Family is the first among the 9 units of home, neighbour, mohalla, village, town, city, state, country and the world of the human relations. Life faces either of the twin aspects of every activity and matter, finally to pass on to the logical end in death. For some death occurs as an accident or decaying of the matter. Others hold it as termination of the lease of life fixed by the Heavens. Ideologues of both sides, however, share the general consensus on the issue that life encounters trials & tribulations in its vicissitudes with various incompatibilities, improbabilities, contradictions and disagreements. These difficult situations morph into disputes reaching to committees, revenue, civil or judicial courts for settlements. The disputes cost not only money & mind to the disputants but also retard production of goods and services to the community due to loss of work hours. Disputes are numerous in kind, type and nature which embitter and sour human relations. Property disputes among muslim community on sharing the ancestral property among brothers and sisters is one such as has gone to the extent of privileged exploitation.
In the Holy Quran, Surah 4 titled Nisaa (women), Allahswt says in Aayat No.7, “Unto the men (of a family) belongeth a share of that which parents and near kindred leave, and unto the women a share of that which parents and kindred leave, whether it be little or much-legal share.” Sharing of property is so much a delicate issue that kinsfolk, orphans and the needy are also included in its benefits even though they are not the direct heirs of a property holder. As a matter of compassion on them Allahswt enjoins upon people under Aayat No.8 by saying, “And when kinsfolk and orphans and the needy are present at the division of the heritages, bestow on them therefrom and speak kindly unto them”. According to the holy book of The Quran a daughter is entitled to get one half of what her brother gets. The importance of the issue can be easily gauged from the short & simple explanation that in The Quran while some matters like salaat (prayer) rozah (fasts) zakaat (religious tax paid for poor persons) hajj (annual pilgrimage to two grand mosques in Makkah and the Madinah on fixed days during Zilhajj –the twelfth month of the hijri calendar), nikkah (marriage), mehr (dower), ushur (one tenth of grains and fruit), birth and death ceremonies etc. are stated by Allahswt with lucidity and subsequently paraphrased by the interpreter of The Quran (Prophet Muhammadpbuh) the matter of division of heritage is one dealt with exclusively by Allahswt under Aayat No.11 by saying, “Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females…”. Allah further says, “(parents or your children: Ye know not which of them is nearer unto you in usefulness. It is an injection from Allah. Lo! Allah is knower, wise.”
It also follows that expenses on the marriage of sisters should be a charge on the joint property before division. But the matter becomes a problem when the daughters who mostly happen to be spouses at that time and claim their share in the bequeathed property. Most of the people believe that giving share in the property to the sisters/daughters is a zero sum game as a daughter in-law coming to our home with her share of property is neutralized with property going out with our daughter to her in-law’s home. They overlook the other side of the coin. Sides seem balanced but parties are affected. However, a fairly credible critical appreciation easily gives way to the truthfulness & justice. Major shareholder religiously is benefitted irreligiously and the minor share holder religiously is deprived fully of its rightful dues irreligiously; with the result sisters are rendered capital-less. They suffer economic dependence, social & psychological inferiority and incapability in business & investment. On claiming dues they are silenced with a zinger that expenses on their marriage were borne by the parents/brothers unmindful of the unpalatable truth that parents defray the expenditure on the marriage ceremonies of sons also. She is muted by saying that she was brought up, fed and clothed, as if sons come up free. With this are born battles to fight lifelong save any miracle happens to reconcile them. Some inheritance disputes prolong to second generations ravaging the preciously useful and productive years of life of the litigants. Somehow if they are given somewhere it is minimal, and that too with scorn. Who, barring exceptions, happen to depart with full share of their sisters, often turn foes and amicable relations rarely sustain. As per divine commands brothers are not to keep more than, and block beyond Allah’s decision. Contentment is to be held with what Allah has decided and not usurp the rights of inheritance. So leave obduracy. Give sisters their due. To further the greed means transgression. Allah says in Aayat No.14 of the above-quoted Surah; “And whoso disobeyeth Allah and His Messenger His limits, He will make him enter fire where such will dwell for ever; he will be a shameful doom.”
Though all commands are not followed wholly and perfectly but partially and in namesake yet this serious & stringent command is violated grossly. The violators are neither far nor foreign but near ones – the relatives of the first degree order, progeny of the same womb. This injustice has to be fought totis viribus. Narcissistic attitude has to be abandoned and accommodation adopted. By giving properties to sisters may accrue solace and the benefits of circulation of wealth. Brothers are to understand if they give their sisters, they will receive through share of their wives. If brothers feel uneasy to manage with 2:1 ratio, how can sisters bear to be empty-handed. They are not dolls to play with but important part – a dignified & meaningful life. When believers are dissatisfied with this division by Allah, satan rules the roost as we witness nowadays. These commands are eternal, universal & impartial for all believers irrespective of their strength, status, region, colour, cast, occupation. If rightful are given their right, possessors volunteer themselves to concede the possession (what they otherwise can/ retain illegally or by power/ force/ influence) to the rightful seekers such troubles may not arise and those risen will get solved. This holds good of international affairs also where most of the pell-mell is due to unjustified and immoral captures and seizures of possession of men and material due to illegal use of power against the weak & innocents.
The author is a former Sr. Audit Officer and Consultant in the A.G’s Office Srinagar.