Women Rights in Inheritance according to Islam

Law in Islam

The Islamic inheritance law was wisely and gradually preordained by Allah to enable for its compliance with the legal system and human psychology, which may find it challenging to alter their regular routines. The foundation for an equal distribution of assets is given out by the Quranic inheritance regulations.

Allah has stated in chapter An-Nisa, verse 7:

“For men there is a share in what their parents and close relatives leave, and for women there is a share in what their parents and close relatives leave—whether it is little or much. ˹These are˺ obligatory shares” [4:7]

Why Islam is understood by people regarding women’s rights?

Islam has given women so much rights and freedom, respect and equality. People who misunderstand Islam are those who are not aware of Islamic religion fully. Hence, in order to completely understand Islam and its laws, people should study Quran and Hadith. In the religion Islam, men and women both are considered in three laws which are: Equality, Equal treatment, and Equal Rights.

Following verses support the above-mentioned claim:

"Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are (members) of one another….” [3: 195]

In another following verse, Allah has mentioned that men and women are equal and no one is Allah’s favorite on the basis of gender but on the basis of faith. Allah says in chapter An-Nisa, verse 124:

“But those who do good whether (male or female) and have faith will enter Paradise and will never be wronged ˹even as much as˺ the speck on a date stone” [4:124].

Allah has again mentioned this in chapter An-Nahl, verse 97:

“To whoever, male or female, does good deeds and has faith, We shall give a good life and reward them according to the best of their actions” [16: 97]

In chapter number 49 (Al-Hujurat), verse 13, Allah has mentioned that how men and women have been made from a single couple of Adam and Eve and how any of the gender is good in the eyes of Allah just on the basis of righteousness.

“O humanity! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may ˹get to˺ know one another. Surely the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous among you. Allah is truly All-Knowing, All-Aware [49:13] ”.

Hence, all of above verses state that Allah has not deprived of any gender from their rights, and Allah has considered both men and women equal. Allah has said that the only condition of being superior is the faith and righteousness in person.

The inheritance rights of women in Islam

One of the radical changes brought about by Islam is the principle of inheritance rights of women who in pre-Islamic era were not only denied to inherit but were treated as objects to be inherited by male. It is narrated by al-tabari (1984) that a woman (the wife of Sa‟ad bin Rabi‟a) complained to the Prophet (SAW) that she and her daughter were prevented from inheriting property left behind by her husband. Her husband‟s brother justified his action by saying that women do not mount horses, do not endanger themselves going into battle, therefore they should not inherit. To this, Allah (SWT) revealed the verse:

“For men there is a share in what their parents and close relatives leave, and for women there is a share in what their parents and close relatives leave—whether it is little or much. ˹These are˺ obligatory shares [4:7] ”.

How Inheritance should be divided among men and women?

In order to avoid confusions and misunderstanding, Allah has very clearly described in the following verse of Quran that how inheritance should be divided and in what parts:

“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 them [i.e., 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,1 after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused].2 [This is] an ordinance from Allāh, and Allāh is Knowing and Forbearing” [4:12].

In the coming verse of 176 of the same chapter of Quran, Allah has stated the following:

“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 them [i.e., 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,1 after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allāh, and Allāh is Knowing and Forbearing” [4:176].

Males typically receive higher inheritance shares due to their numerous responsibilities, although in exceptional circumstances where a son fails to support his parents adequately and a daughter steps up taking on that role, the parents may make a gift in the daughter's favour in order to strike a balance in between males and females. It has been noted that several nations around the world do not take very seriously the rights granted to women in Islam. The majority of the time, the women are denied their dower, support, and inheritance rights. Individuals must thoroughly research Islam if they want to safeguard women's inheritance rights.