This is the problem associated with the inheritance of those who have no male children. According to the order of allocation prescribed by the Qur'an (4:11), if the deceased person leaves behind only one daughter, she is to be given one-half of the total wealth and if there be more than one daughter they are all to share only two-thirds of the wealth. The remainder of the wealth will then go to those other relatives who are closest in relation to the deceased. This is, however, not the male-preference of the Qur'an's order of allocation; it is, rather, the fact that it is He who knows full well the intricacies of human nature who is the author of the Qur'an which is made evident here. If the problem is approached in the right perspective, it can be understood that this law of inheritance actually highlighted the reality that the Author of the Qur'an is, indeed, He Who is best aware of the ultimate good that can be conferred upon humanity.
The Qur'an does not prescribe the order of allocation with the consideration of the deceased person's family members alone. Indeed, the love and care that is to be given to the rightful heir of inheritance: all comes within the consideration of the Qur'an when it comes tofixing the order of allocation. Besides this, it is also the serious concern of the Qur'an that the daughters of the deceased individual must be cared for and protected fully. It is particularly relevant to note an observation of the Qur'an when it deals with the allocation of shares: 'Ye are not aware of those who are nearest to you in usefulness from among your fathers and brothers. This is the allotment of shares from Allah. Verily Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise'
The legal decrees of the Lord Who possesses an all-encompassing knowledge of man, will thus be refined, practicable and humane. In fact, this is made clear also by the solutions prescribed by the Qur'an for the afore mentioned problem. The following, too, are worthy of consideration:
One : It is the duty of the male children to look after their parent when they attain to old age. If there are no male children, it will be their brothers or their children, who will have to then look after them.
Two: Islam has never put the responsibility of providing financial assistance, or security, to the parents who have reached their old age upon the female children. Indeed, in the view of Islam, it is not practicable to place the obligation of looking after their parents upon the female children who have to live in other homes along with their own children. If those of advanced years do not have male children, they must be looked after by their brothers or by the children of their brothers; not by their daughters.
Three: After the death of the father the brothers become the guardians (waly) of the female children. If the deceased person leaves behind no male children, then the guardianship of his female children rest with his brothers or the sons of his brothers or with other close relatives. The duty of giving away these female children in marriage will also rest with these guardians. If they become widows, and their children orphans, then, too, their guardianship will rest with these relatives themselves. If they become divorced, the responsibility of arranging the provisions for their re-marriage will also rest with the close relatives who are their guardians.
It is only in the light of these facts that the Qur'anic laws pertaining to the heirs of inheritance of those who die leaving behind no male children must be examined. It is then that it becomes clear as to how faultless they actually are. It is not necessary that all relatives will take up the burden of all their obligations and refrain from demanding their rights. Islam categorically states that the relatives of the person who has only daughters, have a number of obligations. The responsibility of looking after him in his old age also falls upon these relatives themselves. They are the people who are to love and take care of him as well. They are also the people who are to become the guardians of his daughters after his death. Indeed, even if these daughters or their children are to become incapacitated it will be these relatives who will have to take up the responsibility of protecting them. Thus, the relatives of the person who has no sons have numerous obligations to fulfill. While conferring such obligations upon them, Islam has, at the same time, sought to provide these relatives with a small share of the inheritance as well. Here, too, it is the mutual inter-relatedness of responsibility and right within Islamic law which is manifested in all genuine splendour.
Even if the person who has no male issue wishes to give all his wealth over to his female children, there are provisions in the Islamic law which actually enables him to do so. He can give away all his wealth as a bequest to his daughters. It is also possible, by way of bequest, to ensure that nobody other than his own children becomes entitled to shares in his wealth. Furthermore, he also has the right to make a wassiyyat of upto one-third of the wealth which falls out of the range of bequest of wassiyyat that can, after all, be allocated according to the laws of inheritance.
However experience shows that one's own security in old age as well as a sound future for one's daughters would demand a line of action in consonance with the divine commandments which will require approportioning a small share for one's closer relatives. In fact, therefore, both individual and family can attain peace only in the obedience to the commands of the Almighty who is well aware of the good and evil that exists beyond our own speculative judgements. Indeed, the Qur'an is correct when it says : '... it is possible that ye dislikea thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not.' (H.Q. 2:216)