Question: A member of our family has been lost for many years. How should we deal with his the inheritance that he is owed? Also, can we assume he has passed away and divide up his estate?
Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Thank you for your important question.
When someone has been lost for a long time, he is assumed to be still alive until the court rules otherwise. This means that his estate is not divided up between her heirs.
If it has been a very long time, the family may raise the issue to an Islamic magistrate who may rule that the lost person is deemed legally deceased. Thereafter, his heirs may inherit his estate. (Al Fiqh al Islami wa Adillatuh, Zuhayli)
If there is no Islamic magistrate and it is not possible to agree to arbitration, one may resort to a conventional court. (Al Fiqh al Islami wa Adillatuh, Zuhayli)
I pray this helps.
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadh Farid Dingle has completed extensive years of study in the sciences of the Arabic language and the various Islamic Sciences. During his studies, he also earned a CIFE Certificate in Islamic Finance. Over the years he has developed a masterful ability to craft lessons that help non-Arabic speakers gain a deep understanding of the language. He currently teaches courses in the Arabic Language