General Writings

Women and Inheritance in Islam – A Commentary

Written by Salman Sabry


In Islamic law, the share of women’s inheritance is half that of men’s. Allah, the Almighty, has stated in the Quran:

يُوصِيكُمُ اللّهُ فِي أَوْلاَدِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الأُنثَيَيْنِ فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَاء فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ وَ إِن كَانَتْ وَاحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ وَ لأَبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ مِمَّا تَرَكَ إِن كَانَ لَهُ وَلَدٌ فَإِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُ وَلَدٌ وَ وَرِثَهُ أَبَوَاهُ فَلأُمِّهِ الثُّلُثُ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلأُمِّهِ السُّدُسُ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِي بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ آبَآؤُكُمْ وَ أَبناؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللّهِ إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيما حَكِيمًا

“Allah charges you in regard with your children: a son’s share is equal to the share of two daughters; if the [children] are [only] daughters and two or more, their share is two thirds of the legacy, and if there is only one daughter, her share is half [of the legacy]; and each of the parents inherit one-sixth of the legacy if the deceased had children, and if the deceased had no children and the parents are the only heirs, the mother inherits one-third; if the deceased had brothers, the mother inherits one-sixth; [all this is] after executing the will and settling the debts of the deceased. You do not know which of your parents and children benefit you the most. This is Allah’s injunction; surely Allah is All-knowing, All-wise.” 

According to Islam, sons inherit twice that of daughters, brothers twice that of sisters, and husbands inherit twice that of wives, except regarding the father and mother of the deceased: if they are living at the time of their child’s death, each equally receives one sixth of the deceased’s legacy.




The practicalities and reasoning for the division of Inheritance shares in Islam are often criticized by many for being unequal and patriarchal. However, in reality, Shariah rulings are based on just and sound reasoning as will be seen in the explanation in the video below by renowned scholar Ismail ibn Musa Menk (AKA Mufti Menk). A further commentary will be provided by the writer of this article.


(VIDEO CREDITS: Video explanation by Ismail ibn Musa Menk. Animated by FreeQuranEducation)


With respect, as Muslims we are not here for a good time or a long time. For us, this life is a trial, a long exam if you must. In this exam we have roles to play and men and women complement each other as we help each other get through and succeed. Women have always been put on a pedestal in Islam and it is the men who do not practice Islam the right way that damages this pedestal and the religion. But since we are not here for a good time and this is a test, those men will be held accountable in the hereafter if they manage to escape punishment in this life.


For the fathers who want to avoid the risk of their daughters falling to the whims of a bad son who does not fulfil his duties to care and provide for her with his additional inheritance share, the father can always give an equal share to the daughter in the form of a gift at the earlier stages of his life. That is permitted for such situations.


Remember, in Islam, for the women who work and earn, their money is theirs. It cannot be touched by anyone. They have no obligations towards anyone. Whereas for a man, we are obligated to provide for our sisters, parents, sons, daughters and our family, and failure to meet these obligations is a severe sin. These are the workings of Islam and yes, in reality, many men are scum who hide behind the religion and perverse its rulings to justify their greed and patriarchy. However,  there are many more men who uphold these teachings the right way – which is why Islam has survived for so long and will continue to do so.


In today’s time, many may not agree with this as the modern and western ideology is equality between men and women. As Muslim men, we do not agree with this concept of equality because a woman is indeed greater than a man. The woman has the strength to not only conquer the world intellectually and physically but also to create a new world and bring it to life. A woman can do everything a man can, and can also do things a man can never do. The love a mother has for a child will always be greater than any other love.


In terms of priority in Islam; After God, it’s the Prophet Mohammed, and then it is our mother, our mother, our mother (3 times) and only then our father. (Riyad as-Saliheen Book 1, Hadith 316)
Islam says paradise lies at the feet of the mother, daughters are deemed as blessings and keys to paradise (Ibn ‘Abbas) and the best of you are those who are the best in behaviour to women. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi 1162)


Please do not judge the religion by the actions of bad men who perverse it for their selfishness. Remember, take away the religion and the bad men will just find another way. It’s not the religion to blame.


Lastly, as Muslims we do not seek the worlds approval. Many may not agree with the way Muslim women dress and our concept of gender roles. Many may not agree with our teachings and the teachings we pass onto our kids. We are not here for those people or for society’s acceptance. Take away our mosques and we will continue to pray on the road, take away our rights to dress how we please and we will continue to cover ourselves with whatever we can find. Our focus was never society, our focus is Paradise. Understand that and you will understand why we persevere and pray through all the hardship everyone throws our way.


(If anything has been inaccurately stated, that is the writer’s mistake and not the religion. Feel free to inquire further and seek the counsel and perspective of others while also carrying out independent research)

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