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Women\'s Rights of Inheritance in Islam - I

Monday 06-02-2012

In the pre-Islamic civilizations, women were denied any right to inheritance, so that money and property would not be transferred to her from her husband. Only mature, elder sons...

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In the pre-Islamic civilizations, women were denied any right to inheritance, so that money and property would not be transferred to her from her husband. Only mature, elder sons were entitled to inheritance, since they were the ones who fought and defended their tribe in times of war.

In the Sharee‘ah (Islamic legislation), the issues of inheritance have been discussed in detail and include all the possible cases of inheritance, and the reasons, legal impediments and methodology involved in evaluating and distributing them.
Women’s right to inheritance:
Islam grants women the right to inherit from their parents or relatives and specifies an obligatory share for them. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much -- an obligatory share.} [Quran 4:7]
Muslim jurists believe that this verse establishes a general inheritance rule for both men and women. They also believe that this verse establishes a new norm that was not known before; that is granting women the right to inheritance.
In Islamic Sharee‘ah, there are three reasons for inheritance: marriage, blood relations and Ta‘seeb (i.e., by virtue of being related to the deceased through the father of the latter, but they do not have a specific allotted share, rather they get what is left after the allotted shares have been distributed).
Similarly, there are three kinds of inheritance: inheritance by prescribed shares, inheritance by Ta’seeb and inheritance by blood relations.
·        Inheritance by prescribed shares
The jurisprudence of inheritance used to be called the 'jurisprudence of prescribed shares', because the shares of the inheritors are prescribed. Inheritance by prescribed shares is just like inheritance by assignment, as every one of those who receive this kind of inheritance take their share before any other potential inheritor does. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Give the prescribed shares to their due recipients and what remains would be for the worthiest male relative.”
Women inherit by prescribed share in eight cases, while men inherit in four cases only. 
The cases where women inherit by prescribed shares are the following:
1.   Being the wife of the deceased
The share of the wife of the deceased is prescribed in the following verse: Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {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.} [Quran 4:12]
2.   Being the mother of the deceased
The share of the mother of the deceased is prescribed in the following verse: Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {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.} [Quran 4:11]
3.   Being the daughter of the deceased
The daughter of the deceased takes half her father’s estate if she does not have a brother or a sister. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {And if there is only one, for her is half.} [Quran 4:11]
4.   Being the daughter of the deceased’s son
She inherits by prescribed share if she is not precluded by a worthier lineal heir, male or female.
5.   Being the deceased’s full sister  
She inherits half of the inheritance of her dead brother if she was the only sister and there are no other sisters or brothers. If the case was otherwise, she inherits according to what is stipulated in the following verse: Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {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.}[Quran 4:12]
 
6.   Being the deceased’s maternal half-sister
If she does not have a full sister, she takes the same ruling stipulated for the full sister.
7.   Being the deceased’s grandmother  
This refers to the mother of the father, or the mother of the father’s father.
She inherits one-sixth if she is the only grandmother. 
·        Inheritance by Ta‘seeb 
A woman inherits by Ta‘seeb if she shares the same degree of relationship with another relative or relatives; such as a brother and his full sister or sisters, or a daughter of a son and another son of a son, provided that they are not precluded by a closer relative. In the aforementioned cases, a female inherits an amount that equals half that to be inherited by a male, according to Islamic rules. Allah The Almighty Says (what means): {Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females.} [Quran 4:11] 
Females who inherit by Ta‘seeb are: the daughter, the daughter of the son, the full sister and the paternal half sister. 
·        Inheritance by blood relations
Jurists define blood relations as: Relatives who are not among those who inherit by prescribed share or by Ta‘seeb such as the children of a daughter and a maternal grandfather (i.e. the father of the mother and the father of the father’s mother), a maternal grandmother (who is not related to the deceased by means of a maternal grandfather), the children of maternal half sisters and brothers, the sons of the sisters and the daughters of the brothers. 
Islamic Sharee‘ah does not provide an explicit text that states the amount of inheritance for such relatives, but all jurists believe that they should inherit according to their order of inheritance and if the deceased did not have any relatives who would inherit by prescribed share or by Ta‘seeb.

Women's Rights of Inheritance in Islam - II
 

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