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Why Is Womanís Inheritance Half That of Man?

Rights of Women in Islam


In proportioning inheritance the Qurían has appropriated menís inheritance to be twice that of women, and thus has instigated a major injustice and disservice towards half the humanity and that it may be this biased judgment that has been the source of so much humiliation for women in the eyes of men in Islamic societies

The above opinion is usually expressed by women in religious discussions and it seems that this question is on the minds of many. What is for certain is that no part of any social, cultural, and religious system can be evaluated in abstract from the rest of the system. Inheritance too, is one of the components of the Islamic legal system which has to be considered with respect to the rest of the legal system and in relation with the decrees and edicts of this system. It is obvious that legal systems and responsibilities are always defined based on the natural needs and necessities of life and they are not necessarily one and the same.

In general, you may spend more money for your child who is in college and allocate much higher budgets for and his education and travels to and from college than for the one who is at home and may be more dependent on you. It is obvious that the amount of money parents allocate for their children, although they love all of their children to the same extend, is not the same and is dependent on their monetary needs and situation.

In the family of God, the woman has no obligation to provide for the living expenses of her family, and her own expenses are totally the responsibility of the man of the family; so much so that she can claim remuneration for any house work she performs, even for breast feeding her own child! In addition, at the time of the wedding, the man has the responsibility to generously offer to his wife the dowry (1) which is the result of husbandís savings and hard work of many years prior to marriage. Fundamentally speaking, the issue of dowry as a promise for marriage, an insurance in case of divorce, or any other title one wishes to place on it, is considered to be one of the main pillars of marriage in Islam. Giving presents and spending money for oneís wife is considered to be part of the responsibilities and virtues of generous men. In such a system where all the expenditures are the responsibility of the man, and where the woman can save or invest all the money she makes, is it justified that they should both receive equal shares of inheritance? Is it not true that the manís share is to be spent on family living expenses, and in the end it is returned to the wife and children? This should leave no room for complaining. Now, if some men do not perform their duties according to Godís word and do not respect womenís rights, what has this to do with Godís religion? Lack of respect for oneís spouse can be a mutual event and should not be blamed on religion.

In Western countries there is neither dowry nor distinction between a womanís house chores and her professional career. Women too, work full time in order to make the premiums on homes, automobiles, etc. It is natural therefore, that in such a regime inheriting half as much as the male would not seem justified. One has to search for justice in this type of lifestyle, even though in reality this is not a fair situation for women. The womanís share of inheritance, which on the one hand, has the responsibility of running the house in addition to raising her children, and on the other hand, has to keep a profession outside of the house, may have to be twice that of the male. Do western men agree with this notion? Instead of complaining about the Islamic system of justice which has designated men as the provider of financial needs of women for which service men ask women for their dedication to their husbands, i.e., chastity, one has to hold western man responsible for not providing a just compensation for women. The financial responsibility of man is reciprocated for by womanís dedication to her husband, i.e., by keeping her chastity.


1) A gift of money or property from a man to his bride