Wives’ Rights and Inheritance, Secret Marriages
Social Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

I would like to know the rights of wives in Islam. Regarding financial rights of inheritance, do they receive more than the husband’s mother? Is it alright to get married in secret?



1) Wives have the same rights as the husbands in all affairs except in those in which the husband as head of the family possesses specific rights. One example of this is that a husband, being the head of the family unit, has the right to give divorce to his wife. However, wives cannot divorce their husbands --- they can seek divorce from them.

As human beings, both possess the same `human' rights.


2) The shares of the parents in the Qur’ān are stated thus:

And if the deceased has children, the parents shall inherit a sixth each, and if he has no children and only the parents are his heirs then his mother shall receive a third, and if he has brothers and sisters then the mother's share is the same one sixth after the payment of any legacies he may have bequethed and after discharging any debts he may have left behind." (4:11)

The shares of a husband and wife are stated next:

And to you belongs a half of what your wives have, if they die childless. And if they have children, a quarter of what they leave shall be yours after payment of their debts and any legacies they may have bequethed. Your wives shall inherit one quarter of what you leave, if you die childless. If you have children they shall inherit one eighth, after payment of your debts and any legacies you may have bequethed. (4:12)

It is clear from the above verses that the share of the wife in some cases is less and in other cases more than the husband's mother. If the deceased has children, his mother will receive one-sixth and the wife one-eighth. In this case, the share of the mother is more than that of the wife. If a deceased does not have children and also does not have brothers or sisters, his wife will be given one-fourth of the total inheritance and the mother's share will be one-third of the remaining amount. In such cases, the share of the wife may sometimes come out to be more than that of the mother.

3) Secret marriages are totally forbidden in Islam. One of the essentials of  marriage in Islam is public declaration so that the society knows that a couple has decided to live as husband and wife. Secret liaisons which caste huge shadows of doubts on the type of relationship between a man and a woman are strictly prohibited.

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