Egypt’s Al-Azhar Rejects Gender Equality in Inheritance, Tunisia Fires Back
Tunisia shocked the world this past Tuesday after its president, Beji Caid Essebsi , called for gender equality in marriage and inheritance. The Minister of Justice was asked to reconsider Publication No. 73 of Tunisian law; this publication bans Tunisian Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims. The president proposed an end to religious-based inheritance laws as well.
Egypt’s deputy of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Abbas Shuman, stated that equality in inheritance is “unjust for women and is not in line with Islamic Sharia as women already inherit more than men in certain situations.” Shuman added that a mother would receive a bigger share of her deceased daughter’s legacy; as the mother receives one-third, while the brother inherits only one-sixth.
As for equality in marriage, the sheikh believes such union would obstruct the stability of marriage as a non-Muslim husband may prevent his wife from exercising her religious rituals freely.
The Tunisian president believes that Islam does not conflict with democracy and development, and criticized Egypt’s Al-Azhar University for its interference in his country’s internal affairs. “In Tunisia, democracy goes hand in hand with respect for Islam,” Essebsi said. An official of the president’s Nidaa Tounes Party added that internal Tunisian debate is a healthy and required phenomenon that is of interest to the Tunisian society only and no one has the right to intervene in this debate.