Man and woman are created to complement each other. They are both equal in the sight of God. They are equally and severally responsible for their acts. However, they were deprived of their social rights some 14 centuries ago. Even in the west, women's right of property ownership was acknowledged in the 19th century.

Woman had thus gained the position she deserved in the strata of society. Inheritance is the act of inheriting property: as the acquisition of real or personal property as heir to another within certain restrictions. During the time in question woman's chores were limited to household affairs and the care of her children, so that man was in charge of the maintenance of the family. Therefore, in the distribution of the estate, the fact that the woman was entitled to half of the estate of the deceased is justified considering the requirements and needs involved.

Today, the conditions have changed and the woman has been obliged to find an employment outside the four walls of her house. As the need of the woman has increased proportionately with the transformation in the working conditions, the clause related to woman's inheritance in the canonical law has, de facto, become null and void. This point should be revised by a Religious Council to be formed as it has been indicated by the spirit of the Qur'an.

(See This Book Submit your Apples of Discord to God.)


Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half… (4/11)

One can well see that the share of the male in property inherited from parents and from one's spouse is two-fold of the woman's. However, this is not a general rule. In the legal system of Islam inheritance is based on three main factors: marital tie, blood relationship and need. The Qur'an gives the burden of maintenance and the entire responsibility in matrimonial household to the husband. The husband is charged to look after not only his own wife and children but also his nearest relatives such as his parents and sisters. Given the fact that woman has no employment outside her household affairs and the care of her children, regardless of her own financial status, except for her optional and moral responsibility, is free to contribute or not to the household expenditures, and to enjoy, as she deems best, her right to dispose of her possessions. Thus, while man's assets would go on decreasing, woman's wealth would increase; she might even use her possessions as operating capital. If one studies closer the Qur'an, it becomes clear that woman's position is better secured than her husband's. The contemporary economic conditions created by urbanization and civilization necessitate woman's employment outside the four walls of her house so that she may have a share in the running expenses of the household, let alone the fact that not only the spouses but also all the members of a family are expected to earn a living.


… For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children;… (4/11)

… 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; … (4/12)

As one can observe, the parents, the sisters and the brothers get equal shares. This is clear enough to dispel the prejudice and unfounded opinion that anti-Islamic allegations to the effect that woman in every respect gets half of what the legatee has left.

In the Law on Inheritance based on matrimonial ties, blood relationship and need principle male and female inheritors are entitled to equal shares in consideration of their position as regards the need principle.


Allah (thus) directs you as regards your Children's (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half … (4/11)

Woman's share in the state is not half of the man's. Only if the deceased has left only daughters, and more than two at that, they have a two third share. While if there is just one daughter her share is half.


In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts… (4/12)

This means that woman enjoys all civil and social rights. She may transact business, receive and give loans, bequeath and inherit property, while her will is duly executed. This is a major development as regards women's rights.

Woman's right of ownership of property was acknowledged in the west towards the end of the nineteenth century. At the time of revelation of the Qur'an, woman was considered as chattel and deprived of a great many social rights. The Qur'an came to the assistance of women and raised her to the rank she deserved. (See. Prof. Dr. Süleyman Ateş, Yüce Kur'an'ın Çağdaş Tefsiri Say: 2/233)


"Under the influence of contemporary urbanization, of aggravating economic conditions, and of inefficiency of religious and moral education, we observe a rising of egoism, an unmitigated individualism and widespread irresponsibility… Men continue to acquire greater portion of the legacy of the deceased as compared to women as had been the custom prior to the legislation of the Civil Code, while he refrains from fulfilling the obligations that the former canonical law entailed, leading to the encroachment on her rights. This creates a wrong impression and exposes the canonical law to unjustified disapproving looks. The man gets the larger part of a legacy but refrains from fulfilling the obligations it used to entail, the balance will be disturbed."

(See. DivanTaşilmihal II Say:248)


The Qur'an gave the charge of running the household to men; thus, in view of the need that man would cater for, it found it advisable to apportion him two-fold of the legacy as compared to the woman's share in it. Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has given the one more (strength) than the other, and because they support them from their means… (4/34) During Muhammad's time, women who provided their own means hardly existed; it was man who worked and brought in money. In addition to his own family, he also had to take care of his younger brothers and sisters and of the grand parents. On the other hand, the woman, entitled to half of the legacy, was free to contribute or not to the household expenses. It follows that the law of inheritance was well advised if one considers the prevalent conditions.

The hard economic conditions of our century, plus the lack of proper religious and secular education, allowed the men before the imposition of the Civil Code and even afterward, to get the lion's share of the legacy, and disregard the obligation to cater for the needs of his family. Moreover, boys, as had been the custom, had the prerogative to study while girls were left deprived of education and obliged to do the household chores. This was a great injustice.