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Cases On General Rules Of Succession And Exclusion From Succession Under Islamic Law: Shia And Sunni

The Holy Quran, Sunna (prophetic tradition), Ijma (a network of educated men who agree on a given topic), and Qiyas (a network of educated men who agree on a specific topic) are the four main sources upon which the Muslim Law of Succession is based. (findings in light of similarity on what is correct and just as per great standards).

According to Islamic law, there are two categories of beneficiaries: sharers and reliquaries. Sharers are entitled to a specific offer in the deceased person's property, whereas reliquaries are permitted to accept the offer in any remaining property after the sharers have taken their share.

According to Islamic study, the inheritance laws that distinguish the Sunni and Shia legal systems are the most pronounced differences between them. It is almost impossible to overcome these divisions since they are so deep-seated. This is not to argue that there isn't any space with identical characteristics. There are at least a few instances where these distinct legal systems draw on the same kinds of shares and offer analogous solutions to real-world problems.

Case Laws:

Case Name: Musammat Maina Bibi & Ors. vs Chaudhari Wasi Ahmad & Ors[1]

On May 6, 1890, Muinuddin passed away. He was in possession of immovable property, the inheritance to which is in question in the current case. Musammat Maina, his wife, and Musammat Barkatunnissa, his cousin, were left behind after his death. In place of her unfulfilled claim for dower, Musammat Maina claimed to take control of the entire estate and maintain it. Her spouse Maslahuddin passed away on August 17, 1897, and Musammat Barkatunnissa passed away on June 27, 1892.

Musummat Khairunnissa, her mother, passed away on December 22, 1898. We refer to Musammat Barkatunnissa's mother and husband because, according to Muhammadan law, they will be her heirs upon her passing. After she passed away, along with her mother and husband, her boys were entitled to 72 sihams from Muinuddin's wealth, while her three daughters received 36 sihams. The widow Musammat Maina had a right to the remaining 36 sihams. Two of her daughters, Musammats Ummahani Bibi and Muizunnissa Bibi, filed a lawsuit on May 13th, 1899, seeking to reclaim their 24 sihams portion of the inheritance.

They named Musammat Maina and the other Musammat Barkatunnissa descendants as defendants. One of Musammat Maina's arguments was that Barkatunnissa was not Muinuddin's heir under Muhammadan law because Barkatunnissa's aunt and step aunt were alive at the time of Muinuddin's death. She further argued that Muinuddin had given her the immovable property as payment for her dower debt, which was Rs. 51,000, before he passed away. The defence's arguments were rejected.

The three sons of Barkatunnissa and her third daughter, Musammat Muhibunnissa, filed a lawsuit on April 25, 1902, seeking the return of 81 sihams. They named Musammat Maina Bibi, Musammat Ayesha Bibi, Masammat Ummahani Bibi, and Musammat Muizunnissa as defendants.

The final two defendants were formal ones. The claim that Musammat Maina had established Musammat Ayesha Bibi's entitlement to succeed to the property bequeathed by Muinuddin in the suit from 1899 led to her being added as a defendant in the case. The plaintiffs claimed in their complaint that Musammat Maina had a fatmi dower, or 107 rupees, which she had received from the estate's income, and that they were therefore entitled to immediate possession free of charge.

However, they stated that they would be happy to pay the sum decided by the Court if the Court deemed that any portion of the dower had not been paid. Therefore, they requested for the right to possess 7/12ths of the property either without payment or, alternatively, in exchange for payment of any amount the court may deem due.

The main contesting defendant in the case was Musammat Maina. She argued that the dower was Rs. 51,000, that Muinuddin had donated her all of his property in place of the dower, that the entire sum was still owed, and that she was entitled to interest on the dower at the rate of 1% per mensem. She also made a jus tertii argument by claiming that Musammat Ayesha Bibi was Muinuddin's step-aunt and that her lineage still existed at the time.

We should also highlight that Abdul Shakur and a few other people filed lawsuits to reclaim Muinuddin's property around the same period, claiming to be his cousins. Because she was Muinuddin's step-aunt, Musammat Ayesha Bibi also filed a lawsuit to retrieve her half of the land under inheritance rights. All cases, including the one involving one of Musammat Barkatunnissa's three kids, were given to the Small Cause Court judge for consideration.

First, the judgements in the lawsuits brought by Musammat Ayesha Bibi and others, in which Musammat Maina and the descendants of Musammat Barkatunnissa were also defendants, were rendered. When the sons of Musammat Barkatunnissa's case came up for trial, the outcome of the previous lawsuits had already resolved their title, leaving only the amount of the dower, the purported gift of the properly in lieu of dower, and the rate of interest to be decided.

When the finances were examined, it was discovered that the plaintiffs owed a proportionate sum of Rs. 25,387-5-5. On November 28th, 1903, a decree was made in the plaintiffs' favour granting them possession of 84 sihams out of 144 sihams in exchange for payment of the specified money within six months; otherwise, the plaintiffs' claim would be dismissed with costs. Musammat Maina Bibi raised cross objections when the plaintiffs appealed to this court. The sole argument made in support was one of interest. On July 3rd, 1906, the first Court's ruling was upheld and both the appeal and the cross objections were dismissed.

The Rs. 25,387-5-5 payment and the 84 sihams that were in the plaintiffs' possession were not returned to them. On the 16th of March 1907 and the 12th of June 1907, respectively, Musammat Maina Bibi executed two gift deeds for the property in favour of Khalilur Rahman, Obaidur Rahman, Shafiur Rahman, and Musammat Humairah Bibi, the son and daughter of Muhammad Isa, her nephew-her sister's son.

A section of the granted property was turned into a Wakf on March 5th, 1908, by Khalilur and Obaidur Rahman, who also named their father Muhammad Isa as Mutwalli.

Wasi Ahmad, Wakil Ahmad, and Zubair Ahmad, the three sons of Barkatunnissa, filed the lawsuit that gave rise to this appeal on July 22, 1915, seeking to recover 72 sihams out of the 144 sihams in Muinuddin's inheritance. In the interim, Musammat Muizunnissa had passed away. Musammat Maina Bibi, her donees, Muhammad Isa, the Mutwalli, as well as her husband and two sons, Musammat Mohibunnissa, were all named as defendants in the case by the plaintiffs. The final three defendants were formal ones.

After citing the prior legal dispute from 1902, the plaintiffs stated in their plaint that Musammat Maina had received a sizeable portion of the Rs. 25,387-5-5 from the estate's income and that, as a result of her giving up possession of the property, they were entitled to 72 sihams without having to pay anything. They were prepared to pay the amount the Court ruled due in relation to the remaining portion of the dower debt payable by them if it were the Court's judgement that they could not obtain possession without paying.

They claimed that their cause of action arose on the 18th of March 1907, the 12th of June 1907, and the 1st of July 1915, the dates on which the donees refused to turn over possession to them, the plaintiffs, after the execution of the two gift deeds and the transfer of possession from Musammat Maina.

  • The order only affected the right to obtain immediate possession; it did not affect the right to inherit. It said that if payment was not received within six months, the lawsuit should be dropped.
Observation of court
The court determined that Musammat Barkatunnissa was Muinuddin's heir, that Musammat Maina owed Rs. 51,000 in dower, and that Muinuddin had not given the property in question as a gift in lieu of dower. On payment of Rs. 3,913-12-10, the proportionate amount of dower due by the two females, the claim was approved for the recovery of 24 sihams. The money was paid, and the two women reclaimed their respective halves.

The learned Judge ruled that neither Musammat Ayesha Bibi nor Abdul Shakur and others were qualified to receive Muinuddin's estate because they had failed to establish their purported familial ties.

The learned Judge ruled that neither Musammat Ayesha Bibi nor Abdul Shakur and others were qualified to receive Muinuddin's estate because they had failed to establish their purported familial ties.The learned judge found that Musammat Maina Bibi was in possession of her deceased husband's wealth in place of her dower, that Muinuddin had not provided the subject property as a gift in lieu of dower, and that Musammat Maina Bibi's dower was not the fatmi dower, and that she should be given interest at the rate of 3% per year. He also ruled that she had to account for any earnings she had obtained since her husband's passing.

According to Their Lordships, a Muslim widow had the right to keep her deceased husband's estate in place of paying her dower to his heirs. Regarding the nature of her possession, they stated that it was unnecessary to specify whether the widow's right to possession constitutes a lien in the legal sense.

Whatever the name of the right, it appears to be based on the widow's ability to hold onto her husband's property as a dower creditor until the debt for the dower is paid, with the responsibility to account to those entitled to the property that is the subject of the claim for the profits received. Since then, the courts in this nation have uniformly and regularly acted in accordance with this expression of thought.

Case Name: Mahomed Ibrahim Rowther vs Shaikh Ibrahim Rowther

The dispute concerns the distribution of Mahomed Hussain Rowther's fortune, and the parties involved are Lubbai Mahomedans of the Sunni religion. He passed away in 1904, leaving behind a widow, two daughters named Ponnuthayee and Sulaiha Bi, three boys, and a widow. Ponnuthayee passed away in September 1905, leaving behind a daughter and a spouse. In this case, they are the plaintiffs. The three sons of Mahomed Hussain Rowther, his wife, and the two children of Sulaiha Bi, who was already deceased at the time this lawsuit was filed, are the defendants.

The plaintiffs assert rights to a portion of Mahomed Hussain's wealth as Ponnuthayee's heirs, and they are supported by Sulaiha Bi's children, who have a similar claim on behalf of their mother. The three sons and their mother are the disputing defendants. The outcome of the competing claims hinges on whether Mahomedan law, as claimed by the plaintiffs, or a system of descent that excludes women, as claimed by the contending defendants, governs the devolution of Mahomed Hussain's wealth.

  • Are the participants to the lawsuit subject to Hindu law, and was Ponnuthayee, the mother of the second plaintiff, entitled to a share of Mahomed Hussain Rowther's estate after he passed away?
Judgment and Observation of court
In light of the totality of the documentary and oral evidence, their Lordships conclude that it falls well short of the level of proof required to prove a use or custom that excludes women from succession. It's important to note that the custom as alleged does not only exclude women; rather, it asserts that giving gifts to female family members at the time of or right after marriage in lieu of their shares is customary.

It is further claimed that in accordance with this usage, the father of the defendants gave jewellery, money, and other possessions worth about Rs. 4,000 to the mother of the second plaintiff right after their marriage. The Subordinate Judge rules against this, and the High Court does not object to this judgement.

As a result, their Lordships will humbly recommend to His Majesty that the High Court's decision be overturned and the Subordinate Judge's decision be reinstated, with the stipulation that a date other than February 7, 1914, be set by the Court of First Instance for the appointment of a Commissioner, and that the contesting defendants do bear the plaintiffs' High Court costs. There will be no order regarding the expenses of the appeal because it has been six years since the date of the decree in question and no convincing justification for the lengthy delay has been provided.

Case Name: Ali Saheb vs Hajra Begaum[2]

The property at issue in the lawsuit belonged to a man named Lal Mohamed, who passed away in 1950, leaving behind his widow Ashabi and two granddaughters, the first defendant and the plaintiff. Lal Mohamed predeceased Mahaboobbi, the mother of the plaintiff and defendant According to two gift deeds, Exhibits P-1 and P-2, Ashabi gave her brother's son defendant 1 the assets owned by Lal Mohamed. She asserts in her lawsuit that she was one of Lal Mohamed's heirs and was thus entitled to a 3/8 portion of his property because she was one of his heirs.

She therefore requested a judgement declaring her ownership of that 3/8 part and granting her possession of it. The Defendant 1 opposed the lawsuit on the grounds that Ashabi barred the plaintiff and her sister from inheriting, and that the gift deeds Exhibits P-1 and P-2 gave defendant 1 ownership of the entirety of the suit's assets.

  • Whether Plaintiff will get a share in Lal Mohamed's property or not?
Judgment and Observation of court
In light of this, the lower courts correctly rejected the opposing argument made by defendant 1 as being unpersuasive. The fact that Ashabi, as a shareholder, was only entitled to a fourth share meant that the plaintiff and defendant 2 each had a right to 3/8 of Lal Mohammed's property, and it was for this 3/8 share that the lower courts correctly made a ruling in the plaintiff's favour. The appeal was rejected.

Case Name: Damodar Kashinath Rasane vs Shahajsdibi And Ors[3]

Plaintiff Shahajadibi is the widow of late Muslim and Hanafi School of Mohamedan Law adherent Bapubhai Momin. Bapubhai owns the agricultural land that is the focus of the lawsuit. On October 9, 1944, while still alive, he wrote a will in which he left the entire estate to one Bakshushaha, the son of his father's sister.

On September 11, 1949, Bapubhai passed away, leaving the plaintiff as the only heir. It appears that Bakshushaha gave up life and converted to a fakir, and that in 1968, he and his wife Hafizabi leased the land to defendants 2 and 3. In order to retrieve the land from the defendants, plaintiff Shahajadibi launched the current lawsuit in 1972, asserting her right to it as the sole successor of her late husband Bapubhai.

The defendants 2 and 3 opposed the lawsuit, and the plaintiff had no remaining rights, titles, or interests in the property because defendant 1 Bakashushaha's widow had leased the property to the defendants 2 and 3 and was now the sole owner of the entire parcel as a result of the will. Alternately, it was argued that defendant 1 had acquired ownership by adverse possession and that defendants 2 and 3 were in actual possession of the property as his tenants. The trial court ruled that Bahpubhai's bequest of the entire property in his will, which supported Mahomedan law, was unlawful. As a result, the court decided the plaintiff's case.

The Appeal Court ruled in the defendants 2 and 3's appeal that the will was legitimate up to one-third of the bequest because, according to Mahomedan law, Bapubhai was permitted to leave up to one-third of his property. Therefore, the Appellate Court changed the ruling and gave the plaintiff possession of two-thirds of the land with instructions to divide the land. Both the plaintiff and defendants 2 and 3 have chosen the current cross-second appeal since they are both unhappy with this verdict. The complainant filed a second appeal.

  1. Whether the totality of a Mahomedan's bequest of his assets is void or simply the portion that exceeds one-third.
  2. If Bakshushaha was granted a third or a half of the estate in accordance with the will, and if the appellant defendants are accordingly permitted to retain a third or a half of the in dispute property

Judgment and Observation of court
The Court determined that the will in favour of the defendant, by which the bequest of the entire property was allegedly made in her favour, was entirely invalid, and as a result, upheld the lower Appellate Court's decision dividing the property equally between the plaintiff and defendant, or between the two sisters.

Case Name: Abdul Raheem v. Land Acquisition Officer-cum-Revenue Divisional Officer, Mahaboobnagar[4]

The two appellants, Shaik Ali and Shaik Mohiuddin, are Abdul Khader's sons. The appellant claims that his father, Abdul Khader, purchased Survey No. 30, which includes Acs. 5.30 guntas, and Survey No. 31, which includes Acs. 2.05 guntas, making a total extent of Acs.7.35 guntas. He also claims that at a partition between himself and his brothers, the property fell to his share under an unregistered preparation list, giving him exclusive title to the property.

He is therefore entitled to receiving the full amount of compensation. Mohd. Jahangir, the fourth respondent in the lower court, passed away while the case was ongoing, and respondents 4 through 6 have been listed as his legal representatives, who asserted that Jahangir possessed exclusive title to the area covered by Acs. 2.05 guntas in Survey No. 31.

  • If the appellant possesses sole title to the land, that is the only issue at hand in this appeal.
Judgement and Observation of court
The appellant and respondents 2 and 3 herein are entitled to payment of compensation in the ratio of 1:3, the Court below ruled, because Jahangir has not proven that he has gained title to the property in Survey No. 31 consisting of Acs. 2.05 guntas. Its legitimacy is contested in the appeal, which was submitted.

Case Name: Rukmanibai vs Bismillabai [5]

Deceased Babu son of Nathu, who worked at Rajkumar Mills in Indore, passed away on May 28, 1980, leaving behind Rs. 10,000 in EDLI benefits and Rs. 15,000 in his provident fund account with the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Indore. During his lifetime, the deceased gave up his Hindu faith and became a Mahomedan. The deceased's daughter, the respondent Bismillabai, requested the award of succession certificate under Section 372 of the Act.

As the deceased person's niece, the appellant protested and begged for the award to be given to her. After conducting an investigation and reviewing the evidence, the Succession Court determined that the dead transformed himself to a Mahomedan, and as a result, the rights to inherit were governed by the Mahomedan personal law.

The deceased opened a joint account in his and Bismillabai's names at the Central Bank, Siyaganj Branch, Indore City, during his lifetime, and designated Bismillabai as his nominee to the provident fund account, according to evidence that the Succession Court used to determine that Bismillabai was the deceased's daughter. The appellant has filed an appeal because they are upset with this grant to the respondent.

It was acknowledged that applicant Bismillabai is the late Babu's daughter. In addition to the admission, the applicant Bismillabai presented evidence showing that she and her younger brother Mohan were born from the union of Babu and the applicant's mother. The deceased was very close to Mohan, so he was named as a nominee; however, Mohan passed away.

As a result, Bismillabai was named as a nominee in the Provident Fund Account and EDLI benefits in place of Mohan's name, which demonstrated that the deceased was managing a joint account, Additionally demonstrated that the deceased married in Ahmedabad and converted to Islam. The deceased was living with Bismillabai, who was taking care of him after the death of the deceased's wife, and was buried in a cemetery.

  • Whether Rukmanibai will get succession certificate or not?

Judgement And Observation Of Court
In accordance with Section 21 of the Principles of Mahomedan Law, the succession to the estate of a convert to Mahomedanism is governed by Mahomedan Law in the absence of a custom to the contrary.

The Privy Council ruled in Miter Sen v. Maqbul Hasan Khan[6]that once a person changes his religion and personal law, that law will control his children's rights to succeed him. Expectant heirs may experience some suffering as a result of it, especially if they are the ancestor's offspring and possibly the unconverted children, but overall, they experience no more hardship as a result of it than do other people.

However, it doesn't cause them any more hardship than it would in any other situation where the ancestor has altered the law of succession. It may, of course, work hard to some extent on expectant heirs, especially if they are the children and possibly the unconverted children of the ancestor who actually changes his religion.

The daughter was entitled to her portion, but because there was no residuary, Section 66 of the Mahomedan Law also applied to the share of the residuary, which returned back to the daughter. Given the facts, the respondent's issuing of a succession certificate cannot be deemed unlawful. As a result, the issue of certificate to the appellant was properly denied, and the respondent was properly given the succession certificate.

As a result, the appeal is rejected without a cost order because it lacks any merit.

Critical Analysis
Islamic law is already regarded as having one of the most elegantly crafted inheritance rules in its current form. There is no place for speculation or uncertainty under this law because it already addresses every possible question. Islamic inheritance law was arguably one of the earliest laws to improve the status of women in our society as compared to other laws. It clearly stated the shares to which women were entitled.

It's crucial to understand that change is the only constant in a modern culture like the one we live in today. The law needs to be changed, or better said, reformed, in a way that is acceptable in a society that is moving towards gender neutrality. Reforms are a necessary component of the legislative process because no law is flawless.

Having said that, Islamic law itself might benefit from certain modifications to weed out any corrupt laws that are concealed by this nearly perfect system. There are several gaps that actually need to be filled, including those relating to widow's rights, the gender disparity in inheritance, unintended murderers, adopted children, and illegitimate children, recognising widows as heirs is an important step towards achieving equality.

However, when a widow is denied anything from the immovable property, this consensus in Islamic law that there is no distinction between different types of property prevents this journey from being completed. The goal of making any law gender-neutral will never be genuinely achieved unless we completely eradicate these patriarchal underpinnings from the system.

Talking about the exclusion of adopted and illegitimate children from inheriting from the father under either rule is not only unfair, but it is also out of date. It is almost impossible to comprehend why the children are made to suffer as a result of their parents' negligence. While it is true that given how these sacred texts and scriptures are interpreted, some reforms are difficult to implement due to popular resistance, something can still be done to prevent these children from being in the dark indefinitely.

Another change is possible, specifically under Hanafi legislation, which allows for the disqualification of anyone who commits any type of homicide. However, what about individuals who accidentally, by mistake, or wholly inadvertently commit a crime with no real fault of their own? Is it still justified to disqualify them from being an heir?

Islamic law acknowledges a woman's entitlement to rights, but can we really state that this recognition is full in and of itself when there is a 2:1 gender ratio? Why not attempt to draw the same distinction under a personal law since the law already distinguishes between both offences based on intent?

Contrary to other religions, Muslim law is not codified in India. It is entirely based on sacred books like the Quran. A law is much easier to govern under when it is codified than when it is not. Almost every issue is exhaustively addressed by written law.

Muslim law offers minute details regarding the law governing inheritance rights, despite the fact that it is not codified. Shias and Sunnis are the two subgroups of the Muslim faith. The laws of the two subparts share certain commonalities, but there are also some differences Shia law is less strict than Sunni law, women's rights are recognised by Shia law, whereas they are disregarded by Sunni law.

Sunni law places emphasis on the male side of the family and gives little consideration to the interests of the females. The Muslim law seems to be stricter than the current Hindu law in terms of inheritance rights. Because Muslim law prioritised women more than Hindu law did, it was previously believed to be more liberal than Hindu law.

However, since Hindu Law was codified, it has become more lenient. Muslim law, however, was the first to give women inheritance rights and to require adequate proof for property distribution. Islam also offers a sophisticated system of inheritance that is scientifically sound, stable, and elegantly symmetrical.

  1. Musammat Maina Bibi & Ors. vs Chaudhari Wasi Ahmad & Ors (1919) 51 Ind Cas 242
  2. Ali Saheb vs Hajra Begaum AIR 1968 Kant 351, AIR 1968 Mys 351, (1968) 2 MysLJ
  3. Damodar Kashinath Rasane vs Shahajsdibi & Ors AIR 1989 Bom 1, 1988 (2) BomCR 339
  4. Abdul Raheem v. Land Acquisition Officer-cum-Revenue Divisional Officer, Mahaboobnagar AIR 1989 AP 318
  5. Rukmanibai vs Bismillabai AIR 1993 MP 4
  6. Miter Sen v. Maqbul Hasan Khan AIR 1930 PC 251

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