An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer of Surah an-Nisa Ayah 11 [Part 1]

Males Get Two Times the Share of Females for Inheritance

People entitled to inheritance were briefly mentioned in ayah 7 of the previous section which also carries details about some kinds of those so entitled. Also given there are their shares under different circumstances. More details in this connection shall be appearing later towards the end of this Surah. Remaining shares have been identified in ahadith. Muslim jurists have collected and codified all details of the rules of inheritance from the Qur’an and Hadith, giving it the status of a permanent science known as Ilm-ul-Faraid (the Science of the Laws of Inheritance).

The present ayah describes shares for children and parents along with some related aspects of inheritance.

Allah said,

يُوصِيكُمُ اللَّهُ فِى أَوْلَـدِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الاٍّنْثَيَيْنِ

“Allah commands you for your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females;” Allah commands: observe justice with your children. The people of Jahiliyyah used to give the males, but not the females, a share in the inheritance. Therefore, Allah commands that both males and females take a share in the inheritance, although the portion of the males is twice as much as that of the females. There is a distinction because men need money to spend on their dependants, commercial transactions, work and fulfilling their obligations. Consequently, men get twice the portion of the inheritance that females get. Allah’s statement,

يُوصِيكُمُ اللَّهُ فِى أَوْلَـدِكُمْ لِلذَّكَرِ مِثْلُ حَظِّ الاٍّنْثَيَيْنِ

testifies to the fact that Allah is more merciful with children than their own parents are with them, since He commands the parents to be just and fair with their own children. An authentic Hadith stated that a captured woman was looking for her child and when she found him, she held him and nursed him. The Messenger of Allah said to his Companions, “Do you think that this woman would willingly throw her child in the fire?” They said, “No, O Messenger of Allah.” He said, “By Allah! Allah is more merciful with His servants than this woman is with her own child.”


Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, “The custom (in old days) was that the property of the deceased would be inherited by his offspring; as for the parents (of the deceased), they would inherit by the will of the deceased. Then Allah cancelled whatever He willed from that custom and ordained that the male get twice the amount inherited by the female, and for each parent a sixth (of the whole legacy), for the wife an eighth or a fourth, and for the husband a half or a fourth.”

The Share of the Females When They are the Only Eligible Heirs

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

فَإِن كُنَّ نِسَآءً فَوْقَ اثْنَتَيْنِ فَلَهُنَّ ثُلُثَا مَا تَرَكَ

“if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance;” We should mention here that some people said the Ayah only means two daughters, and that `more’ is redundant, which is not true. Nothing in the Qur’an is useless or redundant. Had the Ayah been talking about only two women, it would have said, “The share of both of them is two-thirds.” As for the daughters, two or more, the ruling that they get two-thirds was derived from this Ayah, stating that the two sisters get two-thirds. We also mentioned the Hadith in which the Prophet commanded that two-thirds be the share of the two daughters of Sa`d bin Ar-Rabi`. So this is proven in the Book and the Sunnah.

وَإِن كَانَتْ وَحِدَةً فَلَهَا النِّصْفُ

“if only one, her share is half.” If there are two daughters, then there are texts to prove they share a half. Therefore, two-thirds is the share of the two daughters or sisters, and Allah knows best.

Share of the Parents in the Inheritance

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

وَلاًّبَوَيْهِ لِكُلِّ وَحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ

“For parents, a sixth share of inheritance to each” There are several forms of the share that the parents get in the inheritance.

1. If the deceased left behind children, the parents get a sixth each. When the deceased had only one daughter, she gets half of the inheritance and the parents each one sixth, and another sixth is given to the father.

2. When the parents are the only inheritors, the mother gets one-third while the father gets the remaining two-thirds. In this case, the father’s share will be twice the mother’s share. If the deceased had a surviving spouse, the spouse gets half, in the case of a husband, or a fourth in the case of a surviving wife. In both cases, the mother of the deceased gets one-third of the remaining inheritance. This is because the remaining portion of the inheritance is treated just as the entire legacy in regard to the parents’ share. Allah has given the mother one-half of what the father gets. Therefore, the mother gets a third of the remaining inheritance while the father gets two-thirds.

3. If the deceased left behind surviving brothers and sisters, whether half brothers, half sisters or from the same father and mother, their presence does not cause reduction in the father’s share. Yet, their presence reduces the share of the mother to one-sixth instead of one-third, and the father gets the rest, when there are no other heirs.

Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Qatadah commented on the Ayah,

فَإِن كَانَ لَهُ إِخْوَةٌ فَلاٌّمِّهِ السُّدُسُ

If the deceased left brothers or (sisters), the mother has a sixth. “Their presence will reduce the share of the mother, but they will not inherit. If there is only one surviving brother, the mother’s share will remain one-third, but her share will be reduced if there is more than one surviving brother. The people of knowledge attribute this reduction in the mother’s share from one-third (to one-sixth) to the fact that the father is the one who helps the brothers (and sisters) of the deceased get married, spending from his own money for this purpose. The mother does not spend from her money for this purpose.” This is a sound opinion.

4 thoughts on “Tafseer of Surah an-Nisa Ayah 11 [Part 1]

  1. Assalamu alaikum brother
    Please explain me suppose,
    2/3 for daughters, 1/6 and 1/6 for both parents, other 1/8 for wife,
    If add sons share with the above case (1),
    then how will calculate 100% wealth as per ratio after distributing all will or debts.

    Jazak Allahu khairan

    Kind regards
    Mohammed Mohsin

  2. If a man has two daughters and two sons but only one daughter is kind and obedient to him, so he is justified in leaving all his property to her in order to punish his other children

    1. Asalaam o alaykum wa rahmatullah,

      Islam does not approve of the concept of depriving one child of its right even if the child is rebellious or disobedient. The child will still get her share as prescribed by the Qur’an. It will unjust on the part of the man to deprive his daughter of her share.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s