The Position of Male and Female Heirs in Shiite Inheritance System

The position of male and female heirs in Shiite Inheritance system is different from those of its counterpart, Sunni inheritance system. The female heirs enjoyed some advancement in the Shiite inheritance system as it did not differentiate between male and female heirs in the matter of their opportunities to take the properties inherited by their deceased. As long as female and female heirs have the same proximities to the deceased, they have same position to inherit and block other heirs from inheritance.

The three classes of heirs grouped by Shiite inheritance system suggest that there are no differences between male and female heirs of the deceased in term of their chance to inherit. Every class consists of two group composing of both male and female heirs who occupy the same nearness to the deceased. The first class comprises two groups namely a) sons and daughters how low so ever and b) father and mother; the second class also comprises two groups, namely: a) brothers and sisters whether full, consanguine or uterine, and b) grandfather and grandmother whether related to the deceased from male line or female one and their descendants. And third class also consists of two groups, namely: a) uncle and aunt whether full, consanguine, or uterine related to the deceased from male line, and b) uncle and aunt whether full, consanguine, or uterine related to the deceased from female line and their descendants.

The daughter for instance, who inherits only with the brother of the deceased for instance will block the brother from inheritance as the son do, because they have different classes. The daughter exists in first class while the brother in second one considering the rule of Shiite inheritance that the first class of heirs block the second and third one. Therefore the whole of the deceased’s properties will go to the daughter and no inheritance for the brother. The condition differs from that of its counterpart, Sunni system that gives half of inheritance properties to the brother as residuary after the other half had been given to the daughter as the sharer (dzawī al-furūḍ).

On the other hand, the heirs in Shiite inheritance system based on the shares the heirs acquire can be classified into two groups, namely dhū farḍ (the sharers) and dhū qarabāt. The first group has equal meaning with dhawī al-furūḍ or aṣḥāb al-furūḍ termed by its counterpart system, Sunnite inheritance system. While the second is occupied by the heirs named by Sunnite inheritance system ‘aṣabah and dhawī al-arḥam.‘Asabah heirs who exclusively consist of male heirs related to the deceased from male lines and dhawī al-arḥām heirs who consist of male and female heirs as well related to the deceased through female lines were combined into one group the Shiite inheritance system names them dhū qarabāt.

The most prominent differences between Shiite and Sunnite inheritance system were laid down in dealing with the heirs related to the deceased through female lines. Sunnite termed them dhawī al-arḥām whereas Shiite counterpart named them dhū qarabāt similar to the heirs related to the deceased through male lines. Dhawī al-arḥām heirs (in Sunnite inheritance system) can obtain the inheritance properties in default of dhawī al-furūḍ, ‘aṣabah, mawlā mu‘tiq, ‘aṣabah li mawlā mu‘tiq, and return (radd) method. Whereas the Shiite inheritance system placed them in the second place in after the dhū farḍ heirs.

The big difference between Sunnite and Shiite inheritance is that the Shiite omitted the ‘aṣabah heirs employed by Sunnite counterpart as main heirs who take residues of the properties after satisfying the Quranic (dhū farḍ) heirs. The Shiite omitted the ‘aṣabah heirs as the verse says:

لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصيِبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاء نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ نَصِيباً مَّفْرُوضاً [النساء: 7]

For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much an obligatory share.

 

The Shiite said that the verse indicates the omission of the priority of male heirs (‘aṣabah) over female ones (dhawī al-arḥām) as the verse does not say that the residues going to the prime male heirs.[1] Therefore the verse suggests the deletion of ‘aṣabah heirs who were related to the deceased through male lines. The verse also argues the equality between ‘aṣabah and dhawī al-arḥām heirs as they have same footing in their right of inheritance.

The Shiite also cited the Shiite tradition to omit the ‘aṣabah heirs as prime heirs, as follows:

عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن صالح بن السندي، عن جعفر بن بشير، عن عبد الله بن بكير، عن حسين الرزاز قال: أمرت من يسأل أبا عبد الله عليه السلام المال لمن هو، للأقرب أو للعصبة؟ فقال: المال للأقرب والعصبة في فيه التراب.[2]

Narrated from ‘Alī ibn Ibrahīm, from Ṣāliḥ ibn al-Sindī, from Ja‘far ibn Bashīr, from ‘Abd Allāh ibn Bukayr, from Ḥusayn al-Razzāz said: “ I ordain who asks Abā ‘Abd Allāh peace be upon him whose does have the property left, blood relative or ‘aṣabah heirs? He answered: “The property left is for blood relative heirs and ‘aṣabah heirs were the dust in the mouth”.

 

The differences between The Shiite inheritance and that of Sunnī counterpart on their stance toward female heirs are: the first, they both altered the customary law in accordance with the Qur’an, but the Shiite interpreted the Qur’an more wider sense as altering not simply the old principles but also giving rise to a new set of principles, while the Sunnite only allowed a minimal change as the Sunnite only interpreted the Qur’an through superimposing its provisions on the customary law. The second, The Shiite tend to generalize the Qur’anic teachings on inheritance and utilize them to new similar condition by means of analogy (qiyās) while the Sunnite counterpart tended to particularize the Quranic inheritance verses remained within the frame of customary inheritance system.[3]

There is equality between male and female heirs in Shiite inheritance system. The equality is not only in their opportunities to obtain inheritance properties since they exist in same footing to obtain inheritance as classified on three classes of heirs but also in preventing other heirs more remote than themselves. The female heirs are able to prevent male heirs who exist in the next classes. The rule is based on the Shiite tradition, as follows:

عن أبو على الأشعري، عن محمد بن عبد الجبار، عن صفوان، عن عبد الله بن خداش المنقري أنه سأل أبا الحسن عليه السلام عن رجل مات وترك ابنته وأخاه قال: المال للأبنة.[4]

Narrated from Abū ‘Alī al-Ash‘arī, from Muḥammad ibn ‘Abd al-Jabbār, from Ṣofwān, from ‘Abd Allāh ibn Khidās al-Minqarī who asked Abā al-Ḥasan peace be upon him the case of the man who died and left his daughter and his brother. He answered: “The property is for the daughter”.

 

The Shiite also cited the hadith as follows:

عن محمد ابن يحيى، عن أحمد بن محمد، عن الحسين بن سعيد، عن القاسم بن عروة، عن بريد العجلى، عن أبي جعفر عليه السلام قال: قلت له: رجل مات وترك ابنته وعمه؟ قال: المال للإبنة وليس للعم شيئ، أو قال: ليس للعم مع الإبنة شيئ[5]

Narrated from Muḥammad ibn Yaḥyā, from Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad, from al-Ḥusayn ibn Sa‘īd, from al-Qāsim ibn ‘Urwah, from Burayd al-‘Ijlī, from Abī Ja‘far peace be upon him said: “I asked him about the man who died and left his daughter and his uncle”. He answered: “The property goes to the daughter and no property for the uncle” or “There is no property for uncle inheriting with daughter”.

 

However, their shares of inheritance still follow rigidly to the Qur’anic and hadith stipulation. The share of the daughter who inherit with the son for instance is follow the “1 : 2 rule”, the share of the daughter is half that of the son. It is because the female heirs are excused from many duties imposed to male ones such as service in holy war, maintenance of their relations and payment of expiatory fines.[6] The female is not burdened with responsibility towards their families as the male is as the Shiite tradition says:

عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن ابن أبي حماد، عن هشام، عن الأحول، قال: قال لي ابن العوجائ: ما بال المرأة المسكينة الضعيفة تأخذ سهما واحدا ويأخذ الرجل سهمين؟ قال: فذكر بعض أصحابنا لأبي عبد الله عليه السلام فقال: إن المرأة ليس عليها جهاد ولا نفقة ولا معقلة وإنما ذلك على الرجال ولذلك جعل للمرأة سهما واحدا للرجل سهمين.[7]

Narrated from ‘Alī ibn Ibrāhīm, from his father, from Ibn Abī Ḥimād, from Hishām, from al-Aḥwal said: “Ibn Abi al-‘Awjā’ asked me: “Why does the poor and humble woman get only one share while the men two shares?”. He answered: “Some of our companions extend the problem to Abī ‘Abd Allāh peace be upon him saying: “Verily, the woman is not obliged for jihād, maintenance, and paying blood money, these duties are obliged to men. Therefore, the share for woman is one and the share of men is two”.

 

The equality of male as well as female heirs as Shiite inheritance system does not differentiate between the heirs whether descended and related to the deceased from male or female line. Its stance is closer to the parental system than that of patrilineal followed by Sunni inheritance system in deciding who become the heirs are. The former reckons the relatives from both father and mother while the last only reckons the relatives father as how the Sunni inheritance system decided the heirs who take the residuary of inheritance called ‘aṣabah.

Besides, the equality between male and female heirs in Shiite inheritance system said Fyzee that the equality between them is not able to ignore the political factor within Shiite school. The position of Prophet Muhammad and his two grandsons, Ḥasan and Ḥusayn who were descended from the prophet genealogy through female line, his daughter, Faṭīmah is significant point as other schools assume. Because Ḥasan and Ḥusayn were grandsons of the prophet descended from female line while their positions were authoritative in Shiite school, therefore Shiite school placed the female heirs equal to male ones.[8]

Fyzee’s analysis is not exactly correct since the Shiite school fundamentally respects women more than other schools as Shiite tradition says.

عن علي بن إبراهيم عن على بن محمد القاساني، عن أبي أيوب سليمان بن مقبل المدائيني، عن سليمان بن جعفر الجعفري، عن أبي الحسن الرضا عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن الله تبارك وتعالى على الإناث أرأف منه على الذكور، وما من رجل يدخل فرحة على امرأة بينه وبينها حرمة إلا فرحه الله تعالى يوم القيامة.[9]

Narrated from ‘Alī ibn Ibrāhīm from ‘Alī ibn Muḥammad al-Qāsānī, from Abī Ayyūb Sulaymān ibn Muqbil al-Madā’inī, from Sulaymān ibn Ja‘far al-Ja‘farī, from Abī al-Ḥasan al-Riḍā peace be upon him said that the prophet God’s blessing and peace be upon him said: “Verily Allah the Blessed and Exalted has mercy towards women more than men and whoever men gives happiness towards woman while the respect is between them, there is no reward for him except Allah the Exalted will rejoice him in the Hereafter”.

 

They also quoted other Shiite tradition as follows:

عن علي بن إبراهيم، عن أبيه، عن النوفلي، عن السكوني، عن أبي عبد الله عليه السلام قال: قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: نعم الولد البنات ملطفات مجهزات مونسات مباركات مفليات.[10]

Narrated from ‘Alī ibn Ibrahīm, from his father, from al-Nawfalī, from al-Sawkanī, from Abī ‘Abd Allāh peace be upon him said: The prophet God’s blessing and peace be upon him said: “The most blessing child is daughters who were tempered, readiness, entertaining, and vanquishing”.

[1] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 7, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 50.

[2] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 7, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 50.

[3] Hammūdah ‘Abd al-‘Aṭī, The Family Structure in Islam, (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1977), p. 265.

[4] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 7, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 56.

[5] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 7, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 57.

[6] Asaf A.A. Fyzee, Outlines of Muhammadan Law (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 448.

[7] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 7, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 56.

[8] Asaf A.A. Fyzee, Outlines of Muhammadan Law (London: Oxford University Press, 1974), p. 448.

[9] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 6, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 7.

[10] Shaikh Muḥammad ibn Ya‘qūb al-Kulaynī, Furū‘ al-Kāfī, Juz 6, (Bayrūt: Manshūrāt al-Fajr, 2007), p. 7.

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