Surah an-Nisa' (Women ) 4 : 12
1. Lessons/Guidance/Reflections/Gems[ edit ]
These statements are clear and elaborate. A husband inherits half of his deceased wife’s property if she leaves behind neither a son nor a daughter. If she has one or more sons or daughters, her husband inherits one-quarter of her property. The children of her sons, i.e. her grandchildren, reduce the husband’s share from one-half to one-quarter in the same way as her own children. The same applies to her children from an earlier marriage who also reduce her husband’s share to one- quarter. Her property is divided among her heirs after settling any outstanding debts or executing her will, as mentioned earlier.
A wife inherits one-quarter of the property left by her husband, if he dies without any progeny. If he has a child, a son or a daughter or even more, by her or by any other wife, or even grandchildren of his own, then their presence reduces her share to one-eighth. Again, settlement of debts and the execution of the will take precedence over any sharing out of the property.The share given to a wife remains the same whether the deceased leaves behind one wife or two, three or four wives. All of them share equally in that portion of one- quarter or one-eighth, as the case may be.
The final rule in this second verse outlining the system of inheritance concerns a person who leaves no direct heirs: “If a man or a woman has no heir in the direct line, but has a brother or a sister, then each of them shall inherit one-sixth; but if there be more, then they shall share in one- third, after [deducting] any bequest which may have been made or any outstanding debt, neither of which having been intended to harm [the heirs]. This is a commandment from God; and God is All-Knowing, Gracious.” This is the case of a person having heirs whose relationship to him is weaker than that of either parents or children. Abū Bakr was asked to define the Arabic term kalālah that is used in the Qur’ān to refer to such a person. He said: “I can give only my own view. Hit is correct, then I am right only by God’s grace. If it is mistaken, the mistake is mine and caused by Satan. God and His Messenger are not party to it. Kalālah is a person who has no children and no parents.” When `Umar took over, he said in this respect: “I would be ashamed to contradict Abū Bakr in an opinion of his.” In fact, the most eminent scholars among the Prophet’s Companions and those of the next generations as well as the founders of all four major schools of thought and the overwhelming majority of scholars in successive generations, subscribe to this definition.
“If a man or a woman has no heir in the direct line, but has a brother or a sister, then each of them shall inherit one-sixth; but if there be more, then they shall share in one-third.” What is meant in this verse by the deceased having a brother or a sister is that either of them is only a half-brother or half-sister on his mother’s side. If they are a full brother or full sister, or if they are a half-brother or half-sister on his father’s side, they inherit according to the last verse in this sūrah, which gives them a portion in which a male takes twice as much as a female. The portion mentioned here of one- sixth for either of them, male or female, applies only to half-brothers and sisters on the side of the deceased’s mother. They have an apportioned share that is specified in the Qur’ān. They do not inherit on the basis of being the nearest of kin. Had that been the case, they would have taken all the deceased’s estate, or what is left of it, after those who have apportioned shares took theirs.
“But if there be more, then they shall share in one-third.” This applies regardless of their number or their sex. The weightier opinion is that they equally share their total portion of one-third, although some scholars maintain that the division of the portion assigned must be on the basis of a male taking twice as much as a female. Equal division seems to be weightier in this case, because it is in line with the principle stated in the same verse, giving the male an equal share of the female: “Each of them shall have one-sixth.”
This means that half-brothers and sisters on the mother’s side are different from other heirs on three counts:
1. The shares of males and females are equal among them.
2. They have no claim to any part of the inheritance unless the deceased has neither parents nor offspring. If his father, grandfather, child or grandchild survives him, they inherit nothing.
3. Their total share, regardless of their number, has a maximum of one-third of the estate.
2. Linguistic Analysis[ edit ]
- (4:12) is the longest Ayat of this Surah with 88 words,
وَلَكُمْ نِصْفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزْوَاجُكُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّهُنَّ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ فَلَكُمُ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْنَ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصِينَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۚ وَلَهُنَّ الرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُمْ إِن لَّمْ يَكُن لَّكُمْ وَلَدٌ ۚ فَإِن كَانَ لَكُمْ وَلَدٌ فَلَهُنَّ الثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَكْتُم ۚ مِّن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ تُوصُونَ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ ۗ وَإِن كَانَ رَجُلٌ يُورَثُ كَلَالَةً أَوِ امْرَأَةٌ وَلَهُ أَخٌ أَوْ أُخْتٌ فَلِكُلِّ وَاحِدٍ مِّنْهُمَا السُّدُسُ ۚ فَإِن كَانُوا أَكْثَرَ مِن ذَٰلِكَ فَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ فِي الثُّلُثِ ۚ مِن بَعْدِ وَصِيَّةٍ يُوصَىٰ بِهَا أَوْ دَيْنٍ غَيْرَ مُضَارٍّ ۚ وَصِيَّةً مِّنَ اللَّـهِ ۗ وَاللَّـهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ "And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child. But if they have a child, for you is one fourth of what they leave, after any bequest they [may have] made or debt. And for the wives is one fourth if you leave no child. But if you leave a child, then for them is an eighth of what you leave, after any bequest you [may have] made or debt. And if a man or woman leaves neither ascendants nor descendants but has a brother or a sister, then for each one of them is a sixth. But if they are more than two, they share a third, after any bequest which was made or debt, as long as there is no detriment [caused]. [This is] an ordinance from Allah, and Allah is Knowing and Forbearing. " (4:12)
4. Miscellaneous Information[ edit ]
5. Connected/Related Ayat[ edit ]
6. Frequency of the word[ edit ]
7. Period of Revelation[ edit ]
This Surah comprises several discourses which were revealed on different occasions during the period ranging probably between the end of year 3 A.H. and the end of 4 A.H. or the beginning of 5 A.H. Although it is difficult to determine the exact dates of their revelations it is possible to assign to them a fairly correct period with the help of the Commandments and the events mentioned therein. A few instances are given below by way of illustration:
1. We know that the inheritance law for those martyred and protection for the rights of the orphans was sent down after the Battle of Uhud (in which 70 Muslims were martyred). From this we conclude that v. 1 -28 were revealed on that occasion.
2. We learn from the traditions that the ruling regarding the prayer (Salah) during war time was given on the occasion of the Zat-ur-Riqa’aan expedition. This took place in 4 A.H. From this we conclude that the discourse containing v. 102 was revealed on that occasion.
3. The last warning to the Jews was given before the Banu-Nadheer were exiled from Madinah in Rabi’-ulAwwal 4 A.H. It may therefore be assumed that the discourse containing v. 47 was revealed before that date.
4. The permission about performing ablution with dust in the event of no water (tayammum) verse 43, was given during the Bani-al-Mustaliq expedition which took place in 5 A.H. [REF: Mawdudi]
8. Reasons for Revelation[ edit ]
Let us now consider the social and historical considerations of the period in order to understand the Surah. All the discourses in this Surah deal with three main problems which confronted the Prophet at the time. First of all he was engaged in bringing about an all round development of the islamic Community that had been formed at the time of his migration to Madinah. For this purpose he was introducing new moral cultural social economic and political ways in place of the old ones of the pre-islamic period. The second thing that occupied his attention and efforts was the bitter struggle that was going on with the polytheist Arabs, the Jewish clans and the hypocrites who were opposing tooth and nail his mission of reform. Above all, he had to propagate Islam in the face of the bitter opposition of these powers of evil with a view to capturing more and more minds and hearts.
Accordingly detailed instructions have been given for the consolidation and strengthening of the islamic Community in continuation of those given in Surah 2: Al-Baqarah (The Cow). Principles for the smooth running of family life have been laid down and ways of settling family disputes have been taught. Rules have been prescribed for marriage and rights of wife and husband have been apportioned fairly and equitably. The status of women in the society has been determined and the declaration of the rights of orphans has been made. Laws and regulations have been laid down for the division of inheritance and instructions have been given to reform economic affairs. The foundation of the penal code has been laid down, drinking has been prohibited and instructions have been given for cleanliness and purity. The Muslims have been taught the kind of relations good men should have with their God and fellow men. Instructions have been given for the maintenance of discipline in the Muslim Community.
The moral and religious condition of The People of the Book (Jews and Christians) has been reviewed to teach lessons to the Muslims and to forewarn them to refrain from following in their footsteps. The conduct of the hypocrites has been criticized and the distinctive features of hypocrisy and true faith have been clearly marked off to enable the Muslims to distinguish between the two. In order to cope with the aftermath of the Battle of Uhud, Inspiring discourses were sent down to urge the Muslims to face the enemy bravely, for defeat in the Battle had so emboldened the polytheist Arab clans and the neighbouring Jews and the hypocrites at home, that they were threatening the Muslims on all sides. At this critical juncture God filled the Muslims with courage and gave them such instructions as were needed during that period of war clouds. In order to counteract the fearful rumours that were being spread by the hypocrites and the Muslims of weak faith they were asked to make a thorough enquiry into them and to inform the responsible people about them. Then they were experiencing some difficulties in offering their prayer during the expeditions to some places where no water was available for performing their ablutions etc. In such cases they were allowed to cleanse themselves with pure earth and to shorten the prayer or to offer the “Prayer of Fear” when they were faced with danger. Instructions were also given for the solution of the puzzling problem of those Muslims who were scattered among the unbelieving Arab clans and were often involved in war. They were asked to migrate to Madinah the abode of Islam.
This Surah also deals with the case of Banu nadir who were showing a hostile and menacing attitude in spite of the peace treaties they had made with the Muslims. They were openly siding with the enemies of Islam and hatching plots against the Prophet and the Muslim Community even at Madinah itself. They were taken to task for their inimical behaviour and given a final warning to change their attitude and were at last exiled from Madinah on account of their misconduct.
The problem of the hypocrites, who had become very troublesome at that time, was involving the Believers in difficulties. Therefore, they were divided into different categories to enable the Muslims to deal with them appropriately. Clear instructions were also given regarding the attitude they should adopt towards the non-belligerent clans. The most important thing needed at that time was to prepare the Muslims for the bitter struggle with the opponents of Islam. For this purpose greatest importance was attached to their character building, for it was obvious that the small Muslim Community could only come out successful, nay, survive, if the Muslims possessed high moral character. They were, therefore, enjoined to adopt the highest moral qualities and were severely criticized whenever any moral weakness was detected in them.
Though this Surah mainly deals with the moral and social reforms, yet due attention has been paid to propagation of Islam. On the one hand, the superiority of the islamic morality and culture has been established over that of the Jews, Christians and polytheists; on the other hand, their wrong religious conceptions, their wrong morality and their evil acts have been criticized to prepare the ground for inviting them to the way of the Truth.