Keep in the mind, the court wasn’t enforcing the man’s wishes to give twice as much to his sons but rather used Sharia law to interpret the amount that should be given to his sons and daughters.
Via Volokh Conspiracy:
That seems to be what happened in Alkhafaji v. TIAA-CREF Individual and Instit. Services LLC, 2010 WL 1435056 (Pa. Ct. Com. Pl. Jan. 14, 2010), which is now on appeal. I’m posting about this now because the briefs were just posted on Westlaw, and confirm the details of the will, as well as giving some extra perspective on the disputes related to what Sharia law provides in such situations.
Prof. Abbass Alkhafaji died, and left a will that apparently said, in relevant part,
(4) About my pension, the beneficiaries are all my biological kids and my current wife, . . . after reducing all costs associated with the house. . . . [The] rest of the pension, if any left, should be divided according to Islamic Laws and Sharia. . . .
(9) In case I have additional monetary benefits from my job, such as life insurance, 401K, 403B or any other retirement funds that I am not aware of, Allah as my witness, They should be divided, after costs associated with the payment of those funds according to Islamic Laws and “Sharia.”
The trial court entered an order that concluded with, “(1) TIAA-CREF Individual and Institutional Services LLC, shall make distribution of the pension accounts of the TIAA-CREF certificates . . . to the decedent’s surviving spouse, . . . in accordance with decedent’s last will and testament dated July 17, 2007, and to his biological children, . . . in accordance of the law of Sharia, mainly [sic], one-eighth share to the surviving spouse, . . . and thereafter, the remaining balance to be divided, two shares each to the six male children, and one share each to the [two] female children.”
Now if Prof. Alkhafaji had specified in his will that he was leaving a 1/8 share to his wife, and then 1/8 to each of his sons and 1/16 to each of his daughters, that would be fine, regardless of whether his motivation was religious or secular. (This is subject to any state law that might give his wife the power to get some minimum prescribed share, but apparently this was not argued in this case, perhaps because part of the argument — which I won’t get into here — was that Prof. Alkhafaji had left his wife certain assets for the duration of her life, with only the remainder after her death to be split between the children.) People are free to discriminate based on sex, religion, race, and so on in their wills, including in their gifts to their children.