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Problems around Heritage in Minangkabau

Updated on March 13, 2011
Money is one of the things usually inheritted
Money is one of the things usually inheritted | Source
Clothes are also included
Clothes are also included | Source
Goods are the others
Goods are the others | Source
Land is seen to be the very important one to consider
Land is seen to be the very important one to consider | Source
House is usually put into the first priority to share
House is usually put into the first priority to share | Source

Problems around Heritage in Minangkabau

In one occasion watching a talk show on Islamic spiritual nourishment in a national private TV station in Indonesia, there was an audience who asked the key-note speaker; she said that  she is a descendant of Padang (Minang) - both of her parents originating from Sumatra Barat province. The core question is, she felt confused to put herself on the wealth legacy of her parents, she said that  in Minangkabau doctrine, inheritance is passed down through generations fall to the women line in a family - and the male ones do not get the part, whereas, all of  her brothers insisted to get their rights of the heritage and shared in the accordance of Islamic law. Luckily, the host resource wisely can answer that question with a direct solution to the wisdoms in sharing inheritance in Islam (Faraidh book).
     I am quite concerned to hear the woman's expression,  and hummed, "this is the occurance  when Minangkabau people or the descendants of this unique racial ancestry in across the nation have only a very superficial insight even mistaken about the cultures in M inangkabau, especially in the nature of sharing inheritance. As a result of the misguided of the ones  like this, their brothers or the male member in their family eventually become the victims and oppressed due to their ignorance. More unfortunately again, the wrong way of viewing like this has spread to those ones who are in the reality not Minangkabau people which ultimately will brand “greey” the women in Minang family in the case of inheritance.
     So, how is exactly the nature of the sharing of inheritance among Minangkabau cutoms, on whom some people assumes they came from the top of Merapi volcano in Sumatera Barat ? In Minangkabau tradition, there are two kinds of inheritance, high inheritance and low inheritance.
High inheritance is the heritage acquired hereditary by the women in a Rumah Gadang – the traditional house  in Minangkabau. Such property, if traced towards the base, purchased or arranged by the family ancestors to feed their nieces who inhabit the house  - including also in it to finance the operations of the unique shape house maintenance.
     Low inheritance  is the legacy from both parents (no matter, one between the two, or both), or it could be left by relatives, children, grandchildren and so forth. Anyway, the heritage of this one is the kind of  estates which should be shared according to Islamic law which are all clearly written in the book of Faraidh – a part of science in  Fiqh (Islamic law) which deals with the technical sharing of inheritance for Moslims - particularly for those who still have ghirah (pride themselves) as Islamic people.
     As I have written above, about the high legacy; the property inherited by the ancestors of a Rumah Gadang aims to feed the offsprings who inhabit, turn, treat, keep or prosper the house that had been built. The treasure, once was such as a binding for their descendants in order to not go down (left) from the house that had been built with great difficulty together with their  tribes when they were alive ,maybe even with numerous people in a Nagari. Thus, there is no reason for a sister, aunt, niece or relatives of the home inhabitance for envy and jealousy with this condition for it had been the rights to those who inhabit the house. If, in some condition, they want to get a share of the outcomes of the legacy, they have to live in the house. It's also one of the reasons, why many chief clans in many Villages or Nagari as well in this domain which strictly prohibits their people to marry the men from outside of their region, because if this happens, their niece or their daughter will be at risk to be brought down by her husband from the grand house where they were born. In more extreme cases, not the least, the chief clan recall this high legacy from the women who used to come from the grand house but do not care anymore with their native land.
     For some Rumah Gadang that have quite a lot high heritage, in some Nagari in Minangkabau, usually the family or the people concerned, shall appoint a foreman (in Minang we call him “Datuek”) for their community. For the cost of the ceremony, it will be taken from the high heritage. And after the Datuek  is officially appointed, he is given some land on the high heirloom family of origin to sustain his life as a chief. So, going forward, he does not need to beg for money to his nieces or relatives to undertake the costs on everything that he will do for his people. And, if one day he dies, the inheritance is to be returned to his family (which appointed him before) to revealed to the next leader (his nephew) that replace it. That is, the high heritage in the hands of this man is in the status of rights of use - not ownership,  that go around at one point he was selling when pressed by the  financial needs . So far, it can shown that high heritage has vital roles in sustaining the life of Minangkabau people in their homeland.
     At this time many grand houses in the villages or Nagari in  Minang realm of empty, mold, and finally collapsed because of not being prospered , occupied and maintained; one reason is the envy and the jealousy as mention above. They seek every means to make their sisters or relatives those who have been painstakingly prospering and maintaining the grand house in the village to lift their feet from there, one by telling to the world their rations or their rights to the rooms at the house that was particularly built in a sacred; the rooms in which no one knows will be occupied by them. The grievous one is, at the time this home is really let to them to hand over, it turns out they can not do anything to maintain the existence of everything and then end up with the vanity. Suppose, the ancestors who founded the house could revive, I believe, they would condemn all acts that waste all their efforts this.
     For those who still have hearts to this Rumah Gadang, they will make every effort to make this type of house can still stand up straight to show the existence of their families to the world. If there is no chance for them to do it,, they will try to pay someone else to take care of it and if necessary, perform a total renovation of the grand house to be much firmer, and of course to realize all of that, the major fund for the house has to be taken from the high heritage of the house concerned. But for those who have no longer hearts and have faces like the front walls , they casually and without burden of shame and reluctance to pawn even sell all the high legacy including the grand house in their own greedy desires to hold the high inheritance owned by their families; broken kinship because of this kind of greed. For these people their relatives are money and possessions, the things that will surely be left behind if they close their eyes forever.
     It is very embarrassing if the outcomes of the high heirlooms are used by those who claim to be Minangkabau  people to feed themselves and their families away from their homeland, while they were wasting their grand house in their campong. They are looking any ways for how to make themselves and their descendants as well can posses the heirlooms fully, no longer share with others, in exemplification by going to or paying the court to certifying the property to be their own. They laughed uproariously enjoying the toil of their ancestors, along with their children and grandchildren that they themselves do not ever know anymore with their parents or her grandmother's homeland. In fact, most people like this, the children or their successor generation was never told of their origin is unclear, so do not be surprised if they are  asked what his tribe or his Datuek, they will not be able to answer the question.
     The polemics about the inheritance of this reason, make a lot of the men of Minagkabau go away from their homeland; leave their village and never come back anymore – any longer, to spend their live in other regions or countries. Many of them feel that they are considered not existed  in their family, viewed only like such security guards; when talking about the rights to the inheritance, it is the space for the women, but if the women are tripped in problems, then the men are presumed to exist , complained and viewed them as great figures..
     Now, we come to the realm of low heritage; property which is inherited by one or both parents or it could be those who have blood relations with the dead in accordance with the rules set up by the book sharing of inheritance for Moslem People (Faraidh book). The most commonly known is that the sons’ portion is two times the quota that should be obtained by the daughters. And if this quota has reached the hands of the respective heirs, of course it will become their property. It's up to them to do anything against their quota, whether to manage it, pawned, sold, or even donated to the people in his willing. In the next hub, I will try to discuss completely in how to share heritage in Islam (Syar’i), Insya Allah.  
     Conflicts usually occur when there are efforts on the part of women's inheritance to buy time-fastening in dividing the estate of this type, with a variety of reasons which made up. This condition is, negative intrigues carried out to increase the height of their family heirlooms.
     In short, if it is found the problems in high heritage, return it to principle function of the heirlooms , and if it is found the problems with low heritage, return to Allah and His Rasulullah by looking back at the chapters of Faraidh book in  Fiqh.
     Hopefully useful ...!
                                                                        Payakumbuh, 21 Safar 1432 - January 26, 2011


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