"O Abu Hurairah. Learn about the inheritance and teach it, for it is half of
knowledge, but it will be forgotten. This is the first thing that will be taken
away from my nation" - Prophet Muhammed
, Hadith No: 2719, Chapter No. 26, The
Chapters on Shares of Inheritance, Sunan Ibn Majah
Islam3, meaning submission [to God] is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion
teaching that Muhammad is a messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest
religion with 1.9 billion followers or 24.9% of the world's population, known as
Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 49 countries.
teaches that God (Allah) is One, Merciful, All-Powerful, and Unique, and has
guided humanity through prophets, revealed scriptures, and natural signs. The
primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, believed to be the verbatim word of
God, as well as the teachings and actions (called the sunnah, composed of
accounts called hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570: 632 CE).
Islam2 is the second-largest religion in India, with 14.2% of the country's
population or approx. 172 million people identifying as adherents of Islam (2011
census). It makes India the country with the largest Muslim population outside
Muslim-majority countries. The majority of Indian Muslims belong to Sunni sect
of Islam while the Shia form a sizeable minority.
Sunni 4, a member of one of the two major branches of Islam, the branch that
consists of the majority of that religion's adherents. Sunni Muslims regard
their denomination as the mainstream and traditionalist branch of Islam-as
distinguished from the minority denomination, the Shiʿah.
The Sunnis recognize
the first four caliphs as the Prophet Muhammad's rightful successors, whereas
the Shiʿah believe that Muslim leadership belonged to Muhammad's son-in-law, ʿAlī,
and his descendants alone. In contrast to the Shiʿah, the Sunnis have long
conceived of the polity established by Muhammad at Medina as an earthly,
temporal dominion and have thus regarded the leadership of Islam as being
determined not by divine order or inspiration but by the prevailing political
realities of the Muslim world.
This led historically to Sunni acceptance of the
leadership of the foremost families of Mecca and to the acceptance of
unexceptional and even foreign caliphs, so long as their rule afforded the
proper exercise of religion and the maintenance of order. A majority of Sunni
jurists accordingly came to articulate the position that the caliph must be a
member of Muhammad's tribe, the Quraysh, but devised a theory of election that
was flexible enough to permit that allegiance be given to the de facto caliph,
whatever his origins.
The distinctions between the Sunnis and other groups
regarding the holding of spiritual and political authority remained firm even
after the caliphate ceased to exist as an effective political institution in the
13th century. Sunni orthodoxy is marked by an emphasis on the views and customs
of the majority of the community, as distinguished from the views of peripheral
The institution of consensus (ijmāʿ) evolved by the Sunnis allowed them
to incorporate various customs and usages that arose through ordinary historical
development but that nevertheless had no roots in the Qurʾān. The Sunnis
recognize the six sound books of Hadith, which contain the spoken tradition
attributed to Muhammad.
The Sunnis Also Accept As Orthodox Four Schools Of Islamic Law:
Ḥanafī, Ḥanbalī, Mālikī, and Shāfiʿī.
In the early 21st century the
Sunnis constituted the majority of Muslims in all countries except Iran, Iraq,
Azerbaijan, Bahrain, and perhaps Lebanon. They numbered about 900 million in the
early 21st century and constituted a majority of all the adherents of Islam.
While researching about Islam, many of you will come across the words 'Shari'a
Law', in other words Islamic Law. It is a religious law based on the Quran and
the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing with him).Sharīʿah,
also spelled Sharia, the fundamental religious concept of Islam-namely, its law.
The Shari'a law courts cover family matters, succession, property and criminal
The religious law of Islam is seen as the expression of God's command for
Muslims and, in application, constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent
upon all Muslims by virtue of their religious belief. Known as the Sharīʿah
(literally, the path leading to the watering place), the law represents a
divinely ordained path of conduct that guides Muslims toward a practical
expression of religious conviction in this world and the goal of divine favour
in the world to come.
Islamic Inheritance jurisprudence is a field of Islamic jurisprudence (Arabic:
فقه) that deals with inheritance, a topic that is prominently dealt with in the
Qur'an. It is often called Mīrāth, and its branch of Islamic law is technically
known as ʿilm al-farāʾiḍ (Arabic: علم الفرائض, 'the science of the ordained
It is often said and seen that Islamic law is complicated and non-uniform. The
key elements of Islamic law are usually the same, however, the sources of
jurisprudence can be different. Islamic law sets out strict and rigid
inheritance rules that determine how a Muslim's estate is to be divided between
his or her heirs on death. Under this law testamentary freedom is restricted to
just one third of the Deceased's net estate, after deduction of all debts and
funeral expenses. The remaining two thirds is divided in accordance with Shari'a.
The Qur'an introduced a number of different rights and restrictions on matters
of inheritance, including what were at that time general improvements to the
treatment of women and family life. The Qur'an also presented efforts to fix the
laws of inheritance, and thus forming a complete legal system. This development
was in contrast to pre-Islamic societies where rules of inheritance varied
Islamic1 inheritance laws organize your wealth ownership and assets to ensure
equality, fairness and justice after death. Rather than leave the tough
decisions to your family members while they are grieving, you can have
everything prepared and ready to be done with in a just and fair manner. It also
creates a uniform unavoidable process for the inheritance of all family members.
They can use the predetermined Islamic inheritance formulas to calculate
Inheritance and its distribution are one of the most controversial and difficult
spheres of law, which has the undesired potential of splitting up a family, a
situation which seems absurd considering that after a beloved person's death,
that is exactly the time when families are supposed to be united and console
each other through their shared grief. Indeed, Muslim Families in India often
fight over inheritance.
However, the family unit is a fundamental aspect of
Islam, and Islamic inheritance laws avoid these fights by predetermining the
shares. They do not have the discretion to subjectively pick and choose. Islam
thus creates clear guidelines on how to distribute wealth to avoid that kind of
In the history of Inheritance laws, Islamic inheritance law has been thought of
as a conspicuous, distinctive, and prominent standout law, especially with
regard to rights of women. Islamic inheritance law is at the heart of our
understanding of Islamic law in general. Studying Islamic inheritance law is a
continuing concern within the legal academia.
Recent developments in the field
of inheritance law have led to a renewed interest in studying Islamic
inheritance law. Unfortunately, the core problem with Islamic inheritance law is
that it is the tradeoff of being an efficient law also means that it is very
As such, this law is still not widely understood. This paper seeks
to remedy these problems by giving a a clear and easy overview of the Islamic
inheritance law. The major objective of this study was to shine light on this
topic through an overview by presenting, analyzing, examining and discussed in
order to broaden current knowledge of Islamic inheritance law.
Relevant Islamic Verses On Inheritance Coming From The Holy Quran And The Hadith
Before 5 we start to understand the crux of the topic, that is, Islamic formulas,
principles, types of heirs etc., it is crucial to be familiar with the relevant
Islamic verses on inheritance coming from the holy Quran and the hadith as they
can be considered the backbone of this topic.
The Book Pertaining to the Rules of Inheritance (Kitab Al-Farai`d) of Sahih
(3928) Usama b. Zaid reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as
saying: A Muslim is not entitled to inherit from a non-Muslim, and a non-Muslim
is not entitled to inherit from a Muslim.
(3929) Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) reported Allah's Messenger (may
peace be upon him) as saying: Give the shares to those who are entitled to them,
and what remains over goes to the nearest male heir.
(3930) Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with them) reported Allah's Messenger (may
peace be upon him) as saying: Give the shares to those who are entitled to them,
and what is left from those wno are entitled to it goes to the nearest male
(3931) Tawus reported on the authority of his father Ibn Abbas (Allah be pleased
with them) narrating that Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) said:
Distribute the property amongst Ahl al-Fara'id, according to the Book of Allah,
and what is left out of them goes to the nearest male heir.
(3932) Jabir b. 'Abdullah (Allah be pleased with them) reported: I fell sick and
there came to me on foot Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) and Abu Bakr
for inquiring after my health. I fainted. He (the Holy Prophet) performed
ablution and then sprinkled over me the water of his ablution. I felt some
relief and said: Allah's Messenger, how should I decide about my property? He
said nothing to me in response until this verse pertaining to the law of
inheritance was revealed: They ask you for a decision; say: Allah gives you a
decision concerning the person who has neither parents nor children (iv. 177).
(3933) Jabir b. 'Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) reported: Allah's Apostle
(may peace be upon him) and Abi Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) visited me on
foot in Banu Salama, and found me unconscious. He (the Holy Prophet) called for
water and performed ablution and sprinkled out of it (the water) over me. I felt
relieved. I said: Allah's Messenger, what should I do with my property? And this
verse was revealed: Allah enjoins you concerning your children: for the male is
equal of the portion of two females.
(3935) Jabir b. Abdullah (Allah be pleased with him) reported: While I was ill
Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) came to me and found me unconscious.
He (the Holy Prophet) performed ablution, and sprinkled over me the water of his
ablution. I regained my consciousness and said: Allah's Messenger, my case of
inheritance is that of Kalala. Then the verse pertaining to the inheritance (of
Kalala) was revealed. I (one of the narrators) said: I said to Muhammad b.
Munkadir: (Do you mean this verse) They ask you; say: Allah gives you decision
in regard to Kalala (iv. 177)? He said: Yes, it was thus revealed.
(3937) Abu Talha reported: 'Umar b. al-Khattab (Allah be pleased with him)
delivered a sermon on Friday and made a mention of Allah's Apostle (may peace be
upon him) and he also made a mention of Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) and
then said: I do not leave behind me any problem more difficult than that of
I did not refer to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) more
repeatedly than in case of the problem of Kalala, and he (the Holy Prophet)
never showed more annoyance to me than in regard to this problem, so much so
that he struck my chest with his fingers and said: 'Umar, does the verse
revealed in summer season, at the end of Sura al-Nisa' not suffice you? Hadrat 'Umar
(then) said: If I live I would give such verdict about (Kalala) that everyone
would be able to decide whether he reads the Qur'an or he does not.
(3939) Al-Bara' (Allah be pleased with him) reported that the last verse
revealed in the Holy Qur'an is: They ask thee for a religious verdict; say:
Allah gives you a religious verdict about Kalala (the person who has neither
parents nor children) (iv 177).
(3941) Abu Ishaq said that he heard al-Bara' b. 'Azib (Allah be pleased with
him) say: The last complete sura revealed (in the Holy Qur'an) is Sura Tauba (i
e. al-Bara'at, ix.), and the last verse revealed is that pertaining to Kalala.
(3944) Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported that when the body of a
dead person having burden of debt upon him was brought to Allah's Messenger (may
peace be upon him) he would ask whether he had left property enough to clear off
his debt, and if the property left had been sufficient for that (purpose), he
observed funeral prayer for him, otherwise he said (to his companions): You
observe prayer for your companion. But when Allah opened the gateways of victory
for him, he said: I am nearer to the believers than themselves, so if anyone
dies leaving a debt, its payment is my responsibility, and if anyone leaves a
property, it goes to his heirs.
(3946) Abn Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Apostle (may
peace be upon him) having said this: By Him in Whose Hand is the life of
Muhammad, there is no believer on the earth with whom I am not the nearest among
all the people. He who amongst you (dies) and leaves a debt, I am there to pay
it, and he who amongst you (dies) leaving behind children I am there to look
after them. And he who amongst You leaves behind property, that is for the
inheritor whoever he is.
Inheritance Distribution According To The Verses Of The Holy Quran:
Women's Inheritance Rights
[4:7] The men get a share of what the parents and the relatives leave behind.
The women too shall get a share of what the parents and relatives leave behind.
Whether it is a small or a large inheritance, (the women must get) a definite
[4:8] During distribution of the inheritances, if relatives, orphans, and needy
persons are present, you shall give them therefrom, and treat them kindly.
If No Will Is Left
[4:11] GOD decrees a will for the benefit of your children; the male gets twice
the share of the female.* If the inheritors are only women, more than two, they
get two-thirds of what is bequeathed. If only one daughter is left, she gets
one-half. The parents of the deceased get one-sixth of the inheritance each, if
the deceased has left any children. If he left no children, and his parents are
the only inheritors, the mother gets one-third.
If he has siblings, then the
mother gets one-sixth. All this, after fulfilling any will* the deceased has
left, and after paying off all debts. When it comes to your parents and your
children, you do not know which of them is really the best to you and the most
beneficial. This is GOD's law. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
Inheritance For the Spouses
[4:12] You get half of what your wives leave behind, if they had no children. If
they had children, you get one-fourth of what they leave. All this, after
fulfilling any will they had left, and after paying off all debts. They get
one-fourth of what you leave behind, if you had no children. If you had
children, they get one-eighth of what you bequeath.
All this, after fulfilling
any will you had left, and after paying off all debts. If the deceased man or
woman was a loner, and leaves two siblings, male or female, each of them gets
one-sixth of the inheritance. If there are more siblings, then they equally
share one-third of the inheritance. All this, after fulfilling any will, and
after paying off all debts, so that no one is hurt. This is a will decreed by
GOD. GOD is Omniscient, Clement.
[4:176] They consult you; say, GOD advises you concerning the single person. If
one dies and leaves no children, and he had a sister, she gets half the
inheritance. If she dies first, he inherits from her, if she left no children.
If there were two sisters, they get two-thirds of the inheritance. If the
siblings are men and women, the male gets twice the share of the female. GOD
thus clarifies for you, lest you go astray. GOD is fully aware of all things.
Heirs According To The Holy Quran
The8 Quranic heirs or the sharers are those relations of the deceased whose
shares have been determined by the Quran. Their share and the order of
preference in succession is fixed under the Quran. There are 12 Quranic heirs.
Let us discuss the sharers and their allotted shares.
A surviving husband inherits his wife's property. In case he has a
child or child of a son how low soever, his share is ¼ of the heritable estate.
But if he does not have a child or child of a son how low soever, then he
A surviving wife is entitled to receive ¼ of the heritable property
where the husband has not left any child or son's or grandson's child. If the
husband has left a child, then the wife inherits ⅛. In the exceptional cases
where there is more than 1 wife, then they have to divide this share equally
The father becomes a Quranic sharer only if the deceased has left a
child or son's or grandson's child. Otherwise, he is not a Quranic sharer. A
father who is a Quranic heir inherits ⅙ of the deceased estate.
There are 3 distinct scenarios for the mother's inheritance:
⅙ share: Where there is a child or son's child how low so ever or where there
are 2 or more brothers or sisters or 1 brother and 1 sister, whether full,
consanguine or uterine.
⅓ share: When there is no child or child of the son how low so ever and no
brothers or sisters.
⅓ of remaining share after deducting the wife's/husband's share: Where there is
a father and a wife/husband.
- Maternal Grandmother:
In cases where the mother of the deceased is absent, the maternal
grandmother will be entitled to inherit ⅙ of the share.
- Paternal Grandmother:
Only in those cases where both the parents of the
deceased are absent, the paternal grandmother becomes a Quranic heir. She is
entitled to get ⅙ share of the heritable estate. If there are 2 or more
grandmothers of the deceased (maternal or paternal) who become Quranic sharers,
then both the grandmothers will get a joint share of ⅙ which they have to share
- Paternal Grandfather:
A paternal grandfather becomes a Quranic sharer only
when the father of the deceased is absent. He is entitled to receive ⅙ of the
share. Maternal grandfather is not a Quranic sharer in any case.
The daughters of the deceased become Quranic heirs only in the
absence of a son. Single daughter receives ½ share, but if there are more than 1
daughter, then all of them inherit ⅔ share collectively, which they share
- Son's Daughter:
The son's daughter becomes a Quranic sharer only if she has
predeceased the son of the deceased and such a son has not left behind any son
of his own. So, a single son's daughter receives ½ share while 2 or more son's
daughters receive ⅔ collectively, which they are required to share equally. If
such grand-daughters survive with a single daughter of the deceased, they
collectively get ⅙ share.
- Full sister:
A single full sister receives ½ share of the heritable estate
when there is no son how low so ever, father, grandfather, daughter, son's
daughter or brother. When there are 2 or more full sisters and no excluder, the
sisters will get ⅔ share collectively.
- Consanguine sister:
When there is only 1 consanguine sister with no full
sister and no excluder, then she is entitled to receive ½ share. But if there is
1 full sister, then she will get only ⅙ share. 2 or more consanguine sisters
take ⅔ share collectively in the presence of no excluder. But if there are 2 or
more surviving full sisters, then the consanguine sister is not a Quranic heir.
- Uterine sister-brother:
Uterine sisters and brothers become Quranic heirs
only if there is no child, son's child how low soever, father and grandfather of
the deceased. The share of one such sister or brother is ⅙ and if there are 2 or
more, they collectively inherit ⅔ share and divide it equally.
Agnate heirs or residuaries come into the picture only when after dividing the
heritable estate between the Quranic heirs, there is still some estate left.
This residue estate goes to the residuaries. All the residuaries are related to
the deceased through males only. The residuaries are further divided into the
Residuaries In Their Own Rights:
This class involves the agnatic male relations of the deceased. No female is
included in this line of relationship.
Residuaries In Their Own Rights Is Divided Into:
Residuaries In Another's Rights:
- Offspring of the deceased, that is the son of the deceased or the
male lineal descendants
- The root of the deceased, which is the father or the grandfather of
the deceased, how high so ever.
- Offspring of the father, that is the full brothers, consanguine
brothers and their male lineage.
- Offspring of the true grandfather, how high so ever.
Those females who become residuaries, only when they coexist along with certain
males fall under this category. This means that the females become residuaries
when there exist males on the same degree, or of a lower degree who would
receive such share. These are:
Residuaries Together With Another
There Are Only Two Residuaries Together With Another:
- Daughters with sons
- Son's daughters with a son's son or a male descendant
- Full sister with the full brother
- Consanguine sister with her brother
- Full sisters, with the daughters or son's daughters
- Consanguine sisters, with the daughters or son's daughters
Only in the absence of sharers and residuaries, the heritable estate of the
deceased is inherited by the uterine heirs or the distant kindred. One
exceptional circumstance is that only when the wife or husband of the deceased
survives, leaving behind no other sharer or residuary, then the distant kindred
can inherit the rest of the estate remaining after the share of the wife or
husband. In this class of heirs, all those relations who do not fit in the above
classes are included. Meaning thereby, the female agnates and the cognates are
placed in this class. Uterine heirs can be divided into 4 categories:
Descendants of the deceased
Ascendants Of The Deceased:
- Daughter's children and their descendants
- Children of son's daughters how low so ever and their
Descendants Of Parents:
- False grandfathers, how high so ever.
- False grandmothers, how high so ever.
Descendants Of Immediate Grandparents:
- Full brother's daughters and their descendants.
- Consanguine brother's daughters and their
- Uterine brother's children and their
- Daughters of full brother's sons how low so
- Daughters of consanguine brother's sons how low
- Sister's (full, consanguine or uterine) children
and their descendants.
- Full paternal uncle's daughters and their
- Consanguine paternal uncle's daughters and
- Uterine paternal uncles and their children
and their descendants.
- Daughters of full paternal uncle's sons how
low so ever.
- Daughters of consanguine paternal uncle's
sons how low so ever.
- Paternal aunts (full, consanguine or
uterine) and their children.
- Maternal uncles and aunts and their
- Descendants of remote ancestors how high so
ever (true or false).
- Successor by contract
A successor by contract is a person who entered into a contract with the
deceased before his death, in consideration to receive a payment. This payment
can be interest, fine etc.
- Acknowledged kinsman
Acknowledged Kinsman is a person of unknown descent in where favor the deceased
has made an acknowledgement of kinship, not through himself but through another.
Consequently, a man may acknowledge another as his brother (descendant of
father) or uncle (descendant of grandfather) but not as his son.
- Sole legatee
In the absence of any relation in the principal categories and the first two
subsidiary categories, a person who is entitled to inherit the property of the
deceased by a will is known as the sole legatee.
Finally, in the absence of any of the principal or subsidiary categories, the
property of the deceased is inherited by the State and his whole estate would
escheat to the Government. Upon the death of the deceased, the first step is to
make the payment for funeral expenses, debts and legacies of the deceased. Next,
the property is divided amongst the respective relations or sharers in
proportion to the shares they are entitled to receive. If any residue remains,
it is then divided among the residuaries. If there are no sharers and
residuaries, the whole property will be inherited by the distant kindred.
Special Circumstances To Inherit Property
Child In WombChild in the womb of its mother is competent to inherit provided it is born
alive. A child in the embryo is regarded as a living person and, as such, the
property vests immediately in that child. But, if such a child in the womb is
not born alive, the share already vested in it is divested and, it is presumed
as if there was no such heir (in the womb) at all.
AdoptionAdopted children do not inherit in Islam. Here, inheritance means inheritance by
right. That is not the same thing as saying they cannot get anything after an
adoptive parent dies. However, the share of the adopted child or children is
limited to the wasiyyah, which is no more than ⅓ of the estate in the aggregate.
HermaphroditeA person whose sexual position is ambiguous and difficult to be declared is
known as a hermaphrodite. The gender of this type of individual is decided based
upon his or her physical appearance. Under Islamic law, on the basis of the
physical appearance the share should be allotted to the hermaphrodite. But the
Hanafi school is of the opinion that the hermaphrodite is entitled to a smaller
share like a female Muslim.
Missing PersonA missing person is defined in Islamic law as an individual whose whereabout is
unknown and no one is sure as to whether such a person is still alive or not.
Such an individual is called Mafqood in Islam. However, in Shariah, such missing
person is considered alive unless his death is confirmed. Therefore under the
law of inheritance, the share of the missing person is reserved until he/she
returns. In the event he/she doesn't return and someone else confirms his death,
then the share of the mafqood is distributed amongst his/her heirs as per
Posthumous ChildA posthumous child is treated as a child who was present when the intestate
died, so long as the child has been born alive and was in the womb when the
Estoppel In SuccessionA person who first denies his relationship with the deceased Muslim cannot
inherit later when the succession reopens or when the succession opens. For
example, If a person says that the deceased person was not his father then he
cannot inherit the property later. Denial of relationship effectively operates
as estoppel in succession
Simultaneous DeathsIn case of simultaneous deaths of two or more heirs, where it cannot be
determined which heir died first, then the Muslim law assumes that the heirs who
died in such simultaneous fashion are no longer each other's heirs. This means
that in case of simultaneous deaths of two or more heirs, it is presumed that
all the heirs died at the same time and therefore will be not considered at all
for the purpose of inheritance and towards this purpose, the law will assume
them to have never existed.
Grounds Of Disqualification
Under9 the Hanafi law an heir who has caused the death of the deceased
intentionally, inadvertently, by accident, mistake, or negligence is excluded
from inheritance. Under the Shia law the heir is disqualified only if the death
is caused intentionally. This is a principle of general policy, and if followed
in most systems of law that an heir who has caused the murder of the deceased is
disqualified from inheritance. In the pre-Islamic Arabia the inheritance was
tagged with blood-wide and blood-feud, and in that system, a murderer could
obviously not inherit. The principle was adopted in the Islamic law and is
recognized in all Muslim countries.
- Illegitimate Children:
Under the Hanafi law an illegitimate child is not entitled to inherit from its
father, but it is allowed to inherit from its mother. The mother can also
inherit the property of her illegitimate children. The illegitimate child
inherits not merely the property of its mother but also the property of all
other relations with whom it is related through the mother. Thus, when a Hanafi
female dies leaving behind her husband and an illegitimate son of her sister,
the husband will take 1/2 as sharer and the residue will go to sister's son.
Since the illegitimate child cannot inherit from its father, it cannot inherit
from any other relation through the father.
- Childless widow:
Under the Isthana Ashari law, a childless widow is not entitled to a share in
her husband's land, both agricultural as well as urban. However, she is entitled
to her share in the value of trees and buildings standing on the land as well as
share in the movable property of her husband. Immovable property includes the
debts due to her husband.
A person who changes into a different faith than Islam or an apostate is not
entitled to inherit the property of a deceased Muslim under Islamic law.
However, Section 3 of the Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850 abolished this
disability. In India, an apostate is entitled to inherit the property of a
deceased Muslim, but his descendants are not entitled to inherit.
- Step Relations
Since step parents are not related to their step children, they are not entitled
to inherit the property of their step children. The Step Child is not entitled
to any right to inherit the property of their step-parents. In a similar manner,
the step-parents too do not inherit the property of their step-children. Hence,
the Step-father and the step-son are not competent to inherit the property of
each other. But the Step-Child is competent to inherit the property of his
Natural Father or Natural Mother. However, Step-Brothers can inherit each
Islamic Law Of Inheritance Table
Islamic law of inheritance is very complicated field of law. The table given
below will help in your understanding.
Important Islamic Doctrines
It is an obvious situation that in the ·Muslim law of inheritance which allots a
number or fractional parts of unity to various heirs, it may happen that the
fractions when added together may sometimes be:
- Equal To Unity,
- More Than Unity, Or
- Less Than Unity.
the sum of fractions is equal to unity, there is no problem. But if it is more·
or less than unity, the shares of respective heirs are reduced or increased
respectively. The process whereby the shares are reduced is called the Doctrine
of Aul (Increase), and the process whereby the shares are increased is called
the Doctrine of Radd (Return).
Doctrine of Radd
The Doctrine of Return: 7
According to this Doctrine under the Muslim
Law, the residue property returns to the Sharers and not the Distant Kindred in
absence of any heir under the residuary category. If there is more than one
Sharer then the property should be returned in the proportionate shares and if
there is one sharer then the whole of the residue property should be transferred
back to the sole sharer. The residue cannot be transferred to the Distant
Kindred because according to the rules, the distant kindred do not get anything
so long as there is a Sharer or Residuary alive.
The exception to this doctrine is that neither the husband nor
the wife is entitled to the return so long as there is another sharer or distant
However, according to the early orthodox law, this return of residue property
was not allowed in the case of a husband or a wife but the later lawyers have
allowed the return to a husband or wife when there are no other heirs.
If, for example, a male dies leaving his mother whose share is 1/6 and a
daughter whose share is 1/2 but no widow. And, if there were two brothers, one
of them died leaving two widows. Then the second brother also died leaving
behind a widow. It was decided that she would get 1/4 shares as a sharer and
remaining 3/4 by the doctrine of Radd.
This Doctrine of 'Return' or 'Radd' can be explained with
the help of an illustration where a person dies leaving behind his property.
Then the property left after paying for her funeral expenses, debts and legacies
is distributed among the Sharers. The Mother and the Daughter of the deceased
are alive and fall under the category of Sharer. Then, the mother will be
entitled to 1/6 of the property and daughter will be entitled to 1/2 of the
The total sum of the properties of Mother and Daughter will be, 1/6 + 1/2 = 2/3.
2/3 is less than the unity and the 1/3 of the property will still remain after
distributing the property amongst the Sharers. Therefore, in this case, the
doctrine of 'Return' or 'Radd' will apply.
The first step would be to reduce the fractions of the Sharers to a common
denominator. Thus, 1/6 + 1/2 = 2/3 = 1/6 + 3/6 (The fractions are reduced in
such a form where 6 is the common denominator
The second step would be to decrease the denominator to make it equal to the sum
of numerators and allow the individual numerators to remain the same as they
were. Thus, 1/6 + 3/6 will become 1/4 + 3/4 (in this case, the denominator is
made equal to 4 because the sum of both the numerators is 4)
Hence, with the help of this doctrine, the Shares of the Sharers are increased
proportionately in such a manner that the um of the Shares of the property of
Sharers become equal to unity.
Doctrine of Aul
In case, the total sum of the specific shares allotted to various shares exceeds
the unity then the doctrine of increase (Aul) comes into the application and the
specific share of each sharer is reduced in a proportionate manner. The
proportionate share reduces in the following manner.
- By reducing the shares to a common denominator.
- By increasing the denominator to make it equal to the sum of the
numerators allowing the numerators to stand as they are.
This Doctrine of 'Aul' can be explained with the help of an
illustration where a woman dies leaving behind her property. Then the property
left after paying for her funeral expenses, debts and legacies are distributed
among the Sharers. The husband of the deceased women and her two full sisters
are alive and fall under the category of Sharer. Then, Husband will be entitled
to 1/2 of the property of the deceased and the two full sisters will be entitled
to 2/3 of the property.
Total of 1/2 and 2/3 will be 7/6 which exceeds the unity and hence, in this
case, the Doctrine of Increase or 'Aul' will come into application.
The first step would be to reduce the fractions of the Sharers to a common
denominator. Thus, 1/2 + 2/3 = 7/6 = 3/6 + 4/6 (The fractions are reduced in
such a form where 6 is the common denominator)
The second step would be to increase the denominator to make it equal to the sum
of numerators and allow the individual numerators to remain the same as they
were. Thus, 3/6 + 4/6 will become 3/7 + 4/7 (in this case, the denominator is
made equal to 7 because the sum of both the numerators is 7).
Hence, with the help of this doctrine, the total sum of the shares of the
property of Sharers are reduced in a proportionate manner and become equal to
However, some difference of opinion exists between Shia and Sunni Muslims with
regard to the Doctrine of Increase or 'Aul'. According to Sunni law, the
doctrine implies a proportionate reduction of all the shares. On the other hand,
the law governing the Shia Muslims provide that the reduction of the shares of
the daughter or the daughter and full or consanguine sister or sisters only.
Other heirs do not suffer
The Holy Quran states 'Allah has purchased from believers their persons and
their wealth in lieu of Jannah'. Man is a trustee of the wealth that he owns for
the duration of his life. When the term of his life ends, his trusteeship over
his wealth and property expires. After his death, his property should be
redistributed according to the directions given by Allah. Directives regarding
the distribution of wealth and property of the deceased after his death are
provided under the Holy Quran.
The Islamic Inheritance Laws mainly deals with two key issues:
The Muslim Law Of Inheritance Is Based On These Following 5 Considerations:
- Provide Laws pertaining to distribution of wealth amongst heirs, so
heirs don't fight; and
- Ensuring that a just system can be established and wealth is not
accumulated into a single entity.
- Break up the concentration of wealth and distribution of wealth in
- Endorse and Consolidate strong family system by justly distributing
wealth amongst the heirs.
- Respect the Right of ownership of an individual that he earned through
the legal means and it does not allow the individual or government to
confiscate the property after his demise.
- Provide peace of mind that after your demise, your family will be given
the just right of inheritance
- Special focus is given to women's right of inheritance as the women are
denied their rights under other systems.
The purpose of the current research paper was to study and understand Islamic
law in an easy manner. The problem of studying the Islamic law of Inheritance is
that it is a very scientifically and mathematically complicated subject. I have
attempted to ameliorate this topic in a facile sequential manner.
To provide context, I first started off with the relevant Islamic verses on
inheritance coming from the Holy Quran and the Hadith. Then I moved on to the
various categories of the beneficiaries, that is, the heirs which includes
Quranic heirs, residuary, the distant kindred and the quasi successors.
Then I shifted my attention to the special circumstances to inherit property,
which only further cement the status of this law as efficient by covering all
difficult situations. Then we see the grounds of disqualification, which
disallow certain people from benefitting from an inheritance. This law is
undoubtedly complicated, and therefore to help the reader understand complex
technicalities, I included an Islamic law of inheritance table and doctrines
Thus, I explained this topic in an easy manner by going step by step covering
all relevant aspects. As such, even a novice could start to comprehend even the
basic concepts of this magnificent but complicated law. This research extends
our knowledge of Islamic law of inheritance and allows the Indian layman an
opportunity to grasp this topic.
Written By: Mohammed Arafat Mujib Khan
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