Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Inheritance in Islam: Answering The Accusations "Why Men Inherit More"...

Some muslims are taking the non-muslim concept of inheritance, and want to force on muslim countries the rule that a “woman should get the same inheritance ratio as a man” (already applied in Tunis lelasaf :\ ).

In Islam, a man inherits twice as much as a woman (in most cases).
For non-muslims and some muslims (lelasaf bardo) see that as unfair and weird.

I can understand that non-muslims find it strange and unfair. Simply, because they come from a totally different background and do not know why such a ruling exists.
Yet, I am disappointed that some of my people (muslims) are tottering along with the demands of making a woman inherit exactly the same ratio as a man (1:1) without thinking of what God said and at the same time, without thinking logically about their demands.

Lets put it this way,

People (or some enthusiastic muslim feminists loosely speaking) who demand a woman to inherit exactly the same ratio as a man (1:1) use this argument (was used with me in a recent discussion I had with someone):

A woman should inherit exactly like a man, she is no less than him. It is unfair and makes no sense.
There was a recent survey that mentions that %25 of Egyptian women are the only providers for their families. Giving them the same inheritance as men would help those women support their families.

More inheritance for those women… more money… better family support!”


To answer this, there are two sections:


  • Religious:

قوله تعالى: ( يُوصيكم اللهُ في أولادِكم للذكَر مثلُ حظِّ الأنثيين)، (النساء 11)

Meaning of: God told us that for our children, a man gets twice the inheritance as a woman.

So, there is a rule that we (muslims) have to abide to.
And as muslim we know that God didn’t descend an order or rule that is only fit for today and not tomorrow. Especially, when it is related the family structure (the family being the most important unit in Islamic society).


Let me elaborate in the following point…


  • Logical:

Just a little background on the Muslim family and inheritance laws:

1 -Such a rule (man inheriting twice as much as a woman) in Islam is directly related to the structure of a family in Islam, and how a family should be (per Islamic ideology).

The family structure in islam consists of a father (husband) who is responsible for all his family (wife, children, parents if they are financially incapable, brothers and sisters and their off spring if they are young or financially incapable).

In other words, the man in the family is responsible for taking care of his whole family.
This does not mean that the rest of them are useless or incapable of doing things in society…not at all. Actually, work and development is a duty for all members of the family.

But, just like any ship has a captain, in Islam the captain of the ship is the father (the male).

Yes, in many cases the father passes away, and the mother steps in. And she does an excellent job.

Yes, in many cases men are dirt bags and do not do their duties. And women end up trying to pickup where the man failed.

Yes, in many cases a man and a woman "willingfully agree" to share expenses and so on.

But, what we are stating here is the rule for all, the general rule that organizes a family. The usual family (father, wife and off spring). For each rule there are special cases (as the above two examples for instance).

2- The ruling is also related to what responsibilities are put on the man:

For instance, In islam a man has to


  1. He has to pay a woman he will marry “MAHR” (wedding gift money). She doesn’t need to pay him anything.

  2. He has to give her (the wife) monthly allowances for herself, the kids and the house expenditures. Per Islam she is not “obliged” to pay a nickel (except if there is a necessity, and she is willing to do it! It’s her choice!).

  3. The more money the man makes, the more he has to pay his wife, as God said:
    ، كما قال تعالى: ( لِينفِق ذو سعَةٍ مِن سَعتِه ). (الطلاق 7)

  4. If the man divorces his wife, he has to pay her “Mo’akhar Sadaak”. She doesn’t have to pay him anything (usual cases).

  5. The man has to pay for his children’s education and expenses. Again, per Islam she is not “obliged” to pay a nickel (except if there is a necessity and she is willing to do it! It’s her choice!).

  6. When a niece or nephew (without parents for example) needs help, the man (their uncle) has to help them out (as long as he can of course). Because he (in such a case) is responsible for them (hence, he gets a part of the inheritance when his brother passes away for example). Per Islam she (the wife or aunt in this case) is not “obliged” to pay a nickel (except if there is a necessity and she is willing to do it! It’s her choice!).

3- Besides that, not always does a man get twice the inheritance as a woman. In some cases, they get the same ratio, for example:

· When the parents (man and woman) inherit one of their children :
(ولأبويه لكلِّ واحد منهُما السدُس ممَّا ترك إن كان له وَلد)،(النساء: 11)
· When brothers and sisters (of the same mother, yet no father) inherit their brother who had no off spring.
كما قال تعالى: (وإنْ كان رجلٌ يُورَث كلالةً أو امرأةٌ وله أخٌ أو أختٌ فلِكلِّ واحد منهما السدُس فإن كانوا أكثر من ذلك فهم شركاء في الثلُث) (النساء:12)

4- There are even cases where the woman gets more than the man’s inheritance ratio (woman gets twice as much as the man), for example:
· When a woman passes away, leaving a husband, a mother (her mother), 2 brothers and a sister for example. In this case, The sister gets twice as much as the brothers.

5- If the man does not do his responsibilities, he is to be punished and the wife\family compensated (given he has the money of course).

6- There is always the option that inheriters can distribute the inheritance in the way they want (given that all inheriters agree!).

To summarize the above,
The first point is that not in all cases does a man get twice as much as a woman.

The second point is that in Islam (compared to other ideologies) the structure of the family and the financial arrangements are not like others. The Muslim man has a lot of financial burdens. That is why inheritance for a muslim male is double a muslim female (in most cases).

To put the rule and reasoning in simpler words: “Whenever more responsibilities fall on the man, the inheritance for him is doubled compared to a woman” (i.e. when the father dies, the son gets double the daughter…etc.).


More responsibilities need more resources…that’s it.

----------------------

Now, discussing the argument:
A woman should inherit exactly like a man, she is no less than him. It is unfair and makes no sense.
There was a recent survey that mentions that %25 of Egyptian women are the only providers for their families. Giving them the same inheritance as men would help those women support their families
.”

OK, think of it…
Whoever wants to change the inheritance rule in Islamic countries, wants to do that to empower women by making them get the same ratio as muslim men (in all inheritance cases).
For example, in the above argument they (whoever) want to empower %25 percent of women (in Egypt’s case for example) because they (the %25 of women) have a heavy burden.

The answer is obvious…
You want to empower %25 of women by screwing up %100 of struggling muslim men who are “obliged” to support their families per the Islamic family structure?!!!

Think of it…

If you want to empower women (who are struggling) by giving them the 1:1 ratio in all cases, what on earth will the %100 of men (struggling ones) do if their inheritance goes down by half. That same inheritance which they (the men) are supposed to use to support their families!

Do the math… you’ll get my point.

Giving women 1:1 ratio in all cases does NOT help our muslim society (per its structure).
What you are doing is solving a smaller problem (%25 women supporting their families and struggling for example), by creating a massive problem by taking out half of what %100 of men use to support their struggling muslim families.

7aram 3aleko… i32loha shwaya!

Ya reeet balash neraded kalam el 3’arb zay el ba3’ba3’anaat min 3’eer lama nefakar bel hadawa.

Resources:
· Yousef Al Qaradawi
· Islamonline
· Various Readings

Mood: The end is eminent… am I ready for the finale?

3 comments:

insomniac said...

reading this i had a lot of things coming to mind...

first of all, nothing wrong with the islamic rule, gievn the explanations you pointed out...

problem is, the islamic society is messed up, the family structure, the islamic one almost no longer exists... you see uncles and aunts who ignore their niece and nephews and all of a sudden share the little money a father or a mother left! you see husbands and fathers who do not bother about living up to their responsibilities and mothers who struggle to make it through the day... at some point, some people are meant to lose that faith!

not justifying at all, i just somehow see how people get there, how people react to injustice in such an extreme way... especially when money is scarce...

alas, i think things are rather more tolerable when people start believing that everything ends up balancing 3and rabena we ma7adesh beydee3 3aleeh 7a2o really... bas it takes too much faith to see that!

enjoyed reading this post :)

Fadfadation said...

Yes inso, in every time and place there will be people who just don't stick to what religion says.

And at the end of the day, as you said: "everything ends up balancing 3and rabena we ma7adesh beydee3 3aleeh 7a2o really"

Shimaa Gamal said...

Very well explanation, yet whenever the issue is posed I always go for if you want equality in the case of “lel zakar methal 7az el onthayayen” you should take the equal shares in all the other cases where the woman will end up with a bigger share. Sometimes fairness isn’t achieved by equality. In that very specific case of male= 2 females, the mother/ widow takes eighth of the inheritance and the rest is divided on that basis. I believe that the one getting the eighth is a woman and her share is the biggest share.

Equal isn’t always fair bas meen yefham.