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A Complete Overview Of The Islamic Law Of Inheritance, With Particular Regards To Sunni Law

"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.

Islam 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 groups.

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 law.

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 quotas')

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 considerably.

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 appropriate inheritances.

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 friction.

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 complicated.

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 Muslim:

(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 heir.

(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 Kalala.

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 share.

[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.
  1. Husband:
    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 � of the heritable estate. But if he does not have a child or child of a son how low soever, then he inherits �.
  2. Wife:
    A surviving wife is entitled to receive � 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 amongst themselves.
  3. Father:
    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.
  4. Mother:
    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.
  5. Maternal Grandmother:
    In cases where the mother of the deceased is absent, the maternal grandmother will be entitled to inherit ⅙ of the share.
  6. 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 equally.
  7. 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.
  8. Daughters:
    The daughters of the deceased become Quranic heirs only in the absence of a son. Single daughter receives � share, but if there are more than 1 daughter, then all of them inherit ⅔ share collectively, which they share equally.
  9. 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 � 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.
  10. Full sister:
    A single full sister receives � 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.
  11. Consanguine sister:
    When there is only 1 consanguine sister with no full sister and no excluder, then she is entitled to receive � 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.
  12. 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.

Agnatic Heirs

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 following sub-categories:

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:
  1. Offspring of the deceased, that is the son of the deceased or the male lineal descendants
  2. The root of the deceased, which is the father or the grandfather of the deceased, how high so ever.
  3. Offspring of the father, that is the full brothers, consanguine brothers and their male lineage.
  4. Offspring of the true grandfather, how high so ever.

Residuaries In Another's Rights:
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:
  1. Daughters with sons
  2. Son's daughters with a son's son or a male descendant
  3. Full sister with the full brother
  4. Consanguine sister with her brother

Residuaries Together With Another
There Are Only Two Residuaries Together With Another:
  1. Full sisters, with the daughters or son's daughters
  2. Consanguine sisters, with the daughters or son's daughters

Uterine Heirs

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
  1. Daughter's children and their descendants
  2. Children of son's daughters how low so ever and their descendants
Ascendants Of The Deceased:
  1. False grandfathers, how high so ever.
  2. False grandmothers, how high so ever.

Descendants Of Parents:
  1. Full brother's daughters and their descendants.
  2. Consanguine brother's daughters and their descendants.
  3. Uterine brother's children and their descendants.
  4. Daughters of full brother's sons how low so ever.
  5. Daughters of consanguine brother's sons how low so ever.
  6. Sister's (full, consanguine or uterine) children and their descendants.

Descendants Of Immediate Grandparents:
  1. Full paternal uncle's daughters and their descendants.
  2. Consanguine paternal uncle's daughters and their descendants.
  3. Uterine paternal uncles and their children and their descendants.
  4. Daughters of full paternal uncle's sons how low so ever.
  5. Daughters of consanguine paternal uncle's sons how low so ever.
  6. Paternal aunts (full, consanguine or uterine) and their children.
  7. Maternal uncles and aunts and their children.
  8. Descendants of remote ancestors how high so ever (true or false).


They are:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Escheat
    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

  1. Child In Womb

    Child 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.
  2. Adoption

    Adopted 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.
  3. Hermaphrodite

    A 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.
  4. Missing Person

    A 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 Islamic law.
  5. Posthumous Child

    A 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 intestate died.
  6. Estoppel In Succession

    A 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
  7. Simultaneous Deaths

    In 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

  1. Murderer:
    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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Apostasy:
    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.
  5. 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 other's property.

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:
  1. Equal To Unity,
  2. More Than Unity, Or
  3. Less Than Unity.
When 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.

Exception: 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 kindred alive.

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.

Illustration: 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 property.

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.
  1. By reducing the shares to a common denominator.
  2. By increasing the denominator to make it equal to the sum of the numerators allowing the numerators to stand as they are.

Illustration: 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 unity.

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:
  1. Provide Laws pertaining to distribution of wealth amongst heirs, so heirs don't fight; and
  2. Ensuring that a just system can be established and wealth is not accumulated into a single entity.

The Muslim Law Of Inheritance Is Based On These Following 5 Considerations:
  1. Break up the concentration of wealth and distribution of wealth in society.
  2. Endorse and Consolidate strong family system by justly distributing wealth amongst the heirs.
  3. 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.
  4. Provide peace of mind that after your demise, your family will be given the just right of inheritance
  5. 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 with examples.

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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