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Under Islamic law, why is a woman’s share of the inherited wealth only half?



1. Inheritance in the Qur’an

The Glorious Qur’an contains specific and 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

2. Specific share of inheritance for the relatives

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 translation of

these verses are as follows:

“Allah (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


[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]

3. Female some times inherits same or more than male counter part

In most of the cases, a woman inherits half of what her male counterpart inherits.
However, this is not always the case. 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.

If the deceased has left children, both the parents that is mother and father get
an equal share and inherit one sixth each. 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.

4. Female usually inherits half the share of that of the male counter part

It is 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. daughter inherits half of what the son inherits,

2. wife inherits 1/8th and husband 1/4th if the deceased has no children.

3. 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.

5. Male inherits double than the female because he financially
supports the family

In Islam a woman has no financial obligation and the economical responsibility
lies on the shoulders of the man. Before a woman is married it is the duty of the

father or brother to look after the lodging, boarding, clothing and other financial

requirements of the woman. After she is married it is the duty of the husband or

the son. Islam holds the man financially responsible for fulfilling the needs of his

family. In order to do be able to fulfill the responsibility the men get double the

share of the inheritance. For example, if a man dies leaving about Rs. One

Hundred and Fifty Thousand, for the children (i.e one son and one daughter) the

son inherits One Hundred Thousand rupees and the daughter only Fifty

Thousand rupees. Out of the one hundred thousand which the son inherits, as

his duty towards his family, he may have to spend on them almost the entire

amount or say about eighty thousand and thus he has a small percentage of

inheritance, say about twenty thousand, left for himself. On the other hand, the

daughter, who inherits fifty thousand is not bound to spend a single penny on

anybody. She can keep the entire amount for herself. Would you prefer

inheriting one hundred thousand rupees and spending eighty thousand from it,

or inheriting fifty thousand rupees and having the entire amount to yourself?

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