Page 144 - Islam In Focus

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inheritance. Before Islam, she was not only deprived of that share but was herself
considered as property to be inherited by man. Out of that transferable property Islam
made an heir, acknowledging the inherent human qualities in woman. Whether she is
wife or mother, a sister or daughter, she receives a certain share of the deceased kin’s
property, a share which depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the
number of heirs. This share is hers, and no one can take it away or disinherit her. Even
if the deceased wishes to deprive her by making a will to other relations or in favor of
any other cause, the Law will not allow him to do so. Any proprietor is permitted to
make his will within the limit of one-third of his property, so he may not affect the
rights of his heirs, men and women. In the case of inheritance, the question of equality
and sameness is fully applicable. In principle, both man and woman are equally
entitled to inherit the property of the deceased relations but the portions they get may
very. In some instances man receives two shares whereas woman gets one only. This
is no sign of giving preference or supremacy to man over woman. The reasons why
man gets more in these particular instances may be classified as follows:
First, man is the person solely responsible for the complete maintenance of his wife,
his family and any other needy relations. It is his duty by Law to assume all financial
responsibilities and maintain his dependents adequately. It is also his duty to
contribute financially to all good causes in his society. All financial burdens are borne
by him alone.
Secondly, in contrast, woman has no financial responsibilities whatsoever except very
little of her personal expenses, the highly luxurious things that she likes to have. She
is financially secure and provided for. If she is a wife, her husband is the provider; if
she is a mother, it is the son; if she is a daughter, it is the father; if she is a sister; it is
the brother, and so on. If she has no relations on whom she can depend, then there is
no question of inheritance because there is nothing to inherit and there is no one to
bequeath anything to her. However, she will not be left to starve; maintenance of such
a woman is the responsibility of the society as a whole, the state. She may be given
aid or a job to earn her living, and whatever money she makes will be hers. She is not
responsible for the maintenance of anybody else besides herself. If there is a man in
her position, he would still be responsible for his family and possibly any of his
relations who need his help. So, in the hardest situation her financial responsibility is
limited, while his is unlimited.
Thirdly, when a woman gets less than a man does, she is not actually deprived of
anything that she has worked for. The property inherited is not the result of her
earning or endeavors. It is something coming to them from a neutral source,
something additional or extra. It is something that neither man nor woman struggled
for. It is a sort of aid, and any aid has to be distributed according to the urgent needs
and responsibilities, especially when the distribution is regulated by the Law of God.
Now, we have a male heir, on one side, burdened with all kinds of financial
responsibilities and liabilities. We have, on the other side, a female heir with no
financial responsibilities at all or at most with very little of it. In between we have
some property and aid to redistribute by way of inheritance. If we deprive the female
completely, it would be unjust to her because she is related to the deceased. Likewise,
if we always give her share equal to the man’s, it would be unjust to him. So, instead
of doing injustice to either side, Islam gives the man a larger portion of the inherited