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‘Know your rights and demand for them.’ – University Don Charges Muslim women

A professor of Islamic Law from the University of Ilorin, Prof AbdulRafi Omotosho, has spurred Muslim women to seek for knowledge concerning their rights under Islamic Law. He believes that doing so will enable them to demand their rights when it is trampled upon.

Omotosho stated this yesterday while delivering the 191st inaugural lecture in the series of the University’s Inaugural Lectures. The lecture titled: “She has the lion share under the Islamic Law,” according to him, bordered on the “holistic review” of misconceptions surrounding women’s socio-economical and marital rights.

In his lecture, the Don said he had been exposed to a lot of uninformed comments on the rights of women as ensconced under Islamic Law, most of which, to him, were “based on hearsay.”

He pointed out that “the [most common] example usually given (when people complain) was on the issue of inheritance with responses indicating that Islam discriminates between a male child and a female child, or that Muslim women are forced to marry against their will.”

Hence, the reason for incessant debates on the socio-economic rights of women emanates from the paucity of knowledge on the part of the general public and the lack of adequate education of women on the rights bestowed on them in the view of Islamic Law.

“The reason some of the initiatives of Islamic Law are still being debated till now is due to the failure of Muslims authorities…and failure of Muslims women to educate themselves about their rights under Islamic Law.”

To address the issue, Professor Omotosho whose area of specialisation is Islamic Jurisprudence and Family Law, recommended a number of procedural actions which he deems “very important.” Amongst these actions is the call on the women — in their unit and in their groups — to be “courageous and fearless” in demanding for their rights like the early generations of Muslim women.

“Women should be courageous and fearless in demanding their rights like the early generation of Muslim women have done,” he stated.

Other steps recommended include a “massive” awareness and sensitisation drive for the general public — both Muslims and non-Muslims alike and for men at all levels — on the rights of women in Islam. This, to him, should be embarked upon by the concerned authorities namely, the government, the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) and other Faith-based organisations.

However, considering the financial implications that could mount as an impedance to receiving justice, Professor Omotosho who received his education in law (LL.B) from the University of Medinah, Saudi Arabia in 1978, stretched that promotional efforts in defending the rights of Muslim women in the society should be carried out by a special body who, in addition, should be empowered to serve as a first step alternative dispute resolution for those incapacitated, financially.

In conclusion, he recommended that “a special body should be set up to promote and defend the rights of women, and the body should be empowered to serve as a first step alternative dispute resolution for those who cannot afford the cost of litigation in the Shari’ah courts.”

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