The Role of Women in Inheritance

Women’s Corner

The Role of Women in Inheritance

Umm Milad Attariyyah

Disbelief, polytheism and erroneous practices were eliminated from many parts of the world through the arrival of the beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. Detailed rulings were revealed concerning the wealth of orphans and the inheritance of females. Indeed, one of the great favours conferred upon women because of the arrival of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was the establishment of their right to inherit. 

Prior to Islam, not only were women deprived of the right to inheritance, but they were also treated as part of the inherited estate. Contrary to this, Islam entitled both males and females to shares in the wealth of inheritance.

Allah states:

لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِیۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَکَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ ۪ وَ لِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِیۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَکَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَ الۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنۡہُ اَوۡ کَثُرَ ؕ نَصِیۡبًا مَّفۡرُوۡضًا (۷)

For men, there is a share of inheritance from those assets that were left by parents and close relatives. For women, there is a share from that which was left by parents and close relatives, whether the inheritance is less or more; a specified share.[1]

 It is stated in the exegesis of this verse:

Women and children were not apportioned a share in inheritance in the age of ignorance. This norm was annulled by this verse. One also comes to know from this that giving inheritance to a son whilst depriving a daughter is a clear wrongdoing and in opposition to the Quran. Both are deserving of inheritance. From this, one can also gauge the importance of women’s rights in Islam.[2]

It is said that the modern age is one of advancement. Yet, even in this age of progression, women do not receive inheritance according to their entitlement. Whether it be due to ignorance, negligence, or even oppression, rightful inheritors are deprived of their shares. It feels as though our lifestyle is dictated by the norms around us as opposed to Islam’s teachings. Dowry is a part of tradition; perhaps that is why it is given. It is rarely heard that even the most poverty-stricken girl’s wedding takes place without dowry. On the other hand, despite the obligation to distribute inheritance according to Islam’s teachings, there is much negligence shown in this regard.

Sometimes, the excuse is offered that a girl’s wedding was arranged with pomp, so she is not deserving of inheritance. In other instances, due to marrying again, a widow is deprived of her share of inheritance from the first husband’s estate. According to Islam, a woman who is married to her husband at the time of his death, will be given her share from the inheritance. Even if she marries again after her waiting period, her right of inheritance remains.[3]

At times, daughters and sisters are instructed or pressured by relatives to forfeit their share and pardon it without first taking possession of it. Their share is not relinquished due to their merely pardoning of it. It is incumbent on men that they give women the share they are entitled to, and the womenfolk of the family should play a positive role in this too.

Keep in mind this hadith of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم:

مَنْ قَطَعَ مِیْرَاثَ وَارِثِہٖ قَطَعَ اللہُ مِیْرَاثَہٗ مِنَ الْجَنَّۃِ یَوْمَ الْقِیَامَۃِ

“Whoever deprived an inheritor of his inheritance, Allah will deprive him of his inheritance of Paradise on the Day of Judgement.”[4]

As a woman, I request that women assist fellow women in acquiring their Islamic rights. If you are a mother and your sons are deciding upon an unjust division, you can please Allah and prevent a family breakup by guiding them and acting justly amongst your children by avoiding favouritism. You can do this by instructing them to follow the commands of Allah and the teachings of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.

If you are a sister-in-law, rather than encouraging your husband to usurp his sister’s share, you can play a positive role in facilitating her right. Put yourself in their shoes. If you did not receive your portion from your father or mother’s inheritance, or if after you, your daughter was deprived of her right, would that be acceptable to you?

When the issue of dividing inheritance presents itself, we should first contact Dar al-Ifta Ahl al-Sunnah for guidance and then split the inheritance accordingly. The division of inheritance should not be delayed at all. Every rightful inheritor should be given their share to do with it as they please. Delaying the division of inheritance causes complications with the passage of time. When inheritance is not divided, it can remain undivided for several generations, which results in it being at the disposal of and used by those that have no right to it. These individuals continue to take benefit whilst its rightful inheritors remain deprived. Goodness is in dividing inheritance according to Islamic rulings as soon as possible.

May Allah grant us the ability to act upon the advice that has been mentioned.

اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ خاتَمِ النَّبِیّیْن صلَّی اللہ علیہ واٰلہٖ وسلَّم

[1] Al-Quran, 4:7, Translation from Kanz al-Irfān

[2] Sirā al-Jinān, vol. 2, p. 149

[3] Fatāwā Fayz al-Rasool, vol. 2, p. 728

[4] Mishkāt al-Maābī: 3078




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