"...to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females" (Quran 4:11). Now in Islam a female chemist and loving mom would receive half the inheritance as her brother upon the death of their parents. Is this fair? Is it logical?
A DEBATE QUESTION: Do some Muslims believe Muhammad and Allah made a mistake when they decreed that a sister should inherit just half of what her brother inherits [Quran 4:11]?
At least one survey suggests that this is so!! In looking at the results of the survey just below, observe that in no country do all Muslims agree that a sister should receive half the inheritance of her brother; in some countries like Turkey and Indonesia, strong majorities believe that a son and a daughter should receive equal shares.
"We have made the Qur'an easy in your language so that they may take heed it." (Qur'an 44:58). Yet if this was true, then we would expect that different Muslims would reach the same conclusions pertaining to cases of inheritance. But do they?
Please now consider the case in which a husband dies, and leaves as his sole heirs his wife and his 2 parents. His mother would receive 1/3 of his estate according to Quran 4:11: "...and if he have no child and his parents are his heirs, then to his mother a third ..." Quran 4:12 indicates that the wife would get 1/4 of the estate: "...And unto them [the wives or wife] belongs the fourth of that which you leave..." And the father would get the rest (5/12 of the estate), since Muhammad had decreed: "The Prophet said, "Give the Fara'id, (the shares prescribed in the Qur'an) to those who are entitled to receive it, and then whatever remains, should be given to the closest male relative of the deceased." [Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 80, Number 729}. The Islamic Inheritance Calculator found at Lubnaa.com Inheritance Calculator yields exactly these fractions for the 3 heirs (that is, 1/4 for the wife, 1/3 for the mother, and 5/12 for the father).
HOWEVER, other Muslims (and other Islamic Inheritance Calculators) note that because of Quran 4:11, the mother would still get 1/3 of the estate if instead only the parents were heirs; should not this portion be reduced by the presence of an additional close heir, the wife? If so, then observe that the father gets twice what the mother receives if only the parents are heirs -- one can retain this 2 to 1 ratio between the parents even if the wife too is also an heir. That is to say, if the wife gets 1/4 of the estate, you could apportion the rest so that the mother gets 1/4 and the father gets twice that of the mother, or 1/2. This rule of inheritance for this case is attributable to Islam's second caliph, Omar, who led the Muslims not long after Muhammad's death. Islamic Inheritance Calculators such as IRTH: The Islamic Inheritance Program and Islamic Inheritance Calculator use Omar's rule to get 1/4 for both wife and for mother, and 1/2 for the father. Yet Omar's rule is found neither in the Quran nor among the other sayings of Muhammad, and Omar was not "A Prophet of Allah."
So Muslims disagree on how to handle this particular inheritance case. Moreover, pertinent disagreements between Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims with regards to other inheritance cases can be found at this link. Our Debate Question is "Has the Quran been "made easy," or could Muhammad and Allah made inheritance instructions more clear?"
Maintaining Wives for a Year after their husband's Death: Quran 2:240, and its Effect on Islamic Inheritance.
Husbands, daughters, sisters, etc., have their shares of inheritance assigned by Quranic verses 4:11, 4:12, and 4:176. Yet Quran 2:240, which states: "And those who are taken in death among you and leave wives behind - for their wives is a bequest: maintenance for one year (2:240) without turning [them] out," can have a profound effect, that is often ignored by Islamic Inheritance Calculators.
For example, suppose a husband with 50,000 euros in possession dies and leaves as heirs four wives and 1 son. According to this Islamic Inheritance Calculator, the wives each receive 3% (around 1,500 euros) each, while the son receives 88% (about 44,000 euros). But if the Muslim husband follows Allah's commands (fearing hell-fire if he does not), then he would have stipulated perhaps in a will that each of his wives would receive a decent amount of money (say 10,000 euros) to maintain their lives for a year (and each wife would receive quite possibly even $300 more (3%) from the remaining 10,000 euros). Consequently, the son would receive not 88% but no more than 20% (10,000 Euros).
Our Debate Question: Do you believe that most Muslim men in places such as Afghanistan and Yemen, particularly those in polygamous marriages, are in a position to comply with Quran 2:240 & leave each of their wives enough money to survive for a full year?
In distributing the wealth of a deceased benefactor, are Muslims given freedom or at least some flexibility in determining the portions each of the heirs shall receive? Suppose a deceased father has two heirs: a wealthy son and a daughter living in great poverty. If most of the father's wealth were given to the daughter, it would lift her out of poverty. Yet one is confronted by not just by the decree of Quran 4:11: "Allah charges you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females," but also by the threat in the nearby verse, Quran 4:14: And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses His limits - He will put him into the Fire to abide eternally therein."
So, to avoid being tortured forever by Allah, any Muslim distributing the wealth of the dead father must ensure that the wealthy son gets twice as much as the impoverished daughter. Alas, no Debate Question here.
Islamic Inheritance & the Non-Muslim. Usama b. Zaid reported Allah's Messenger as saying: A Muslim is not entitled to inherit from a non-Muslim, & a non-Muslim is not entitled to inherit from a Muslim. [Sahih Muslim 3928]. This has notable conse-quences
Though in Islam a Muslim woman is not permitted to marry a non-Muslim, a Muslim man can marry outside the faith. So if a Muslim orphan marries a Christian lady, has two children with her who both become Christian, and then dies before his wife & children do, Muhammad's declaration above would mean that no one in his family would inherit any of his wealth! To be sure, in Islam non-Muslims are "the worst of creatures" (Quran 98:6), but nonetheless should the children still not receive anything at all from their father?
Say instead that in our example both children had become Muslim and that the Christian wife died first. What Muhammad has decreed would mean that neither the father nor the children would inherit anything as a result of the wife's death. Is this the best result?
Finally, consider the case of a Muslim individual with no other family members alive, and who wishes to leave his entire fortune to charity. Does Muhammad's decree compel this individual to seek to bequeath his fortune to charities that only benefit Muslims?