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#OtvOPINIONS: Women and inheritance in Islam


Before the advent of Islam, women were regarded
as inferiors. Arabs used to bury their daughters
alive. The women’s hair was sometimes tied to the
tail of the camel and the camel let loose. This was
not a favourite time for the female of that time.
Women, during that time, could not own or inherit
any tangible property. The advent of Islam not only
gave equal rights to women but also allowed them
to own and inherit property. Allah in his wisdom
prescribed the classes of inheritance in Suratul
Nisa’i as follows:

“Allah (thus) directs you as regards your children’s
(inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of
two females, if only daughters, two or more, their
share is two-thirds of the inheritance; If only one,
her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of the
inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; If
no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the
mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers (or
sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in
all cases is) after the payment of legacies and
debts. Ye know not whether your parents or your
children are nearest to you in benefit. These are
settled portions ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-
Knowing, All-Wise. In what your wives leave, your
share is half, if they leave no child; but if they leave
a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies
and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth,
if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get
an eight; after payment of legacies and debts. If the
man or woman whose inheritance is in question,
has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but
has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two
gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a
third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that
no loss is caused (to anyone). Thus it is ordained by
Allah; and Allah is All-Knowing Most
Forbearing.” [Al-Qur’an 4:11-12].

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