Muslim Inheritance or Succession law
The word "Succession" has a different meaning depending on its use. In the context of inheritance, it is an equivalent term. However, if you refer to the business aspect, then it means "Succession" planning which can take place prior to death. When you use succession equivalent to inheritance, then it can take place only after demise. The term "Legacy" is used in place of Succession and Inheritance but not quite often.
Sunni Islamic Inheritance law principles include all estates (i.e., House, land, money, jewelry, belongings) capital and non-capital, movable, and immovable properties. Deduct the debts (i.e., personal, commercial, mortgage, loans), expenses (i.e., funeral or burial, administration, legal, executors), and Testamentary bequest (not exceeding one-third).
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The sources of Muslim succession law are four; The Holy Quran is the primary source, the Sunnah (i.e., sayings of the prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), the Ijma or Ejma (i.e., the consensus of companions), and the Qiyas (i.e., the analogical deductions using reasoning). The ilm al-Faraid or ilm al-wareeth (i.e., the science of inheritance is firmly established using all these four sources. It is so true that Inheritance is half of the knowledge, and read more here.
Under Muslim family inheritance law, Islam grants the rights to surviving spouse (Islamically and legally married), sons, daughters, father (or Grandfather), mother (or Grandmother), and siblings (Full, Paternal, and Maternal). As per Muslim succession law, Children, Spouse (Islamically married), Parents, and Siblings inherit from the father's or Mother's property as stipulated in the Holy Quran 4:11-12 and 4:176. There are 35 verses directly or indirectly addressing inheritance matters for Muslims in the Quran. However, three verses (4.11, 4.12. 4.176) in chapter 4, Surah An-Nisa (i.e., Women), specifically address the Inheritance of Husband, Wife, Sons, Daughters, Parents, and Siblings.
There are three types of inheritors in Islam; Dhil Furudh (i.e., Fixed or Prescribed or Quranic sharers or heirs), Asbah (i.e., the Residuary), and Dhil Irham (i.e., the Distant kindred). Also, the word "Kalala" is used for a person who does not have descendants and descendants. There are twelve fixed Islamic Inheritance sharers (Ahl Al Fara'id): Husband or Wife, Son and Daughter, Father or Grandfather (i.e., Father of Father how high soever), Mother or Grandmothers (i.e., Mother of Mother and/or Father of Mother how high soever), Maternal Brothers and Sisters, Full sisters and Paternal Sisters. Refer to the Islamic Inheritance table for more information. The "Faraid" is compulsory in Islam. Faraid means the "Fixed portion," which is mandatory. Adherents to Faraid are compulsory for Muslims, which is evident in the Holy Quran. Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) states, "This is an obligation from Allah" (Holy Quran 4:11) and again, "This is a commandment from Allah" (Holy Quran 4:12). Also, "These entitlements are the limits set by Allah. Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted into Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there forever. That is the ultimate triumph! But whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and exceeds their limits will be cast into Hell to stay there forever. And they will suffer a humiliating punishment" (Holy Quran 4:13-4:14). Asaba (i.e., Residuary or Agnates) is the one who receives residue after deducting the fixed shares. Residuary sharers are Sons, Daughters, Sons of Sons, Daughters of Sons, Father, Father of Father, Full Siblings, Paternal Siblings, and Consanguine male relatives. Distant kindred can inherit when fixed sharer and Residuary are not alive with one exception to this is, Distant kindred do inherit in the presence of Husband or Wife. Distant kindred inherit under Hanafi, Shafii, and Hanbali but not Maliki law. To learn more, refer to Distant Kindred relatives. Refer to the Islamic Inheritance table for more information.
Inheritance for Muslims is divided according to the shares outlined in the Holy Quran and interpreted through Sunnah. Generally, the Husband receives one-half (i.e., 1/2) and one-fourth or quarter (i.e.,1/4) share of the Wife's property under certain applicable conditions under Islamic law. The Wife receives one-fourth or quarter (i.e., 1/4) and one-eighth (i.e., 1/8) share of the Husband's property with certain applicable conditions under Islamic law. Parents or Grandparents receive one-sixth (i.e., 1/6) share. Daughters receive one-half (i.e., 1/2) if Single and two-thirds (i.e., 2/3) if Multiple. Males get double the share of females under Joint Residuary. Siblings' (Full or real, Paternal or consanguine, and Maternal or Uterine Brothers and Sisters) sharing is subject to certain conditions and blocking Islamic Inheritance rules. Broadly, Nephews and Nieces inherit in the absence of Siblings. Then Paternal, Maternal Uncles, Aunts, and their descendants inherit.
The "Mirath" refers to the Testamentary bequest of not exceeding one-third allowed under Shariah through Islamic Will or Waqf (i.e., Trust). So, in other words, the maximum testamentary freedom you have is less than one-third of total inheritance under Islamic law. The testamentary one-third or less is counted after deducting funeral and administration expenses, debts, zakat (i.e., obligatory religious duties), taxes, etc. Muslim jurists have different opinions regarding paying the Zakat from the deceased person's property. According to the majority of fuqaha, it is obligatory to pay Zakat first, and then the residue will be distributed among the heirs.
In comparison, the Hanafi school believes that it is not obligatory. Hanafi school opines that the Zakah will not be deducted because the deceased person is no more aptitude to execute any contract or fulfill a religious duty. Durr Al-Mukhtar and Hashiyat Ibn Abidin (Redd Al-Mukhtar) (6/760): “(Then) he gives precedence (his debts that have demands on the part of the servants), and he gives precedence to the debt of health over the debt of illness if the cause of it is not known. Otherwise, it will be forgotten as the master explained it. (His saying: As for the religion of God Almighty, etc.) Beware of his saying: On the part of the servants, such as Zakat, penances, and the like. Al-Zayla’i said: They fall by death, so the heirs are not obliged to pay it unless he recommends it; or donated by themselves; Because the pillar in the acts of worship is the intention and action of the obligated one, and he has passed away with his death, so he cannot be imagined.
Islamic inheritance law allows inheritance distributions far beyond contemporary family settings. Also, all the conditions and blocking rules are in-built into the law itself, which minimizes the attorney's effort.
Under traditional Muslim succession law, a legally married surviving spouse (but not Islamically married such as common-law-partners), adopted child, or Apostate cannot inherit (provided no impediments to inheritance). Also, it depends on the status of surviving inheritors in Islam.
One important Islamic inheritance clause you should know for the Abrahamic religion is that Muslims can not inherit from their non-Muslim (Jews or Christian) family members or relatives, but Non-Muslims Jews or Christian eligible Islamic heirs can inherit from Muslims from a portion of Testamentary bequest. This Islamic law gives special considerations to respect the rights of non-Muslim people of the book (i.e., Jewish and Christians).
The unborn baby will get an inheritance. However, there are three conditions; If it is from the deceased person, she should give birth within two years after the death of the "unborn baby's" father. And if it is from someone other than the deceased ( i.e., the Unborn baby is a brother of the deceased person), then he/she should be born within six months. Most parts of the unborn child should be alive when he leaves the mother's womb. And there are separate chapters on the inheritance of pregnancy in the books of jurisprudence for all schools of thought. Al-Qurtubi said in “Jami’ Ahkam al-Qur’an”: If a man dies and leaves his pregnant wife, he stops the money until he knows she is giving birth. He said: The scholars unanimously agreed that if a man dies and his wife is pregnant, the child in her womb inherits and bequeaths if he comes out alive and begins, meaning he raised his voice by crying. And Sheikh Khalil bin Ishaq Al-Maliki said in his summary: (And the endowment of the oath for the pregnancy), i.e., the endowment of the inheritance division until the lamb is laid, and it is known whether it is alive or not? Is it united or multiple, male or female?
An adopted child cannot inherit under traditional Sunni Islamic law. However, they may receive part of the testamentary Bequest, but the opinions of Sunni Islamic jurists may differ.
Under traditional Muslim succession law, a legally married surviving spouse (but not Islamically married such as common-law-partners), adopted child, non-Muslim family members or relatives, Apostate, unborn or stillborn, cannot inherit. Also, it depends on the status of surviving inheritors in Islam. Refer to "Islamic inheritance sharers and residuary" to learn about siblings' shares.
While adhering to shariah for Islamic estate planning is of utmost importance for Muslims, the inheritance or estate tax is worth considering to mitigate the risk of tax non-compliance or implications. The more complex Muslim estate planning strategy is required if you have large assets and businesses in multiple jurisdictions or countries.
Wassiyyah offers many free and premium resources for your learning. You may consider joining the Academy Al-Mawareeth course to further expand your knowledge in Islamic inheritance and estate planning. We encourage you to read our book, which includes exclusive details about Islamic inheritance sharers, shares, residuary, and distant kindred relatives.
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