Under Islam, the wealth of a deceased person is divvied up in a number of ways and isnt just limited to his/her immediate family. The wife and children get a share, and so do the deceased brothers (sisters also?) and parents/grandparents, depending on who is alive when he/she passes away. The portions vary according to who is alive at the time of one’s death. Adopted or fostered children of the deceased do not have any right to the inheritance. More can be read about it here

There’s always been debate surrounding why there is a difference in the share of inheritance certain siblings receive – particularly females. And the answer usually given the brothers/males are given a larger share because they are in effect responsible for the females of the household and therefore their share of the inheritance would (i am assuming) go in that spending pot.

Even in the event of divorceor their husband’s death, women get their share of inheritance as stipulated by Islamic Law in the same way as men get their share. However, unlike men, women are not responsible for maintaining any relative, irrespective of their sound financial standing. The husband is not at liberty to help his relatives at the detriment of his own family.

But perhaps its just me, but haven’t family dynamics changed? Does an extended family unit exist? If it does, is it “close knit”? Because I very much doubt so. Do brothers still “provide” for their sisters if the father is deceased? Is that “responsibility” emphasised to them and understood as they understand the responsibility the father has towards the family? I’ve only seen this happening in the Indian Subcontinent (the women don’t work because they can’t, or there are no jobs, or become seamstresses to generate some income which is meagre) because thats the only place I am familar with. Is it similar in the Middle East and Arab countries?

Anywhere else (particularly in the West), the sisters are expected to work themselves. There is no-one to “look out for them” aside from the mother and perhaps the brothers if she is in some dire need. Aside from that, she is expected to pave her own way and make her own money.

Most women I know work themselves and generate their own income, and the brother’s are in employment and have their own money because they can’t afford to run the household, their own expenses AND spend on their (female) siblings. Some households have the women contributing towards the finances of the home and without their input they’d be in financial difficulty. They of course do so willingly because the family home is their home also and they believe helping out their father (and mother) is their responsibility.

So from the above POV, wouldnt the lesser inheritance share be inadequate for such a family arrangement? I understand that if the women receive a larger share they are in effect infringing and usurping the share of another but would that not be based on “need” and who would “need” a larger share? Would the deceased parents and grandparents “need” the amount of share they receive? Obviously it’d probably be better to give them their share and then ask for a percentage of it but those decisions would be better made depending on the character of the parents/grandparents and how willingly they’d understand and see your request for the share (insert myriad of family politics in here)

This response states that she may end up receiving “more” than her brothers

Another matter they arouse when they imagine that the woman s share in inheritance always equals to half the man s share of it, depending on what Allah, The All-High says: To the male, a portion equal to that of two females. [Al-Nisa 4:11] ! It is mere an illusion springing from deep inexcusable ignorance, for the Quran decides this verdict only in one case: when the testator dies leaving male and female children or brothers and sisters. It is well known that both of the son and the brother make their sisters their partners in possessing the rest of the inheritance after the owners of the other shares have had their shares. In such a case the brother- who has made his sister a partner-receives twice as much share as his sister who has been made partner. In all the other cases the man and the woman are equal in the limited inheritance portions, and the woman s potion may even exceed the man s in many cases.

I dont think thats necessarily true, and is entirely dependent on the dynamics of the family, the relationship between the siblings and of course whether they actually wish to make their brother or sister a “partner” in possession of the rest of the inheritance. Its too simplified an assumption to make.

The following snippet is in relation to bequests and gifts stated in a person’s will

However, the question arises as to whether it is necessary to distribute the estate equally between the children? The answer to this is that it is permissible to give the male children twofold of that given to the female children, as it would have been distributed as inheritance. It is also permissible to give all the children, male and female, equal shares. However, to give less than this to the daughters or to completely deprive them of any share, or to be unjust in the distribution of the wealth among the sons, without a valid Shar’i reason, is considered to be blameworthy and sinful. One will be sinful for favouring one child over the other, although the gift will stand as valid.

Yes, if there is an Islamically valid reason, such as one child being extremely disobedient or involved in open sinning, it would be permitted to give him/her less. (See: Radd al-Muhtar)

More can be read about the procedures of making a will in accordance to Shariah here

Im wondering if the above is applicable to actual shares of inheritance? The following is in relation to denying someone of their share in the inheritance

There is no way you can deny him the right to inheritance, since whatever you possess at your death will pass on to the inheritors immediately.

However, if you distributed your wealth to your other children before your death (and before any terminal illness), that would be permissible. In this way nothing will remain in your possession at your death to inherit by anyone. You will have to transfer complete ownership to them before your death for this to be a valid transfer.

Is the only reason for brothers inheriting a larger share of wealth due to maintenance and provision for the female siblings, or are there other reasons for it? Is divvying up the inheritance according to Sunni Law the ONLY way a Muslim can share out their wealth and any other way is seen as “unIslamic”?

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