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Tunisia Inheritance Law and Understanding the Sharia Stance on Inheritance

by in World on 23rd August, 2018

Tunisia’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, has proposed giving women equal inheritance rights, which has faced friction from thousands of protestors objecting to the Islamic law. The country which overthrew autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in 2011 has chosen to grant women with more rights than other countries in the region. The country has even allowed Muslim women to marry non- Muslim men.  The people came out in their thousands in front of parliament to protest the law coming into fruition, which directly opposes Shariah law which stipulates that a man should receive double of what a woman should receive as inheritance.

.“I propose equality inheritance to become law,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a speech.

The president allowed for room for more support from a more conservative crowd by granting the option to certain families to maintain the current law based on Islamic jurisprudence.

What is Tunisia’s governing party like?

The Tunisian government is ruled by a combination of ‘moderate Islamists, secular forces, which has help facilitate a transition since 2011. According to  Reuters, “They had agreed in 2014 on a constitution granting far-reaching political rights, limiting the role of religion and holding free elections, which stands out in a region often run by autocrats. But one of the few areas where the Islamists have resisted change is the inheritance law.”

Essebi, a secular politician, in August 2017, set up a committee to draft proposals in order to further women’s rights, this initiated support in a lot of secular-minded- women.

What the Shariah Stipulates

Qur’an 4:11

“Allah commands you as regards your children (inheritance), To the male, a portion equal to that of two females; If (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; If only one, her share is half. For parents, the sixth share of inheritance to each if the deceased leftchildren; If no children and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; If the deceased left brothers or (sisters), the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies, he may have bequeathed or debts. You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children are nearest to you in benefit. (these fixed shares) are ordained by Allah. And Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.”

Qur’an 4:12

“In that which your wives leave, your share is a half if they have no child; But if they leave a child you get a fourth of that which they leave after payment of legacies that they may have bequeathed or debts. In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth if you have no child; But if you leave a child they get an eighth of that which you leave after payment of legacies that you may have bequeathed or debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question has left neither ascendants not descendants (Al-Khalala), but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts, so that no loss is caused (to anyone). This is a commandment from Allah. And Allah is Ever AllKnowing, Most-Forbearing.

Qur’an 4:176

“They ask you for a legal verdict, Say, “Allah directs (thus) about AlKhalala (those who leave neither ascendants nor descendants as heirs). If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have half the inheritance. If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, her brother takes herinheritance. If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds of the inheritance; If there are brothers and sisters, the male will have TWICE the share of the female. (Thus) does Allah make clear to you (His Law) lest you go astray? And Allah is the All-Knower of everything.”


  • The SPOUSE (Husband or a maximum of four Wives)
  • The CHILDREN (Sons and Daughters)
  • The PARENTS (Father & Mother)
  • The GRANDCHILDREN (Sons’s SON or Son’s DAUGHTER only) (applicable only when the SON is already deceased only and has offspring)


  • The GRANDPARENTS (Paternal and Maternal)
  • The BROTHERS and/or SISTERS (In the absence of Father and Son ONLY)
  • The UNCLES and/or AUNTS (In the absence of Grandparents ONLY)
  • The NEPHEWS and/or NIECES (In the absence of Brothers and Sisters ONLY)

 Conversations surrounding inheritance law

 Conversations surrounding inheritance law



Hanan has a Masters in Media in the Middle East from SOAS University. Trainee of the Muslim Women in Media institute Annual Cohort at UC Davis, California. Her interests lie in ethical fashion, modern-day slavery, and when not making Youtube videos she is somewhere in between Ballet and Kickboxing. King Julian is her spirit animal.