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This thread will be dedicated to the defense of Islamic Inheritance Laws from the onslaught of criticisms received from feminists, kuffaar, and even many Muslims. Posts will be aimed at refuting baseless and ignorant notions towards this Divine Law. Among the many other criticisms, Inheritance laws are seen by critics of Islam (and even many ignorant 'Muslims') to be either (a) unfair/unjust (b) a display of male chauvinism or (c) inconsistent and prone to error with regards to the math. Na'udhubillah. Thumma Na'udhubillah.
This thread will refute all these claims insha'Allah, with the help of resources from 'Ulama and others. Finally, I would also like to explain some of the wisdom's behind these laws. Although finding 'wisdoms' is not necessary (and most are speculative), it may satisfy those with doubts. But in the end, sami'naa wa ata'naa (we hear and obey).
Insha'Allah, this thread may help to clear any doubts that many sincere Muslims may have been poisoned with. This is a big problem nowadays, especially with the lack of knowledge among the ummah today. Many 'Muslims' (yes, Muslims!) dont hesitate to find "flaws" in the Inheritance laws and point out its "unfairness". I've experienced this personally. May Allah help us.
If you know of any resources (articles, lectures etc...) that deal with this specific issue, please post.
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Firstly, it should be made clear that to find fault with any Divine Law is kufr. The one who finds fault or injustice in the Laws of Inheritance is in danger of losing his Iman, for it is the same as saying that Allah has faults and Allah is unjust. Na'udhubillah.
Secondly, many of the allegations made by the kuffaar and orientalist 'Muslims' are based off of kuffaar society, and a misconstrued notion of justice and equality. Islam establishes the most perfect and balanced system of justice, and this is manifest in the laws of inheritance.
It should also be noted that before the advent of Islam, women did not receive any inheritance. They were considered unworthy. In fact, it was a custom among the Jahili Arabs to bury the female child alive. To give birth to a daughter was to have your reputation blemished among society. Islam came and abolished all of this, and apportioned a part of the estate to the female. This was a great mercy from Allah and something we should all be grateful for. Alhamdulillah.
The fact that Allah has revealed such explicit and detailed instructions regarding the division of inheritance among heirs is proof enough that this is an extremely important matter. It is a great sin to forgo the laws of inheritance and distribute wealth according to your own whims. Allah did not explain the details of salah or zakaah in the Qur'an, and they are pillars of the deen. Inheritance is one of the few things in the Qur'an for which there are detailed rules outlined, and hence every rule must be followed. You can imagine the wrath of Allah falling upon those Muslims who refuse to obey this divine command. May Allah not make us from among them.
Just for reference, here are the verses of Meerath (Inheritance) from Surah Nisaa:
Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. But if there are [only] daughters, two or more, for them is two thirds of one's estate. And if there is only one, for her is half. And for one's parents, to each one of them is a sixth of his estate if he left children. But if he had no children and the parents [alone] inherit from him, then for his mother is one third. And if he had brothers [or sisters], for his mother is a sixth, after any bequest he [may have] made or debt. Your parents or your children - you know not which of them are nearest to you in benefit. [These shares are] an obligation [imposed] by Allah . Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise. [4:11]
And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah , and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing.[4:12]
They request from you a [legal] ruling. Say, " Allah gives you a ruling concerning one having neither descendants nor ascendants [as heirs]." If a man dies, leaving no child but [only] a sister, she will have half of what he left. And he inherits from her if she [dies and] has no child. But if there are two sisters [or more], they will have two-thirds of what he left. If there are both brothers and sisters, the male will have the share of two females. Allah makes clear to you [His law], lest you go astray. And Allah is Knowing of all things.[4:176]
Why a man receives twice what a woman receives in inheritance?
This is one of the most common questions asked by orientalists and kuffaar. Although the real answer is "Because that is Allah's command", the following answers by 'ulema take a different approach, as the orientalist and kuffaar will not be satisfied with the real answer.
"Allah enjoins you concerning your children for the male there is a share equal to that of two females" (Surah Nisa v.176)
On the authority of Jabir Radiallahu Anhu the Messenger of Allah and Abu Bakr visited me during my sickness, then they were walking by Banu Salama. He found me unconscious, he called for water, performed wudhu and sprinkled water on me, so I came to my senses. I said what should I do with my wealth, O Messenger of Allah. Then the verse was revealed 'Allah enjoins you concerning your children for male there is a share equal to that of two females'. (Aasbab Nuzulul Quran by Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Ahmad) (Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim also report this narration)
It is firmly established from the above narration that the male's share is equal to that of two females.
The reason for men receiving double of what women receive I inheritance is justice, for the overwhelming majority of men take a wife and undertake to provide for her. As for women, they take a husband and load their livelihood on him, and this makes up for the deficiency in what they have inherited. It is also mercy, for a weak girl is greatly in need of kindness from her father and brothers. 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." There will be no resentment and hostility mixed with his feeling of compassion and protection towards her. Thus, the girl, who is delicate and weak by nature, is apparently deprived of a small part, but in place of it she gains inexhaustible wealth in the form of the compassion and kindness of those close to her. Also, to give her more than her due with the idea of being more merciful to her than Divine Mercy, is not kindness, but a great wrong.
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu 'alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
You enquire why females receive half the inheritance of their male counterparts. One must understand that the laws of inheritance are by Divine order. As Muslims, our attitude to a divine decree is simply to submit.
The point of satisfaction is in the fact that Allah is al-Hakīm (The All Wise). Every decree of Almighty Allah has innumerable benefits and wisdoms which we can never fathom or comprehend. Besides the many benefits in each individual law, the common thread in all the laws of Islam is that they consider the realities of life.
There is no room for emotions in these Laws. The Laws of Allah are not based on emotions. They are founded on the best possible course for humanity to follow. Each law, the law itself and its ramifications are beneficial for everyone and everything the law applies to.
From the day a woman is born to the day she passes away, she is never responsible to earn her own living. From birth to her marriage, her father or guardian is responsible to provide for her. After marriage, her husband is responsible to provide for her. When she gets old, her children are responsible to look after her. On the other hand, a male is tasked with providing and looking after his whole family.
If the male did not receive double the share, this would be injustice on the male. Everybody would be asking the question why Islam does injustice on the males as Islam tasks the male to provide and maintain the family, yet Islam does not channel to him the possible funds needed to uphold this responsibility.
For example, if a father passed away and his estate was worth 100,000. The son will receive 66,666.66 and the daughter will receive 33,333.33. The son may have to spend almost the entire amount in maintaining his sister and family. Whereas, the daughter who inherited, she will not be obliged to spend a single pence. She can keep the entire amount to herself. What is better? Receiving 66,666.66 and spending it all on others or receiving 33,333.33 and having the privilege of keeping it all to yourself?
SubhaanaAllah, Allah loves His female slaves so much that He has ordered that they have a set share. The rest will get residue. Let me explain:
There are 12 categories of people in Islam, known as the Ashaabul Furud (Primary Heirs). These 12 people have fixed shares, meaning they get a fixed fraction of the estate. Whatever is leftover will be split among among the 'Asabaat (residuaries).
3) Grandfather (Father of Father, only, and higher up in the chain)
4) Uterine brother (Brother with same mother, but different father)
7) Grandmother (Mother of Mother or Mother of Father, and higher up in the chain)
8) Full sister
9) Uterine sister
10) Consanguine sister (Sister with same father, but different mother)
12) Granddaughter (of late son)
SubhaanAllah, most of them are females. All of the rest of the relatives will either be non-heirs or 'asabaat (residuaries). Notice how the son, full brother and consanguine brothers are not among the Ashaabul Furud.
It is also important to remember that the daughter, granddaughters and sisters alone inherit either 1/2 or 2/3 of the inheritance (depending on exactly how many there are). That is a huge portion of the estate. This alone blasts the claims of "male chauvinism" out of the sky.
Note: If the above three mentioned females inherit with their male counterpart, the male will get twice the share of the female. This has already been dealt with in the previous posts. Uterine brother and sister do not follow the usual 2:1 rule. Hence, if a uterine brother and sister inherit together, each will get 1/6.
Some selfish husbands try deprive their wives of inheritance by giving them a divorce on their deathbed. These immature "men" may do this because of a grudge they are holding against their wife, or as an act of revenge. Little do most of these ignoramuses know, that Islam has established a ruling to protect the wife from such a stunt.
In case a person divorces his wife and the divorce is revocable, and this person dies before the revocation of the divorce and the expiry of his wife's waiting period, then this woman will get a share in the inheritance, for the marriage is in force.
If a person divorces his wife during his sickness culminating in his death, even though the divorce is irrevocable or pronounced thrice, and he died before the expiry of the waiting period, even then, this woman will get a share in the inheritance. And in order to make her inherit, the longer of the two waiting periods shall be taken as operative in the following manner:
The waiting period following a divorce is three menstrual periods and the waiting period following the death of the husband is four (lunar) months and ten days. The waiting period out of the two which lasts longer shall be prescribed as the waiting period for the aforesaid woman so that the woman may get a share in the inheritance as far as possible.
And if a person divorces his wife, irrevocably or by pronouncing it thrice, prior to any sickness culminating in his death and, a few days later he passes away during the period of his wife's waiting period, then, she will not get a share in the inheritance under this situation. However, if the divorce given was revocable, she will inherit.[Ma'ariful Qur'an]
SubhaanAllah, is there any religion in the world that goes to such an extent to preserve the right of the wife? Notice that even in the case of an irrevocable divorce, as long as the husband dies within the waiting period, the wife will still get her inheritance. And on top of that, the fuqahaa have ruled that the longer of the two waiting periods shall be considered, so she has an even greater chance of getting her share. If this is not perfect justice, I dont know what is.
Another slap on the face of the kuffaar and their idiotic claims.
Note: The detailed rulings of this particular mas'alah can be found on page 434 of the English translation of Bahishti Zewar (2005 Edition).
Importance of the Mahr (dowry given to the wife) and its role in Inheritance
Husbands are obligated to pay their wives the mahr (dowry). If the husband has died before giving the mahr, the obligation does not fall. The mahr will then be taken out of the estate left behind by the husband.
It must be ascertained before the' distribution of inheritance that the mahr (dower) of the wife has been paid. If the deceased has not paid the mahr of his wife, this will be taken as debt, and will have to be paid first from the total property, like all other debts. The inheritance will be distributed only after that. It should be noted that the woman, after having received her mahr, shall go on to receive her fixed share in the inheritance as a competent inheritor. And in case, the property left by the deceased is not more than the value of dower, and nothing remains after it is paid, the entire property will be given to the woman against her debt of mahr very much like other debts and, as a result, no heir will receive any share from the inheritance thus used up.[Ma'ariful Qur'an]
Since Mahr is treated like debt, the shari'ah makes sure that no heirs can get their share until it (the mahr) is given to the wife. Even if the mahr happens to exhaust the entire estate, so be it. The wife's right to the mahr will have to be fulfilled, even if it means the other heirs get nothing.
Example scenario's where a female inherits as much or more than a male
1) In a situation where a person leaves behind both parents, and (a) 2 or more daughters only (b) daughters and sons or (c) only sons, in any of the three situations, both parents get the exact same inheritance.
2) In situation where any number of daughter/granddaughters and any number of uterine brothers are present, the uterine brothers will get nothing, while the females will have their fixed shares.
3) In any situation where daughters/granddaughters are present along with the father and brothers (whether full or half), the brothers will get nothing, while the daughters/granddaughters will get their fixed shares.
4) A woman leaves behind a Husband, sister, and consanguine brother. Husband and sister split 50/50 while the brother gets nothing.
5) Uterine brother and sister always get equal shares.
6) In a situation where a full sister/daughter/granddaughter is inheriting along with any number of consanguine/uterine brothers, the brothers will either get nothing or less than the female.
There's plenty more, but that should be enough for now insha'Allah.
How The Inheritance Laws Brought Justice to Society
Before Islam, orphans and women, the weaker links in the human chain, had been victims of all sorts of injustice. To begin with, none of their rights were recognized as such. Even if one of these was conceded, who could wrest it from men and hope to hold it safe? Such power and authority did not exist.
The breakthrough came when Islam championed their cause, legalized their rights and instituted safeguards to see that these stay secure against infringements. All this happened in the background when nations around the world had allowed these two weaker units of human society to remain deprived of their natural and obligatory rights. Such was the state of the law of inheritance. The pre-Islam Arabs seemed to have lived by the the very principle that the one deserving of inheritance is the one who rides a horse, fights against enemies and collects battle spoils. (Ruh al-Ma'ani), v. 4, p. 21). As quite obvious, women and children could not live by this principle. So, according to their principle of inheritance, only a young and adult boy could become the inheritor. A girl was absolutely out of consideration for this purpose, irrespective of whether she was major or minor. And a boy too, if minor and immature, would not be deserving of inheritance.
There was an incident during the blessed time of the Holy Prophet when a Companion, Sayyidna Aws ibn Thabit رضي الله عنه died. He left behind two daughters, a minor boy and his wife as the inheritors. But, very much like the old Arab custom, two of his cousins from the father's side came and took the whole property in their possession and just gave nothing to anyone from among the children and wife of their deceased brother. This may have been so because, according to their customary practice, a woman was absolutely out of the pale of inheritors, major or minor. This conveniently ruled out the wife and the two daughters. As far as the boy was concerned, he was a minor and, therefore, he too was excluded from inheriting anything. As a result, the two paternal cousins became the inheritors of the whole property.
In spite of what happened, the widow of Sayyidna Aws ibn Thabit رضي الله عنه still wanted that these cousins who had taken possession of the entire property left by her deceased husband might as well marry the two orphaned daughters so that she is relieved of the concern for their marriage. But, as they did not accept this proposal too, she went to the Holy Prophet and narrated to him her sad story and explained the destitution of her children. Since, by that time, the 'verse of inheritance' was yet to be revealed in the Holy Qur'an, the noble Prophet withheld his response. His heart was at peace; he was confident that this unjust practice will be removed through Divine revelation. Thereupon, the following verse was revealed:
For men there is a share in what the parents and the nearest of kin have left. And for women there is a share in what the parents and the nearest of kin have left, be it small or large -a determined share.[4:7]
After that came the second verse of inheritance which contains the details of shares. The second section of this Surah comprises these details. So, the Holy Prophet followed the injunctions of the Qur'an, gave the wife the one-eight of the total inheritance and distributed the rest of the property over the son and the daughters of the deceased in a way that the half of it went to the boy and the remaining half was shared equally by the two girls; and the cousins, since they were not the nearest of kin as compared to children, were excluded. (Ruh al-Ma'ani)
The Holy Qur'an demonstrates visible concern to ensure that girls are given their share when it mentions the share of girls as a basis for determining the share of boys. In other words, instead of saying - 'for two females there is a share equal to that of one male'- it has elected to say "for a male there is a share equal to that of two females". Those who do not give shares to sisters on the pretext that they have forgone their right are in error, because their sisters usually do not forgo their rights willingly. Done reluctantly, with the knowledge that they are not going to get anything anyway, they think, why create bad blood between brothers and sisters? Such an act of forgiving is not valid under Islamic law. Their claim remains due against brothers - and those who usurp inheritance are terrible sinners. In case minor girls hold shares in such inheritance, not giving them their shares is a sin committed twice by usurping the share of a legal heir and by devouring the property of an orphan.
If this Qur'anic principle is understood clearly, the problem of an orphaned grandson's inheritance - which has been made to look like a disputed issue for no sound reason - resolves itself automatically on the basis of a categorical decision. In other words, if an orphaned grandson is more needy as compared to the son, but, in accordance with the law of 'al-aqrabun' (the nearest in kinship), he cannot claim a share in the inheritance because he is not 'the nearest' in the presence of the son, other arrangements have been made to take care of his needs. One such arrangement appears in the next verse [4:8].
This religious position has been opposed by none but some of the contemporary, westernized modernists. Other than these, the entire Muslim Ummah has been holding the belief, as clarified by the Qur'an and the Hadith, that the grandson will not inherit in the presence of a son of the deceased, irrespective of whether his father is dead or alive.[Ma'ariful Qur'an]
According to Islamic Inheritance Laws, a grandson will not inherit in the presence of even a single son (whether this son is a father to the grandson or an uncle is irrelevant). Of course, the kuffaar, having learned about this recently, turned it into a massive controversy, barking about how it is unfair to the orphaned grandson. Not even thinking about the fact that the needs of the orphan have been taken care of in the very same surah. No other religious text expresses as much concern for the orphan as does the Qur'an. This much is clear.
Also let it be known that it is permissible in the Shari'ah to leave a bequest of up to 1/3 of one's estate to a non-heir. There is nothing stopping the grandfather from leaving a third (or less) of his wealth to his grandson(s) in his wasiyyah (will). Once the grandfather passes away, if any son is still alive then the grandson(s) will receive the bequest, however much it was. If the son(s) have already passed away, then the grandson(s) will get his shar'i share anyway because he now becomes a rightful heir (Although, the bequest will become invalid in this case). Its a win-win situation for the grandson.
This cannot be undone and I am sure it will be greatly appreciated.
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