Complying With Fiqh Rules Regarding Inheritance

Ustadh Salman Younas breaks down the rules of inheritance in a complicated case, advising caution and consulting local scholars.

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am a single female, never married. My mother has passed, may Allah have Mercy on her. It seems straightforward that 2/3 of my assets would go to my father, and 1/3 can go to any person, charity, etc. assuming they will not be beneficiaries from my father (i.e. my siblings). Please confirm if my understanding is correct.

I’m having trouble determining “contingent” beneficiaries according to Islamic law in the event my father passes before me. I have 3 brothers. One who claims that he does not believe in God. One brother is married to a Lutheran, and their two children are Muslim. I also have 2 sisters, one who is married to a Catholic, and the husband and their 3 children are Catholic. My father remarried, and has a grown step daughter (she is in her 30s). My father is 80, and my siblings and I are in our 50s.

It seems, based on what I’ve read, that my brother who does not believe is not entitled to receive inheritance from a believer. Please confirm.

If that’s the case, do I divide this into 6 parts, with 2 going to each believing brother and 1 part going to each sister? Or is the sister married to the Catholic not entitled also?

In addition, I have several aunties, uncles, cousins from my mother’s side, and half aunts, uncles and cousins from my father’s side. In order to comply with fiqh, do I need to leave anything for any of them?

Jazakum Allah khayran.

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

1. If you are survived by your father and siblings, your father will inherit everything. You may, however, bequeath 1/3rd of the inheritance to anyone of your choosing. (Note: The general rule is that a bequest cannot be made to a person who is an inheritor unless permitted by the other inheritors, but this is not applicable in the case here).

2. If your father passes away and you only have surviving siblings, your three brothers will each receive 1/4th, your two full sisters 1/8th each, and your consanguine sister will not receive anything.

However, the inheritance of a Muslim can only be inherited by a Muslim. Thus, if one of your brothers is not a Muslim, he will not be entitled to a share in the inheritance as a designated inheritor, which will mean two brothers will each receive 1/3rd and your two sisters 1/6th each, or, putting it differently, 2/3rds will be divided between your brothers and 1/3rd between your sisters. The judgment about his Islam, though, is a serious matter and should not be made without clear decisive evidence and the counsel of recognized scholars.

3. As for uncles, aunts, and cousins, they will not receive anything in the presence of your full brothers or sisters.

I would advise you that despite this answer, you should consult a reliable, local scholar on the specifics of your situation, family details, and the rights each are owed.

Salman

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.


How to Divide Inheritance After a Parent’s Death?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My mother just passed away but hasn’t left any sort of will to her name. She verbally said a few things to us her children but nothing written. How do we correctly deal with her finances in light of the Sharia?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. My deepest condolences to you and your family. May Allah magnify your reward, bring you solace, and forgive your mother, and grant her the very highest stations in Paradise. Amen. May Allah also reward you for striving to correctly deal with your affairs during this difficult time.

Division of inheritance

When dividing inheritance various factors have to be considered, such as any debts due, bequests, the range of possible inheritors present, such as children, spouse, parents, siblings etc., their specific numbers, as well as the male and female among them. These factors influence the way the inheritance is distributed. As such, one would need the full details to work out the estate division in each case.

For this reason, it would be necessary for you to consult a qualified and reliable local scholar and go through your specific case. If there is no Shafi’i scholar that you can access, then I would suggest that you consult any scholar who fulfils the above criteria, even if they follow another madhab, such as the Hanafi madhab, which may be more readily available in your area. At least this way, the estate inheritance division would be legally valid in one of the schools, and the obligation would be lifted.

Benefiting your mother

The Prophet ﷺ has said, ‘When a human being dies, all of his deeds are terminated except for three types: Ongoing charity, a knowledge (of Islam) from which others benefit, and a righteous child who makes du’a for him.’ [Muslim]

Despite the deep grief and sense of loss we feel when a loved one departs from this world, especially our mothers, God, through His Infinite Mercy, has made it that there are many ways to still benefit our departed loved ones. The best of these is giving charity on their behalf, making sincere supplication for their forgiveness and reward, and by the child themselves striving to be pious, so they can be a source of Mercy and honour for their parents.

Please also read this answer, which may be of further benefit: How Do We Deal With the Death of a Loved One?

May Allah grant your mother mercy and peace, and your hearts consolation, serenity, and deep faith.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.

My Father’s Inheritance Has Been Taken Unjustly. What Can I Do?

Answered by Shaykh Farid Dingle

Question: Assalamu alaykum

I wanted to ask a question regarding inheritance of my father as something had occurred which has made it confusing when trying to split the inheritance.

After my father passed away, the government automatically gave everything my father owned to my step-mother. After a while my family wanted to include the rest of the family into the properties (house) name, but she was hesitant. Eventually we managed to convince her to put my sisters name in, but she (step-mother) took a large majority of the property for her and her son.

The issue we are now faced with is, she has taken more than her fair share of the inheritance (father’s estate), even when including her son’s share. She has re-married and moved showing no sign of giving back the excess she had taken before she left.

How are we supposed to split the remaining inheritance if a large sum of the total inheritance left behind was taken unjustly?

Answer: Wa alaykum assalam,

If I were in your shoes, I would take the following steps:

1) Create a clear picture

Have a mufti work out the correct proportions for each inheriting family member at the time of your father’s death (Allah have mercy upon him.) If you give a complete list of all relatives alive at the time of death, we can do this for you. You might have to check to see whether or not your father left a will. If he did, he might have requested that your step-mother receive funds/assets, which might end up with her receiving 33% more than her normal percentage of 12.5%.

Once this is done, have him stamp it, or get some fatwa committee to stamp it for official use.

2) Address the problem

Either go yourself or have a respected member of the community contact your step-mother and show her what the official stamped decree was, and explain to her that inheritance rules in Islam apply within and without a Muslim country, and that Allah will punish her if she wrongfully withholds other’s God given rights.

3) Suffer being wronged

If she doesn’t listen, then you can just divide the remaining divisions proportionately:

For example:

This is what I can imagine the percentages should have been:

Wife (step-mother): 12.5% (1/8)
2 sons (you and your brothers) 58.33% (Each son getting 2 x ((7/8)/6))
2 daughters (your sisters) 29.16% (Each son daughter 1 x ((7/8)/6))

Let us say that the total inheritance (properties and funds) was 300,000 GBP.

The step-mother should have received 12.5% (37,500 GBP). She actually received 55% (165,000 GBP). The money that she has wrongfully taken from the other inheritors is: 127,500 GBP. This is what you now subtract that which was supposed to go to his offspring (in this hypothetical scenario):

300,000 GBP – 37,500 GBP – 127,500 GBP = 135000 GBP (amount left to offspring after step-mother took her share and after being wrongfully taken).

Then each of the two sons would get 33.33% of the amount left (135000 GBP) and each daughter would get 16.67%. (Again assuming the hypothetical scenario above.)

The benefit of being wronged

Although we are obliged to protect ourselves and stop people doing wrong, it often happens that the matter is not in our hands and there is nothing to do but be patient with Allah’s decree and suffer being wronged. We should be positive and remember the words of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), ‘The believer is continually afflicted until he meets Allah completely sinless.’ (Tirmidhi) So being wronged is an expiation for sins and means to raise in rank before Allah.

We can also learn a lesson from this whole ordeal, and that is the need for wills to be written so as to prevent family members, sometimes unwillingly, wronging others.

I pray this helps. Please feel free to contact us again with more details if necessary.

Wassalam,
[Shaykh] Farid Dingle

Shaykh Farid Dingle grew up in a convert family in Herefordshire, UK. In 2007, he moved to Jordan to pursue traditional studies. Shaykh Farid continues to live in Amman, Jordan with his wife and kids. In addition to continuing his studies he teaches Arabic and several of the Islamic sciences.

Shaykh Farid began his journey in sacred knowledge with intensives in the UK and Jordan (2004) in Shafi’i fiqh and Arabic. After years of studying Arabic grammar, Shafi’i fiqh, hadith, legal methodology (usul al-fiqh) and tafsir, Sh. Farid began specializing in Arabic language and literature. Sh. Farid studied Pre-Islamic poetry, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, and Andalusian literature. He holds a BA in Arabic Language and Literature and continues exploring the language of the Islamic tradition.

In addition to his interest in the Arabic language Shaykh Farid actively researches matters related to jurisprudence (fiqh) which he studied with Shaykh Hamza Karamali, Shaykh Ahmad Hasanat, and continues with Shaykh Amjad Rasheed.

Can a Parent Disown a Child?

Answered by Shaykh Jamir Meah

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My father got upset and verbally said that he disowns me. After that incident, he never mentioned anything about it and he is maintaining usual relationship with me, as if nothing had happened. Does mentioning such thing put me out of his family for good?

Answer: Wa’alaykum assalam. Jazakum Allah khayr for your question.

There is nothing in Islam that results in disowning one’s child or putting them ‘out’ of the family. Verbal utterances in which one disowns a family member are wrong, as severing the ties of kinship is an enormity, but carry no legal consequence.

The Prophet ﷺ said, ‘The upholder of kinship ties is not the one who is kind to them if they are kind to him, rather the upholder of kinship ties is the one who, if his relatives cut him off, he upholds the ties of kinship with them.’ [al Bukhari].

Therefore, despite your father’s angry words, ignore them and carry on as normal, do your best to be patient and forgiving, and avoid confrontation.

May Allah bring peace to our hearts and homes.

Warmest salams,
[Shaykh] Jamir Meah

Shaykh Jamir Meah grew up in Hampstead, London. In 2007, he traveled to Tarim, Yemen, where he spent nine years studying the Islamic sciences on a one-to-one basis under the foremost scholars of the Ribaat, Tarim, with a main specialization and focus on Shafi’i fiqh. In early 2016, he moved to Amman, Jordan, where he continues advanced studies in a range of Islamic sciences, as well as teaching. Jamir is a qualified homeopath.