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Inheritance and Half Siblings

Answered by Shaykh Salman Younas

Question: Assalam aleykum

My father married twice; his first wife passed away and then he married my mother. From his first wife he has 1 son and 2 daughters .
My father had 5 sons and 2 daughters from my mother.

My question is about the money left after my father passed away. Do my half siblings have any right to that money?

We also didn’t pay for my fathers funeral from that money, rather myself and a couple of my brothers contributed as we didn’t have access to the funds at the time. Does that money have to be paid back to them?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

1. All of your father’s children are entitled to a portion of the wealth he left behind. This includes children he had from any previous wives.

2. Regarding the funeral costs, this does not have to be paid back to them if they decided to pay for it with their own money. The funeral arrangements are the responsibility of the surviving family of the deceased.

[Shaykh] Salman Younas

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Salman Younas  graduated from Stony Brook University with a degree in Political Science and Religious Studies. After studying the Islamic sciences online and with local scholars in New York, Ustadh Salman moved to Amman where he spent five years studying Islamic law, legal methodology, belief, hadith methodology, logic, Arabic, and tafsir. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Oxford and continues his traditional studies with scholars in the United Kingdom.

Do I Pay Zakat on Foreign Property?

Shaykh Abdurrahim Reasat answers a question related to the payment of Zakat on foreign property (according to the Hanafi school of thought).

 

Question:

Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatahuh

Hope you are well. I have a question re. zakat. My family has put a property abroad under my name – presumably to avoid problems of transfer when it comes to future inheritance. It is currently leased to a business who pay rent but in reality, I don’t consider the money as my own as, in effect, it is under the control of my family. Do I need to pay zakat on this? It’s not a matter I feel entirely comfortable with even though I understand why it has been done but I
don’t want to create problems. Concerning my own earned income, I am not eligible for zakat but if I have to incorporate the foreign rent, I may be even though I don’t use it. I would really appreciate an answer, especially as I can imagine other second-generation immigrants may be in similar situations.

Jazakallah khayrun

 

Answer:

Wa ‘alaykum as-salam wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

Zakat is only due on wealth or property which has the potential for growth. This would include any property purchased with the intention of sale or to acquire rental income. As such, zakat would not be due on the property if it was not purchased with intention of sale. The rental income, however, is zakatable. (Mawsili, Al Ikhtiyar).

Ownership of the Property

Whether you owe zakat on the rental income or not is dependant on who the actual owner is. When the property was transferred to you was it done with the intention of making you the owner of it, such that if you decided to sell it you would be able to do so?

You need to gentle clarify the matter with your family. Make it clear to them that you do not want to cause friction, and then explain that there are religious ramifications to owning the property – if you are indeed the owner. You need to know so you can pay the zakat on the rental income – which is rightfully your if you own it, even if you do not spend it. If they say it is yours then you can deal with the situation in the manner you deem to be the best for all involved.

If the property is only in your name for another purpose then you do not have to pay the zakat on the rental income. The actual owner is responsible for this.

Clarity In Matters of Inheritance 

Inheritance is a serious affair in Islam. When a person dies his property automatically becomes the property of his next of kin – with the exception of funeral costs and the repayment of debts which are both given precedence. It is up to the heirs to see that it is distributed accordingly.

Non-Shari’a compliant distributions before death, and vague allocations can be the cause of a lot of problems، and even fighting، between the next of kin. Therefore, it is best to have all such matters clarified beforehand.

Not following the distribution detailed in the Qur’an has serious consequences in this world and the next. I heard Shaykh Ali Hani, whose family were originally from Palestine, say on a number of occasions that before the country was occupied, it was common for Palestinian families not give anything of the inheritance to the daughters. They thought that the money would end up going to another (her husband’s) family, and they preferred to keep it in their own. This practice was rife. Could it be that what happened to the country was a test from Allah because of this?

Speak to your family and get clarity. It will make things much easier later on.

May Allah grant you the best of both worlds.

Abdul-Rahim

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani


Estate with No Muslim Heirs

Ustadh Farid Dingle advises on how to apportion one’s estate and designate one’s heirs when one is the only Muslim in the family.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am the only Muslim in my family, as I am a convert. My immediate family have passed away including my brother. My brother had a daughter, but she said that she does not believe in God. I have learnt that it is important to leave a will and was wondering who I can leave my estate to if I die?

Many thanks.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

You should just leave your estate to a good and reliable Muslim charity that benefits Muslims. That is what is supposed to happen in Muslim countries: when someone dies without any heirs, the money goes to the Muslim common fund for the general benefit of society. If that doesn’t exist, as is the case in question, then as long as it goes to the benefit of some Muslims somewhere then it is acceptable.

You may also put in your will that it goes to any friend or family member, even if they are not Muslim, such as your niece. However it can only one third of your total heritage. If you have this recorded legally, you should make sure it says that.

I pray Allah grant all of your family and friends faith in Him and His Messenger. Amin.

Farid

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
 


 

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.


Is Inheritance Divided According to Area or Value of Land?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam alaykum

My maternal grandmother passed away last year leaving behind 2 children; a boy (my uncle) and a girl (my mother). Her husband (my grandfather) died long ago. She left behind a plot of land. My mother claims that the total price of the entire plot must be divided into thirds and she is entitled to one-third of that value, and her brother is entitled to two-thirds of that value – instead of simply dividing land in terms of area. Is her claim valid?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullah,

Yes, your mother’s claim is correct, namely, that she has a right to one third of the value of the entire plot.

Allah Most High says, “These entitlements are the limits set by Allah.” [4:13]

After death, every part of the estate is owned by the heirs according to their respective share. Thereafter, one party cannot simply divide the estate as they wish, especially when it is to the detriment of the other inheritors. Rather, there needs to be clear agreement between everybody.

Given that this is a sensitive issue, I’d suggest that you consider involving a respectable third party and a scholar to ensure that everybody gets their full share.

Please also see: Dividing an estate for inheritence and: Inheritance Laws: Can I Stipulate Other Than the Determined Amounts Mentioned in the Qur’an?

And Allah Most High alone knows best.

wassalam,

[Ustadh] Tabraze Azam

Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Ustadh Tabraze Azam holds a BSc in Computer Science from the University of Leicester, where he also served as the President of the Islamic Society. He memorised the entire Qur’an in his hometown of Ipswich at the tender age of sixteen, and has since studied the Islamic Sciences in traditional settings in the UK, Jordan and Turkey. He is currently pursuing advanced studies in Jordan, where he is presently based with his family.

I Have a Non-Muslim Family. How Should I Go About Writing My Will?

Answered by Shaykh Umer Mian

Question: Assalam’aleykum

I am a divorced single women. I have 3 daughters and a brother who is not Muslim. I also have a male cousin who is not a Muslim either.

I own my own home with a small mortgage on it and I have a small amount invested. According to a calculator my daughters receive 2/3 of my estate and my brother should receive 1/3 of it.

I would like to leave my money to my daughters after deductions to charity. Can I use my brothers 1/3 for charity instead?

Answer: Wa alaikum as-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Short answer:

It would not be valid to make a bequest to your own daughters. Rather, daughters are divinely-ordained inheritors and will receive their inheritance shares accordingly. In addition, your non-Muslim relatives will not receive inheritance from you.

Detailed answer:

In order to answer the question, a brief summary of Islamic inheritance law is needed. In Islamic inheritance law, when a Muslim dies his or her estate (i.e. all wealth and property left behind after death) is applied to the following four categories, in order:

1. Funeral expenses
2. Unpaid debts the deceased left behind
3. The bequest, up to one-third
4. Divinely-ordained inheritors

The bequest (“wasiyyah” in Arabic) is the right of a Muslim to will that their wealth be given to any particular entity (e.g. friends, charitable causes, etc.) other than the divinely-ordained inheritors. The latter are specified in the Qur’an and Sunnah and include most relatives such as parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, aunts, uncles, etc. The bequest cannot be made for any of these people because their shares of the inheritance have been clearly specified in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and allowing a bequest to them is tantamount to changing the Divine decree regarding their shares. Also in Islamic inheritance law, the bequest is allowed only up to one-third of one’s estate. If a Muslim made a bequest for more than one-third of their estate, it would be executed only up to one-third and the remainder would be distributed amongst the divinely-ordained inheritors. Finally, note that the bequest is optional and it is mustahabb (preferred) to keep it minimal or leave it off entirely. This is considered a type of ihsaan (goodness) to one’s divinely-ordained inheritors (i.e. close relatives) because it maximises their inheritance.

Next, you should be aware that there is no inheritance between Muslims and non-Muslims. This is based on the explicit words of the following hadeeth:

عَنْ أُسَامَةَ بْنِ زَيْدٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ لَا يَرِثُ الْمُسْلِمُ الْكَافِرَ وَلَا الْكَافِرُ الْمُسْلِمَ (متفق عليه)

The Messenger of Allah (may Allah be well pleased with him) said “A Muslim does not inherit from a non-Muslim, nor does a non-Muslim inherit from a Muslim” (recorded by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Finally, since one’s inheritance cannot distributed until after one dies, determining how to distribute the inheritance among the divinely-ordained inheritors depends on which inheritors survive the deceased (i.e. who’s alive when they die).

In light of all of this, we can conclude the following about your situation:

1. Your non-Muslim relatives will not receive inheritance from you. For purposes of determining Islamic inheritance, you can ignore them.

2. It would not be valid to make a bequest to your own daughters. Rather, daughters are divinely-ordained inheritors and will receive their inheritance shares accordingly.

3. The exact amount your daughters would receive as divinely-ordained inheritance shares depends on who else survives you. You should sit with a qualified scholar of Islamic inheritance law to work out the different possibilities.

Finally, you should know that the prohibition of bequeathing to your divinely-ordained inheritors, as discussed above, does not prohibit you from gifting those people while you’re alive. Hence, during your lifetime you could gift all or a portion of your wealth to your daughters (or any other close relatives). This is permissible, and the wealth would immediately transfer to the giftee. However, the exception to this is when a person reaches terminal illness (i.e. they are “on their deathbed”). At that point, all gifts are treated as bequests and subject to the prohibition mentioned above (i.e. no bequests to divinely-ordained inheritors).

Wassalam,
Umer

Photo: Ken Mayer

What did Abdullah Ibn Masud leave his daughters?

Abdullah Ibn Masud and his Daughters

What did Abdullah Ibn Masud leave his daughters? This was the question he was asked on his death bed to which he gave an astonishing answer. Watch Shaykh Hamdi Benaissa as he emphasizes the importance of taking of spiritual means, along with the physical means.
Sincere thanks to the Rhoda Institute of Islamic Learning for this recording.

Resources for seekers:

Cover Photo: Heidi Lalci

What Are the Leeways in Dividing a Family Home After the Parents’ Death?

Answered by Shaykh Shuaib Ally

Question: Assalam alaikum,

My family lives with my parent in the main family home. Can we remain there following the death of the parent, and only sell it when we want? Do we have to immediately give out the shares to the rest of the inheritors?

Can the parent give the house to a single inheritor?

Answer: Assalāmu ʿalaykum,

I hope you and your family are doing well.

Promptly Apportioning the Estate of the Deceased

Generally speaking, one should strive to properly apportion the estate as soon as possible after the deceased person’s death. This is because as soon as a person passes away, their wealth transfers from their own to that of the inheritors.

Problems arising from not Immediately Apportioning Property

Aside from being sinful, failing to do so leads to irreparable broken feelings between the inheritors: those who have held on to the estate unlawfully, and those who have had their financial rights withheld from them.

It also leads to problems related to the legal inheritors, such as some of the inheritors themselves passing away, or other inheritors being added to the picture, such as children. This further complicates the inheritance division, to the extent that people often choose to simply never apportion it once it has reached this intractable stage.

Dividing the Estate based on Divine Law

One must also apportion the estate in a manner prescribed by law, and not try to lay claim to a larger portion than they have lawful claim to, for whatever reason they may find compelling. The Qur’an, knowing that people often fail to do so, says: “Do not covet what God has given to some of you more than others” [Qur’an, 4.32], in the context of dealing fairly with inheritance and monetary rights.

Can I Stay in my Parent’s House Following their Death?

Following a person’s death, as indicated above, their estate, including their house, effectively transfers from their property to that of their inheritors.

Those who are currently living in the house simply do not have any greater legal right to the property than the rest of the inheritors. The house, even if they are living in it, is not their property.
This is the case even if those living in the house are not of financial means. That is because the financial state of an inheritor(s) has nothing to do with how much of an inheritance share they can lay claim to.

What Should Happen to the Family Home?

The concept of a main family home is not a recognized legal concept. It is considered property like the rest of the estate. It cannot be held on to against the wishes of the other inheritors by virtue of it being ‘the family home’.

The rest of the inheritors are immediately legally entitled to their share of the estate, including the home. This is often most effectively accomplished by the property being sold and divided up amongst the inheritors.

Any other solution amicable to all of those who have a legal right to a share is also possible, such as one inheritor taking the property and compensating the rest in an agreed upon manner, immediately or over a period.

If all of the other inheritors do not agree, they are, by default, immediately legally entitled to their share.

Can a Person Decide what Happens to their Property after their Death?

A person’s wishes over who receives part of their estate after their death is not legally recognized. The estate as a whole is divided up, and each inheritor can do as they please with it. The wishes of the deceased are immaterial.

Can Parents Transfer the Estate to a Single Inheritor?

Transferring significant parts of the estate to a single inheritor by a parent, in an attempt to prevent the rest of the inheritors from their share, is disliked. According to some scholars, simply giving gifts exclusively to some children over others, without just cause, is impermissible.

The Prophet, peace and blessings of God be upon him, was asked to witness a person’s gift to only one of his sons. He refused to do so, calling it injustice, saying, “Fear Allah and be fair to all of your children” [Bukhari, Muslim].

Aside from its legal designation, transferring significant parts of the estate to a single inheritor with the intention of preventing the others from inheriting is blameworthy and extremely destructive behavior, possibly leading to the rest of the inheritors resenting the parents, even after their death, for effectively cutting them out of the inheritance.

Conclusion

The most amicable solution in such matters is to promptly apportion the estate upon the deceased’s death according to the shares set out in the law.

Wassalam,
Shuaib Ally

Can Parents Give to Their Children Their Inherited Shares While Alive?

Answered by Ustadh Tabraze Azam

Question: Assalam’aleykum,

My parents are alive and in good health but they want to distribute their wealth to me and my sisters according to the law of inheritance.

How should they go about it?

Answer: Wa alaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I pray that this message finds you well, insha’Allah.

May Allah Most High grant both your parents a long and blessed life.

Your parents can give you gifts now, but your inherited share of their wealth will not pass to you until one of them passes away. Even if they give you a share of their wealth now, the actual shares will be calculated and transferred at death.

At such a time, I’d advise contacting a reliable scholar.

Please also see: Dividing an Estate for Inheritance and: Inheritance Laws: Can I Stipulate Other Than the Determined Amounts Mentioned in the Qur’an?

And Allah alone knows best.

wassalam,
Tabraze Azam

Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

The Realities of Death and Dying – SeekersHub Toronto’s Seminar with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Ramzey Ajem, and Habib Hussein al Saqqaf

Death. Dying. Bereavement. Afterlife. Not subjects we particularly want to think about. But sometimes, it’s the things we are most avoiding, that are, in reality, the closest to us.

As the first snowflakes of the year fell to the street outside the Hub, burying out the autumn leaves that had fallen just days earlier, I was struck by how death always seems to be a morose subject of discussion despite being manifested all around us. Why, then, I wondered, are we still not ready to acknowledge it?

But in the final of the Living Religion seminar series at SeekersHub Toronto, aptly titled Death and Dying, we literally looked death in the face.

Spiritual Dimensions of Death and The AfterLife – Shaykh Ramzy Ajem

“Who here, by a show of hands, is ready for death?” asked Shaykh Ramzy Ajem, the first speaker of the seminar. No one moved.

“No one? Death isn’t a morbid subject; it shouldn’t be like that for a Muslim.” He said. “Death isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. You have a merciful Lord.”

He encouraged us to look at death in a positive light, and look forward to receiving that mercy. In regards to the afterlife, no one will enter Paradise based on his good actions; Paradise is from the mercy of our Lord. He told us that this life could never be a time for us to “collect” good deeds in a basket to be presented to Allah on the Day of Judgement; it is in our neediness of Him, that we attain a knowledge of Him.

He ended by urging us to examine our lives in perspective. “Our lives aren’t just cooking and cleaning, career, spouse. Love what you like, but you’re going to lose it. If your attachments are unbalanced, dying is going to be painful.”

However, if we see things in perspective, and realize that our purpose in life is to know Allah, and nothing more, death will be a pleasure.

 

The Importance of Remembering Death – Habib Hussein al Saqqaf

The next lecture was a video broadcast from the UAE, where Habib Hussein al-Saqqaf resides and teaches.

“The traveller,” Habib Hussein reminded us, “will not settle until he reaches his destination.” He emphasized that this worldly life is only one of the many stages that a human soul will pass through; that the stage of life is connected to the body, the stage of the barzakh is connected to the soul, and the stage of the afterlife is a perfect connection of both. He referred to death as a liqaa, a meeting.

That liqaa could be a happy one for you, if you loved Allah, His Messenger, and the noble ones. However, if you were attached to evil in your life, your liqaa would be an evil one.

A theme that is echoed throughout Islamic teaching is the idea of the husn al-khatima, the good ending. Habib Hussein encouraged us to seek that good ending proactively and with direction.

“No one is protected from sin,” he said, “but follow a sin with a good deed without delay.” He especially urged us not to wait; a good deed could be as simple as a smile, a kind word, or the act of giving food to another.

Habib Hussein left us with a practical plan to fortify our hearts, saying, “Whatever is in the hearts of men will spill out at the time of death,” and that constant repetition of the shahada, the testification of faith, la ilaha illa-Allah (there is no deity except Allah) cause it to be contained within our hearts, such that those could be our last words at the time of death.

 Practical Guidance for Preparing for Death – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz, as is his habit, focused on the practical aspects of preparing for death. “At a spiritual level, you’re dying every moment, because you have no inherent existence. You winked into existence, you would wink out if He didn’t sustain you.”

He shared ten ways:

1. Know your realities—Who is your Creator? Who are you? What is life and its purpose?
“One of the most amazing things about our religion,” he said, “is that we don’t just talk about God in the abstract; we know His attributes.”

2. Reflect on death—“Only a fool would believe that something changing is eternal,” he said.

3. Know the rights of Allah over you—your obligations to Him.

4. Know the rights of creation over you—“You have no right to harm God’s creation,” he warned. That could come in the form of physical harm, or something as simple such as gossiping.

22809255903_67e3137f79_b 5. Sense of urgency—that death could come at you any moment.

6. Use the “Death Test”—by asking yourself before any given action, “Is this what I want to die doing?” and during the action, “Is this the best use of my time?”

7. Having a living will—keeping track of your material and spiritual rights over God and others.

8. Keep a clean slate—through regular repentance.

9. Die beloved—with love and thankfulness, faith and trust, and certitude, pleased to meet your Lord.
And lastly, very practically:

10. Ask for a good ending.

Personal Reflection

Granted, death is a heavy subject, and will be so until the time comes when death is no more. However, the seminar had left me feeling hopeful rather than hopeless.

But the words of the ignorant and inexperienced cannot explain clarity. The only way to explain my feelings are contained in the final chapter of the miraculous poem Al-Burda:

“My Lord! Let not my hope on You be overthrown, nor let my credit with You be void of worth. Deal kindly with Your slave in both worlds, for when terrors call to him, his patience is weak.” (trans. Abdul Hakim Murad)

What little is contained in this world, cannot explain everything. What transpired in this world, cannot be the end of the matter. Therefore, death is a passage, not obliviation.

It took me a seminar to realize that.