A Single Step To Avoid Women Discrimination in Islamic Laws of Inheritance?
Women discrimination is evident in Islamic laws of inheritance:
“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 (‘s) after the payment of bequests 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 a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of bequests 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 eighth; after payment of bequests 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 bequests and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any one). Thus is it ordained by Allah,. and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing. (Quran 4: 11,12)
Some scholars quote a few instances where women are not discriminated. However, as a general principle the women discrimination is clear in this Ayah. Furthermore, exceptions don’t make a rule.
Why Women Discretion?
Women discrimination in Islamic laws of inheritance is criticized as ‘unequal rights’ for women. Some criticize that these rights do not meet modern standards of civilization.
However, most of the critics ignore another vital factor. Quran gives a system of life to be implemented in a human society. It is law of God enunciated for the societies who want to follow it. The basic rung of this social system is a family unit. Even the philosophy of marriage revolves around this first brick of the system.
Within a family, the whole responsibility to feed, dress and provide shelter to a family lies with the husband. The wife may make money but she are not bound to spend even a single penny on the family for which she is a part and parcel.
Whatever share of inheritance a husband gets, he is bound to spend on the welfare of the family. However, whatever share a wife gets is purely owned by the woman without any responsibility to spend it on the family. It is natural to conclude that man needs more resources within a family than a wife may need.
Most of the Islamic scholars agree that Islam does not treat women with discrimination in most of the affairs. However, when it is issue of a family benevolence the men are given preference for their responsibilities.
How to Avoid Women Discrimination?
There are definite situations where women should be given a bigger share than their counterparts. Suppose ‘A’ dies leaving $10000.00, a married son and an unmarried daughter. The daughter needs more money to meet expenses of her life before marriage. Even marriage needs sufficient money to observe marriage customs and traditions. The father should make a will in his life to give a bigger share to his daughter. Quran provides a procedure to make a bequest to avoid women discrimination:
“O ye who believe! When death approaches any of you, (take) witnesses among yourselves when making bequests,- two just men of your own (brotherhood) or others from outside if ye are journeying through the earth, and the chance of death befalls you (thus). If ye doubt (their truth), detain them both after prayer, and let them both swear by Allah. “We wish not in this for any worldly gain, even though the (beneficiary) be our near relation: we shall hide not the evidence before Allah. if we do, then behold! the sin be upon us!” (Quran 5: 106) And at another place:
“Those of you who die and leave widows should bequeath for their widows a year’s maintenance and residence; but if they leave (the residence), there is no blame on you for what they do with themselves, provided it is reasonable. And Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.” (Quran 2: 240)
In Islamic laws of inheritance the bequests and loans are to be satisfied before a property becomes distributable amongst the heirs of the deceased.
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