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« on: Apr 13, 2008 11:14 PM »

Inheritance in Islam

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem


All praise belongs to Allah, the Most High.  May peace and blessings be upon our beloved Messenger Muhammad, and on his family and companions, and those who follow in their footsteps until the Day of Judgment.

What comes after:

This article is a brief summary of the inheritance laws pertaining to a typical Muslim family, compiled under the supervision of Sheikh Dr. Muhammad Bashir al-Mufashi, professor of inheritance law in Damascus, Syria.

Types of Inheritance

Islamic inheritance law is explained in detail in the Quran, in verses 11, 12, and 176 of Surah An-Nisaa’.  Further clarification is found in the Prophetic Sunnah, while the few remaining ambiguities were addressed by the noble Companions of the Prophet r.

In distributing one’s estate, the rights of certain individuals take priority over others, and this is known as (Istihqaaq).  Here is a brief summary of the order of distribution:

Debts are to be paid and borrowed property returned.
Costs of the funeral arrangements are to be paid.
The Wassiyya, or optional willed amount, not to exceed 1/3 of one’s estate, is distributed.
The Wassiyya is an optional amount specified by the deceased before his death to be given to non-inheritors or in the form of charity or waqf.  The Wassiyya cannot be willed to a person receiving a fixed portion of inheritance.  Thus one’s parents, children, spouse, etc. are ineligible for the Wassiyya; their portions have already been fixed by the Shariah.  The Divine Wisdom in this is to prevent disputes regarding who inherits what, as it has already be set by Allah U, and thus there is no room for ill-feelings and strained family relations. 

This rule is based on the words of the Messenger, peace be upon him, as narrated by Tirmidhi and others:

“Indeed Allah has given every rightful owner his due;  it is not permissible to give Wassiyya to an inheritor.”

Furthermore, one’s Wassiyya is not to exceed 1/3 of one’s total estate.  The Prophet peace be upon him stated in a hadith narrated by Bukhari:

“Do not exceed a third, and a third is still too much.  To leave your inheritors wealthy is better than to leave them poor, begging others for charity. ”

The Faraa’id.
The Faraa’id are the fixed proportions of inheritance set aside by Allah in the Qur’an.  Briefly, they include one’s spouse, children, and parents.  If one has neither descendants nor ascendants, then one’s brothers and sisters also receive a fixed portion.  Grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts, and cousins may also inherit in some cases if there are no relatives nearer than them.

A single daughter, for example, receives 1/2 of the inheritance, and 2 or more daughters receive 2/3rds.  Parents receive 1/6th, unless there are no children, and the mother has fewer than 2 brothers, than she gets 1/3.  A husband gets 1/2 and the wife 1/4th if they have no children, otherwise they get 1/4th and 1/8th respectively.

If there are brothers and sisters together, the male receives twice the portion of the female.  Dr. Mufashi explained how this is an example of the justice of Islam towards women using the following example:

A son inherits 100,000 for example, and within a 5 year period, spends 50,000 as a bridal gift (mahr) and providing for his family, and is left with 50,000.  The daughter, on the other hand inherits 50,000 and then invests it, and receives her bridal gift as well, and after 5 years she is left with 100,000.

In Islam, a woman is not required to provide for the expenses of her family, such as housing, food, and clothing, whereas a man is.

Examples of Inheritance Distribution

In the remaining portion of this article, I will provide a couple examples of the inheritance distribution in a typical family of six.

A Father passes away, leaving a wife, 2 daughters, 2 sons, and 2 brothers and 2 sisters.


Wife  (1/8)                         1/8                                6/48                      6

2 Sons  (U)3             share of 7/8ths                     28/48                    14 for each

2 Daughters (U)     share of 7/8ths                     14/48                     7 for each

Brothers and sisters (P)4    --   --                        0

A Mother passes away, leaving her husband, 2 sons and 2 daughters, her brother and 2 sisters, and her mother.


Husband (1/4)                       3                               18                             18

Mother (1/6)                         2                                12                            12

2 Sons (U)                     share of 7/12ths            28/72                        14 for each

2 Daughters (U)           share of 7/12ths            14/72                         7 for each

Brothers and sisters (P)       --             --                               --


Finally, it should be noted that a person in his final illness is restricted in disposing of his property, or in divorcing his wife.  He is only allowed to dispose of 1/3rd of his property in accordance to the rules of Wassiyya above, and if he divorces his wife during this time, she still inherits from him. 

Conversely, a person who contributes to the death of a person is forbidden from inheriting from him. 

This is in accordance with the principle of fiqh that states:

One who seeks to hasten a thing before its appropriate time, is punished by its opposite.


I ask Allah, Most High, to keep this beautiful field of knowledge alive, along with all branches of the Sacred Law, and to make this article beneficial for all Muslims.  May Allah forgive us our mistakes, and make us firm in the religion, indeed He is capable of that, for He is over all things Most Powerful.  Ameen.

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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« Reply #1 on: Apr 13, 2008 11:27 PM »

Asalamualaikum wrt,

Now that you are an expert on inheritance in Islam, here's a quiz from Shaikh Peaceman:

   Here is a sample problem. Lets see if you can give
the right answer:

   A woman has $900,000 and passes away. Her husband
and mom and a son and a daughter are the inheritors.

Q1: Can she give $400,000 in charity from the
inheritance? If not, what is the most she can give?

a) Yes, she can will whatever she wants in charity,
   it is her money.

b) She can only give i.e. upto 1/3.

c) No, she has to give all of it to her husband.

d) No, she has to give all of it to her oldest son.

Write the amount she can give here: _______________

Q2.  Lets say after all the bequests and debts, she
has $600,000 left. How much goes to her husband?

a) None, he doesn't deserve anything. Only men are
supposed to give to women, not the other way around.

b) Her husband gets a half.

c) He gets 1/4.

d) He gets the amount that his wife willed for him.

The amount that goes to her husband is: ______________

Q3. How much goes to mom?

a) None, the kids inherit from the parents; not the
other way around.

b) She gets 1/3.
c) She gets 1/6.

d) She gets 1/4. All the four inheritors share

Write the amount she gets here: _______________

The amount left is: _______________
Q4. How much goes to the son and Daughter?

a) The son gets all that is left, the daughter none.

b) They both share equally 50/50 with what is left.

c) The daughter gets 1/3 of whats left, and the son

d) The son and daughter don't get anything, because
they have to be above 18 in order to inherit.

Write the amount for the daughter: _______________

Write the amount for the son     : _______________


First one to get all the right answers will have lots of reward in Jannah, inshaAllah Smiley

Be merciful to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will be merciful to you.
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