The Daughter’s Share in Inheritance
Economic Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

Why are women treated as inferior to men in Islam? Of the many things that have continued to bother my mind is the share daughters get in relation to their brothers. As a brother, I feel ashamed that I would be getting double my sister’s share. Please clarify.


It needs to be appreciated that the law of inheritance as stated in the Qur’ān is based on the underlying cause of ‘the benefit of kinship’:

You know not who among your children and parents are nearest to you in benefit. This is the law of God. Indeed, God is Wise and all-Knowing. (4:11)

In other words, the directive in reality does not pertain to the relatives but is related to the underlying cause present in this relationship, which actually entitles them to become the heirs. Consequently, the basic reason why the share of a son is more than that of a daughter is the fact that in the life of parents the son is usually more beneficial to them than the daughter. This is so simple a fact that it can be easily understood in societies where the institution of family is still very strong and has deep roots. In a family system, parents become dependent on the children as they grow old. The ease and comfort they feel in living with a son is much more than what they feel while living with a daughter. The simple reason is that a son is independent in taking decisions while a daughter, once she gets married, is actually more dependent on her own husband and is not so independent. The modern western mind feels averse to this distribution because the family system is dwindling in their society. Parents are generally more uncomfortable in living with either the son or the daughter, both of whom become independent at a very early age. So I would say that they can only understand if they are first able to grasp the importance of the institution of family.

A point which may be worth mentioning here is that there may be cases even in societies having a strong family system where a daughter may prove more beneficial to her parent(s) than the son; in this case, the provision is there in Islamic law whereby a parent in his lifetime can gift as much wealth as is deemed necessary to the daughter. Similarly, there may be the case that the daughter in her specific circumstances may need more money; here again wealth can be gifted to her. Parents can even deprive a son(s) from inheritance if the son(s) becomes ‘non-beneficial’ to them in any way.

In short, the 2:1 ratio pertains to normal circumstances; in exceptional ones there are many remedies in Islamic law – some of which I have tried to explain.

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