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Muslim Women’s Empowerment and Inheritance Rights 

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Muslim Women's Inheritance Rights

Despite Islam giving Muslim women the right to inheritance, it is rare to see Muslims follow this Islamic law.  The recently released National Family Health Survey 2019-20 (NFHS-5) fact sheet for Jammu and Kashmir states that only 57.3% of women in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir own a house and/or land, alone or jointly (PDF of the survey). J and K is a Muslim-majority region. According to 2011 census, 68.3% of the region’s population is Muslim. 

Even though we can read these figures as “at least more than half women own property”, however, given that all women are coparceners in one or the other way, it raises vexing questions.

Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. Despite this fact, the number of women owning property is almost half of that of men.

The data on women’s inheritance in Pakistan and other Muslim-majority South Asian countries is much worse. There are very few women who own property in South Asian countries.

Inheritance Rights, a Taboo?

Women asking for their coparcenary rights is considered taboo here. Further, women also seem to have internalized that asking for inheritance rights will break their relationship with other members of the family, especially brothers. As a result, they sign relinquishment deeds without giving a second thought about it.

Also Read: Death of Mahsa Amini: How Governments are Denying Women’s Right to Choice?

Women’s Empowerment through Inheritance

People mostly see the inheritance of property as a matter of money and wealth. However, it goes beyond that, at least for women. Economically speaking, ownership of any kind of property by women is a very important determinant in the quest for women’s empowerment.

In a realist world where everyone is responsible for their own survival, women should not expect their male relatives to care for them. Unless women do not attach economical value to their lives, they will have no power. This is especially true for unemployed women who do not have financial independence. Since inheritance of property is a given- however small value it may have, they do not have to get an education or work to get it. The only thing they need to do is not to sign the relinquishment deed.

Also Read: Why Are Muslim Women Still Behind Bars

Militating Against Women’s Empowerment

Relinquishment of coparcenary rights militates against women’s empowerment. It is high time that women ask for the inheritance rights that the constitution as well as the religion gives them. The right to inheritance also seems one of its kind means to women’s empowerment where people peddling religiosity may not find a reason to oppose it. Women should know that signing a relinquishment deed may lose them a lifetime opportunity for leading an independent and respectful life in this patriarchal world.

Also Read: The women behind #Blacklivesmatter movement

The Debate on Equality of Rights

It is generally accepted that Islam entitles a sister to inherit half of what a brother gets as a coparcener. However, the interpretation of the Quran regarding this law is debatable. According to Mohmmad Iqbal, “the share of the daughter is determined not by any inferiority inherent in her, but in view of her economic opportunities, and the place she occupies in the social structure of which she is a part and parcel.” Iqbal goes on to justify the case of inheritance law in Islam arguing that the daughter “is held to be the full owner of the property given to her by both the father and the husband at the time of her marriage.” Further, “she absolutely owns her dower-money which may be prompt or deferred according to her own choice, and in lieu of which she can hold possession of the whole of her husband’s property till payment, the responsibility of maintaining her throughout her life is wholly thrown on the husband.”

Therefore, for Iqbal, if we “judge the working of the rule of inheritance from this point of view, you (we) will find that there is no material difference between the economic position of sons and daughters.”

However, Iqbal made this point in 1930. Since then, there has been a significant change in the economic positions of men and women. If the motive behind inheritance laws, as mentioned by Iqbal, is applied to modern-day conditions, sons and daughters may well get an equal share in inheritance.

Towards Muslim Women’s Empowerment

Inheritance rights bestowed by Islam on Muslim women show Islam’s inherent quest for women’s empowerment.

Even though the West blames Muslims for repressing women’s rights, Islam has its in-built laws for women’s empowerment. These laws, unlike West’s feminist rhetoric, go beyond symbolic empowerment like sartorial choice, and hence materially empower women.

However, it is a shame that Muslims do not follow Islamic laws like inheritance law in letter and spirit. If all Muslims obeyed these laws, the world would become a better place for Muslim women.

Economy

“The Worst is Yet to Come”— Recession 2023 & the Looming Uncertainty

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recession 2023

Recession 2023 is just around the corner.

The global economic crises are now inducing the certainty of a looming recession. Economists and financial organizations warned of upcoming uncertainty; however, regrettably, the world failed to decode the uprising of the economic catastrophe. 

Today’s economies around the globe are confronting an urgent economic crisis and is on the brink of a recession. And, the experts fear the worst is yet to come!

Shear Impact on Leading Economies – US, UK, China, and India

“Global growth is slowing sharply, with further slowing likely as more countries fall into recession. My deep concern is that these trends will persist, with long-lasting consequences devastating for people in emerging markets and developing economies,”  

World Bank Group President David Malpass.

For the first time since 2009, the US declared negative GDP growth two quarters in a row, which officially qualifies as a recession.

The British Pound is at its historic low of $1.038 against US dollars due to rare emergency interventions. Cities and states in China are still in lockdown because of a rise in Covid-19 cases. On the other hand, Indian Rupee is at its 75-year low of Rupees 82.11 against the US dollar, soaring the hike in repo rates to 5.90%

Srilanka already declared insolvency earlier this year. Russia and Ukraine war had already set the stage for World War III. And the recent resilience of china on Taiwan has tarnished the world economic environment. 

Read More: Sri Lanka: What Led the Island Nation to Bankruptcy?

All these together indicate the harsh truth: Recession 2023 will worsens the conditions of all major economies and push the globe into undefined circumstances like:

  • Central banks hiking the interest rates
  • Hike in energy and food prices
  • Depreciation of major currencies against the dollar

 Central Banks Hiking the Interest Rates  

To counteract rising inflation and the impact of a strong currency on the economies, central banks are hurriedly raising interest rates. This happens as the US Federal Reserve keeps up its aggressive interest rate hikes.

Rising Interest Rates
Rising Interest Rates. Image Source: India Today

On the other hand Reserve Bank of India is also struggling with persistently high inflation, which is made worse by geopolitical unrest, droughts, and supply-chain disruptions

Hike in Energy and Food Prices

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil-producing country. It provides 7-8 million barrels of crude oil per day, or 14% of global production, to international markets. 

The US and UK’s restrictions and many other nations’ decisions to stop purchasing Russian petroleum have exacerbated the crisis.

Russia and Ukraine are the biggest sunflower oil producers globally and the second most frequently used cooking oil. However, sunflower oil cannot yet be exported from Russia due to the tightening of import restrictions. 

Plus, due to the increasing demand for sunflower oil in the market, other edible oils are now more expensive, raising the cost of food and other products across borders.

Depreciation of Major Currencies Against the US Dollar 

Compared to the US dollar, the Japanese yen has dropped to its lowest level since August 1998. The Indian rupee is hitting its lowest in history, and for the first time in 20 years, the euro is now lower than the USD.

The decline of major currencies indicates the current state of the global economy. Moreover, it provides a crystal-clear forecast of how disastrous the recession 2023 would be if significant steps are not taken to control the situation.

The Decelerating Global Economy: IMF Forecast for Recession 2023

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is warning that over a third of the economy is headed for a recession this year or next. Its world outlook shows growth withering from 6.0% in 2021, 3.2% in 2022, and an estimate of just 2.7% in 2023.

Recession 2023 will be different from all the recessions the world has faced to date. Different factors are driving economic crashes in different countries, for example:

A cynical recession by hiking interest rates in the US, a structural recession in China powered by the crashing property market, and financial insecurity exaggerated by the ongoing energy crisis in Europe.

The ongoing turmoil in the national and global market is further sparking the threat of World War III.

Rising Certainty of World War III

Russia has already invaded Ukraine, and in opposition to Ukraine’s protection, the US cleared this support with Ukraine by immediately sending weapons to Ukraine. Such US behavior infuriated Russia, leading to increased attacks. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US and European countries that further expansion of support to Ukraine might lead the situation to a ‘Global catastrophe.’ 

On the other hand, China assaulted Taiwan due to the recent visit of the US finance minister. The current clash of China and Indian troops erupt seriously, leading to grim conflict on north-east Indian borders.  

Additionally, civil wars in countries like Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, and Mali are raising the certainty of World War III

Needless to say, World War III will destroy the world economy, resulting in more financial turmoil, starvation, a hike in oil prices, and the depreciation of currencies

Recession 2023: The Worst is yet to come

Slowing down economies, high repo rates, depreciation of currencies, bankrupted countries, and looming wars between nuclear countries are further solidifying the onset of a cold economic winter. 

The circumstance indicates what is coming. The indication of recession, the yell of “the worst is yet to come.

However, to wrench the global situation on track, policymakers should continue to give needy powerful tailored assistance to respective governments while also putting in place reliable medium-term fiscal strategies.

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Economy

Hindutva Activists Call for Economic Boycott of Muslims

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Hindutva Activists Call for economic boycott of Muslims

Days before the Hindu festival Diwali, Twitter is full of anti-Muslim hatred. One of the trending hashtags on Twitter is “Halal Free Diwali”. It seems like a well-orchestrated campaign against businesses owned by Muslims or catering to Muslims. Through this social media campaign, Hindutva activists and supporters are calling for the boycott of Halal-certified products. Some of them allege that Muslims are creating a parallel economy that is used for Jihad. Some people have even gone a step ahead and called it “economic Jihad”.

Economic Boycott of Muslims is not New

The economic boycott of Muslims on this Diwali is not something new. It has been a constant for several festivals now.

Earlier this year, Temples in Karnataka prohibited Muslims from doing trade during festivals. This happened in the same locality where the Hijab row had erupted.

Hindutva activists alleged that Muslims had dominated the trade. They said that Muslims were doing “injustice” by dominating the businesses and keeping Hindus out. The Hindutva supporters also argued that while Muslims are involved in some unpleasant incidents but also want to reap the benefits of trade during Hindu festivals.

The boycott calls escalated later. Some Hindutva organizations also called for a boycott of Muslim cab and tour operators.

Boycott of Companies Owned by Muslims

Last year, some Hindutva miscreants launched a campaign of misinformation and fake propaganda against iD Fresh Foods, a company owned by a Muslim businessman. Common masses were misled through WhatsApp forwards that the products of the company contain animal extracts. It was a concerted attack to hurt the company’s reputation. Further, some people also alleged that the company only employed Muslims.

Even though these allegations were refuted by the company, nothing could undo the harm that the company suffered. Further, the government did nothing to punish the culprits who defamed the company.

Disempowering Muslims

Muslims in India are a minority. They have a very low literacy rate. They do not have access to resources. As a result, most Muslims are involved in trading rather than the government sector.

When a particular community boycotts Muslim shopkeepers, the Muslims have no choice but to shut down their shops. The only way out for these shopkeepers is to operate in Muslim-majority areas. However, since most Muslims are involved in the trading sector, how many traders can the Muslim community sustain?

Also Read: 2 Billion Muslims must send a Stern warning to India’s Nazi-like government to stop its anti-Islam discourse

Distortion of History

Hindutva activists and supporters allege that Muslims have always dominated Hindus. They accuse Muslims of perpetrating injustice on them in the past. Hence, they claim it is payback time.

It is a typical strategy that precedes genocide. The “other” are demonized. Their history is distorted. They are accused of being dirty. Further, they are also accused of things like dominating the economy or stealing jobs. 

Nothing can be farther from the truth. Muslims in India are disempowered. They are underrepresented in all the public sectors job.  The representation of Muslims in the formal sector of the economy is also low.

The condition of Muslims in India and their power can be gauged from the fact that they make up almost 15% of India’s population, but Muslim representatives constitute only 5% of the Indian parliament’s total strength.

It is the political power that determines the power of a particular community. Muslims do not even have political power proportionate to their population. The truth is that Indian Muslims are marginalized and excluded.

India’s Economic Policy and Economic Boycott of Muslims

Ever since coming to power in 2014, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched many schemes to make India’s economy grow faster. Further, Modi wants India to become a manufacturing hub.

While these schemes and plans are ambitious, Modi’s supporters are calling for the economic disempowerment of 15% of India’s population.

Also Read: Why Is Indian PM Modi’s Silent About Attacks Against Muslims?

Muslim Countries and the Indian Economy

A significant proportion of India’s population works in Gulf countries. They send remittances back home, contributing to India’s foreign exchange. Further, Indian businesses have a ubiquitous presence in Gulf countries. They do a lot of business there.

Muslim-majority countries contribute to India’s economy without discrimination. In fact, Gulf countries give preference to Indians rather than Pakistani Muslims when it comes to business and employment.

However, back home, Indians are marginalizing Muslims. Hindutva supporters are calling out Muslims because of their religion.

It is rather ironic that Hindutva supporters think it is fine for them to find employment and use profits from business proceedings in Gulf countries but at the same time accuse Indian Muslims of economic and employment Jihad back home.

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Climate Change

Air Conditioners Exacerbate Climate Injustice

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Air conditioners exacerbate climate injustice

Air conditioners are the epitome of inequality and climate injustice.

Buying air conditioners is one of the most popular individual responses to climate change. As the temperature of the globe increases, most people are buying and using air conditioners to protect themselves from the scorching heat. As of 2020, there were 1.9 billion air conditioning units in the world. By 2050, the number of air conditioners is expected to grow to 4.5 billion. That means every 2 people out of 7 are using air conditioning. Further, 37% of all the world’s electricity is used for air conditioning.

At an individual level, air conditioning seem good to protect oneself from the sweltering heat. However, the use of air conditioners possesses two inherent problems- (i) They only worsen climate change and (ii) the access to air conditioning is inequitable.

How do Air Conditioners Contribute to Global Warming?

Air conditioning is a trap- the warmer it gets, the more air conditioners we use. The more we use air conditioners, the warmer it gets. It is an irony that the technology we need to stay cooler only makes the climate hotter.

Air conditioners use refrigerants that also happen to be powerful heat-trapping gases. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the chemicals used in air conditioners are 12,000 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

According to the calculations of the World Economic Forum, greenhouse gas emissions from air conditioning will account for as much as a 0.5-degree Celsius rise in global temperatures by the end of the century.

Also Read: Pakistan’s Climate Crisis: A Peek Into The Apocalyptic Future That Awaits

Unequal Access to Air Conditioners

As of now, people have mostly focused on the technological aspect of air conditioners. Various countries have started funding initiatives to upgrade air conditioners. They aim to replace HFCs with harmless chemicals.

The problem of unequal access to air conditioners is mostly disregarded.

It is perhaps because almost all elites possess an air conditioner. Further, lower-class people who cannot afford an air conditioner right now desire one. In this race for buying air conditioners, no one is asking the right questions.

Given that air conditioners contribute towards global warming through the release of HFCs and consumption of huge energy, why should only some people be allowed to have air conditioners?

The harmful effects of air conditioning on climate are socialized. However, the benefits are not socialized.

Also Read: Climate Refugees: Pain of Unseen Victims

We are not in this Together

When it comes to climate change, it is often repeated that we are all in this together. However, nothing is farther from the truth. The rich people who afford air conditioning make life terrible for others who cannot afford an air conditioning. Further, they totally insulate themselves from the harm of the air conditioners.

The case of air conditioning makes any kind of technological progress to protect humankind from climate change look bleak. If there is technological progress, it appears that it may be private. Like air conditioning, technology may not be a public good.

When Jeff Bezos returned from space last year, he made it very clear that elites will not reduce their carbon footprint. He instead suggested moving the heavy industry into space. He said, “We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space. And keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is. That’s going to take decades to achieve, but you have to start. And big things start with small steps.”

Bezos is the owner of one of the most polluting companies in the world. Instead of switching to green energy, he is talking about taking polluting industries to space.

It may, in fact, be possible for Bezos to start his life in space permanently. He may be able to give his future generations a better climate up in space. Unfortunately, he will take this step only after he has done damage maximum to the earth, to an extent that life may not be possible here.

That is exactly what air conditioning is- make life terrible for others but also make technological progress to insulate yourself from the harmful effects inflicted on others.

Also Read: Climate Change Deepening Gender Inequalities: A Reality Check

The Way Forward

Before taking any step towards mitigating climate change or making any technological progress to protect humankind from the effects of climate change, it must be kept in mind that climate change affects different classes of society differently.

Any future technology that is not public good should be rejected by the people. Although air conditioners are now beyond the stage where they could be regulated but governments must ensure that air conditioners are taxed heavily. The revenue thus generated can be channeled for green energy initiatives.   

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