For Sisters Only

On Matters of “Inequality”

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Raheem

I wanted to share with y’all today something that I really struggled with as a convert to Islam, and something that I think a lot of Muslimahs in general struggle with who haven’t necessarily had the time to really study the religion and wisdom behind the rulings. Today I’m talkin’ about money, and specifically, inheritance.

I think I may have mentioned these issues before, but I thought it may be useful to expand on them.

We all know that Islamically, women get less of a share of inheritance than their male family members. Islamophobes cite this as one of the reasons that Islam is inherently backward and barbaric, (some) men cite it as a reason they are “better” than women, and women are left not understanding why there is such an unfair rule in what they are told is a perfect religion. On the surface, it does seem super old-fashioned and not fair at all; I had a huge problem with it that I have been sweeping under the rug since 2014.

But then I was listening to a lecture, and the wisdom behind the verses on inheritance were mentioned. What was a passing remark for the speaker, was a big “ah-ha!” moment for me. How had I never even thought about it like that before?

Here is what the speaker explained: men get more of the inheritance because they have more of the responsibility. Simple as that.

But let me break it down in case there are some that are still not convinced, because I wasn’t either until I had a good hard think about it (don’t worry, I won’t get into any actual math because that is soooo not my thing).

In Islam, women have the right to be taken care of by their closest male relative, i.e. brother, father, husband, sons. This means that it is the Islamic duty of a man to financially take care of any woman in his family that does not have anyone else. This care includes necessities such as a roof over your head, clothing, food, and basic daily needs. This rule gives women the option to be stay-at-home wives or mothers or whatever else they want, without worrying where their and their family’s next meal will come from.

Women, however, also have the option to make their own money thought business, investment, work, inheritance, etc. The first believer, the most beloved wife of the Prophet (saws), and one of the most looked-up to women in Islamic history, Khadija (ra) was a massively successful businesswoman.

The money that women earn is also not required to go to directly to the family. A woman’s money can be spent in any way she sees fit. Things for the household, something nice for herself, charity, gifts, whatever.

So going back to the inheritance thing, men get a higher share than women because that share is going to be used for taking care of more people, whereas a woman’s share is literally all her own.

Just as an (simplistic) example, lets say a man dies leaving his wife, son, and two daughters. The son will get the biggest share, and the rest will be divided between the wife and two daughters. But, when you think about it, that money will mostly be going straight back to the women anyhow because it is now his Islamic duty to take care of their basic necessities. That son will have to take care of his mom, sisters, plus his own wife and kids if he has any, while the smaller share that the women got can be used for whatever they think best.

We can also look at the verse comes from that states that men have a “degree over women” in this light. Some construe this to mean that men have control over women and we should be blindly obedient with no regards to our own selves, but really this is referring back to that extra degree of responsibility that men have for their female relatives.

And that translates on the woman’s side into a degree of extra respect for husbands, fathers, brothers, sons, etc.

If you are going out with a friend, and you know she is paying for the whole night out, aren’t you going to be pretty likely to defer to her opinions when choosing the place, ordering food, and making other decisions on what to do?

I would.

Same goes for my husband; if I know that he is the one primarily supporting the family, wouldn’t I think that he should have some definitive say in the household decisions? I’m not saying he gets to up and do whatever he wants without talking about it at all—Islamically consultation on decisions is encouraged within not only the family but the community at large—but I am saying that if we can’t agree on what we should do with our little extra savings, maybe I can give way on that one.

These kinds of subjects are not something that need to be avoided and swept under the rug as it seems is the normal practice, but we should be open to asking the tough questions with genuine curiosity to find out the wisdom behind what seems like an “unfair” rule.

Through my recent learning and study, I have come from not really acknowledging to really appreciating the rulings on money and inheritance, as just another way that Islam came to perfect every aspect of our lives and build functioning societies. It took me such a long time to come to these conclusions myself, and I hope that in sharing them with you I can begin to clear up some of the discomfort that I know many modern-day women are feeling over this subject.

So, what do you think about it? Has this information convinced you as to the beauty of these rules, or do they still not sit right with you? I would love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments!

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8 thoughts on “On Matters of “Inequality””

  1. i read a story once about two sibling whose parents passed away, as per the laws of inheritance, the son got about R100 000 while the daughter got R 50 000. she felt discontent at first but later on she realised: her brother had spent part of it to support himself and her, around 25 000 got spent like that, later on he got married and had to pay Mehr to his wife so R50 000 went, the last 25 000 later got spent on his kids to help pay for their education. as for her, she invested it and after a number of years, it reached R100 000. above this, she got married, recieved her own mehr etc. and she never in her life had the obligation of spending it on someone/ something else. It was hers to use as and how she wished.

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  2. Thank you so much for writing this. May Allah bless u here and in the hereafter. I had the same question and for all this time I had been sweeping the matter under the rug. And looks like just how you were looking for the wisdom behind this law of inheritance and Allah finally gave you that eureka moment as a reward to your struggle for the truth, in the same manner I believe I stumbled upon this post.

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    1. Aw ameen and jazakum Allahu khairan for the lovely comment and dua 😊 that is so amazing, how Allah uses different people and situations to bring you closer to Him subhanAllah! Thank you again for your comment; I have been making lots of dua lately to always be helpful and beneficial with my writing, and this comment was like a small answer to that dua to let me know I’m on the right track! 😊

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      1. Subhan’Allah, sometimes I am just left marvelling at how intricately Allah (S.W.T) connects us through small threads and listens to all of our prayers and then shows us their results by weaving one or many aspects at the same time. I was currently in a difficult situation and I had been desperately praying for help and for my heart’s content that one day after wiping tears off my face I specifically opened your blog just to read. It was an internal inclination just like you do something out of mere intuition and then I started rummaging through all the posts and Shukaralhumdulillah, I felt soo much better and revived. I thanked Allah and have decided to read some posts from the archives daily after Fajr for as long as I can maintain that because Alhumdulillah Allah showed me way to this blog almost as a therapeutic measure. Its amazing to see how your prayer also got accepted in this way, really who could have thought two ppl in completely different parts of the world would become answers to each others’ prayers. But as is our belief, Allah indeed is the best and most able of anything He wishes to do.

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      2. SubhanAllah. You know we always think about that verse “and Allah is the best of planners” to mean that Allah has the best plan in place for each of us in our lives, but it is so stunning just how intricate His plans are. I agree, I am so often amazed at certain things in my life, even the tiniest thing, like writing a blog post, and how when I look back everything has such intricately perfect timing, and how even small actions have such far-reaching reactions that I could’ve never imagined. SubhanAllah!!

        And alhamdulillah it is so touching to know that my blog means something like that to you! I just write what is in my head and pray that it benefits someone, so it is so encouraging to see how it truly does impact someone alhamdulillah 😊

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      3. Salam and Eid Mubarak to you. May Allah bless us all on this joyous time of the year and give those sabr who are going through some hurdles or pain. Reading your comments is just as good ss reading your posts, Masha’Allah:’) I completely agree with what you said up there. Your blog doesn’t only means a lot to me but it has inspired me to create my own little category of ‘musings of a paki muslim’ where I have decided to write my experiences of Islam for converts, reverts and the whole muslim ummah in general. It’s just the start but I am sure I would be able to make my place in the muslim blogging community Insha’Allah. I really owe you for this one and want to thank you for inspiring me as even though it was only Allah (s.w.t) who made this possible, He chose your words to initiate my thought process. Thank you and Jazak’Allah

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Wa alaikum salaam and Eid Mubarak!! Ameen

        Aw thank you so much! It is so awesome to know that i was the means Allah swt used to inspire you 🙂 in shaa Allah I need to head over and check out your blog too! I have been a bit disconnected from the blogging world lately, but I am wanting to jump back in!

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