“Allah commands you regarding your children: the share of the male will be twice that of the female. If you leave only two or more females, their share is two-thirds of the estate. But if there is only one female, her share will be one-half. Each parent is entitled to one-sixth if you leave offspring. But if you are childless and your parents are the only heirs, then your mother will receive one-third. But if you leave siblings, then your mother will receive one-sixth — after the fulfilment of bequests and debts. Be fair to your parents and children, as you do not fully know who is more beneficial to you. This is an obligation from Allah. Surely Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise” (Quran 4:11)
Islam is more than a religion; it is a way of life that guides humanity in all aspects of their lives, including providing guidance on inheritance. Islamic law allows a person to leave one-third of their assets to whomever they wish, as long as the beneficiaries are not amongst the remaining two third. The will is implied after the deceased’s funeral expenses and outstanding debts are paid.
The remainder two-thirds goes to the beneficiaries listed in Chapter 4 of the Holy Quran — a passage that some non-Muslims find controversial. Whereas Chapter 4 states that the share of a male is twice that of a female, females do not always receive less than males in all circumstances. There are certain instances where both male and female beneficiaries receive the same amount, where women receive more than male and scenarios where females get a share and men get nothing.
In many religions, women do not inherit from their families in any circumstance. At many points throughout history, women did not inherit anything from their families. They were considered property, part of the inheritance estate needing to be married off and relocated. On the other hand, Islam gave women their inheritance rights, stating that their reasonability determines their share — and not their gender.
In some circumstances, females inherit half of what males inherit — but not on all occasions. There is logic and fairness to reinforce those instances in which males get a higher inheritance share than females — with these conditions given to us by our Creator, the All-Knowing, All-Wise, the All-Just.
Because Islam has assigned males as the heads of the household, those who bear the family’s financial burden, the men will often spend much of what they inherit back into the family. On the other hand, females are entitled to the entirety of their inheritance and wealth — and their husband’s wealth. Women can keep 100% of their inheritance without spending or sharing it with anyone — even if they are wealthy and their husband is poverty-stricken.
God has chosen men to be the guardian of their wives and family, whom they must look after and to whom they must provide food, clothing, shelter, etc. The man must care for and provide for those closest to him. For instance, a husband needs to look after his wife and offspring; if he passes away or neglects his duty, the next man in a woman’s life will need to step up and care for the family, whether it’s the adult son or the brother of the woman. It’s important to stress once again that the reasonability of the sexes determines the share of an inheritance, not the gender.
As a clarifying example, suppose the parents of a son and daughter die, leaving fifteen thousand dollars behind. The daughter would inherit five thousand dollars by edict of Muslim law, and the son would inherit ten thousand dollars. However, if she is unmarried, the brother would have to share the $10,000 with his family, including his wife, children, and even his sister.
In contrast, the daughter can retain the entire $5,000 and is under no obligation to spend any of it on anybody else. The male also has the economic responsibility of paying the mahr or dowry. As stated before, whereas a son gets a larger inheritance percentage than a daughter in this circumstance, this would not apply in other cases; for example, where women do not have the benefit of male breadwinners or may have more dependents. It would depend upon the family’s unique financial circumstances and other factors at play. A male would receive more than a female when a male is more closely related to the deceased than a female. For instance, a son of the deceased would get more than a niece. The rules regarding Islamic inheritance are complex and involve a complicated science to comprehend and enact.
These guidelines are put in place to ensure that the inheritance recipients are treated with justice and fairness and that women do not get mistreated — as they would often be in the past and by the law of other religions. Islamic Law recognizes and fully protects women’s rights in all stages of life, including before marriage, after marriage, and in the event of a divorce, ensuring their financial security. Women are entitled to receive marital gifts, keep their income as they see fit, own properties, own a business, engage in business transactions, be educated, be entitled to child support, vote, and engage in political and legal affairs. In addition, a married woman keeps her maiden name instead of inheriting her husband’s family name. If Muslim women are not allowed their God-given rights in certain Muslim countries, that is not because Islam forbids it; instead, it means that the country is not fully implementing the Creator’s laws.
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