An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer of Surah an-Nisa, Ayah 11

First the Debts are Paid Off, then the Will, then the Fixed Inheritance

Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَى بِهَآ أَوْ دَيْنٍ

“(The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts.” The scholars of the Salaf agree that paying debts comes before fulfilling the will, and this is apparent to those who read the Ayah carefully. Allah said next,

ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبناؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً

“You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children, are nearest to you in benefit.” This Ayah means: We have appointed a share to the parents and children, contrary to the practice of Jahiliyyah and the early Islamic era, when the inheritance would go to the children, and parents get a share only if they were named in the will, as Ibn `Abbas stated. Allah abrogated this practice and appointed a fixed share for the children and for the parents. One may derive benefit in this life or for the Hereafter from his parents, the likes of which he could not get from his children. The opposite of this could also be true. Allah subhanahu ta’ala said,

ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبناؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً

“You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children, are nearest to you in benefit,” since benefit could come from one or the other of these relatives, We appointed a fixed share of inheritance for each. Allah knows best.

Allah said,

فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ

“ordained by Allah”, meaning: These appointed shares of inheritance that We mentioned and which give some inheritors a bigger share than others, is a commandment from Allah that He has decided and ordained,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً

“And Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.”, Who places everything in its rightful place and gives each his rightful share

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