Making Sense Of Islamic Laws Of Inheritance
There are a few questions that have bothered me for years regarding the laws of Inheritance in Islam.
First and formost I want to understand the objectives behind these laws. In verse 11 of surah Nisa Quran lays down only one principle for the division and distribution of assets of the deceased. This principle clearly states that laws of inheritance are purely based on the scale of benefits (manfat as Mr Ghamdi says) a relationship provided to deceased person. The higher the scale the bigger the share. So can we then safely assume that the sole purpose of Islamic Inheritance Laws is to reward the beneficiary for their benefiting services to the deceased?
If this is the sole purpose then a couple of questions creep up in my mind.
– Are only financial favours considered superior benefits in Allah’s sight even though physical “khidmat ” provided by females is way more challenging and demanding than handing over money.
– Isn’t Allah encouraging materialism by defining such laws? ( may Allah forgive me for saying this but I have to state my question clearly and bluntly to get a satisfying reply)
– Furthermore, if financial favours are what entitles one to bigger shares of inheritance then hasn’t Allah put females at a position of disadvantage by choice by encouraging and defining their non financial roles in a family structure?
– Mr Ghamdi often says a daughter’s share is half because her marfa’at is transferred to her husband’s family after marriage because she looks after her husband and his parents. But my question is that if her marfa’at is towards her in-laws then why isn’t she entitled to get a share of her father- in – law’s and mother – in – law’s inheritance? Infact her entitlement even in her husband’s assets is only 1/8 if there are children and 1/4 if none!! She carrys his children in her womb for 9 months in great pain. She gives birth to his children in great pain. She raises his children which is one of the most difficult task on earth and men are not capable of that. In many instances she takes care of his parents ( which is not her religious obligation) . She takes care of the house and of the husband himself. Yet these massive contributions of a wife are totally disregarded by Allah in his defined laws of inheritance . Her contributions are regarded so insignificant that her entitlement in his inheritance is next to nothing. On the other hand for providing for her financially he is entitled to 1/4 of his wife’s inheritance if there are kids involved and 1/2 if there are no kids even though it’s the woman who struggles financially (if she is not a working woman) after the death of her husband not vice versa.
– If a daughter’s share is half because her marfa’at is transferred to her husband’s house after marriage then why is the share half of a son’s even if she is unmarried.
– Yes Islam encourages people to write down wills but how many people do that?
And in any case writing a will is an additional task. While men get their share by default women’s higher share is dependent on the presence of a will. Why?
– Also in this day and age increasing number of women are supporting their parents financially and otherwise but again their increased entitlement is dependent on that piece of paper called will. Why?
– Moreover, in the absence of a brother a girl gets only one half of the inheritance and the rest goes to the relatives who in real life might have never contributed even £1 towards the marfa’at upon which they will claim the remaining half. Why?
– Why do fathers get 2/3rd of the share in the absence of children. If the reason is that in the absence of children the father becomes financially responsible for his wife then why is this very situation overlooked by Allah in the case of a widow where she has to raise her orphaned children. She is entitled to only 1/8th. Why?
If there is one pattern that is consistent in Islam that is the pattern of giving men positions of privilege and advantage over women. One cannot fail to notice this.
I know Mr Ghamdi rightfully keeps stressing that it’s not genders that are given importance, it’s the roles.
Agreed but when all important and privileged positions are granted to men this inevitably turns into a gender debate. And is it any wonder??
Please help me answer all these questions.
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