A few thoughts on Inheritance laws in Islam


Many people are aware of the fact that in Islam daughters inherit half of what their brothers get. This is often cited as evidence for the lack of equality Islam offers between men and women. The common rationlisation presented by muslims is that since in Islam men are financially responsible for women and that a womans wealth is her own, not to be shared with family unless she particularly wants to, it would be unfair not to give men a bit more either as incentive to respect their obligations or as help towards their duties.

The way I see it, is muslim arab women expect to be looked after fincancially when they get married, and is an expectation that is honored by the muslim arab men that they marry. I have never come across a case where a woman is the main bread winner of the muslim-arab family, on rare occasions they do contribute to the household finances but often they don’t. If women are not married, in theory they should expect their brothers or other male relatives to look after them, and even though this is the common case, it is not fail safe. However, if she works she can look after herself, and only herself, so again, why would she need as much as the brothers?

Another way to look at it. As far as I know british law does not oblige  people to leave anything to their children or relatives, and people can leave their money to their pet. Islamic law on the other hand obliges people to leave the major chunk of their wealth to relatives, and allows them to will away a third of their finances as they wish. So, in theory a person can arrange their will so that their daughters get the same as their sons. The prescribed will is just the basic will that every muslim has, whether or not they can be bothered to write one in their lives. So in theory Islam protects th right of women to inherit better than british law does.

A worked Example:

Persons total wealth=W

Decides to leave a third to the daughter=D1=W/3

From the remaining two thirds the son gets twice the daughter: Son=2xD2, therefore the daughter gets:

D2=2W/9 and the Son gets:

Son=4W/9

In total the daughter gets:

D=D1+D2=W/3+2W/9=5W/9 which is greater than the son’s inheritance.

Using numbers for illustration:

Let W=99

then D1=33

and D2=2W/9=22

D=D1+D2=22+33=55

Son=4W/9=44

So as far as I know its up to the parent to decide whether the daughter gets more or less than the son.

16 Responses

  1. […] A few thoughts on Inheritance laws in Islam […]

  2. Thank you very much. This is a very insightful and amazingly true to the point article. Many people take that against Islam when in fact, other religions and even law don’t have provisions to bring “equality” to the sexes.

    There are many occasions where women would in fact have more inheritance than men.

    Thanks Loolt

  3. There are philosophic holes in you argument that you could drive a truck through… I won’t bother to point them out.

  4. I love these “drive by” comments🙂 worthless in every possible way you look at them. Yet someone goes through the trouble of boring us with them

  5. Qwaiderthanks Q for both comments

    anon well maybe in future dont bother leaving a comment

  6. There are many occasions where women inherit more or equal to males. For example. If a women died and had a sister and a husband. Both inherit half.
    If a man died and left a daughter, a wife and a father. His daughter gets the half, his wife 1/8th and his father 1/3rd. In effect the daughter gets way more than the father (EVEN if the father is the source of his son’s wealth)
    These are just examples. But in effect there are only 4 cases where males inherit more than females, and over 15 where females inherit MORE than males
    Add to that wives get their Mo2akhar FIRST, and 1/8th before anything else happens. Then you have the will.

    I don’t think anyone in history gave this problem more intricate details than Islam. Not even the latest and greatest human laws. So how about we give credit when credit is due.

  7. thanks Qwaider for the elaboration. Just for the benefit of visitors who are not familiar with arabic terms, mo2akhar (mo-akhar) is a delayed dowery than many women have written into their marriage contract.

  8. loolt,

    firstly, I spent 15 minutes trying to understand your equation(s) only to realize that I am not going to get it. After all, I am a history student, not a physicist😉 lol

    But, I think there some major differences between the Sunnis and Shias (I will not get into the other sects). But, yes there are differences especially with respect to female heirs. In Sunni Islam, if a man has only daughters, they do not get all his inheritance but rather they have to share it with his siblings I think. However, in Shia Islam, the daughters (in absence of sons), they inherit everything. I may be a bit cloudy on this issue but I believe I am right about it. We know of a few families who converted to Shia Islam so that their only daughters inherit everything. Even our ex-prime minister Salim el-Hoss has recently converted to Shia Islam for the same purpose. He has no sons.

  9. posh i can only vouch for sunnis here in that yes if you have only daughters ur siblings would get a cut of the inheritance which the presence of sons would have denied them. I think i heard that shias dont do this (as u mentioned).

  10. what if children was born in the U.S and the father left to palestine 30 yrs ago due to a illness and recently passed away and has assets back home and has 3 boys and 1 daughter that was left behind without any contact until 2 yrs ago some family in contact with us now.how does the system work kids in the U.S many family member with lots of greed.

  11. we are now adults and only wish and prayed we had the opportunity to see our father again if i could write a book on our story I would .

  12. NO ERROR
    IN QUR’AN!

    ACCORDİNG TO QUR’AN

    Division of Inheritance

    assoc. prof. dr. eng. halis aydemir

    No matter in which language you write the words of ‘Qu’ran’ and ‘error’; when you search in the internet, first examples you see in the sites will be about the ones concerning the claim of error related with the inheritance verses in Qur’an. You will see the explanations with these verses in detail and the criticism of how these verses cannot be applied mathematically with some practical examples as well!

    Whether such approach directed to Qu’ran is evil-minded or querier is not related with the essence of the issue; in conclusion there is a challenge pointed out mathematically in such critiques and this condition cannot be ignored.

    It is out of question that the inheritance division by God is not appropriate mathematically. God is the creator of humankind and the science of mathematics. Now then, it is impossible that God proposes an imperfect division mathematically. It is possible to find similar expressions in corresponding sites.

    Therefore, each so-called error to be found in Qu’ran has been transformed into an argument directing to weaken or confute the truth of its being apocalyptic. The claim concerning the inheritance divisions is one of the the most discussed examples and comes to minds first.

    While we’re discussing about inheritance divisions during Qu’ran Courses that we carried out in the public meetings in Qu’ran Research Foundation (KURAV) auditoriums, we also evaluated this subject mathematically with contributions of my dear friends. Visual and audial records of this activity is available on the website: kurandersleri.net. Thanks to inspirations from some of our friends saying that the results we acquired are a little bit different, remarkable and original, we find it acceptable to broadcast by publishing a book.

    This study has been prepared as a result of such collective approach. Contrary to popular belief, it is not established on the base of interpretation. It has been carried out on the platform where source text has been considered literally and the differences encountered in formal plan have not been ignored.

    I believe that the ones considering the inheritance divisions verses subjected to several speculations until now, one more time from the perspective of this book will realize in a little while that they face with a real mathematical miracle rather than a problematic challenge in number.

    Download this book from this site:

    http://www.quraanicstudies.com/no-error-in-qur-an-division-of-inheritance-according-to-quran/

  13. i want some one to answere.
    My father died at age of 32 years i was 6 month( boy) old and my sister was 2 year old.
    my paternal grand father was alive at the time of my father’s death. later on my paternal grand father died. his property was divided.

    according to shia law do my sister and I inherit any property from my grand father. I was told by my paternal uncle that we both were already orphans at the timeof my gradn father’s death so we dont get any inheritance.

  14. Online islamic inheritance calculator:

    http://www.kurandersleri.net/miras/en/Miras_Erkek_en.html

    >>

  15. As-salaamu `alaykum

    Sorry, but the entire article is incorrect. According to Islamic law, a will can only be left to a non-heir. You cannot leave a will to an heir. Hence, leaving a will (however much) for your daughter would be invalid.

    I appreciate your defense of Islam. But if one does not have knowledge he/she should refrain from speaking so as no to spread incorrect beliefs.

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