Please clarify and explain the following questions.
1) How did you derive from 4:11, 4:12 & 4:112 that there are two categories of inheritors and that the first right of the property lies with the first category and then the remaining wealth/property is distributed to the second category.
2) Surah 2:180 states that “And [for protecting against feuds over wealth] it is obligatory upon you that – when death approaches one of you, if he is leaving behind some wealth – you make a will in favor of parents and the near ones, according to the recognized custom [of the society].” Please define the term “will” used in this Surah. Is the verse implying “shares” or one is obligated to write a will for the parent? I thought based on Surah 4:11 & 4:12; a person had an option to select the beneficiary of his will. And then after the will is executed and if there is any property left, that this left property must be distributed based on the shares prescribed by God in the Qur’an.
3) Why is the share of the parents (1/6) larger than the share of the wife (1/8). A wife may leave children behind and may need the highest share among any relative including parents.
Answers to your questions follow:
- It is clear that one may describe shares in two different ways. Firstly, one may prescribe the relative shares of the sharers and secondly, one may prescribe absolute shares for the sharers. Thus, one may say: ‘The wealth is to be distributed among the children equally’. In this case, even though the share of each individual child is not defined, yet the relative share of each child with that of the other child has been given (i.e., equally). The Qur’anic statement ‘each male’s share shall be that of two females’ is a similar statement, where only the relative shares – not the absolute shares – of the children have been given. Contrary to the relative shares, one may define the absolute shares. Thus, in the statement, ‘A sixth of the wealth should be given to the father’, the absolute share of the father has been given. It is a mathematical rule that whenever a statement entails both relative as well as absolute shares, then the only possible way of distributing the shares will be to allocate the absolute shares first and then divide the balance among those whose relative shares has been given. Consider the following example:
Distribute these sweets equally among all the participants of the class. If the teacher is present, then the teacher should be given one-tenths of the sweets.
The only possible way of carrying out the above directive is to first give the teacher’s share and then to divide the remaining sweets among the participants of the class equally. If, however, one were to try to first distribute all the sweets equally among the participants and then to take out the teacher’s share, one would be faced with a mathematical impossibility.
Keeping the foregoing explanation in perspective, it is clear from the Qur’anic directives relating to inheritance that the Qur’an has prescribed the shares in such a way that some of the relatives are given an absolute share, while others are given a relative share in the wealth. Thus, applying the mathematical rule explained above, it is obvious that first the absolute shares will have to be taken out and then the relative shares will be applied on the balance of the wealth.
The word ‘will’ implies bequest. It is clear that after the prescription of the Qur’anic shares, one may not make a will that alters the shares prescribed by the Qur’an, except for extremely justifiable reasons. Your stated understanding of the Qur’anic directive is correct. However, due to the fact that the Qur’an has prescribed shares for a person’s relatives, it would only be prudent that, under normal circumstances, one should not alter the shares prescribed by the Qur’an, through one’s will.
I really could not understand your question. Firstly, we know that the Qur’an has separately prescribed shares for the children. The shares of the children are not included in the share of the wife. There is no apparent reason to compare the share of the wife with that of the parents. Secondly, besides the prescribed share of inheritance for the wife, the Qur’an has also directed the man to make a bequest making adequate provisions for the maintenance and residence of the wife for at least one year, after the person’s death. Finally, there is no restriction on a person to make any and every provision for one’s wife and other dependents during one’s life. The law of inheritance does not affect or restrict such provisions.
I hope this helps.
July 23, 2005