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By Zarah Alam

Is the root cause of many women's problems a lack of financial independence and financial education? Most would consider that this is an issue that only those facing divorce have to think about, but in my opinion it is an issue any woman could be faced with at any particular time during her life, whether that be through divorce, bereavement, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Traditionally within the Muslim culture, a woman's primary role has been focused around her house and the children. Even if she does work, often her career and role come secondary to her husbands as he is considered the breadwinner of the family and has been placed in charge of  maintaining his household.

Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband's home and his children and she is responsible for them. [Muslim/Bukhari]

However, does it then follow that a woman should have no say whatsoever in the family expenses or not be educated in financial affairs?



Most Muslim scholars would agree that a man is responsible for financially providing for his wife/children. This includes things like food, shelter and reasonable expenses. However, does it then follow that a woman should have no say whatsoever in the family expenses or not be educated in financial affairs?

It has often ended up being the case that women, as a result of not being involved in financial affairs, have no knowledge of them either. They have no idea about what bank accounts money is held in, any investments or liabilities, full range of assets and pensions etc. As a family lawyer I see this time and time again  ladies coming to me for advice and having absolutely no idea about their family's financial affairs. This results in the lengthy investigation side to divorce proceedings, where a solicitor is involved in putting together a full financial picture of the couple so that any assets can then be divided fairly.

However, if this woman had been involved from a much earlier stage and had she understood the basic financial products involved in her family's life, matters could not only be resolved quicker, but the process would become much more streamlined, and less costly!

Similarly, upon bereavement, losing your loved one is hard enough without the added pressure of trying to navigate your financial affairs.

Surely then the answer is to get financially savvy! Even if your husband/father/brother oversees financially providing for you, or you live in an intergenerational household and have never had to pay bills - learn! Learn about: basic current accounts, savings, pensions, mortgages/rent and bills! There are so many resources out there to help you. If we as women can become financially educated, we can ultimately be independent, now and when the time requires it!

I am not going to pretend that there aren't some opposing views out there that believe a financially independent woman leads to them being too headstrong and rebellious. Similar views are held by the same people who view education as a route for a woman's disobedience. However, it is our duty to keep our affairs in order, this includes financial affairs and having full knowledge of them  this is something we should all strive to achieve regardless of other opinions.

Some places where you can find help, tips and information on money and related products:

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/

https://www.islamicfinanceguru.com/

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