Tunisian President Caid Essebsi has proposed changes accepted by the Tunisian cabinet. Under Sharia women inherit half the share men get. For the first time the principle of true equality between the sexes is realised in the Muslim world, breaking with the Sharia. Still, the new law is not contrary to the Quran.
Paris (AsiaNews) – A wind of freedom is sweeping across North Africa, in Tunisia to be exact. This small, Muslim majority country (over 98 per cent) is on the road to legally recognise equality for both sexes in matters of inheritance. This is a brave step and the first time in the history of the Muslim world since the early Caliphate era.
In general, women are placed in inferior conditions in Muslim countries. Under the Sharia, women (sisters, daughters, etc.) inherit half of what men get (sons, brothers, etc.) in terms of inheritance.
Last Friday, Tunisian President Caid Essebsi announced with clarity and courage that Tunisia will be a democratic and secular state, not a theocratic one. For this reason, he noted that "the Personal Status Code must be changed. This has no link to religion or the Quran.” Citing Article 2 of the Constitution, he said “We are a civil state and we must respect the Constitution".
Caid Essebsi proposed that gender equality in inheritance be recognised in law, modifying the Personal Status Code. In his opinion, this step should have taken place in 1956, but the Constitution of that time did not provide for it, unlike the current one.
Thus, two days ago, the cabinet agreed to legalise equality between the two sexes in matters of inheritance. This makes Tunisia the first Muslim country to break from Sharia, Islamic (Sunni) law.
I am very happy for this because it is a good start to ending the unjust and misogynistic Islamic Sharia that has ruled the Islamic world since the Middle Ages. The new law does not contradict the Quran. Contemporary Qur'anic interpretations by the exegete Mohamed Shahrour, like those of current Quranist thought, explain with great clarity that women must have the same proportion of inheritance as men.
This kind of law and interpretations will certainly unleash waves of outrage on the grounds that they offend the precepts of Islam and deviate from the words of God. In other words: Islamists will see themselves as defenders of God himself. But is God so powerless that he needs to be defended?
As a Muslim and because I am interested in all the issues that touch the Islamic world, I think that the adoption of this type of law will play a fundamental role in the emancipation of Muslim women, held for centuries under male rule. This is justified in the name of God and his prophet.
I find we must break the taboo with courage and in depth, to allow women, religious minorities and peaceful and modern Muslims to free themselves from the yoke of the Sunni dictatorship.
Based on Islamic jurisprudence (Sharia), adopted centuries ago, Tunisia applied these medieval and rigid religious laws. Now, this country, which little by little has set itself on the path of modernisation, is gently but securely breaking away from the theological foundations laid down by ancient Sunni scholars and has chosen a modern and contemporary vision. And if we want to meet the objections of Sunni Muslims, by referring solely to the Quranic text, we realise that by establishing the equality of the two sexes, Tunisia has respected the religious text.
Tunisia today deserves to be celebrated and encouraged for this courageous achievement and for its challenge to everything concerning the Sunni religious dictatorship. It is another step that follows the adoption last year of the law that allows Tunisians to marry non-Muslims.
On my behalf and that of all the Muslims of the 21st century who want to modernise, update and free our religion from irrational readings, I would like to congratulate the Tunisian people for this result and thank them infinitely for this glimmer of hope sown in our hearts – even if the path will certainly be hard and full of obstacles – to be able to be completely free one day from the Sunni dictatorship. Things will be possible where there is the political will.
Other Muslim peoples must take Tunisia as an example and wake up before it is too late.