Narrated Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri:
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, "Isn't the witness of a woman equal to half of that of a man?" The women said, "Yes." He said, "This is because of the deficiency of a woman's mind."
Basit - Hussari - Minshawi - f
Waalmutallaqatu yatarabbasna bianfusihinna thalathata qurooin wala yahillu lahunna an yaktumna ma khalaqa Allahu fee arhamihinna in kunna yuminna biAllahi waalyawmi alakhiri wabuAAoolatuhunna ahaqqu biraddihinna fee thalika in aradoo islahan walahunna mithlu allathee AAalayhinna bialmaAAroofi walilrrijali AAalayhinna darajatun waAllahu AAazeezun hakeemun
Topics discussed in this Verse:[Allah's attributes:Exalted in Power and Might] [Allah's attributes:Wise] [Divorce]
And the divorced women shall undergo, without remarrying,  a waiting-period of three monthly courses: for it is not lawful for them to conceal what God may have created in their wombs,  if they believe in God and the Last Day. And during this period their husbands are fully entitled to take them back, if they desire reconciliation; but, in accordance with justice, the rights of the wives [with regard to their husbands] are equal to the [husbands'] rights with regard to them, although men have precedence over them [in this respect].  And God is almighty, wise. - 2:228 (Asad)
The purpose of the
previous comment was also to show that the various sayings and reports in the
form of the ahadith are a record of the human struggle to come to grips with
divine guidance on inheritance but not succeeding too well as none of these
provide a solution in conformity with the Quran. The shortcoming in the human
effort is on account of the lack of required knowledge of Math and logical
inferences among the people of the seventh century. This establishes in no
uncertain terms, the limitation of the ahadith as merely products of human
thinking. We can also see that the Quran is on a different plane altogether and
not a product of the human mind. If the Quran was the word of the Prophet, then
verse 4:176 should have been in accordance with the hadith which says that
whatever remains after the faraid shares are distributed goes to the nearest
male relative. Doing so would have
solved all problems of distribution. The Quran however does not say that but merely
relaxes the rule for inheritance by siblings in the absence of children to be
similar to that of the children making the brother a full residuary just like a
son. However the residue for distribution is reduced since the share of the
spouse is doubled in the absence of progeny of the deceased. It is easy to see that
the divine guidance is not diluted merely to suit what the people of the
seventh century could understand, although some allowance was made when verse
4:176 was revealed. However, the fact that 4:176 was not meant to be is also clear
which makes it possible for later generations to treat it as a temporary
measure for those times which can be discontinued now. The reason why the
Muslims have struggled to this date with the inheritance laws is because we
take the ahadith seriously even when the defects glare us in the face. The
ahadiths in this case are no more than quick fix solutions not
meant to become a rule since these do not even conform to the Quran.
The following ahadith
show that people in the Prophet's times struggled with how to deal with what
remains after the fixed sharers get their share in the absence of a son who is
a residuary in its purest sense and can inherit all that remains even if it is
Al-Aswad bin Yazid: Mu'adh bin Jabal came to us in Yemen as a tutor and a
ruler, and we (the people of Yemen) asked him about (the distribution of the
property of ) a man who had died leaving a daughter and a sister. Mu'adh gave
the daughter one-half of the property and gave the sister the other half.
Please make a note
that as per verse 4:12, siblings of the deceased inherit only in the absence of
a child and since the daughter is a child, siblings are not entitled to
inherit. The hadith therefore
contradicts the Quran.
727 Narrated Ibn 'Abbas:
Allah's Apostle said, "Give the Fara'id (shares prescribed in the Qur'an)
to those who are entitled to receive it; and whatever remains, should be given
to the closest male relative of the deceased.'
The hadith above also is
not supported by the Quran. There is no verse which talks about what to do with
what remains. The hadith prescribes an arbitrary rule to take care of what
remains in the absence of a satisfactory solution which the people of those
times could not find.
Huzail bin Shirahbil: Abu Musa was asked regarding (the inheritance of) a
daughter, a son's daughter, and a sister. He said, "The daughter will take
one-half and the sister will take one-half. If you go to Ibn Mas'ud, he will
tell you the same." Ibn Mas'ud was asked and was told of Abu Musa's verdict.
Ibn Mas'ud then said, "If I give the same verdict, I would stray and would
not be of the rightly-guided. The verdict I will give in this case, will be the
same as the Prophet did, i.e. one-half is for daughter, and one-sixth for the
son's daughter, i.e. both shares make two-thirds of the total property; and the
rest is for the sister." Afterwards we came to Abu Musa and informed him
of Ibn Mas'ud's verdict, whereupon he said, "So, do not ask me for
verdicts, as long as this learned man is among you."
The above hadith has
value since it prescribes what can be inherited by the daughter of a
predeceased son. In my view, it should be half for the daughter and half for
the son’s daughter. Sister does not inherit in the presence of a child of the deceased
as per verse 4:12 or 4:176 of the Quran.
Jabir ibn Abdullah: We went out with the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him)
and came to a woman of the Ansar in al-Aswaf. The woman brought her two
daughters, and said: Apostle of Allah, these are the daughters of Thabit ibn
Qays who was killed as a martyr when he was with you at the battle of Uhud,
their paternal uncle has taken all their property and inheritance, and he has
not left anything for them. What do you think, Apostle of Allah? They cannot be
married unless they have some property. The Apostle of Allah
(peace_be_upon_him) said: Allah will decide regarding the matter. Then the
verse of Surat an-Nisa was revealed: "Allah (thus) directs you as regards
your children's (inheritance)." Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said:
Call to me the woman and her husband's brother. He then said to their paternal
uncle: Give them two-thirds and their mother an eighth, and what remains is
The hadith above is also
dealing with the problem of what to do with what remains and giving what remains
to the brother of the deceased although the brother is not entitled to receive
anything as per verse 4:12 or 4:176.
736 Narrated Al-Bara:
The last Quranic Verse that was revealed (to the Prophet) was the final Verse
of Surat-an-Nisa, i.e., 'They ask you for a legal verdict Say: Allah directs
(thus) About those who leave No descendants or ascendants as heirs....' (4.176)
The last hadith confirms
what I said about verse 4:176 in my earlier comment which is reproduced.
Verse 4:176 was never meant to be. Verses 4:11 and 4:12 contain
all that is needed on the subject of inheritance. Verse 4:176 is one of the
last verses revealed after Surah Maida and Taubah although Surah 4 or An Nisa
where this verse finds a place was revealed much earlier. It was revealed after
a persistent demand for clarity by people who did not know how to deal with the
problem when the fractions do not add upto 1.
If the deceased died without child/children or without a
residuary, which must have been a common occurrence with many men/women dying
young because of war/disease or in childbirth, the people had a problem
dividing the inheritance with the fractions not adding upto 1. Verse
4:176, in the absence of children or residuary, simply makes the siblings take
the place of residuary with the brothers and sisters inheriting exactly as sons
and daughters would, thus solving the problem of division!
Hopefully, since we are now better at Math, verse 4:176 can be
ignored as it was never meant to be. The division for brother and sister in
4:12 which is different from the modified division in verse 4:176 is what it
was originally meant to be. Notice that brothers and sisters inherit equally in
verse 4:12 and together not exceeding 1/3 and individually not exceeding 1/6
irrespective of their number. It makes sense since siblings are least deserving
compared with spouse, parents and children because of which they do not have
any share at all if the deceased left behind children. Siblings actually
fit the definition of Kalala which means a weak relationship. In this case, the
weakness refers to their entitlement in the inheritance.
Scholars could not explain the division for siblings in 4:12 which
is overridden in 4:176 by a different rule and have given a far-fetched
explanation that the division in 4:12 refers to the division for uterine siblings!
My explanation for verse 4:176 is also conjecture. It however
makes sense since people even today are weak in Math and have a problem
when the fractions do not add upto 1. That verse 4:176 was added after a long
gap and persistent demands for clarity is however fact as evidenced by the cited
hadith and the fact that it is the last verse number 176 in the Surah.
The following verse speaks about leaving behind a will:
(2:180) It is prescribed, when death approaches any of you,
if he leave any goods that he make a bequest to parents and next of kin,
according to reasonable usage; this is due from the Allah-fearing.
verses regarding inheritance are subsequent to the revelation of the above
verse. Be that as it may, I do not believe in any theory of abrogation and the verse
above is good in Islamic law unless overridden by man-made laws. Moreover, both
the verses 4:11 and 4:12 talk about distribution after the payment of legacies (meaning
will or bequests) and debts. If all of the assets are covered in the will and
nothing remains for distribution beyond the will, it is the will that then
becomes the basis for distribution. The inheritance as per the law in 4:11 and
4:12 is therefore for cases where the deceased has died intestate or has not covered
all his/her assets by the will.
said that, the fiq of the imams says that not more than 1/3 may be covered
under a will and the beneficiary of a will cannot be a natural heir who
inherits as per the laws of inheritance. The will therefore can cover only
those who are not natural heirs such as an adopted child or the children of a predeceased
child etc. In countries where this fiq is law which appears to be the case in Dubai,
a will that dispossesses fully or partially one heir to benefit another is null
and void. Under these laws the relative proportions of the heirs cannot be
varied through a will.
general, there is value in having a stable and fixed law and the fiq of the
imams has considerable merit. In the absence of such certainty and rigidity,
the children in general will show a tendency to exert pressure on their parents
to garner a larger share leading to much heart burning and intense rivalries. In
their wisdom, the imams have put the issue beyond all such pulls and pressures
and several countries have codified it into law. In my opinion this is good fiq
and good law and saves everyone from unnecessary pressures.
By Naseer Ahmed 8/19/2015 2:30:19
Rational, You can only project your weakness of poor Math and Logic on the Quran. Did you also not say that Kaba as qibla does not make sense on a spherical earth because line of sight is not possible? You showed the thinking level of a person who can only think in terms of a flat earth and that was surprising for a telecom engineer! So there is nothing surprising if a person cannot deal with fractions that do not add upto 1. That there are a residuaries and in their absence, the fractions will not add upto 1 is a certainty. What is surprising is that anyone should even expect them to add upto 1! How to deal with it is also simple in Math. I can think of not one but three different ways which will give you the same result.
1. Treat the numbers as representing relative proportions.
2. Normalization: Modified fraction = Original fraction divided by sum all the fractions.
3. Iterative process. What remains after distribution gets redistributed using the same fractions until nothing is left for distribution.
The Quran lays down the most comprehensive, the most reasonable, the most meaningful inheritance laws in just two verses. Try as you may to improve upon it but you will not succeed. The Quran is clearly not revealed keeping the limitations of 7th century man or of the 21 st century to understand it as it should be understood. That is why its understanding increases progressively as our understanding of the world increases. That is its greatness. There are people such as you who are without understanding and will never understand as the Quran itself confirms.
I get the feeling that
you have not understood the Math and the logic of the laws of inheritance
although I have explained it in detail.
Yes, if the Quran had
merely listed all the possible heirs and said divide the inheritance equally
among them; it would have made matters simple. God balances between what is
right (those more in need and deserving should get more) with what is simple. I
cannot envisage a better distribution than what is prescribed in the Quran.
The objective of this
article is also to remove the blind spots that plagued all the four imams which
has seriously impacted the lives and attitudes of Muslims towards the female
The discussion that
follows shows the implicit logic of the distribution.
1. No fraction is
mentioned for the male child. He can therefore inherit whatever remains after
those with fixed shares have taken their share and take the rest if he is the
only child or divide among the siblings with the male getting twice of what a
female gets. If there are no surviving heirs with fixed share in the
inheritance , then 100% is inherited by the single male child or divided among
all siblings in the manner described. The male child is therefore a residuary
in its purest sense.
2. In the absence of a
male child, a female child is also a residuary but becomes a heir with a fixed
share of 1/2, if what remains as residuary is more than 1/2. In case the female
children are two or more their fixed share together becomes 2/3. If what
remains after distribution to others with fixed share is less than 2/3, they
divide what remains equally among the sisters and if it is more than 2/3, they
become part of fixed sharers with their collective share at 2/3. A female child
is therefore also a residuary who becomes a fixed sharer if what remains is
more than the upper limit fixed for her.
3. In the absence of
children, the brothers and sisters become residuary inheritors just like a
female child/children but with lower upper limit of 1/6 for a single sibling
and 1/3 for two or more. The siblings share equally among brothers and sisters.
This takes into account only verse 4:12 ignoring 4:176
4. As discussed in the
article, when all those with fixed share are alive, what remains for the
residuary is 13/24 if the deceased was a male and 5/12 if it was a female.
Since 13/24 is more than ½ and if there is a single female child, her share
will then get fixed at ½ and all heirs then become heirs with fixed shares and
their respective fixed share will be treated as their proportion in the
inheritance and all will inherit proportionately more in the ratio
1/8:1/6:1/6:1/2 or 3:4:4:12. The wife of
the deceased will now get 3/23 instead of 3/24, each of the parents will receive
4/23 instead of 4/24 and the daughter will receive 12/23 instead of 12/24. As
can be seen, each one gets 24/23 times their fixed share or proportionately
If the deceased is a
female, and all those with fixed share are alive, then the residuary of 5/12 is
less than half and all of this can be inherited by a single female child or
divided among multiple siblings in the manner described.
Every other case follows
the same logic and any case can be dealt with. I can create a utility and
automate the process of calculating inheritance.
Now, let us discuss the
points of departure with the existing rulings of imams of various schools of
What if the deceased is
survived by only a single daughter - no spouse or parents but with siblings?
Siblings can inherit only in the absence of child or descendants and daughter
is very much both a child and a descendant. Siblings cannot become inheritors
in the presence of child/children. The single girl therefore takes 100% of the
inheritance. The upper limit of ½ fixed for a single female child is simply a
number to be used as her proportion when other fixed sharers are present and
the residue is more than ½ after taking into account the shares of all fixed
sharers. In such a case, her share becomes ½ divided by sum of all the
respective fractions. In case when the deceased is her father and all other
fixed sharers are alive, we have seen that it is ½ divided by (1/8+1/6+1/6+1/2)
or 1/2 divided by 23/24 or 12/23. Let us
follow the same rule here to determine her share which is now ½ divided by
(1/2+0) which is 1 or 100%.
The imams however, do
not allow the daughter more than ½ and make the siblings inheritors for the remaining
½. This goes against the clear wording of the verse. When people do not take
the literal meaning and try to interpret unnecessarily, we end up with such
problems. They have filled up tomes of fiq to fill up the gaps in their
understanding thinking that the gap in their understanding is the gap in the
wordings of the Quran. Deficiency in Math and logic can have serious
Now you can understand
why people are so desperate to have a male child to ensure that the inheritance
remains in the family when there is actually no need for any anxiety on that
are several lessons that we draw from the laws of inheritance
Any rearrangement of the verses would place verse 4:176 alongside 4:11 and
4:12. The special nature and historical purpose behind its delayed and
reluctant revelation would be lost.
The law laid down in the Quran satisfies two conditions: a) What is good for
man and b) What is easy to follow. Verse 4:176 is proof that ease of following
was the criterion for adding this verse although it detracted from what is
"best". A less than perfect solution is better than confusion and
inability to act. It is better to act and implement a less than perfect
solution rather than dither faced with ambiguity and uncertainty.
The notion that a male inherits twice that of a female under all circumstances
is false. When a deceased is survived by both parents but without children and
without siblings, the mother’s inheritance is twice that of father. No
surviving siblings of the deceased means that the parents are now without
surviving children for ongoing financial support and the mother is in greater
need of financial support than the father who may still be able to earn for
himself. Hence her portion is twice that of the father.
A son undeniably has the responsibility to discharge all his parents’ debts and
obligations. His inheritance of twice of daughter is therefore justified. He is
also responsible to support his family including his parents and dependent
siblings. A female has no such responsibility. Even in today's world with
increasing number of females having become economically independent and
undoubtedly many of them supporting their parents and younger siblings as well,
this number overall, is still very small and insignificant. Any change in the
law will free the male from his sense of duty and responsibility to the family
and will harm all the females who need the financial support of their brothers.
The interests of the community of economically dependent females are more
important than ensuring legal parity for the economically independent woman.
The will can still be used as an instrument by the parents to will equal
inheritance to their sons and daughters if they so wish.
The inheritance as siblings where applicable is the same for male and female as
originally legislated in 4:12. This makes sense since siblings in any case have
the weakest claim on the inheritance besides the fact that they undertake no
additional responsibility by being heirs of their siblings. It is a gain
without any additional responsibility and does not call for making any
difference between the male and the female heirs.
with both 4:12 and 4:176 in existence, we are faced with a choice to follow or
not to follow 4:176 in preference to 4:12. Keeping the historical context in
mind, it would be in order to legislate that 4:176 was meant to be a temporary
measure for a people unable to divide the inheritance without it and that it
will no longer remain in force.
other important observations are:
fixed fractions for parents and spouse protect as well as limit their
inheritance. The protection for parents and spouse is understandable. The limit
is also on account of the fact that they are more likely to be only responsible
for themselves. The children’s share is from what remains after those with
fixed share get their share. In case their number is large, then the
share of each child is less than that of those with fixed share and in case of
only child then his/her share is greater than those with fixed share. The
Children are the future and in general capable of earning for themselves and so
an insignificant share because of large number does not matter very much. An
insignificant share for parents and spouse matters more. If only child, then their
share is large but since they represent the future, they can make better use of
the larger share than those who are responsible only for themselves. If
only child is a girl, then she gets what remains after those with fixed shares
get their share if this is less than ½ or she also becomes a person with a
fixed share of ½. The logic of limiting a girl’s share which then has the
effect of proportionately increasing the share of all with fixed shares should
be obvious. Half is still twice as much as her father’s share if the mother is
the deceased and four times her mother’s share if her father is the deceased.
in His wisdom has given us the laws of inheritance which make eminent sense
under most circumstances. They protect the interests of the weak without
ignoring the interests of the young and strong who represent the future. As
explained, the laws of God balance what is best for most with what is easy to
follow. What is easy to follow may change with the times. What is best for most
may not be best for all under all circumstances. As said, the Quran provides
the flexibility by allowing a person to will his inheritance as he pleases. The
laid down laws of inheritance are not a hurdle to those who think that these
are not appropriate for them. They can use the legal instrument of the
will. However, a will that affects a heir’s share adversely vis-à-vis other
heirs without his/her willing consent is likely to create a situation in the
family that will do more harm than the good that was being sought to be
achieved by altering the share of the heirs.