Wherever inheritance is on topic people quote those verses of the Qur'an, were we read the similar sentence:

... for the male, what is equal to the share of two females ... (see for example 4:11 and 4:176)

This is lately often used by modern Muslims or feminist Muslims to call for an (share) equality between both genders!

This amount might even differ (increase) in some cases as quoted in the Qur'an, but is this a kind of injustice towards women?

What is the secrete or logic behind this division?

Note that I've heard a scholar saying that in fact in most situation it is the male who inherits less than the female, I'd be interested in a commentary/explanation on that!
Also note that the missing part of the verses above is quoting children or more exactly the inheritance shares of siblings from their parents only, not all possible cases of inheritance!

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    "Note that I've heard a scholar saying that in fact in most situation it is the male who inherits less than the female, I'd be interested in a commentary/explanation on that!" Could you list those situations where a male inherits less than a female who is in the same situation as the male?
    – G. Bach
    Jan 18, 2017 at 15:14
  • @G.Bach if I had the source would I have asked?
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 18, 2017 at 15:24
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    @medi have you checked Qadi iyads fiqh of inheritance? If I remember right he might had the opinion that a woman might inherit as much or more than the man according to the situation. I'll recheck if it really was him as soon i am in front of a computer inshallah.
    – Kilise
    Jan 18, 2017 at 16:53
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    @Medi1Saif I heard it in this talk: youtube.com/watch?v=ZCNxOu5fj4E . And I was mistaken, it was not Qadi Iyad. Not sure if I've heard/read it somewhere else. But he will make some good points in the video.
    – Kilise
    Jan 18, 2017 at 17:40
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    @Kilise I don't know what happened to the website of Benhamza, but I can't find it no more. I've heard this statement as a part of a speech he has held around 2003-2005 in Frankfurt from him maybe there are videos of that speech. At the time there was a bigger "congress" there with the participation of scholars such as Ali al-Jafri and al-Bouty (May Allah bhave mercy on him) ...
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 19, 2017 at 10:20

5 Answers 5


TL;DR: Inheritance is a component in a dynamical system, and this component is imbalanced so that men receive a greater quantity. The system, as a whole, can favor either men or women, depending on how stingy/generous men are with maintenance and mahr.

I whipped up a diagram of a 3-node discrete dynamical system model, where the nodes represent "male money" (money owned by males) and "female money" (money owned by females) and "other money" (money owned by e.g. government and businesses):

3-node discrete dynamical system

Like all models, it's simplified (so some aspects are not included, e.g. men can give women money, and women can give men money). There are imbalances between males and females as per the Qur'an:

  • A greater share of inheritance goes to males.

    Allah instructs you concerning your children: for the male, what is equal to the share of two females. ... -- Qur'an 4:11

  • Maintenance and mahr goes from males to females.

    Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. ... -- Qur'an 4:30

    And give the women [upon marriage] their [bridal] gifts graciously. ... -- Qur'an 4:4

  • Females are less likely to (require) work:

    And abide in your houses ... -- Qur'an 33:33 (Islam Q&A write: "Although this is addressed to the wives of the Prophet ... it also applies to the believing women.")

    Women also find it more difficult to obtain work, and there's a gender pay gap once work is obtained.

While the model is imbalanced, we can't determine from observing one component of this system whether or not it is unjust. Indeed, the parameters of the model will determine the long term ratio of "male money" to "female money". If men are generous, and give more maintenance and mahr to women, then the model could favor women. On the other hand, if men are stingy, the model could favor men. This freedom may function as a self-correcting mechanism.

Some additional points:

  • The above model suggests that men and women are somehow in an adversarial relationship, which is obviously not the case.

  • It's plausible that e.g. a better house could be purchased as a result of a monetary imbalance, which would benefit the whole family.

  • I like this mathematical approach, but still hope to find at least a link to underline the statement I heard long ago as I'm curious how a scholar would explain it!
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 25, 2017 at 7:00
  • @Medi1Saif nothing wrong with your comment. But if something is something is right then why do you need a scholar to say it? listen to what they say, not to whom has said it-Ali
    – Thaqalain
    Jan 25, 2017 at 10:22
  • @Honey see what I mean in my posted answer-draft! The approach is/was not exactly what I was looking for, but it is a good scientific approach for analyzing such issues!
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 25, 2017 at 10:25
  • "This freedom may function as a self-correcting mechanism." The model doesn't suggest that will happen, and reality doesn't suggest this happens. "The above model suggests that men and women are somehow in an adversarial relationship, which is obviously not the case." The fiqh on when a husband can cease to sustain his wife - minor, occasional refusal to obey his halal demands - and all the other legal powers he has over the wife, and the fact that the wife has no legal powers over the husband whatsoever makes the system somewhat adversarial, and put the husband in a strong strategic position.
    – G. Bach
    Jan 27, 2017 at 22:10
  • "It's plausible that e.g. a better house could be purchased as a result of a monetary imbalance, which would benefit the whole family." Could you expand on that point? I don't understand it.
    – G. Bach
    Jan 27, 2017 at 22:11

Yes this is true, because male have responsibility to provide for the family, to live/eat and everything of the need the responsibility of the male...

Instead, female get the share from the husband when they get married for example !

  • This simple logic is well known!
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 18, 2017 at 14:31

The Logic behind this is simple

  • A daughter is the responsibility (religious duty) of her father (read male) to provide for her needs (food, clothes, shelter, education, etc.).

  • If she has brothers, and her father is not earning (e.g. retired) then it is the responsibility (religious duty) of her brother/s (read male) to provide for her needs (food, clothes, shelter, education, etc.).

  • When a girl is married it is the responsibility (religious duty) of her husband (read male) to provide for her needs (food, clothes, shelter, education, etc.).

  • When her son is grown up it is the responsibility (religious duty) of her son (read male) to provide for her needs (food, clothes, shelter, education, etc.).

So throughout her life she will have a male for her assistance. Hence this male deserves double the share. and also vice versa is not a religious duty of a female.

  • If it was that simple I wouldn't ask my question therefore I've edited my post!
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 18, 2017 at 14:31
  • @Medi1Saif simplicity itself shouldn't be an issue. If it doesn't make sense or you sense injustice then make an argument
    – Thaqalain
    Jan 18, 2017 at 16:34

In addition to the other answers which point that the man is responsible for his wife, children, elderly father, mother, etc and that women have no such responsibility and are also entitled to nafaqa and mahr:

I can give you a more complex explanation from my personal observation, nothing official. I fear for the pro-feminists would not like it. I see myself as one who respects women a lot a lot—just in a very different way. You can see my other answer on obedience of a wife

To find your answer: Look into the west and compare it with (true) Islam, not ignorant Islam. To see what I mean, again see my the answer I linked above.

In the west ( In US the rate of divorce is %40-50 significantly higher than average Muslim countries, although the western culture is affecting them) women have equal share of money and are far less inclined to marry themselves to another. They're like I'm financially stable why do I have to marry him, or why do I have to still be married to him while I can sustain myself?! Islam's idea isn't to weaken women, rather it's to make both sides more desirable and performant in what their role is.

Then when women become more economically powerful then the husband on the other side will also need to be more economically powerful. Her quality of life is raised and the number of her possible matching husbands decrease. Women will just have more casual dates rather than serious commitments.

What becomes virtuous among women becomes their money, their car, their house, their education, their degree (some require a lot of time and eventually increase the average age of marriage and reduce the average number of children). All mundane stuff. Islam wants us to shatter than way of thinking. Islam totally agrees with a mother/wife's education but wealth for a wife is not virtuous, for a husband it is somewhat.

The logic seems very stupid and harsh.

But basically it's that most of the money is to come to the husband so he is deemed more appealing to a future bride and then let him give to his wife so love is kindled among them.

In addition go to a shopping center and then see what percentage are women and what percentage are men. Men are more likely to hold onto their money.

Despite near equality in numbers, according to Bloomberg, women make more than 85% of the consumer purchases in the United States, and reputedly influence over 95% of total goods and services purchased.

On a semi-serious note I sometimes ask myself how did my wife agree to marry herself to me? I mean wasn't wealthy in any way, didn't have a house, car good investment. All I had was a job and fresh out of college. Perhaps with such support I and other husbands will be more appealing to women. Men never assess a lady based on her wealth. Even though she can she bring it (her money) to her new life, it isn't part of her duties.

Having that said there are points that I obviously don't understand on this and many other subjects.

Also see the comments below.

  • Thanks for sharing these thoughts you have some interesting points, but it seems to me your answer is rather off topic.
    – Medi1Saif
    Jan 18, 2017 at 17:04
  • @Medi1Saif Thanks, my point is similar to the source of income, let men have more money so they can better spend for the 85% of the costs :D. Actually when you have 2 people making financial decisions as in one limits the other you are likely to come up with better solutions...
    – Thaqalain
    Jan 18, 2017 at 17:06
  • "They're like I'm financially stable why do I have to marry him, or why do I have to still be married to him while I can sustain myself?!" So the point of women being financially dependent in Islam is to deprive them of the choice whether they want to be with a man or not?
    – G. Bach
    Jan 18, 2017 at 18:04
  • @G.Bach very very good question: I addressed the question and your comment in my initial paragraph. In addition: I didn't say deprive them so they would like men more. Or God deprived them for this reason. I only said doing such will have these consequences. But yes it's depriving. For every right you give you get a right. However in Islam it's not usually two people are not equal as in identical. Like a son vs. father ( they are not identical and so they have different rights). A daughter vs. brother ( they are not identical and so they have different rights).
    – Thaqalain
    Jan 18, 2017 at 18:34
  • @G.Bach Legally speaking if a guardian of a lady doesn't provide for her, she can legally take her guardian to the court. However if a lady is wealthy, and her guardian isn't that wealthy she can still not spend a penny and he has to spend all his wealth for her wellbeing. Isn't this depriving? It does seem depriving, but Islam is based on BOTH sharia boundaries and love.
    – Thaqalain
    Jan 18, 2017 at 18:35

First of all note that the verse part saying a male inherits twice of what a female inherits apply to brothers and sisters only, so it isn't a general ruling in shari'a.
Also note that in shari'a the shares of the women are specified and given a leading position they are called أصحاب الفروض ashaab al-Forod those with a specific share (the counterpart is called العصبات al-'Asabat and they are of three categories and all are male or at least offspring of male), so in presence of a female her share is taken in account in first place. Of course some males are also among ashaab al-Forod. The shares of men however may increase after considering all primary shares by distribution of the rest of the heritage!

This seemingly injustice (I especially mean the fact that a male can have more than his prescribed share, but also the cases where men inherit more than women) is of course -as many if not all of the given answers say- due to the fact that a woman is not asked to pay mahr nor to be in charge for her family while this is the man's duty according to shari'a!

In this link I found a hint of an answer with another indication of what I've heard their it is said that:

Women only inherit half of the share of men in 4 cases, while they inherit in 11 cases the same as men, in 14 cases they inherit more than a men and in 5 cases they inherit while a men doesn't!

So basically a woman can inherit:

  1. less than (more exactly the half of) a male: for example if there are sisters and brothers, a sister gets only a half of what her brother would inherit, a mother would also inherit only one half of what the father may inherit in absence of spouses and children (of their dead child).
    This applies in general in 4 cases:
    a) daughter and son,
    b) daughter of the son and son of the son,
    c) brother and sister (same parents),
    d) brother and sister (paternal).
  2. the same of a male: like father and mother if there are children (each of them will inherit one sixth) while the son would inherit the rest, also the brother or sister of the mother would get equal parts based on:

    ... " And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth." ... (4:12)

    and this applies in cases such:
    a) daughter and father, (note that the father only gets the half as there are no other heir as his real share is only one sixth)
    b) daughter and son of the son (same situation the son of the son is only allowed to have the rest of the share, as there are no other heir his share would be half of the heritage)
    c) daughter and a single brother (same as above the brother takes the rest)

  3. more than a male: the husband with his two daughters (he would only inherit a quarter, while they would inherit two thirds, one third each of course if there will be a son this would change)

    ..." But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, ..." (4:12)

    the husband with his lonely daughter also would inherit much less as his share is only a quarter, while she would inherit the half and maybe the last quarter would be added to her share too.
    Some other cases:
    a) daughter (1/2), father (1/6 + rest) and mother (1/6)
    b) daughter (1/2) and =>2 brothers (share of the rest)
    c) 2 daughters (2/3, 1/3 each) and uncles (share of the rest)

  4. she might inherit, while her male counterpart wouldn't inherit at all: like the case of a woman who has died leaving a husband (1/4), a father (1/6), a mother (1/6), a daughter (1/2) and a daughter of a son, in this case the daughter of the son my inherit a sixth while a supposed son of the son wouldn't inherit from his grandmother as his share is the last which would be considered as the rest in this constellation, but as each of the husband, father and mother have defined shares and the daughter (as the child of the husband) has a stronger primacy than the son of a son (as he is male, but not for the daughter o the son)!
    An other case is that of a daughter (1/2), a sister (from both parents) and a paternal uncle (0). Here the daughter and the sister will share the whole heritage!

Sources (Arabic only) islamqa#135065 and this article on the shares of women.

  • If you find a link in English, that would be great - I'd be interested if that is comparing like with like.
    – G. Bach
    Jan 27, 2017 at 22:42
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    These cases probably have men and women in different categories. For example a daughter inherits more than a father or a grandson ... but a daughter never inherits more than a son. The only case I know of in which men and women in the same category have equal shares are maternal brothers and sisters. Apart from that in some specific cases the father and mother inherit equal shares. source
    – UmH
    Feb 1, 2017 at 10:35

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