A few weeks back, I received an email from a Bahraini woman named Nawal, who brought allegations of serious misconduct by her brother, a judge in that country's Sharia court. I wrote back, asking more specific information and some clarifications:
Ms. Nawal's brother apparently holds a position in Bahrain's Sharia court,which gives the absolute right to a man in depriving his sisters from their family's wealth, as well as enabling him to use his influence to impose various forms of repressive action on the entire family, including his position as a judge to possess the family's property. Although the government of Bahrain has formed a special office to address the issues related to corruption inside country's judiciary and Sharia courts, such bodies are inactive:in most cases, these bodies are influenced by the judges facing these allegations.
In Nawal's case, her brother is apparently using the influence of the entire judicial system there to continue his undisputed control over the family wealth, to the extent of even controlling Bahrain's media to repress publishing the pleas of the betrayed people.
During the pagan Arab era, inheritance rights were confined exclusively to the male relatives, and later the same notion was incorporated in Koran [Surah An Nisah chapter 4 verses 11, 12 and 176], in which women's rights to their inheritance were totally robbed, and laid to the hands of men. Women in the Muslim society therefore not only lost their right to inherited property, but became regular victims of social humiliation, threats and various forms of intimidation.
In her own words, Nawa said:
"My brother has been a Judge for more then 20 years. I have been in the court of the Kingdom of Bahrain since 1998 for family cases. The judge, my brother, was the Plaintiff in some of these cases, and the Defendant in others. I have witnessed a lot of corruption in the court from my brother and his colleagues, where we lost all our rights.
"My brother, the judge, lodged a case against his father and his stepmother and his half sisters accusing them of forgery, fraud and embezzlement in order to have the interdiction and probation over his father's wealth. He charged his father with "Dotage" [unsound mind], of being an old man. The undue influence in this case was as follows:
- The case was lodged during the court's holiday
- A decision was taken by the court against the defendants without giving a hearing date or a chance to defend themselves.
"The court took a quick decisions as follows:
- To freeze the defendant's bank accounts;
- To freeze one of the daughter's bank accounts [the plaintiff's sister's] without evidence or investigation
- The father was accused of "Dotage" without a medical report
"The Defendants [father, stepmother and sisters] appealed on 9th February 2000 against the court verdict [case No. 15/99/5/3].
"The results were as follows:
"The Medical report was in favor of the father, however due my brother's influence, the court termed my father as suffering from 'dotage,' and set all of his wealth and properties under the control of the Minor Fund Department subsidiary of the Ministry of Justice.
"Even after pronouncement and the publication of the court order, an additional point was added to it without the knowledge of the defendants or their lawyers: the court assigned the plaintiff [the judge] to control family's Charity Fund worth millions of dollars. Since then, the judge continues his control over this fund, and bribes people, including several judges from the Zakat [Islamic Charity] fund.
"My brother, the judge, being in full control of the family's charity fund, pays for his own family's monthly expenses, and also paying for his children's educational and medical fees. In addition, he takes 8% of the income as 'remuneration' for looking after the charity. He also financially compensates his colleagues: the judges, of course, and the ministry of justice and its subsidiaries.
"He also distributes cash, vouchers and gifts to the judges and Ministry of Justice employees and their friends and relatives under the heading of 'Charity' -- in fact it is 'Bribes.'
"Although my brother is in-charge of managing the charity fund, he obtained a written approval from the Judges in the Sharia Super Supreme Court to protect himself from questioning about misuse of the the fund."
Ms. Nawal went on to say that the entire society is engulfed by the nasty grip of Sharia Law, and that regularly there are cases of domestic violence, including incestuous sexual assault. Polygamy is also an issue of tremendous stress for the women.