My question is about the issue detailed in this topic: Inheritance shares don't add up to 1. Please read the whole message carefully though, this is not exactly a duplicate. To sum up the point, the Quran contains inheritance laws that specify the shares due to various members of the family of the deceased. Now, there are configurations where the shares add up to more than one.

Now, as has been mentioned in the post I linked, several attempts have been made to fix the issue. The traditional answer would be to use the rules of "Awl" and "Usbah", that is to proportionally change the shares so that all of them add up to 1. Another approach is to keep the shares as stated in the Quran but to distribute the inheritance according to priority rules so that the shares add up to 1 or less. I am dubious however that this last approach works in general. Consider the case of a woman who dies leaving nor ascendants nor descendants, but only her husband and two sisters. Sisters is to be taken with the meaning it has in 4:176, whatever you think the difference is with verse 4:12. Then 4:12 and 4:176 taken together unambiguously state that in that case, the husband should get 1/2 and the sisters 2/3 which adds up to 7/6 > 1. If you don't add man-made laws to the Quran and yet want to keep the shares as stated, priority rules won't work here. Thus, the most rational way would be to reduce the shares proportionnally (that would be 3/7 for the husband 4/7 for the sisters in that specific case). For another example, you may consider the case of a man leaving behind a wife (share: 1/8), a daughter (share: 2/3) and a father and a mother (1/6 each) which adds up to 27/24.

Hence comes the problem. To make sense, it seems that the Quran somewhat needs to be corrected; is other words, the command "give 1/2 to the husband and 2/3 to the sisters", stated as is, sounds absurd and either you conclude that the law of inheritance can't be applied or you're forced to correct it (i.e to literally infringe the original command) to apply the mere "mentality" of it.

Please note that my question really differs from that of the post I mentioned above. I don't expect a comprehensive list of all approaches that have been developed to apply the law of inheritance. I'd really like the discussion to bear on the idea that the Quran's law may need some correcting to be applied.

  • 1
    Without even reading your question completely, there is no correcting Qur'an, the only thing you could do at the most is understand it properly or the way you want it to be understood i.e you can ask for various interpretations which interest you. Commented Oct 3, 2015 at 5:35
  • 1
    If I understand well the first part of your sentence, you haven't yet read the question completely. Please read it so that you can understand my point. Unless you admit that contradicting the text is a form of interpretation, I don't see how the quoted verses (4:12 and 4:176) could make sense considered the problem stated above. The verses do mention precise shares of inheritance (1/2, 2/3, 1/6, 1/8...), thus no discussion is possible regarding the value of the shares prescribed by the text. Commented Oct 4, 2015 at 21:40

3 Answers 3


Case 1: A woman leaves behind a husband and two sisters. The prescribed shares are as follows:

Heir Applicable Text Prescribed share Equivalent fraction Percentage
Husband 4:12 ولكم نصف 1/2 3/6 50 %
Sisters 4:176 فلهما الثلثان 2/3 4/6 66.67 %

It is not possible to give the heirs their prescribed shares, since if the husband is given 50% then only 50% is left which is less than ~67% required by the sisters.

The solution is to divide the shortfall proportionally among all the heirs. This is called 'awl (عَوْل) and is based on:

  • the Ijma' of the sahaba at the time of the caliphate of Umar ibn al-Khatab.
  • analogy with the case of person who dies, and owes debts to multiple lenders, but does not have enough money to repay them all

So the estate is distributed as follows:

Heir Original share Adjusted Percentage
Husband 3/6 3/7 42.86 %
Sisters 4/6 4/7 57.14 %

Case 2: A man leaves behind a wife, a daughter, a father and a mother.

In this you have made a mistake in your calculation, as the share of a (single) daughter is 1/2 not 2/3. If you meant multiple daughters then 'awl will apply like the above. But I will address what you have written (single daughter) as this covers a different rule, i.e. ta'sib.

The prescribed shares are as follows:

Heir Applicable Text Prescribed Share Equivalent Fraction Percentage
Wife 4:12 فلهن الثمن 1/8 3/24 12.5 %
Daughter 4:11 فلها النصف 1/2 12/24 50 %
Father 4:11 كل واحد منهما السدس 1/6 4/24 16.67 %
Mother 4:11 كل واحد منهما السدس 1/6 4/24 16.67 %

After each of these has been given their prescribed shares, 1/24 or 4.17 % of the estate still remains. This will be given to the closest male relative (the father) in accordance to the hadith:

ألحقوا الفرائض بأهلها فما بقي فهو لأولى رجل ذكر

Give the shares to those who are entitled to them, and what remains over goes to the nearest male heir.

Bukhari and Muslim

Hence the final distribution will be:

Heir Prescribed Share Additional share Percentage
Wife 3/24 12.5 %
Daughter 12/24 50 %
Father 4/24 1/24 20.83  %
Mother 4/24 16.67 %

Why does the Quran need to be corrected??

There is no mistake which needs to be corrected. The prescribed shares can be distributed "as is" in many cases. It is only in certain combinations of prescribed shares where exact distribution is not possible, and in these cases the Quran is at most silent about what to do ... not 'mistaken'.

You are falsely assuming that the Quran says "if a woman dies leaving a husband and sisters then give the husband 1/2 and the sisters 2/3". It does not say that at all. Rather it says in isolation that a husband gets 1/2 and that in isolation two sisters get 2/3. The first verse will apply just fine in several cases where the deceased does not have sisters, and the second one will apply just fine in several cases where the deceased does not have a husband. It is only the novel case where both are combined that the problem arises. And the Quran makes no claim that its prescribed shares will hold when this happens.

The Quran does not claim that the prescribed shares will always add up to one. The Quran does not claim that it covers all cases of inheritance within its text. The Quran is not the only source of Islamic law, rather Sunnah, Ijtihad, Ijma', Qiyas etc. complement the Quran in situations which it does not explicitly cover.

أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم فإن تنازعتم في شيء فردوه إلى الله والرسول

Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger

Quran 4:59

اقض بما في كتاب الله فإن لم يكن في كتاب الله فبسنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فإن لم يكن في كتاب الله ولا في سنة رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فاقض بما قضى به الصالحون

Judge according to what is in the Book of Allah. If it is not (mentioned) in the Book of Allah, then (judge) according to the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. If it is not (mentioned) in the Book of Allah or the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, then pass judgment according to the way the righteous passed judgment.


The two cases which you have asked about are not detailed in the Quran, rather they are dealt with in the other sources of law which are authorized by the Quran.

Let me also illustrate this with a different example: The Quran commands us to wash our hands in wudu.

اغسلوا وجوهكم وأيديكم إلى المرافق

wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows

Quran 5:6

Now there is a case of an amputee who can not wash his hands as they do not exist. Will you say that this verse is wrong and needs to be corrected?

No - rather the verse is correct and applicable to most situations, it just does not specify what to do in this exceptional case. And the other sources explain that such a person will follow as much of the verse as as he is able to and will omit what is not possible for him. The same applies to the cases of inheritance which you have asked about.


Your understanding of the distribution of inheritance is incorrect of what the Quran says. According to my own understanding of the translation of the verses

Response #1:

Wife will get 1/8

Daughters will get 1/2

The parents will take the rest because of parental right – Why?

The verse says if the deceased left children - children (plural) means more than one child so 1/6 is not applicable here in this case

Response #2:

Daughters will get 2/3

Father will get 1/6

Mother will get 1/6

Wife will get nothing

So sum is equal to 1

Why the share of a wife is zero? - According to the verse

"But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave" – a child means one child so 1/8 is not applicable

Since the deceased left 2 children not a child, therefore, the share of wife is zero however her children will get the said 2/3 of estate when she (or mothers) dies

Allah says clearly in aforementioned verses

1- Indeed, Allah is ever knowing and wise 2- And Allah is knowing and forbearing

I am confident this can be applied to other cases too such as

A man dies and left behind a mother, wife and 2 daughters. Here in this case

Daughters will get 2/3

mother will get 1/6

Since no Father, therefore, rest 1/6 will be taken by the wife because of first priority in the relationship and the right of mother / wife

Hope this may help

Since I am not a scholar of the subject, therefore, I may be wrong. Please correct me if I am wrong


This is not a Mathematical Problem. In the ancient time Mathematics was not developed and it was thought that the sum of ratios must be equal to 1. But Muslims soon found cases where the sum of Ratios was either less than 1 or greater than 1. So the decided to research and find solution to these cases. It is similar to the case of “ Dividing a Number say “n” into 4 parts in a 4 term Ratio. To divide a number into 4 parts in a given ratio a : b : c : d where a + b + c + d > 1

Let the number be n .It is to be divided into 4 parts in the ratio a : b : c : d .

Let the parts be t , v , x , y Such that t + v + x + y = n.................... (1) t = am ,v =bm, x = cm , y = dm.........equations (2) Where m is a positive Real Number , m>0.

Substituting values from equation (2) in equation (1) am + bm + cm + dm = n

⟹ m (a + b + c + d ) = n……………………equation (3) Let

k = a + b + c + d …………………… equation (4) Where k is a Real Number , k =/= 0 Substituting the value of k in equation (3) from equation (4) (m)(k) = n …………………….(5) ⟹ m = (n\k) ……………………….. (6) Putting the value of m from equation (6) in equations (2) we get the following values t = am = (a)(n\k) v =bm = (b)(n\k) x = cm = (c)(n\k) y = dm = (d)( n\k) .....equations (7) This is the methods used by Muslims through out the ages when the sum of the prescribed Ratios is greater than 1 None of the Muslim scholars claimed that this is not in accordance to Qur’anic Ratios. A 4 term ratio.

It must be noted that Omniscient G-d Eternally Knew that Mathematical solution of Dividing any given amount exists , so G-d prescribed the Ratios.When Muslim faced such a cases , they did not gave up but researched to find a solution n such cases where sum of the given ratio say k >0. Where k > 1 or 0<k<1. It is not necessary to state that such a solution exists even if k>n. One may generalise it to any number say s, i.e an s-terms ratio, where s is any Natural number greater than 1. QED It Must Be noted that multiplying the or dividing each term of given ratio by a constant does not change the ratio. For example consider the 4 term ratio a : b : c : d & the ratio ap : bp : cp : dp are essentially the same ratio. The ratio value does not change when the same non-zero number ( greater than zero in the present case )is multiplied or divided on each term. where p is a constant, p is any Real Number , p > 1 Now coming to the problem the number 24 which comes in the in the process of solution in cases when the sum of ratios are less than 1, i.e k=1 or 0<k<1 is not prescribed in Sacred Qur’a:n. On the contrary it comes in the Mathematical solution in the cases k=1 or 0<k<1 . But it does not come in the cases where k>1. Application to the following case Let a = 1\8 b = 1\6 c = 1\6 d = 2\3 So the Mathematical Solution in such cases Exist as according to above. This is called ‘:Aul عول This this function or solution is strictly according to Qur’a:n. Since all the process begins with the Qur’a:nic Rario (1\8) : (1\6) : (1\6) : (2\3)

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .