A Female Inherits Only Half Of A Male’s Portion
A female inherits only half of a male’s portion and her testimony is regarded as
half a man’s testimony. Though the general public is not aware of this fact, the
Qur’anic text is very blunt concerning this matter, and is also acknowledged by
all the Muslim scholars without exception.
First, concerning an inheritance, The Qur’an clearly indicates:
"Allah chargeth you concerning your children—to the male a portion equivalent
to that of two females" (Chapter 4: 11).
This is in regard to a man’s offspring, whether they are males or females. The
same concept is applied to the brothers and sisters of a deceased person. The
"If there be brethren - men and women - unto the male, the equivalent of the
portion of two females" (Surah 4: 176).
This matter is a well-known fact and practiced all over the Islamic world.
Al-Bukhari, al-Jalalan and al-Baydawi
The Bukhari alluded to it (part 6, p.55), as well as the Jal-alan in their famous
commentary (p.65). We read:
"A male may have the portion of two females if they are related to each other.
He takes half of the inheritance and the two females take the other half. If
the male has one sister only, she takes one-third of it and he takes two-thirds"
On page 66, the Jalalan says:
"If he leaves his parents an inheritance, his mother takes one-third and the
Al-Baydawi (page 104) and the rest of the scholars follow the same interpretation
which is based on the indisputable Qur’anic verse.
The Contemporary Scholars
1) In his book, "Islam in the Face of Modern Challenges", Abu al-a’la al-Mawdudi
"There is no room in Islam for the idea that a woman’s portion of an inheritance
be equivalent to the man’s portion. The prohibitory reason is one of decisive
Islamic laws" (p.264).
The Sheikh al-Sha’rawi
He also acknowledges this fact in part II of his book, "You Ask and Islam Answers":
"The portion for a woman from an inheritance is half of the man’s portion
because a woman is not responsible for her livelihood but rather the man is
the responsible one (p 39, part 2).
French Philosopher, Roge Jaroudi
Even the French philosopher, Roge Jaroudi, who was converted to Islam reiterates
in the magazine, "The League of the Islamic World" (the issue of February/March,
1984), the same logic of al-Sha’rawi. Jaroudi says:
"Concerning the inheritance, it is true that the female inherits half of the
portion her brother inherits, but in view of that, the responsibility of
taking care of her falls on her brother’s shoulder" (p.39).
Dr. Ahmad Shalabi repeated the same meaning in his book, "The History of Islamic
Legislation" (p. 137).
The statement of al-Sha’rawi and the French philosopher that a woman should inherit
half of the portion because man is the one who bears responsibility for her
livelihood is a meaningless and unacceptable justification because it is very
possible that a woman may be much more in need of the money than her brother.
Why should she receive only half of what her brother inherits from his parents?
Is it not possible that the sister may be married to a poor man and have many
children, while her brother may be a rich businessman or single without
Even if the sister is still single, why should her brother receive double her
portion from the inheritance and have control over her expenditures? He may spend
the money on his own pleasures while his sister could be wiser and more prudent
than her brother, who may be younger than she. These situations happen daily in
Arab and Islamic countries. Any man takes twice what his sister receives. The
only reason for it is the inequality between females and males. Why does this
happen? Al-Mawdudi tells us it is because this is one of the decisive Islamic
laws based on an indisputable Qur’anic verse in the Chapter of Women. This is
the inequality of unfair Islamic law.
Secondly, what about a woman’s testimony before the court and in business
contracts? In the Chapter of the Cow (282), we read:
"From among your men, two witnesses, and if two men be not at hand then a
man and two women of such as you approve as witnesses, so that if the one
erreth (through forgetfulness) the other will remember (and we read about
what Muhammad said about the testimony of a woman)."
The Ancient Scholars
Scholars have agreed upon the interpretation of this verse which is recorded in
the chapter of the Cow concerning the testimony of women because it is very
conspicuous and unquestionable. We would like to refer briefly here to the
statements of al-Baydawi and the Jalalan. The Jalalan says (on page 41):
"There must be two adult free Muslim witnesses. If they are not available
then (let it be) a man and two women. (The reason for having) numerous women
is that if one of them forgot something because of lack of intelligence, the
other one would remind her."
These are the same words of Muhammad and the Qur’an.
On page 64, the Baydawi says:
"The two men must be two free Muslims, or one man and two women. (The reason
for having) numerous women is because of their lack of intelligence and to
obtain accurate information."
But the statement of the Jalalan and Bawdawi that the witness should be "two
free Muslims" is because Islam does not accept the testimony of non-Muslims or
slaves, as we will see later.
Nobody denies this about Islam, including all the Azhar scholars as well as the
Saudi and Pakistani scholars. Among them, the Grand Imam Dr. Mahmud Shaltut
emphasizes this point in his book, "Islam: A Dogma And A Law" (p.237).
In its February/March, 1985 issue (p.17), the magazine, "The League of the
Islamic World", records for us an incident which took place in Pakistan during
the enactment of some of the Islamic laws. The magazine says:
"Three groups of women demonstrated against the new law which gives women only
half of the men’s rights when they sign business contracts. These groups which
are located in Lahore in Pakistan, say that this law, derived from Islamic Law,
intends to insult women and debase their dignity."
It is obvious that any intelligent, thinking man who enjoys a sensitive conscience
would object to this unfair Islamic law, just as these female groups objected. How
could a woman’s testimony be regarded as half of a man’s testimony in court and
when signing business contracts? The same magazine also published on the same
page, the response of Dr. Aly Farrukha, Director of Islamic Studies in Chicago,
in which he says:
"The issue of a woman’s testimony in court is a divine order which necessitates
that a woman who is a witness should be accompanied by another woman in order
to remind her if she forgets (some details) and to correct her if she makes an
error. This verdict does not intend to insult women but rather to help them."
This is the conclusion of Dr. Farruka, who senses that this law really does insult
women, but tries to defend Muhammad, the Qur’an and Islamic law. However, the
insult is inevitable and there is no way to avoid it. The statement of Dr. Aly
that there is a need for two women in opposition to one man in the case of
testimony in order to help the women not to forget or to be corrected if she
makes an error, is a polite statement, though it does not negate that in Islam,
women are treated as second class and cannot be trusted to be accurate when
witnessing in court.
Actually Muhammad was more pointed than Dr. Aly Farrukha. He expressed his
without any vagueness. He says that the reason that a woman’s testimony is regarded
as equal to one half of a man’s testimony is not to help her but because she is
short of intelligence!
Taken from http://answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/btv3.html#CH3 (Note: We do not necessarily endorse this site or its views.)