What is the Islamic view on Inheritance?
Submitted by on Tue, 18/08/2009 - 22:16
Dear Brother / Sister,
Here is a guide about the Islamic view on Inheritance. This brief guide includes an answer for the division of the inheritance for your situation.
The reasons why women are regarded different related to inheritance
One of the institutions that our religion has improved and corrected is the law of “inheritance”. In the laws of China, Rome, Japan and especially Arabia in the period of Jahiliyya, women had been fully deprived of inheritance.
The daughter had no right over the property of her father. Inheritance used to pass down to the son; nothing used to be given to the daughter. Unfortunately, that wrong custom is still valid in some regions of our country.
While the sons live in wealth and abundance thanks to the inheritance, the daughters of the same father live in need and poverty.
Making radical changes and introducing innovations in the issue of inheritance as it did about many vital issues, our religion ended the oppression that lasted for centuries. It distributed the inheritance justly.
The 11th verse of Chapter an-Nisa explains the distribution of the inheritance fully. At the beginning of the verse the following is stated, "Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children's (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females."
Thus, that wrong application was corrected clearly. However, some people who do not understand the revolution of Islam regarding the issue keep on saying that Islam gives the woman half of the share that it gives the man and they are obsessed with the interpretation that Islam does not protect the right of women.
As a matter of fact, the issue is not like that at all. If the issue is taken into consideration in terms of the social structure of man and woman, their responsibilities in the family and the psychological factors, it will be seen that the judgment of the Quran is just and right.
According to the principle of life drawn by Islam, the daughter does not have to work. She is in a position of being a consumer. It is the result of the affection and mercy shown to her. When the daughter lives in the house of her father, her father and her male relatives have to meet her needs, take care of her and protect her. After she marries, her husband has to provide for her and meet her needs. The woman cannot be forced to spend her own money or property for the needs of the house.
Just as a man has private property so too does a woman have the right of having private property. However, if the woman wants, without any force, she can contribute to the expenses. Accordingly, the woman is regarded to have nothing; all of her expenses like eating, drinking, dressing have to be met by her husband. If the man does not take care of the house or if he acts stingily and if he does not spend on his house in accordance with his wealth, the woman has the right to complain about her. She can apply to the Islamic court about it.
On the other hand, when the woman marries, she receives mahr (a kind of dowry) from her husband and she receives many other presents depending on the customs of the region. While man constantly spends his money and property, the property of woman increases.
After the man marries, he will have the responsibility of taking care of his family; he will have to provide for himself, his wife, children and even his parents and other relatives if they are in need.
Accordingly, while the two thirds of the inheritance that a man receives is constantly spent and decreases, the one third of the inheritance that his sister receives increases and it is protected. So, is the wealth of the brother or the sister more than the other? Is the man or the woman privileged?
A brother has to meet the needs of his sister if she is single or a widow and if she cannot make both ends meet with the inheritance that she received from her father.
Thus, Islam has determined a just division in accordance with the responsibilities and needs of both genders, and has maintained the principle of justice. The criterion of two shares for the man and one share for the woman is valid in the law of inheritance, which is received without any effort. As for the property that is obtained through effort, the woman and man receive equal wages when they work whether in the sector of trade, agriculture or industry or a similar sector. Both the woman and the man who are shareholders of the same company deserve the equal rate of profit in accordance with their shares. That is, neither the man receives more nor the woman receives less…
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi starts explaining the issue with this sentence: "Unreasoning civilization criticizes the Qur'anic verse which apportions to women one third." He determines that most of the rules in social life exist because of their prevalence in regard to the majority and adds, "Mostly a women finds someone to protect her. As for the man, she will be a burden on him and will have to combine efforts with someone else who will leave her her means of subsistence. Thus, in this form, if a woman takes half of the father's legacy, her husband makes up her deficiency. But if the man receives two parts from his father, one part he will give to maintaining the woman he has married, thus becoming equal with his sister. The justice of the Quran requires it to be thus. It has decreed it in this way."
When the issue is dealt with in terms of psychology, it is observed that a complete justice exists in the division of the inheritance. Even if the daughter gets married, has children and lives in a different house, she still needs the compassion, mercy and to a certain extent the protection of her parents and her brothers. Therefore, there should not be any decrease in their mutual love lest the bonds of relation should be harmed.
As Badiuzzaman states, "A weak girl is greatly in need of kindness from her father and brothers. The Quran decrees that she receives kindness from her father without worry."
Her father, who thinks about the share her daughter will receive in the distribution of the inheritance does not decrease his compassion towards her before he dies and he does not see his daughter as “a harmful child due to whom half of his wealth will pass to the hands of a stranger.” Anxiety and anger are not mixed with his kindness.
The same thing is valid for the brother. When the sister receives one share less than her brother, with the expression of Badiuzzaman, "she also receives her brother’s kindness and protection free of rivalry and jealousy. He does not consider her “as a rival who will destroy half the family and give an important part of our property to someone else." ..(Sözler (Words), p. 381.)
Due to the many other similar reasons, the Islamic law has determined the share of the woman as one share less than the share of man in inheritance.
Division of the Inheritance:
According to the question about the issue, if the sisters and brother are all from the same parents, the inheritance is divided as follows:
The whole inheritance is divided into five. The brother receives two shares; each girl receives one share.
Is woman-man equality in question?
First of all, we should state that we do not agree with the idea of absolute equality of woman and man.
There are some fields where they are equal, some fields where man is superior to woman and other fields where woman is superior to man. Therefore, it is not possible to solve the problem in one item.
If the question is "Is there a difference between woman and man in terms of being a good, virtuous person?”, we can say the following at once: dominance is something and virtue is something else. It is very difficult to say this or that is superior regarding virtue. Both women and men are slaves of Allah. Whomever Allah regards superior, whomever He loves more and whomever He is pleased with is the one that is superior. When we have a look at the Quran, which is the divine decree, we see that taqwa (fearing of Allah, clinging to obedience to Him and abandoning disobedience to Him) not gender is the criterion of superiority. Yes, the criterion of superiority before Allah is taqwa.
What is taqwa? With its shortest definition, taqwa is fearing of Allah, avoiding committing sins, keeping away from the acts, attitudes and words that He is not pleased with. It means to accept attaining His consent and pleasure as the greatest aim and to fear greatly from losing it. Whoever acts accordingly, he/she is the superior one. Gender is not important regarding taqwa.
Whenever taqwa is mentioned, we think of good deeds. Good deeds, that is, doing nice things. Gender is not important for good deeds either. For instance, if ten rewards is given for each letter of the Quran that is read, it is valid for everybody. There is no such thing as fewer rewards for the woman and more rewards for the man.
We can deal with the issue in terms of psychology and ask the following question: Are there any differences between the woman and man psychologically?
We can answer that question as certainly without any hesitation. The differences between men and women start to be manifest beginning from childhood. The toys of boys and girls are different. A girl likes dolls best. She hugs her dolls, kisses them, changes their clothes, cradles them and puts them to sleep at an age when she has no knowledge about marriage. A boy generally plays with toys like cars, planes and guns.
When those children grow up, the topic of their talks changes too. While men usually talk about business or politics, women usually talk about household appliances and knitting.
There is an apparent difference between the two genders in terms of talent. The man is better at composition and analysis whereas the woman is better at imitation and memorizing. For instance, the man is better at constructing an architectural building and placing all of its parts in a very nice way than the woman. However, the woman is better at decorating any part of that building with embroidery than the man.
Man is more open to the external world. He is inferior to woman in terms of compassion but he is superior in terms of the talent of enterprising. Woman is more introvert than man. The most important benefit of it is the care and attention she will give to her child and home.
The weaknesses of both genders are different too. Man has the weakness of dominance and oppression. Woman has the trouble of show off and “what others will say”.
The most apparent characteristic of woman is her sensitivity. It is also called “being influenced”. Woman is more sensitive in terms of being influenced by the environment. Therefore, she is more vulnerable to inculcation and being deceived.
The power of intuition in women is stronger than in men. Women need change more than men and women are more open to innovation and excitement. Woman is generally inferior to man in terms of the size of the body and strength. As a result of that characteristic, woman needs shelter more than man. However, that need turns to inferiority complex in some women and it becomes manifest as masculinity complex.
Woman is more loyal to her spouse than him. She is more faithful. She is superior to man in loving the world.
It is necessary to evaluate a woman in that psychology and to try to make her an ideal woman not to masculinize her.
Let us have a look at around us. There is a perfect harmony between the bodies and spirits in all living beings. To put the spirit of a gazelle into the body of a lion and to force it act like a lion harms that lovely spirit at first. Whenever it roars, it loses some of its grace and destroys one part of its own beauty at each attack. To force women to act like men by saying men and women are equal harms women at first.
As a matter of fact, the deliberate and intense activities that were carried out in that field have not changed anything. Acting upon the rule of “The judgment is given based on the majority”, we can say the following: women are still workers rather than industrialists, clerks rather than judges, secretaries rather than managers, hostesses rather than pilots, shop assistants rather than shop owners because it is not possible to change creation and nature.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to give the woman her due. We either tried to dominate her excessively as if she is subject to us in terms of her sustenance or we gave her too much opportunity, encouraged her to be manly and destroyed her.
Questions on Islam
- Why is the share given to women in Islam regarding inheritance is half of that given to men? What is the arrangement Islam introduced regarding the share of women in inheritance and equality?
- What are the rights of women in Islam? How do you answer the claims that Islam puts pressure and limitations on women?
- What are the rights of women in Islam? How do you answer the claims that Islam puts pressure and limitations on women?
- what are wifes duties towards husband and vice versa?
- Marriage and Family Life
- Are women neglected in the Islamic law?
- Are men and women equal?
- Are men superior to women? What are the reasons for it?
- liberty and independence of muslim women
- Asma bint Yazid (r.anha)