The modern world witnesses the presence in societies of people from varying religious and cultural backgrounds which increasingly requires review of basic ideas regarding what legal. Muslim women in South Africa who were married under Sharia law moved closer to securing rights guaranteed to women under the nation’s marital laws. The South African Constitutional Court ruled that Muslim women who were involved in a polygnous marriage can now inherit a share of their dead husband’s estate. Fatima Gabie Hassan was one of two wives. After the death of her husband, the estate’s executor refused her claim to a share in the estate. The Court’s decision allowed women in such marriages to have a fair share in the estate of a spouse, but it did not rule on the other question as to whether or not polygnous marriages or those granted under Sharia law were valid.
Some law experts argue the court is merely interpreting a polygnous marriage as akin to that between gays or lesbians and thus each partner is entitled to a share of the estate. However, it will be interesting if the South African court eventually rules on the issue of the legality of Sharia law marriages.