Women and Property Rights – Protection of Women (4:20 – 4:21)

Protection for Women

[4:20] If you wish to marry another wife, in place of your present wife, and you had given any of them a great deal, you shall not take back anything you had given her. Would you take it fraudulently, maliciously, and sinfully?

[4:21] How could you take it back, after you have been intimate with each other, and they had taken from you a solemn pledge?

What does “solemn pledge” mean?
Solemn: very serious or formal in expression
Pledge: serious promise

The solemn pledge is the commitment that their intentions is to stay together for ever. This may not actually happen, but their intentions need to be for that sake, and not with the expectation that this is a temporary marriage.

This entire sura consistently refers back to women’s rights, protection and also the importance of property rights. Property rights are the beginning of a prosperous society. And a society where no one is above the law and property rights are respected for everyone is the only society that will prosperous in the long run. 

Rio+20 DW Special: Malawi: A Way out of Poverty – More Property Rights for Women | Global 3000
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kDIGUknLr0

 

Gary Haugen: The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofsncCF9O_U

In this topic even though the theme of the talk is how to reduce violence, the general idea is that with strong property rights women will be able to be independent in a society and not be under threat that someone will take their property.

Women In Iran Divorce Iranian Style
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sqFzQKlKKo

This is a documentary from Iran where it shows the divorce process in Iran in the 1970s. Consistently in the cases you see that it is the women who are filing for divorce except the arbitrator will not grant them the divorce without the husbands approval. The husband consistently negotiate with the wife that they will agree to the divorce if they forfeit the dowry that they received when they get married.

According to this verse dowry is something the women receives before the marriage has been consummated. Dowry is not meant as an insurance policy that she receives if the marriage does not work out, but something that she must have possession of for herself. For the man to take the dowry after the fact is equivalent to theft. This shows a lack of property rights in the society and puts the women at a disadvantage.

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