The Law of Inheritance in Islam
By : Abdullah Magomedov | islam.ru | 12 Jun 2012
(The Law of Inheritance in Islam based upon the Shafii School)
According to the teachings of Islam, the body of a deceased person should be buried following certain rituals and requirements. The costs of the funeral should be taken from the estate left by the deceased person. Further, his debts (if any) should be paid. Then his testimonary will should be executed, noting that a person can only bequeath up to one-third of his estate according to his consideration. The remaining part is divided between his legal heirs according to the shares designated by the Sharia in the manner described below:
The estate can be distributed to persons who have bonds with the deceased through either a blood relation (blood relatives), marriage, or (due to being adherents of) Islam. The last criterion means that if a deceased person has no heirs at all then his estate should be taken to the state treasury, or the so called bayt al-mal.
Male heirs (men eligible to inherit)
1. A son of the deceased; a son of his son (e.g. a grandson of the deceased); a son of a grandson (great-grandson of the deceased) and so on.
2. The father of the deceased; the father of the father (e.g. the grandfather of the deceased); the father of the grandfather (the great-grandfather of the deceased) and so on.
3. A brother through the paternal line and his son.
4. A brother of the father of the deceased (e.g. the paternal uncle of the deceased) but not a brother of the mother (maternal uncle).
5. A son of a paternal uncle (a cousin of the deceased).
6. The husband of the deceased woman.
Female heirs (women eligible to inherit)
1. A daughter or daughters of the deceased.
2. A daughter of a son of the deceased; a daughter of a grandson of the deceased and so on.
3. The mother of the deceased.
4. A grandmother or the both grandmothers (e.g. the mothers of the both parents of the deceased).
5. A sister of the deceased.
6. A wife of the deceased.
The designated shares of the respective heirs in the Holy Quran
1/2 is given to
- The husband, if the deceased woman has neither child nor grandchild.
- A daughter and a son’s daughter.
- A full sister or a half-sister (through father) if any of them is alone.
- The husband, if the deceased woman has children or grandchildren.
- The wife, if the deceased man has neither children nor grandchildren.
- The wife, if the deceased man has children.
- Two and more daughters if they have no brothers; or the daughters of a son.
- Two and more sisters through the father.
- The mother, if the deceased has neither children nor grandchildren, and he has no more than one sibling (brother or sister).
- Two and more brothers or sisters through the mother.
- The father; the grandfather of the deceased if the deceased has a child or a grandchild.
- The mother if the deceased has a child or a grandchild or at least two siblings (brothers or sisters).
- A grandmother.
- A daughter of a son if the deceased has a daughter of his own.
- A sister or sisters through the father, if they are together with the blood sisters of the deceased.
Order of priority
The existence of certain heirs excludes the right of some other heirs to inherit.
Among the heirs mentioned above the more distant ones are excluded in favor of more close relatives. In other words:
A grandfather shall not inherit if the father of the deceased is alive.
A grandmother (either paternal or maternal) shall not inherit if the mother of the deceased is alive. Accordingly, a great-grandmother shall not inherit if a grandmother is alive.
A grandchild shall not inherit if the deceased has a living son.
Brothers (full brothers as well as half-brothers through mother or through father) are excluded of the right to inherit if the deceased has a living father, a son or a grandchild.
The children of the deceased person’s brother (a full brother or a half-brother through the mother or through the father) are deprived of the right to inherit by the father, a grandfather, a son, a grandchild (a son’s son), a full brother or a half-brother through the father.
The full brother or the paternal half-brother of the father of the deceased are excluded by the father, a grandfather, a son, a grandson (a son’s son), a full brother and a paternal half-brother, a son of a full brother; a full sister, if she is together with the daughter of a son; a daughter through the father, if she is together with the daughter of the deceased.
The heirs who have the right to inherit in all cases are the parents, the children and the spouse of the deceased.