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Iran: Ayatollah Support Women's Right to Inheritance and Abortion


Ayatollah Sanei'i Issues Fatwa in Support of Women's Inheritance

Change for Equality (16 February 2008): Grand Ayatollah Sanei'i has issued a Fatwa regarding the inheritance women receive from their deceased husbands. In this Fatwa, Ayatollah Sanei'i has explained that when a man with no heirs besides his wife, passes away, his wife becomes the sole heir of his assets.

The Fatwa by Ayatollah Sanei'i was issued in response to the question: "if a man passes away and his only heir is his wife, how much of his assets should be given to his wife?"

The issuance of this Fatwa is significant, because it differs from Iranian law, which is based on interpretations of Sharia law. Currently Iranian law claims that when a deceased man has no other heir besides his wife, only one-fourth of his assets are to be given to his wife, while the rest of his assets become the property of the state.

The issue of women's inheritance remains a heated issue of debate in Iran and many other Islamic countries. Equal inheritance between men and women is one of the demands of the One Million Signatures Campaign which seeks to collect signatures in support of a petition asking the Parliament to reform discriminatory laws against women.

Grand Ayatollah Mazaheri Issues Fatwa Allowing Abortion for Unwed Mothers

Change for Equality (23 January 2008): According to Parsine News Agency, Grand Ayatollah Mazaheri, one of the more renowned religious scholars based in Isfahan, has issued a Fatwa allowing unwed mothers to obtain abortions.

According to the report published on the site of Parsine a religious question was posed for the Grand Ayatollah as follows: "given the fact that pregnancy out of wedlock is extremely difficult for an unwed mother and will in all likelihood bring shame to her and her family, would she under these circumstances be allowed to obtain an abortion?" To this question, the Grand Ayatollah replied as follows: "given these circumstances, [an abortion] is permissible."

The interesting point regarding the response provided by this religious scholar is the fact that he does not address the age of the fetus. Other Shiite religious scholars have emphasized the age of the fetus and have in the past viewed the abortion of a fetus over 4 months as a murderous act for which full blood money (monetary compensation paid for bodily injury or death) must be provided to kin and in some instances have called for abortion to dealt with through Qesas (retribution).

The University of Al-Azhar which is believed to be the highest reference for Sunni Muslims on religious matters has recently announced that abortion for women who have become pregnant as a result of rape is permissible. The Islamic Research Committee of Al-Azhar University in Egypt published a statement in this regard, which reads: "women who have suffered rape, can obtain a doctors permission as soon as they become aware of their pregnancy, after which they will be allowed to quickly obtain an abortion." This statement has gone further to explain that such an abortion will allow for the stability of society. This statement was issued by Al-Azhar despite the fact that Egyptian law bans abortion, except under special circumstances when the health of the mother is in danger or the fetus has serious health problems.

Read the original news item on Parsine (in Persian)

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