islamic inheritance arrangements, has for long been utilized as marker, in the West, for a perceived lack of gender equality. However the complexity and sensitivity of inheritance practices among Muslims has rarely been directly engaged. This chapter is concerned with developing such an engagement, for very pragmatic reasons.

Over 20 percent of the world’s population is influenced to varying degrees by Islamic principles, which intersect customary, informal and statutory land laws. Despite their relevance, global land reviews and interventions rarely consider the application of Islamic land principles.

The presentation focused on the decision of the Religious Appellate Court of Jakarta which recognized women’s equal right to inheritance.
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