of Married Women
from The Concept of Family
by A. D. Ajilola
The matter of
preserving a person's true identity seems somehow epitomized
in the position of the married woman in Islam. For while she
takes on a new marital identity and may be called wife of so
and so, she still retains her old lineal one.
In Islam there is
nothing stating that a married woman should bear her husband's
name, like Mrs Ajilola, she can easily bear Miss Musson, her
Also thre is
nothing suggesting that a child should bear his father's name;
as Mr Abdul-Kareem Ajilola; he can equally bear Mr
Abdul-Kareem Musson or any of his maternal relative name.
A marriage is a
contract, it is not a means of diffusion of identity of the
parties, as it is practised in European countries.
Arabia and among the Semites in general, matrilineality was
more or less observed either exclusively or together with
patrilineality. This practice even continued into Islam in
some instances. For example, al Hasan ibn Ali was often called
the Prophet's daughter's son, a title of honour in this case.
However a closer
examination of Arabic literature suggests to some scholars
that when a pre-Islamic Arabian was named after his mother or
called the son of the mother of so and so e.g. ibn Hind or ibn
Ummzayd, ie, the son of his mother Hind or the son of Zayd's
mother respectively, it was due to one or more of the
a) It was an
expression of honour for and appreciation of the mother.
b) It was a status
symbol for some Arabs to take pride in the true or alleged
noble stock of their mothers.
c) Sometimes the
mother was more renowned than the father, and the children
were thus believed ennobled by affixing their mothers' names
to their own.
also, the mother resided with her own family for orientation
after divorce or desertion by the childrens' father, in which
case they were identified for all practical purposes by the
e) In some cases
the father was survived by his own mother or mother-in-law,
who then undertook the upbringing of her grandchildren, and
they were identified by her name in addition to their own
So the present
method of regarding husband and wife as one entity or to force
a woman to be bearing her husband's name and identity has no
support in Islam; although Islam is not against it. Islam is
neutral in this matter.