FATWA: Why would Allah give men inheritance rights that are superior to women?

ASA Dr. Abou El Fadl,



I need to understand why Allah would give men inheritance rights that are superior to women.  I believe Allah is Just and I am not understanding the text. Recently, my father in law passed away and the estate was dissolved and funds transferred to the family members.  My husband and his brother received much more than their sisters and I don’t understand the wisdom behind this.  Help!


[Name Withheld for Privacy]




Al-salamu ‘alaykum,


Thank you for writing me but I fear what I have to say will not be very satisfying.  Originally, men were given a higher share because they were the financially responsible parties.  Women could demand that they be supported by their brothers, fathers, uncles, or even older cousins.  Today there is no justification for this law because as we know in Islamic jurisprudence if the operative cause changes the law must change.  I am sorry you, like so many Muslim women, have been treated unfairly.  When I received my inheritance, my brother and I gave my sister her equal share because we recognized that this is the truly Islamic and just thing to do.  Perhaps you could read my books Speaking in God’s Name or Reasoning With God if you want further clarification.  Sometimes following the literal rules found in the text without understanding the historical circumstances leads to a great deal of injustice.  May Allah forgive us all our sins and misdeeds.


With sincere regards,


Dr. Abou El Fadl