It needs to be
appreciated that the law of inheritance as stated in the Qur’ān is based on
the underlying cause of ‘the benefit of kinship’:
You know not who among your
children and parents are nearest to you in benefit. This is the law of God.
Indeed, God is Wise and all-Knowing. (4:11)
In other words, the
directive in reality does not pertain to the relatives but is related to the
underlying cause present in this relationship, which actually entitles them
to become the heirs. Consequently, the basic reason why the share of a son
is more than that of a daughter is the fact that in the life of parents the
son is usually more beneficial to them than the daughter. This is so simple
a fact that it can be easily understood in societies where the institution
of family is still very strong and has deep roots. In a family system,
parents become dependent on the children as they grow old. The ease and
comfort they feel in living with a son is much more than what they feel
while living with a daughter. The simple reason is that a son is independent
in taking decisions while a daughter, once she gets married, is actually
more dependent on her own husband and is not so independent. The modern
western mind feels averse to this distribution because the family system is
dwindling in their society. Parents are generally more uncomfortable in
living with either the son or the daughter, both of whom become independent
at a very early age. So I would say that they can only understand if they
are first able to grasp the importance of the institution of family.
A point which may be worth
mentioning here is that there may be cases even in societies having a strong
family system where a daughter may prove more beneficial to her parent(s)
than the son; in this case, the provision is there in Islamic law whereby a
parent in his lifetime can gift as much wealth as is deemed necessary to the
daughter. Similarly, there may be the case that the daughter in her specific
circumstances may need more money; here again wealth can be gifted to her.
Parents can even deprive a son(s) from inheritance if the son(s) becomes
‘non-beneficial’ to them in any way.
In short, the 2:1 ratio
pertains to normal circumstances; in exceptional ones there are many
remedies in Islamic law – some of which I have tried to explain.