Human Rights In Islam

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  • Human Rights In Islam

  • (B) The Laws of Inheritance

            The Faith of Islam ordains that the males' share of inheritance be greater than the females' share, in most cases.[1]


            The male inherits double the share of the female when the inheritance is shared between sons and daughters or between brothers and sisters. A widow's share of her husband's estate is half a widower's share of his wife's estate.[2]


            Occasionally the father's share of his deceased son's estate is more than the mother's share. Nevertheless the mother's and father's share of the inheritance is sometimes equal if they have a son or more than two daughters.


            The difference in the shares of the inheritance between males and females is based upon the financial responsibilities with which men alone are religiously charged. Men's financial obligations according to the laws of Islam are infinitely greater than women's financial responsibilities. A man is the head of his family and its custodian who is financially responsible for the maintenance of all its members if he is married and will be responsible for his family in the future if he is a bachelor. Islam also charges men with the financial support of their relatives whereas a Muslim woman, however wealthy she may be, is not even financially responsible for herself.

            The laws of inheritance in Islam are accordingly fair in so far as they grant males a greater share of the inheritance, in order to enable them to fulfil their financial responsibilities with which Islam has charged them. On the other hand Islam does not burden Muslim women with any financial obligations.

            The Islamic laws of inheritance for women are fair and generous for she is granted half the share of her male counterpart's inheritance although she is not obliged to spend any of it supporting herself or her family, since that is the religious duty with which her husband, father, brother, paternal uncle or her nearest male relative is charged.



    [1] There are certain cases when males and females are granted equal shares of the inheritance as is the case when the family consists of a father, a mother, a son and two or more daughters. If one of the children dies, the father and the mother each inherit one sixth of the inheritance as is stated in the following Quranic verse : "For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children ;..." [Surah IV verse 11]. Another case is when the deceased leaves no direct heir and maternal brothers and sisters all together inherit one third of the estate to be divided equally between them regardless of their sex. This is stated in the following Quranic verse "If a man or woman whose inheritance is in question, has left neither ascendants or descendants, but has left a (maternal) brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth ; but if more than two, they share in a third ; ..." [Surah IV, verse 12]. In this case the male does not take double the female's share.

    [2] "In what your wives leave, your share is a 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 eighth ; after payment of legacies and debts". [Surah IV, verse 12].

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