An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

The Share of Parents (Ayah 11)

The text, moving to the share of the parents of the deceased, mentioned three states:

  1. Firstly, the deceased may have left behind parents who are still alive, and children too, whether only one boy or girl, in which case, the father and mother will get 1/6 each. The legacy that remains will go to children, wife or husband. There are particular circumstances when some of the remainder returns back to the father which is in addition to the one-sixth fixed for him. In the terminology of ‘Ilm-ul-Faraid’ (the Science of the Laws of Inheritance), such entitlement is known as the entitlement of “Tasib” (agnatic kinship).
  2. Secondly, under a situation when the deceased has no children brothers or sisters, but does have parents still living, the mother will get 1/3 of the inherited property while the father will get the remaining two-third. This rule governs a situation when the husband or the wife of the deceased is not alive to share in his inheritance. If the husband or wife is present, their share will be taken out first and from what remains, 1/3 will go to the mother and 2/3 to the father.
  3. Thirdly, under a situation when the deceased has no children but does have brothers and sisters whose number is two, whether two brothers or two sisters or more than two, then under that situation, the mother will get one-sixth and, if there are no other heirs, then remaining 5/6 will go the father. As evident, the presence of brothers and sisters has reduced the share of the mother, but the brothers and sisters will get nothing because the father is nearer as compared to brothers and sisters. What remains will go to the father. In this situation, the share of the mother has come to 1/6 instead of 1/3. In the terminology of ‘Faraid’ this is known as “Hajb al-Nuqsan”. The presence of these brothers and sisters causing reduction in the share of parents, irrespective of whether they are real or whether they are from the same father but different mother or whether from the same mother but different father, under all such conditions, their presence will reduce the share of the mother – subject to their being more than one.

The text after describing the fixed share says,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيماً حَكِيماً فَرِيضَةً مِّنَ اللَّهِ ءَابَآؤُكُمْ وَأَبناؤُكُمْ لاَ تَدْرُونَ أَيُّهُمْ أَقْرَبُ لَكُمْ نَفْعاً

It means, these shares for children and parents have been determined by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala Himself in His infinite wisdom because He is Wise and He knows everything. The shares fixed have great considerations behind them. If the distribution of inheritance was left to your opinion, you would have chosen a different criterion. But who will be the best to receive or deliver real benefit is something which would have been difficult for you to ascertain with any measure of certainty. Therefore, ‘nearness in kinship’ was preferred to ‘being beneficial’ as the criterion of the command.

This ayah of the Qur’an clearly declares that the shares of inheritance determined by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala are settled commands from Him. Nobody has any right to enforce opinion or to increase or decrease its stipulations. These should be accepted whole-heartedly. This command from everyone’s Creator and Master is based on what is wise and beneficial for human beings. There is no aspect of benefit outside the expanse of His knowledge and there is no command He gives bereft of some or the other element of wisdom. Man cannot, all by himself, recognize his gain and loss in the real sense. If this question of the distribution of inheritance was left to man’s personal opinion, it was certain that man would not have decided correctly because of his limitations in understanding and, as a result of which, lack of moderation and justice would have affected the distribution of inheritance.

So, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala in His most exalted majesty took this responsibility in His hands so that justice and equity reign supreme in the distribution of property and the capital left by the deceased circulates in the hands of competent inheritors in a manner which is just and equitable.

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