On rights for women in ancient civilizations


Meher, the Islamic word for betrothal money promised by a groom to his wife (or her family), has precedent in Torah, where in Hebrew, the word used is Mohar. The practice goes all the way back to both ancient Hittite and Mesopotamian civilizations where law codes specifically state that a groom or his family is obligated to pay an amount that they had mutually agreed upon to the bride or her family. In ancient Aramiac, the word used is Muhra. Moreover, though in Torah, divorce is only mentioned in the context of a husband divorcing his wife, we have court documents from the ancient Jewish community in Elephantine, Egypt (from 500 BC) that shows that laws in practice were very different. That though a divorce was looked down upon, a woman in ancient Egypt could divorce her husband and that both had equal rights to divorce and property. Women could own property in ancient Persia, ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and yes, ancient Arabia. Here is one example from ancient Egypt: “Tomorrow, or another day if Ananiah stands up in an assembly and declares, ‘I hate my wife Yehoyishma; she shall not be my wife,’ silver of hatred is upon his head. He shall give her everything she brought into his house, her cash and her clothes, eight shekels and five hallur of silver, and the rest of her property, and she may go where she pleases. And if Yehoyishma declares, “I hate you, my husband; I will not be your wife,” silver of hatred is upon her head. She shall give her husband seven shekels, and go out from him with the rest of her cash, goods, and chattels, worth … And he shall give her the rest of her property.” (This shows how ignorant those priests or imams are who believe that only their religion brought rights to women. This is because they don’t bother to study anything besides their own few books.)

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