In western world, there is a wide-spread belief that Islam degrade Muslim woman. In this post, some subjects will be highlighted about women's position in Islamic Sharia.
Can a Muslim woman inherit when her relatives die?
Of course. A Muslim woman will inherit when her father, mother, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, etc dies. There are detailed rules for the amount she takes in Islamic Sharia in all possible cases, but we can quote one verse from holy Qur'an as an example."Allah directs (thus) about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs. If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance: If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, Her brother takes her inheritance: If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance (between them): if there are brothers and sisters, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah make clear to you (His law), lest ye err. And Allah hath knowledge of all things." Chapter 4: 176
Some would ask: So, why women take half the man?
That's true. When male and female from the same degree (as relatives) to the deceased person inherit, female will take half the male. However in some cases, female would take much more than the male -like the verse quoted- (usually when the female is closer to the deceased person). But we can understand this rule when we know that in Islamic Sharia, man is obliged to bear all financial needs of his family. When there is no financial obligation at all on woman towards her family (it only depends on her voluntary will). In other words, a man will pay all what he inherits to fulfill the needs of his family, but a woman can keep all the amount for herself So, it's a must that man gets a bigger amount of the inheritance to be able to fulfill his financial obligations.
A common way of those who want to claim that Islam degrades women is through this way, polygamy. We must put in consideration few points to understand polygamy according to Islamic Sharia (legislation)..
a) Before Islam, men were marrying women with no limitation on number: 10, 20, etc. But Islam came to limit it by only 4.
b) Polygamy in Islamic Sharia is only an allowance, not an order. In more simple words; man can, but not shall.
c) There is a rigid condition to allow polygamy stated in the 3rd verse of "Women" Chapter in Holy Qur'an: ".. Marry women of your choice, Two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly (with them), then only one, .." So, a man is required to give every wife equal treatment.
d) A wife who cannot accept polygamy is given two ways to avoid it; the first is before marriage as she can set a stipulation in marriage contract that the husband isn't allowed to marry another woman. The second comes before the second marriage as she can seek "Khula" or separation (divorce) from man.
e) Polygamy is a necessary solution for real problems like the communities where number of women exceeds number of men. And also it's a solution for divorced or widow women who want to marry, but cannot find a man who is marrying for the first time. So, it cannot be totally forbidden that may lead to other serious social problems like spinsters or widows who cannot find a chance in secured and stable life.
Why head scarf?
It's not about a piece of cloth over the head, it's all about a code for the dress whether for men or for women. This code for dress serves the purposes of protecting men and women's dignity and modesty and giving them respect. In principle Muslims should not wear cloths that accentuate the shape of the body in such a way as to attract the attention of the opposite sex. Therefore clothing should not cling closely to the body, nor should it be transparent. As woman's nature differs from man's nature and her hair and hairstyle is an important part of her looks and may also add to her attractiveness, women avoid displaying this area by covering their heads in the presence of non-kin men whom the woman in question could marry in theory.
So, it's only the hair not the whole face that is required according to Islamic Sharia to be covered, as for Nikab or Burka it's more to be of regional and cultural customs, but not of religious requirements.
On the other hand, head scarf by these purposes isn't an invention from Islamic Sharia. Christian nuns around the world cover their heads for the same purpose. Plus two famous women in history of mankind were covering their heads too i.e Virgin Mary and mother Tresa. It's an honor for every Muslim women to be like Virgin Mary as stated in 11th and 12th verse of 66th Chapter of Holy Qur'an: "And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe .. * And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)."