Inheritance in Islam: Daughters

on Sunday, September 8, 2013

Islam came as a forceful voice against the idiosyncrasy of the period of ignorance. It disestablished all practices which were not only contrary to the rights of morality, but also against the laws of ratiocination. In the period of ignorance, inheritance of estate, wealth were valid only for the oldest male member (son) of the deceased. Women and children, on account of an alleged inherent weakness, were not allowed to inherit property and wealth at all. Islam not only curbed this injustice, but also provided an effective system for inheritance with complete laws and rulings for all – son or daughter.

A system of laws on inheritance has been founded, which must be followed wholeheartedly by the entire Muslim Ummah. Anyone who deviates from this system disobeys Allah and His Messenger (PBUH) and commits a grave sin in turn.

Concerning daughters, we find three cases:

  1. In case there is only one daughter, who has no male or female siblings, her share is one half of the total amount of inherited wealth. For example, if the deceased leaves $80,000, then her share will be $40,000 in case she has no siblings.
  2. In case there are two or more daughters with no male sibling, their share is 2/3 of the inherited wealth. For instance, taking the above example, they would obtain 2/3 of $80,000. I.e. $53333.33 of the inherited sum.
  3. If there are two daughters with a male sibling, then the male sibling will inherit twice of the share of each daughter. Dealing with a more complicated example, if there are 4 sons and 3 daughters of the deceased, and the inherited wealth is $77,000, it will be divided into 11 shares (2*4=8 for four sons, and 3 each for the daughters). 1 share will be equal to $7000. So each daughter will get $7000, and each son will get $14000 (i.e. double of the share of each daughter).

Some people have asked why the share of the daughter is half compared to the son. In this case, one must remember that Almighty Allah’s wisdom prevails over everything, and if He Almighty has decided so, we cannot dispute His decision. Secondly, the daughter not only inherits from her father, but also obtains a legal sum (Mehr) from her husband. In Islam, the wife can hold the property of the husband unless he pays her the prescribed sum of Mehr. Women can also inherit in the capacity of being mothers and wives, but the main balancing transaction is Mehr, as has been propounded upon by Dr. M. Hamidullah and Dr. Muhammad Iqbal (see The Reconstruction of Religious Thoughts in Islam). As an afterthought, it must be noted that Mehr must be in accordance with the rank and profile of the wife, and not simply fixed at a sum. The second blessed Caliph of Islam Hazrat Umar (Radi Allahu Anho) paid a high sum of 40,000 dirhams as Mehr when He (Radi Allahu Anho) married the daughter of Hazrat Ali (Radi Allahu Anho) in AH 17 in accordance with the lady’s lofty lineage (see Al-Faruq—The Life of ‘Umar the Great).

In some societies, a concept prevails even today that gifts can be given to women as compensation for inheritance. This is a sin and cannot be overlooked quite easily. Logically, sales and compensation are one thing and gifts are another. If someone forces a woman to sell her legal share, e.g. a husband forces his wife to do so, and she does that because of her shyness and her eagerness to please him, it will not be valid. Women are the sole owners of what they inherit, and this cannot be taken away from them under any pretext. A verse reads:

“O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent” (4:29)    

To conclude, it must be noted that Islam does not simply raise worthless suffrage slogans but practically empowers women in the capacity of daughters to receive their legal share in inheritance and to support themselves using this wealth. This is why women are high-ranked in Islam and receive all respect they deserve.


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