Q: The people of Banu Malik tribe in
have ancestral customs that
deprive women of their shares of inheritance
when dividing the estate. So, the estate, including residential lots, houses, farms, livestock and money, is distributed to males only. Sometimes, the tribal chiefs are present at the time of distribution. Moreover, no woman dares claim her share as decreed by Allah (Exalted be He). (Part No. 16; Page No. 496) Indeed, the issue of women's inheritance is even blotted out by the whole tribe and the majority of the tribe's women ignore their due portions of inheritance as ordained by Allah (Exalted be He). It seems as if distributing inheritance to males is Halal (lawful) while to females is Haram (prohibited). Even when reminding those who distribute the inheritance about what is stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah about the due inheritance division, they claim to acknowledge that their female relatives are entitled to inherit. But, they are not going to give them their portions as long as the women do not ask. The reason is that the males know well that their female relatives will not demand their shares because of their ignorance and because they do not want to transgress the tribal customs that deny the females' rights of inheritance, regardless of their need for money or the richness of their male relatives. Also, some of the tribe's males find it dishonorable that their fathers' estates, particularly the lots and farms, are shared with their brothers-in-law or nephews. Moreover, when issuing the title deeds of the property, it suffices to mention the names of the female inheritors therein. But the only real beneficiaries and those who have the right to dispose of the property are the males. Furthermore, upon selling an item of the estate, the men only convince the females, who are entitled to inherit according to the title deed, to accept selling and make cession of the sold item. Even when acting benevolently, the men would just give their female relatives some of the price of the sold item like what they would give to the needy. They call this sum of money Basatah or Radwa (as a sort of satisfaction) by which they silence these poor females. So please give us advice and provide us with the legal instructions in this regard!
(Part No. 16; Page No. 497)
Allah (Exalted be He) says:
There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether the property be small or large - a legal share.
Allah (Exalted be He) also says:
Allâh commands you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females; if (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half.
And He (Exalted be He) says:
If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third, after payment of legacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts
He (Exalted be He) also says:
They ask you for a legal verdict. Say: “Allâh directs (thus) about Al-Kalâlah (those who leave neither descendants nor ascendants as heirs). If it is a man that dies leaving a sister, but no child, she shall have half the inheritance. If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, her brother takes her inheritance. If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance; if there are brothers and sisters, the male will have twice the share of the female.
And He (Exalted be He) says:
For parents, a sixth share of inheritance to each if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers or (sisters), the mother has a sixth.
Besides, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to give the grandmother one sixth (of the inheritance).
(Part No. 16; Page No. 498) The scholars unanimously agreed on that. Allah (Exalted be He) says about the inheritance of wives:
In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth if you leave no child; but if you leave a child, they get an eighth of that which you leave
So, the Hadith mentioned above and the Sayings of Allah clarify that women have the right to inherit whether they are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters or wives. Allah (Exalted be He) laid down the laws of inheritance and called them the Limits He sets. Therefore, whoever does not comply and does not give women their due share of inheritance, disobeys Allah (Exalted be He) and His Messenger (peace be upon him), rebels against His Decrees and transgresses the Limits He sets. Also, whoever deprives women of their inheritance while knowing the ruling in this regard, is Kafir (disbeliever) according to Ijma` (consensus of scholars). Thus, after clarifying the laws of distributing inheritance to males and females, Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He) says:
These are the limits (set by) Allâh (or ordainments as regards laws of inheritance), and whosoever obeys Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success.
And whosoever disobeys Allâh and His Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.
It is thus obligatory to repent of depriving women of inheritance and the guilty person should give them (Part No. 16; Page No. 499) their due shares as decreed by Allah (Exalted be He) Who gives everyone his due right. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
Give the Fara'id (the shares of the inheritance that are prescribed in the Qur'an) to those who are entitled to receive it. Then whatever remains, should be given to the closest male relative of the deceased.
May Allah grant us success. May Allah's Peace and Blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.