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Why do Men generally inherit more than women in Islam?


By Maulana Khalid Dhorat

Undoubtedly, our Beneficial Creator, Allah Ta’ala, is the most Just, and His roadmap to us – the Qur’an and Sunnah – is also perfect and f ull of justice and equality. Thus, outwardly it may seem that women are disadvantaged when it comes to inheritance, but when we look at it closer, there is complete justice in this distribution. For a perfect believer, this question should never even crop up, but because the West has taught us to be critical of everything, even our own divine instructions, we find the need to explain this issue which is gleefully used by the feminist lobby to show that Islam oppresses women.

So, under Islamic law, many people ask as to why is a woman’s share of the inherited wealth only half that of a man? Maybe one of the reasons why this doubt crops up in their mind is that they are living in a western environment which has secular-based morals and ethos. Everything they do is western – from earning to and eating, socializing to merriment, and even behaving to our ideas on everything. A western critical thinker doesn’t appreciate the system of Allah, but his own thinking on how Allah went wrong here and there. He thinks that his own thinking on the matter is superior than Allah. This is indeed very dangerous, because then we start doing things according to our own intellect, and not according to Divine Wisdom which is far superior than this.

In order to understand the issue of women’s inheritance in Islam, we find that the Glorious Qur’an contains detailed guidance regarding the division of the inherited wealth, among the rightful beneficiaries. The Qur’anic verses that contain guidance regarding inheritance are:

* Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 180;
* Surah Baqarah, chapter 2 verse 240;
* Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 7-9;
* Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 19;;
* Surah Nisa, chapter 4 verse 33; and
* Surah Maidah, chapter 5 verse 106-108.

There are three verses in the Qur’an that broadly describe the share of close relatives i.e. Surah Nisah chapter 4 verses 11, 12 and 176. The translations of these verses are as follows:

“Allah (swt) (thus) directs you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females, if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; If only one, her share is a half.

For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; If no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.

In what your wives leave, your share is half. If they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eight; after payment of legacies and debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to anyone). Thus it is ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-Knowing Most Forbearing” [Al-Qur’an 4:11-12]

They ask thee for a legal decision. Say: Allah directs (them) about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as heirs. If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance. If (such a deceased was) a woman who left no child, Her brother takes her inheritance. If there are two sisters, they shall have two thirds of the inheritance (between them). If there are brothers and sisters, (they share), the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah (swt) makes clear to you (His knowledge of all things). [Al-Qur’an 4:176]

From the above verses, we find that it is indeed true that as a general rule, in most cases, the female inherits a share that is half that of the male. For instance in the following cases:

1. A daughter inherits half of what the son inherits,
2. A wife inherits 1/8th and husband 1/4th if the deceased has no children.
3. A wife inherits 1/4th and husband 1/2 if the deceased has children
4. If the deceased has no ascendant or descendent, the sister inherits a share that is half that of the brother.

From the above explanation, we find that in most cases, a woman inherits half of what her male counterpart inherits. However, this is not always the case. Take these scenarios:

1. In case the deceased has left no ascendant or descendent, but has left the uterine brother and sister, each of the two inherit one sixth i.e equal shares.
2. If the deceased has left children, both the parents (mother and father) get an equal share and inherit one sixth each i.e equal shares.
3. In certain cases, a woman can also inherit a share that is double that of the male. If the deceased is a woman who has left no children, brothers or sisters and is survived only by her husband, mother and father, the husband inherits half the property while the mother inherits one third and the father the remaining one sixth. In this particular case, the mother inherits a share that is double that of the father.

So the question arises as to why the share of the female is so different in different scenarios?

The answer to this is that a woman may be a mother, a daughter, a wife or a sister, and according to her status and her degree of financial obligation, she would inherit. However, in Islam a woman generally has very little or no financial obligation and the economical responsibility lies on the shoulders of the man. This is a concept very difficult and biting upon the west who seek to exploit women, take them out of their homes, give them careers and places many economic obligations on their shoulders. Women in the west are oppressed in the name of liberation, and made into sex objects and economic beasts in the name of feminism, but they are so blind to this that they instead turn their guns on Islam and think that Islam oppresses them. They become apologetic of their own religion because they don’t even know how their own religion is suppose to function!

Before a woman is married in Islam, it is the duty of the father or the eldest brother (in his absence), to look after the lodging, boarding, clothing, education and other financial requirements of the woman. After she is married, it is the duty of the husband or her sons in his absence. Islam holds the man financially responsible for fulfilling the needs of his family. In order to do be able to fulfill this responsibility, the men get double the share of the inheritance.

For example, if a man dies leaving about R150 000-00 for the children (i.e one son and one daughter) the son inherits R100 000-00, and the daughter only R50 000-00. Out of the R100 000-00 which the son inherits, as his duty towards his family, he may have to spend on them almost the entire amount and thus he has a small percentage of inheritance, say about R20 000-00, left for himself. On the other hand, the daughter, who inherits R50 000-00 is not bound to spend a single penny on anybody. She can keep the entire amount for herself. Would you prefer inheriting R100 000-00 and spending R80 000-00 from it, or inheriting R50 000-00 and having the entire amount to yourself?

Unfortunately, we have failed to understand the issue in this way. The problem is US, not Islam.

When men fail to fulfill their duty towards their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters or do not do so adequately, then women turn to the west for a solution and think that the west is more just in this regard. If men do not fulfill their duty towards their family, they should be forced to do so. But since the west has no mechanism or will to enforce Islamic obligations and are very happy to see Muslims failing their own religion, we should then strive to establish a system, a system in which the west has no share or influence, wherein these rights and obligations can be enforced. Traditionally, this was the shariah courts within a Caliphate system.

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