Friday 25 February 2022

Share of women in what their parents and kinsfolk leave behind

The non Muslim world often laments that Islam suppresses the rights of women, specially when it comes to wearing of Hijab by Muslim women, But no one ever appreciates Islam for it is the first ever religion that protects the rights of the women and gives them opportunities to live a comfortable life even when orphaned or divorced. The laws of inheritance spelt out in Qur'an dwell at length at the share of women and ordains men to give share to the women in what their parents and kinsfolk have left behind.

Surah 4. An Nisa talks at length at the rights and conduct of women. The 7th verse of the surah selected for today's post in the series of posts on Selected Verses from Qur'an, is in particular refer3ence to the share from inheritance for the women, side by side the men. This must be an eye opener for all those Muslims, specially in the Indian sub continent who for one reason and excuse or the other deprive women from their right of share in inheritance. The following verse gives out the general order to give share to women. For breakdown of shares, read our earlier post: Laws of Inheritance in Islam.

لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَالۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ وَلِلنِّسَآءِ نَصِيۡبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الۡوَالِدٰنِ وَالۡاَقۡرَبُوۡنَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنۡهُ اَوۡ كَثُرَ ​ؕ نَصِيۡبًا مَّفۡرُوۡضًا‏ 
(4:7) Just as there is a share for men in what their parents and kinsfolk leave behind, so there is a share for women in what their parents and kinsfolk leave behind - be it little or much - a share ordained (by Allah).
This verse contains five legal regulations about inheritance. First, that not only men but the women also have a share in the inheritance. Second, that it must be divided among all heirs, however little or insignificant it is; so much so that even if the deceased has left one yard of cloth and there are ten heirs, it must also be cut into ten parts. However, an heir may buy the shares of others by mutual consent. Third, that the verse also implies that this law applies to all sorts of property, transferable or non-transferable, agricultural or industrial, or of any other type. Fourth, that the right of inheritance becomes valid only when the deceased leaves some property behind him. Fifth, that when the nearest relatives are alive the distant relatives have no right in the inheritance.

Tafsir Ibn-Kathir
The Necessity of Surrendering the Inheritance According to the Portions that Allah Ordained:  Sa`id bin Jubayr and Qatadah said, "The idolators used to give adult men a share of inheritance and deprive women and children of it. 

Allah revealed;  (There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation).'' Therefore, everyone is equal in Allah's decision to inherit, even though their shares vary according to the degree of their relationship to the deceased, whether being a relative, spouse, etc. 

Ibn Marduwyah reported that Jabir said, "Umm Kujjah came to the Messenger of Allah and said to him, `O Messenger of Allah! I have two daughters whose father died, and they do not own anything.' So Allah revealed; (There is a share for men from what is left by parents and those nearest in relation.)''  Allah knows best. 

Yusuf Ali  Explanation
I have resisted the temptation to translate "next to kin," as this phrase has a technical meaning in Indian Law, referring to certain kinds of heirs, whereas here the people meant are those whose inheritance is to be divided. The shares are specified. Here the general principles are laid down that females inherit as well as males, and that relatives who have no legal shares, orphans, and indigent people are not to be treated harshly, if present at the division.

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Explanation:
This is a reference to the shares of inheritance which have been prescribed in the subsequent verses so that a person receives guidance in a matter about which he cannot decide himself and no chance remains for powerful inheritors to usurp and snatch the legacy of a deceased person. Imām Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī writes:

… Before the advent of Islam, the situation in Arabia, in fact, the whole world was that all the weak, and not merely women and orphans were at the mercy of powerful heirs. At one instance, the Qur’ān has referred to this by the words: وَ تَاۡكُلُوۡنَ التُّرَاثَ اَكۡلًا لَّمًّا  (19:89) (and grab hold of the inheritance to usurp it, (89:19)). To address this situation, the Qur’ān prescribed the shares of all the heirs whether men or women. When a person, after reciting the previous verses reaches this verse, he thinks that it is as if by the blessings of the rights of the orphans the door to ascertain the rights of others has also been opened. In other words, not only those who were themselves devoid of rights were granted these rights, others too by virtue of these were granted these rights. Women were mentioned in particular because it was for the first time that they too got a place right next to men as far as rights were concerned, and in the legacy of the parents and kin, a prescribed share from God –whether little or big – was made mandatory. (Amīn Aḥsan Iṣlāḥī, Tadabbur-i Qur’ān, vol. 2, 256)

Qur'an Wiki:
In the days of jāhiliyyah, or ignorance, in pre-Islamic Arabia, no share of inheritance was given to females, and little, if any, was given to young boys. The reason being that neither group could fight against any aggressor. God’s law, on the other hand, made inheritance due to all kinsfolk, according to their degree of kinship and their shares, which will be detailed later. It is the view of Islam that members of the same family should help and look after one another. Everyone is required to look after his relatives when they are in need, and to share their liability in paying compensation in cases of causing death to or inflicting injury or bodily harm on others. Hence, it is only right that relatives should inherit each other, when they leave behind some property, according to their respective kinship. This gives practical effect to the rule that: “gain is commensurate with liability”. Islam is a complete and perfectly coherent system. This is reflected most clearly in the distribution of rights and obligations. This is the general rule of inheritance. Some people may question the concept of inheritance, but this only betrays their rudeness towards God, their ignorance of human nature and the requirements of practical life.

It is enough to understand the principles which form the Islamic social system to put an end to such futile arguments. The basic characteristic of this system is mutual care. In order to give mutual care a sound basis, Islam builds its structure on a solid foundation of natural human inclinations that have a basic role to fulfil in human life.
Family ties are genuine and natural. They have not been invented by any generation of humanity, nor indeed by the cumulative wisdom of all generations. These ties have a profound effect on human life, its preservation and betterment. No argument against the seriousness of these ties and their effect is worth any consideration. In view of this, Islam makes mutual care within the family the cornerstone of its system of social care and security. Inheritance is one aspect of that. It is also an essential element of the Islamic economic system.
Should this provision fall short of looking after all cases which need help, the next step, which is care within the local community, will complement it. If this also falls short, then the Islamic state will look after all those who need care after the family and the local community have fulfilled their duties. In this way, the burden is not thrown totally on the shoulders of the state. The reason being that care within the family or the local community is bound to create feelings of compassion which, in turn, promote co-operation in a most natural way. Moreover, these feelings of compassion constitute a net gain for humanity which cannot be dismissed by any person who has the interests of humanity at heart. Furthermore, family care in particular is bound to leave certain effects that are in harmony with human nature. When a person realises that the effort he exerts to improve his situation will also benefit his relatives, especially his offspring, he will have the motive to double his efforts. His increased productivity benefits the community indirectly. Islam does not create barriers between the individual and the community. Whatever an individual owns belongs to the community as a whole when it needs it.
This last rule is enough to make invalid all superficial objections to inheritance, which argue that inheritance gives money to people who have not worked or made an effort for it. The fact is that an heir is an extension of the person from whom he inherits. From another point of view, an heir is the very person to look after his relatives, should he be well off and they be in need. Moreover, all property belongs to the community when it needs it, on the basis of the rules of Islamic social security.
Furthermore, the relationship between testator and heir, especially offspring, is not confined to money and property alone. Relatives, both immediate and extended, also pass on their good and bad tendencies, susceptibility to certain illnesses, physical features, intelligence or the lack of it, and so on. All these inherited aspects stay with those who receive them throughout their lives. They cannot get rid of them, no matter how hard they try. It is only fair, then, that they should also inherit property when they cannot avoid, even with the help of the state and all its power, inheriting illness, evil tendencies and stupidity.
For all these practical and natural aspects of human life, and for many other social interests, God has laid down the general rule of inheritance: “Men shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind, and women shall have a share in what parents and kinsfolk leave behind; whether it be little or much. It is an apportioned share.” This is the general principle by which Islam gave women, fourteen centuries ago, the same rights as men to have a share of inheritance and by which it has preserved the rights of youngsters who were treated unfairly during the days of ignorance. Ignorant society looked at individuals according to their value in war and productivity. Islam, which is a Divine code of living, looks first at the human value of man. This is his intrinsic value of which he cannot be deprived. His duties and obligations within the family and the community take a secondary position.

May Allah help us understand Qur'ān and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein, and let us not be the violators of Allah's commandments with reference to inheritance, specially about share of women. Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'anYou may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Qur'ān.
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Reading the Qur'ān should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the surahs of the Qur'ān from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that the exegesis of the chapters of the Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi.  
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
  • Towards Understanding the Quran
  • Tafsir Ibn Khatir
  • Muhammad Asad Translation
  • Javed Ahmad Ghamidi / Al Mawrid
  • Al-Quran, Yusuf Ali Translation
  • Verse by Verse Qur'an Study Circle
In addition the references of other sources which have been explored have also been given above. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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