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Why do males inherit more than females?


Nasihah (Advice): Learn the laws of Inheritance


Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported that Rasulullah sallahu alaihi wa sallam said, “Learn the [laws of] inheritance and teach it to people for I will pass away soon. Knowledge will soon be taken away so much so that two people will argue regarding inheritance but will be unable to find someone to pass a verdict for them.” (Shu’abul Imaan)



Question and Answer:


  1. Q. Please clarify the reason as to why the males inherit more than the females


(Question published as received)


  1. The difference in inheritance is not based on the gender of the heir, but on three primary conditions:


  1. The degree of kinship to the deceased: Regardless of whether the heir is male or female, the closer the relationship to the deceased, the more an individual will inherit. For example, a deceased woman’s daughter is entitled to half the in­heritance while the husband of the deceased only receives one fourth. This is because the daughter, as an immediate blood relative, is closer in relation than the husband. Therefore the amount of inheritance she receives is greater.


  1. The generation to which the heir belongs: Children usually receive more inheritance than parents because they will confront future financial responsibilities, whereas others usually maintain the financial upkeep of parents. The system functions this way regardless of gender. Even though they are both women, the daughter of the deceased inherits more than the deceased’s mother because they belong to different generations. Likewise, the daughter of the deceased inherits more than the deceased’s father. This is so even if she has a living brother who inherits with her.


  1. Financial Responsibility: It is in this category alone that shares of inheritance differ according to gender. However, this disparity causes no injustice to the female. When a group of inheritors, such as the children of the deceased, are equal in the first two aforementioned factors, then their shares are affected by the third factor, i.e. financial responsibility. The Quran has not made the disparity between men and women a general condition, but rather has confined it to this specific situation. When the individuals in a group of heirs are equal in both their relationship to the deceased and their generation, the male receives twice as much as the female.


The wisdom behind this arrangement is as follows: the male is responsible for the financial upkeep of his wife and children, whereas the female’s financial upkeep is the responsibility of an individual other than herself, such as her husband or father. Thus, for all practical purposes, the disparity favours the woman because the wealth she inherits is not applicable to the household expenses and is hers to dispense with as she pleases. Unfortunately, few today understand this finer point of the Islamic inheritance system.

And Allah Ta’ala Knows Best


Mufti Ismaeel Bassa

Mufti Moosa Salie


(The answer hereby given is specifically based on the question asked and should be read together with the question asked. Islamic rulings on this Q&A newsletter are answered in accordance to the Hanafi Fiqh unless otherwise stated.) 


Fatwa Department
Jamiatul Ulama (KZN) 

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Durban, South Africa
Tel : +27 (0) 31 2077099

Email: fatwa@jamiat.org.za
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