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Rulings

Will (Waṣiyyah)

 

Ruling 2711 - A will is an instruction by a person for certain tasks to be performed for him after his death. In a will, a person states that after his death something from his property is to be owned by someone, or that something from his property is to be transferred to someone or be spent on charitable and good causes, or that he appoints someone to be the custodian and guardian of his children and dependants. A person who gives effect to a will is called an ‘executor’ (waṣī).

 

Ruling 2712 - If a person who is unable to speak conveys his intentions by indicating, he can make a will for any task. In fact, a will made by a person who is able to speak but who conveys his intentions by indicating is also valid (ṣaḥīḥ).

 

Ruling 2713 - If a document is found with the signature or seal of the deceased, in the event that there are contextual indicators that make it appear to be the deceased’s will, it must be acted upon.

 

Ruling 2714 - A testator (mūṣī) [i.e. a person who makes a will] must be of the age of legal responsibility (bāligh) and sane (ʿāqil); he must not be foolish with finances (safīh)1 and he must voluntarily make the will. Therefore, the will of a child who is not bāligh is not valid unless the child is ten years old and his will is for his close relatives or it is for spending on general charitable causes; in these two cases, the will is valid. However, if he makes a will for other than close relatives, or if the child is seven years old and he makes a will that pertains to a small part of his estate, then the validity of such a will is problematic (maḥall al-ishkāl);2 therefore, precaution (iḥtiyāṭ) must be observed here. If the person is foolish with finances, his will pertaining to his wealth is ineffective but it is effective with regard to other matters, such as preparing his body for burial.

 

Ruling 2715 - If a person injures himself with the intention of committing suicide or consumes deadly poison and then makes a will for part of his estate to be spent in a particular way and he then dies, his will is not valid unless he was performing jihad in the way of Allah. His will with respect to non-financial matters, however, is valid.

 

Ruling 2716 - If a person makes a will that something from his property is to be owned by someone, and if the latter accepts the will – irrespective of whether he accepts it during the lifetime of the testator or after his death – then, as long as the item is not more than a third of the testator’s estate, he becomes the owner of the item upon the testator’s death.

 

Ruling 2717 - Whenever a person notices the signs of his approaching death, he must immediately return those things that he was holding on trust (amānah) to their owners, or he must inform them as per the details mentioned in Ruling 2361. If he is indebted to someone and the date for repaying the debt is not yet due, or it is due but the creditor does not ask for it, or the creditor asks for it but he is unable to pay him, then in such cases, he must make arrangements such that he is confident (i.e. he has iṭmiʾnān) that his debt will be paid to the creditor after his death. For example, in the case where his debt is not known to others, he must make a will [regarding this debt] and get someone to witness it. However, if he is able to pay the debt and its date is due and the creditor asks for it, he must immediately pay it even if he does not notice the signs of his approaching death.

 

Ruling 2718 - If a person who notices the signs of his approaching death owes the one-fifth tax (khums), alms tax (zakat), or maẓālim3 but is unable to pay it at present, in the event that he has sufficient wealth to pay it, or he deems it probable that someone else will pay it, he must make arrangements such that he is confident that his debt will be paid after his death. For example, he must make a will for a trusted individual [to pay it]. The same applies if hajj is obligatory on him and he is unable to get a representative (ʾib) [to perform hajj on his behalf] at the present time. However, if he is able to pay the debt of his religious dues at the present time, he must pay it without delay even if he does not notice the signs of his approaching death.

 

Ruling 2719 - If a person notices the signs of his approaching death and has lapsed (qaḍāʾ) prayers (ṣalāh) and fasts (ṣawm), he must make arrangements such that he is confident that they will be made up on his behalf after his death. For example, he must make a will that someone is to be hired from his estate to perform them. In fact, if he does not have an estate but deems it probable that someone may perform them free of charge, again it is obligatory (wājib) on him to make a will [regarding this]. However, if there is someone, such as his eldest son, who he knows would perform his lapsed prayers and fasts were that person to be informed of them, then it is sufficient for that person to be informed and it is not necessary to make a will [regarding this].

 

Ruling 2720 - If a person who notices the signs of his approaching death has kept some property with someone, or he has hidden it in a place not known to his heirs, the obligatory precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-wājib) is that he must inform them of it. Furthermore, it is not necessary for him to appoint a custodian and guardian for his children who are minors (ṣaghīr); however, in the event that their property would perish or they themselves would be ruined, he must appoint a trustworthy (amīn) custodian for them.

 

Ruling 2721 - An executor must be sane; and with regard to matters concerning the testator himself, and, based on obligatory precaution, matters concerning others, an executor must also be trustworthy. Furthermore, based on obligatory precaution, the executor of a Muslim must be Muslim. To appoint a minor to be an executor on his own is not correct (ṣaḥīḥ), based on obligatory precaution, if the testator intends the minor to have disposal over the estate while he is still a minor and without the permission of his guardian (walī). The minor’s discretions over the estate must be carried out with the permission of a fully qualified jurist (al-ḥākim al-sharʿī). But if the testator intends the minor to have disposal over the estate after he has reached the age of legal responsibility (bulūgh) or with the permission of his guardian, then there is no problem.

 

Ruling 2722 - If a person appoints a number of executors for his will and gives permission for each of them to execute the will independently, it is not necessary for them to attain each other’s permission in executing the will. However, if the testator does not give such permission, irrespective of whether or not he has stated that they should jointly execute the will, then they must execute the will in consultation with each other. If they are not prepared to jointly execute the will and there is no legal impediment that prevents each of them from doing so, then a fully qualified jurist may compel them to jointly execute the will. And if they fail to comply or have a legal impediment that prevents each of them from doing so, then the fully qualified jurist may appoint another person in place of any one of them.

 

Ruling 2723 - If a person retracts his will – for example, he states that the one-third of his estate4 is to be given to someone but then states that it must not be given to him – such a will becomes void (bāṭil). And if he changes his will – for example, he appoints a custodian for his children but then appoints someone else in his place – his first will becomes void and his second will must be acted upon.

 

Ruling 2724 - If a person does something that demonstrates he has retracted his will – for example, he sells the house that he had left to someone in his will, or he appoints an agent (wakīl) to sell the house, contrary to what he had stated in his will – such a will becomes void.

 

Ruling 2725 - If a person makes a will that a particular item is to be given to someone and thereafter makes a will that half of it is to be given to someone else, then half of that thing must be given to each of them.

 

Ruling 2726 - If a person gifts part of his wealth to someone during the period of his terminal illness and makes a will that after his death some of his estate is to be given to someone else, then, in the event that one-third of his estate is insufficient to cover both [i.e. the gift and what was bequeathed in the will] and the heirs are not prepared to give permission for more than one-third to be given from the estate, first the property that was gifted must be taken out of the one-third, and then the remaining property must be dealt with in accordance with the will.

 

Ruling 2727 - If a person makes a will that the one-third of his estate must be sold and the proceeds from it must be spent in a particular way, his words must be acted upon.

 

Ruling 2728 - If a person states during his terminal illness that he owes an amount to someone, in the event that he is believed to have a vested interest in saying this, namely to inflict a loss on his heirs, they must give the specified amount from the one-third of his estate. However, if he is not believed to have such a vested interest, his avowal (iqrār)5 is effective and they must pay the amount from his main estate.

 

Ruling 2729 - If a person makes a will that something is to be given to a particular beneficiary, it is not necessary that the beneficiary be alive at the time the will was made. Therefore, if the beneficiary is alive after the testator’s death, it is necessary that the thing be given to him. If, however, the beneficiary is not alive after the death of the testator, then, if it can be construed from the will that the thing can be used in other ways, it must be used in a way that is nearest to the testator’s original intention; otherwise, the heirs can share it among themselves. However, if a person makes a will that something from his property is to be owned by a particular beneficiary after his death and that beneficiary is alive at the time of the testator’s death – albeit as a foetus into which the soul has not yet entered – the will is valid; otherwise, it is void, and the heirs will share what was bequeathed among themselves.

 

Ruling 2730 - If a person comes to know that someone has appointed him as his executor and he informs the testator that he is not prepared to execute his will, it is not necessary for him to execute the will after the testator’s death. However, if he does not come to know before the testator’s death that the testator had appointed him as his executor, or he comes to know this but does not inform the testator that he is not prepared to execute his will, then as long as it does not cause him excessive difficulty (mashaqqah), he must execute his will. And if the executor becomes aware before the testator’s death but at a time when the testator is unable to appoint another executor due to the severity of his illness or for some other reason, then based on obligatory precaution he must accept to execute the will.

 

Ruling 2731 - If a testator dies, his executor cannot appoint another person to execute the will and excuse himself from doing it. However, if the executor knows that the testator did not intend for him to perform the task himself but rather his intention was simply that the task be performed, then he can appoint another person on his behalf.

 

Ruling 2732 - If a person appoints two individuals as his executors and one of them dies, or becomes insane or a disbeliever (kāfir), then, if it can be understood from the wording of the will that in such a situation the other person is to act as executor on his own, the will must be executed in this way; otherwise, a fully qualified jurist will appoint another person in his place. If both of them die or become insane or apostate, the fully qualified jurist will appoint two people. However, if one person is able to execute the will, it will not be necessary for him to appoint two people.

 

Ruling 2733 - If an executor cannot carry out the will of the deceased by himself, albeit by appointing an agent or hiring someone, a fully qualified jurist will appoint another person to assist him.

 

Ruling 2734 - If some of the deceased’s estate perishes in the possession of the executor, in the event that he was negligent in safeguarding it or he was excessive – for example, the testator had specified that a particular amount be given to the poor (fuqarāʾ) in a particular city but the executor takes the property to a different city and it perishes on the way – in such a case, the executor is responsible (ḍāmin). However, if he was neither negligent nor excessive, he is not responsible.

 

Ruling 2735 - If a person appoints someone as his executor and says, ‘Should this executor die, so-and-so is to be my executor’, then after the first executor dies, the second executor must execute the will.

 

Ruling 2736 - Hajj that had become obligatory on a deceased person on account of him being able (mustaṭīʿ)6 to perform it, and the debts and religious dues that are obligatory to pay – such as khums, zakat, and maẓālim – must be paid from his entire estate even if he has not made provision for these in his will. As for dues pertaining to recompense (kaffārah) and vow (nadhr), including hajj that had become obligatory on account of a vow, these are paid from the one-third of his estate if they have been mentioned in a will.

 

Ruling 2737 - If the deceased’s estate exceeds the amount required to pay for his debts, his obligatory hajj, and his obligatory religious dues like khums, zakat, and maẓālim, then, in the event that he has made a will that the one-third of his estate or part of the one-third of his estate should be spent for a particular purpose, his will must be executed accordingly. And if he has not made a will, the remaining amount belongs to his heirs.

 

Ruling 2738 - If the dispensation specified by a testator is more than one-third of his estate, his will with regard to the amount exceeding one-third will be valid only if his heirs give permission by words or action; heartfelt consent is not sufficient. If they give permission sometime after his death, the will is valid. And in the event that some of his heirs give permission and others do not, the will is valid and effective only with regard to the shares of those who give permission.

 

Ruling 2739 - If the dispensation specified by a testator is more than one-third of his estate and his heirs give permission for it, they cannot retract their permission. If during the lifetime of the testator they deny permission, they can give permission after his death. However, if after his death they deny permission, then permission given afterwards is ineffectual.

 

Ruling 2740 - If a person makes a will that his khums, zakat, or other debts must be paid from the one-third of his estate and that someone should be hired to perform his lapsed prayers and fasts and recommended acts such as feeding the poor, then, first his debts must be paid from the one-third of his estate, and if anything remains thereafter, it must be used for hiring someone to perform his lapsed prayers and fasts. If anything still remains thereafter, it must be used for the recommended acts specified by the deceased. In the event that one-third of his estate is adequate only to pay for his debts and the heirs do not give permission for more than a third of his estate to be spent, then his will with regard to his lapsed prayers and fasts and recommend acts is invalid (bāṭil).

 

Ruling 2741 - If a person makes a will that his debts are to be paid off, that someone is to be hired to perform his lapsed prayers and fasts, and that recommended acts are to be performed on his behalf, then, in the event that he does not stipulate in his will that these are to be paid from the one-third of his estate, his debts must be paid from his entire estate. If anything remains thereafter, one-third of it must be spent on the lapsed prayers and fasts and the recommended acts that he had specified. In case one-third of the remaining wealth is not sufficient, then, if his heirs give permission, his wishes in his will must be executed. If they do not give permission, the lapsed prayers and fasts must be paid for from one-third of the remainder, and if anything remains thereafter it must be used for the recommended acts that he had specified.

 

Ruling 2742 - If a person says, ‘The deceased had willed for such and such amount to be given to me’, then what is claimed by him must be given to him in the following cases:

 

  1. two just (ʿādil) men verify his claim;
  2. he takes an oath (qasam) and one just man verifies his claim;
  3. one just man and two just women testify to his claim;
  4. or four just women testify to his claim. If one just woman testifies to his claim, then one-quarter of what he claims must be given to him; if two just women testify, half of it must be given to him; and if three just women testify, three-quarters of it must be given to him. If his claim is verified by two men from the People of the Book (ahl al-kitāb)7 who are dhimmīs8 and who are considered to be just according to their own religion, and there is no Muslim to testify, then what is claimed by him must be given to him.

 

Ruling 2743 - If a person says, ‘I am the executor of the deceased in disposing of his estate’, his claim will be established if two just men verify it, or, if there is no Muslim to testify, two dhimmī men who are considered to be just according to their own religion verify his claim. Similarly, his claim will be established by the avowal (iqrār) of the heirs.

 

Ruling 2744 - If a person makes a will that something from his estate is to be given to an individual and the latter dies before he can accept or reject it, his heirs can accept the property as long as they have not rejected the will. However, this rule (ḥukm) applies when the testator does not retract his will; if he does retract it, they will have no right over the property. 

 

Inheritance (Irth)

Ruling 2745 - There are three groups of people who inherit from a deceased person on the basis of kinship.

The first group consists of the deceased’s father, mother, and offspring, and in the absence of offspring, the grandchildren, however many generations they go forward; whoever from among them is nearer to the deceased inherits from him. And as long as there is even one person from this group, those in the second group do not inherit.

The second group consists of the deceased’s grandfathers, grandmothers, sisters, and brothers, and in the absence of sisters and brothers, their offspring; whoever from among them is nearer to the deceased inherits from him. And as long as there is even one person from this group, those in the third group do not inherit.

The third group consists of the deceased’s paternal uncles and paternal aunts, maternal uncles and maternal aunts, and their offspring. And as long as even one person from the paternal uncles and paternal aunts and maternal uncles and maternal aunts of the deceased is alive, their offspring do not inherit. However, if there is one paternal half-uncle from the father’s side9 and one full paternal cousin, and there are no maternal uncles or maternal aunts, then the paternal cousin inherits from him to the exclusion of the paternal half-uncle. But if there are a number of paternal uncles or a number of paternal cousins, or if the deceased’s widow is alive, then this rule (ḥukm) is problematic (maḥall al-ishkāl) [i.e. based on obligatory precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-wājib), the rule is not established in this case].10

 

Ruling 2746 - If there are no paternal uncles, paternal aunts, maternal uncles, or maternal aunts, nor any of their offspring or grandchildren, then the deceased is inherited by the paternal uncles and paternal aunts and maternal uncles and maternal aunts of the deceased’s parents. If they are not alive, their offspring inherit. If they are not alive, the paternal uncles and paternal aunts and maternal uncles and maternal aunts of the deceased’s paternal grandparents inherit. And if they are not alive, their offspring inherit.

 

Ruling 2747 - A husband and wife inherit from one another as per the details that will be mentioned later.

 

Inheritance of the First Group

 

Ruling 2748 - If there is only one heir of the deceased from the first group – for example, his father or mother, or one son or one daughter – then that person inherits the entire estate of the deceased. And if there is one son and one daughter, then the estate is divided among them in such a way that the son receives twice the share of the daughter.

 

Ruling 2749 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father and his mother, the estate is divided into three parts: two parts are inherited by his father and one part by his mother. However, if the deceased has two brothers or four sisters, or one brother and two sisters, and they are all Muslims and free [i.e. not slaves], and their father is also the father of the deceased even though their mothers may be different, and they have been born, then they do not inherit anything while the deceased’s father and mother are alive. In such a case, his mother inherits one-sixth of the estate and his father inherits the rest.

 

Ruling 2750 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father, mother, and one daughter, in the event that the deceased does not have a brother or sister who fulfils the conditions mentioned in the previous ruling, the estate is divided into five parts: his father and mother inherit one part each and his daughter inherits three parts. If the deceased has a brother or sister who fulfils the conditions mentioned previously, then his father inherits one-fifth, his mother one-sixth, and his daughter three-fifths. With regard to the one-thirtieth that remains – which is probably the share of the mother, just as it is probable that three-quarters of it is the share of his daughter and one-quarter of it the share of his father – based on obligatory precaution, they must arrive at a settlement (muṣālaḥah).

 

Ruling 2751 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father, mother, and one son, the estate is divided into six parts: his father and mother inherit one part each and his son inherits four parts. If the deceased has a number of sons or daughters, then the four parts must be divided equally among them. And if he has a son and a daughter, then the four parts must be divided among them in a way that each son receives twice the share of each daughter.

 

Ruling 2752 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father or his mother and one or a number of sons, the estate is divided into six parts: one part is inherited by his father or mother and five parts are inherited by his son. And if there are a number of sons, then the five parts are divided equally among them.

 

Ruling 2753 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father or his mother and a number of his sons and daughters, the estate is divided into six parts: one part is inherited by his father or mother and the remainder is divided among his sons and daughters in a way that each son receives twice the share of each daughter.

 

Ruling 2754 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father or his mother and one daughter, his estate is divided into four parts: one part is inherited by his father or mother and the rest is inherited by his daughter.

 

Ruling 2755 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his father or his mother and a number of daughters, the estate is divided into five parts: one part is inherited by his father or mother and four parts are divided equally among his daughters.

 

Ruling 2756 - If the deceased has no offspring, the child of his son receives the share of the deceased’s son even if she is a girl, and the child of his daughter receives the share of the deceased’s daughter’s share even if he is a boy. For example, if the deceased has a grandson from his daughter and a granddaughter from his son, the estate is divided into three parts: one part is inherited by the grandson from his daughter and two parts is inherited by the granddaughter from his son. With regard to grandchildren inheriting, it is not a condition that their father and mother be deceased.
 

Inheritance of the Second Group


Ruling 2757 - The second group of persons who inherit on the basis of kinship consists of the deceased’s grandfathers, grandmothers, brothers, and sisters; and if the deceased does not have any brothers or sisters, their offspring inherit.

 

Ruling 2758 - If the only heir of the deceased is one brother or one sister, he or she inherits the entire estate. If he has more than one full brother or more than one full sister, the estate is divided equally between them. And if he has both full brothers and full sisters, then every brother receives twice the share of every sister. For example, if he has two full brothers and one full sister, the estate is divided into five parts: each brother receives two parts while the sister receives one part.

 

Ruling 2759 - If the deceased has full brothers and full sisters, his half-brothers and half-sisters who have the same father as the deceased but a different mother do not inherit from him. If he has no full brothers or full sisters and has only one paternal half-sister or only one paternal half-brother, then the entire estate is inherited by him or her. If he has more than one paternal half-brother or more than one paternal half-sister alone, then the estate is divided equally between them. And if he has paternal half-brothers as well as paternal half-sisters, then every half-brother receives twice the share of every half-sister.

 

Ruling 2760 - If the only heir of the deceased is one maternal half-sister or one maternal half-brother, their father being different to the father of the deceased, he or she inherits the entire estate. And if he has more than one maternal half-brother or more than one maternal half-sister, or more than one of both [i.e. more than one maternal half-brother and more than one maternal half-sister], then the estate is divided equally between them.

 

Ruling 2761 - If the deceased has full brothers and full sisters as well as paternal half-brothers and paternal half-sisters and one maternal half-brother or one maternal half-sister, the paternal half-brothers and paternal half-sisters do not inherit. In this case, the estate is divided into six parts: one part is received by the maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister, and the remainder is divided among the full brothers and full sisters with every brother receiving twice the share of every sister.

 

Ruling 2762 - If the deceased has full brothers and full sisters as well as paternal half-brothers and paternal half-sisters and more than one maternal half-brother and maternal half-sister, the paternal half-brothers and paternal half-sisters do not inherit. In this case, the estate is divided into three parts: one part is divided equally between the maternal half-brothers and maternal half-sisters, and the remainder is divided between the full brothers and full sisters with every brother receiving twice the share of every sister.

 

Ruling 2763 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his paternal half-brothers and paternal half-sisters and one maternal half-brother or one maternal half-sister, the estate is divided into six parts: one part is received by the maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister, and the remainder is divided between the paternal half-brothers and paternal half-sisters with every brother receiving twice the share of every sister.

 

Ruling 2764 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his paternal half-brother and paternal half-sister and more than one maternal half-brother and maternal half-sister, the estate is divided into three parts: one part is shared equally between the maternal half-brothers and maternal half-sisters, and the remainder is received by the paternal half-brother and paternal half-sister with every brother receiving twice the share of every sister.

 

Ruling 2765 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his brother, sister, and wife, the wife inherits as per the details that will be mentioned later, and the sister and brother inherit as stated in the previous rulings. Furthermore, if a woman dies and her only heirs are her sister, her brother, and her husband, the husband inherits half of the estate and the sister and the brother inherit as stated in the previous rulings. However, for the wife or husband to inherit, nothing is deducted from the share of the maternal half-brother and maternal half-sister, but there is a deduction from the share of the full brother and full sister or paternal half-brother and paternal half-sister. For example, if the heirs of the deceased are her husband, maternal half-brother and maternal half-sister, and full brother and full sister, then half of the estate is received by the husband, and one-third of the estate is received by the maternal half-brother and maternal half-sister, and whatever remains is the property of the full brother and full sister. Therefore, if the total estate of the deceased is £6000, £3000 goes to the husband, £2000 goes to the maternal half-brother and maternal half-sister, and £1000 is the share of the full brother and full sister.

 

Ruling 2766 - If the deceased does not have a sister or a brother, their share of the inheritance is given to their offspring, and the share of the maternal half-brother’s child and maternal half-sister’s child is divided equally among them. As for the share of the paternal half-brother’s child and paternal half-sister’s child, or the child of the full sibling, based on the well-known (mashhūr) juristic opinion, every son receives twice the share of the daughter. However, it is not farfetched (baʿīd)11 that the estate must be divided equally between them and, based on obligatory precaution, they must arrive at a settlement.

 

Ruling 2767 - If the only heir of the deceased is one grandfather or one grandmother, irrespective of whether they are paternal or maternal, the entire estate is inherited by him/her. The great grandfather of the deceased does not inherit as long as the grandfather is alive. If the only heirs of the deceased are his paternal grandfather and paternal grandmother, the estate is divided into three parts: two parts are inherited by the grandfather and one part by the grandmother. And if the heirs are his maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother, the estate is divided equally between them.

 

Ruling 2768 - If the only heir of the deceased is one paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother as well as one maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother, the estate is divided into three parts: two parts are inherited by the paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother, and one part is inherited by the maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother.

 

Ruling 2769 - If the heirs of the deceased are paternal grandparents and maternal grandparents, the estate is divided into three parts: one part is divided equally between the maternal grandfather and the maternal grandmother, and the remaining two parts are inherited by the paternal grandfather and the paternal grandmother with the paternal grandfather receiving twice the share of the paternal grandmother.

 

Ruling 2770 - If the only heirs of the deceased are his wife and his paternal grandparents and his maternal grandparents, his wife inherits as per the details that will be mentioned later. One-third of the estate of the deceased is received by the maternal grandparents, divided equally between them. The remainder is received by the paternal grandparents with the paternal grandfather receiving twice the share of the paternal grandmother. If the heirs of the deceased are her husband and her paternal and maternal grandparents, the husband receives half of the estate and the grandparents inherit in accordance with the instructions that were mentioned in the previous rulings.

 

Ruling 2771 - When there is a combination of one brother or sister, or some brothers or sisters with grandparents, there are a number of scenarios, as follows:

 

  1. Each of the grandparents and brother or sister are all from the deceased’s mother’s side. In this case, the estate is divided equally between them even though some of them may be male and others female.
     
  2. All of them are from the father’s side. In this case also, the estate is divided equally between them provided that all of them are male or all of them are female. If they are of different genders, every male receives twice as much as every female.
     
  3. Each of the grandfather or grandmother is from the deceased’s father’s side, and the brother or sister are siblings of the deceased. The rule (ḥukm) in this case is the same as the rule in the previous case. And it has previously been established that if the paternal half-brother or paternal half-sister of the deceased combines with a full brother or full sister, the paternal half siblings do not inherit.
     
  4. The grandfathers or grandmothers, or both, paternal and maternal, are combined with brothers or sisters, or both, who are also paternal and maternal. In this case, one-third of the estate is received by the maternal relatives comprising of the brothers and sisters, grandfathers and grandmothers; this is to be divided equally between the males and the females. And two-thirds of the estate is received by the paternal relatives, with every male receiving twice as much as every female. If all of them are male or all of them are female, then it must be divided equally between them.
     
  5. A paternal grandfather or grandmother combines with a maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister. In this case, if there is only one maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister, he/she receives one-sixth of the estate, and if there are more than one, then they receive one-third of the estate divided equally among them. The remainder is inherited by the paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother, and if both the paternal grandfather and the paternal grandmother are alive, the paternal grandfather receives twice as much as the paternal grandmother.
     
  6. The maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother, or both, combine with one or more paternal half-brothers. In this case, one-third is for the maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother, and if both are alive then that one-third is divided equally between them. And two-thirds is for the brother or brothers. If one paternal half-sister combines with those maternal grandparents, then she receives half, and if there are more than one, then they receive two-thirds. In all cases, the share of the maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother is one-third. Based on this, one-sixth of the estate will be left over if there is only one sister. And it is doubtful whether she inherits this or it is divided between her and the maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother; in this case, as an obligatory precaution, they must arrive at a settlement [concerning that remaining one-sixth].
     
  7. The grandfathers or grandmothers, or both, some paternal and some maternal, are combined with one or more paternal half-brother or paternal half-sister. In this case, one-third is for the maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother. If there are more, it is divided equally among them even if some of them are male and others female. The remaining two-thirds of the estate is for the paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother and the paternal half-brother or paternal half-sister, with each male receiving twice the share of each female. If those grandfathers or grandmothers are combined with a maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister, then the share of the maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother and the maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister is one-third, to be divided equally among them even if some of them are male and others female. The share of the paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother is two-thirds, with the paternal grandfather receiving twice the share of the paternal grandmother.
     
  8. There are brothers or sisters, some of whom are paternal half siblings and others maternal half siblings, as well as the paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother. In this case, one-sixth of the estate is for the maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister if there is only one of them, and one-third if there are more than one, to be divided equally among them. The remainder of the estate is for the paternal half-brother or paternal half-sister and the paternal grandfather or paternal grandmother with each male receiving twice the share of each female. If those brothers or sisters are combined with a maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother, the total share of the maternal grandfather or maternal grandmother and the maternal half-brother or maternal half-sister is one-third, to be divided equally among them. The share of the paternal half-brother or paternal half-sister is two-thirds, the male receiving twice the share of the female.


Ruling 2772 - If the deceased has a brother or sister, their children do not inherit. However, this rule does not apply when the inheritance of a brother’s child or sister’s child does not clash with that of the brother or sister. For example, if the deceased has a paternal half-brother and maternal grandfather, the paternal half-brother inherits two-thirds and the maternal grandfather inherits one-third of the estate. In this case, if the maternal half-brother of the deceased has a son, then the maternal half-brother’s son shares one-third of the estate with the maternal grandfather.

 

Inheritance of the Third Group

 

Ruling 2773 - The third group of heirs consists of paternal uncles, paternal aunts, maternal uncles, maternal aunts, their offspring, and grandchildren. The persons in this group inherit when none of the persons belonging to the first two groups are alive.

 

Ruling 2774 - If the only heir of the deceased is one paternal uncle or one paternal aunt, irrespective of whether he or she is the full paternal uncle/aunt – i.e. he or she is from the same father and mother as the deceased’s father – or he or she is the paternal half-uncle or paternal half-aunt from the father’s side [i.e. a paternal half-brother/ sister of the deceased’s father] or the paternal half-uncle or paternal half-aunt from the mother’s side [i.e. a maternal half-brother/sister of the deceased’s father], he or she inherits the entire estate. If there is more than one paternal uncle, or more than one paternal aunt, and all of them are full paternal uncles/aunts, or all are paternal half-uncles/ aunts from the father’s side or all are paternal half-uncles/aunts from the mother’s side, the estate is divided equally among them. If there is both a paternal uncle and a paternal aunt, each paternal uncle receives twice the share of each paternal aunt.

 

Ruling 2775 - If the heirs of the deceased are paternal uncles and paternal aunts, some of them being paternal half-uncles/aunts from the father’s or mother’s side and others being full paternal uncles/ aunts, then the paternal half-uncles/aunts from the father’s side do not inherit. Therefore, if the deceased has one paternal half-uncle or one paternal half-aunt from the mother’s side, the estate is divided into six parts: one part is given to the paternal half-uncle/aunt from the mother’s side and the rest is given to the full paternal uncles/aunts. If they are not alive, it is given to the paternal half-uncles/aunts from the father’s side. If the deceased has both a paternal half-uncle and a paternal half-aunt from the mother’s side, then the estate is divided into three parts: two parts are given to the full paternal uncles/ aunts, and if they are not alive it is given to the paternal half-uncles/ aunts from the father’s side, and one part is given to the paternal half-uncles/aunts from the mother’s side. In each case, the paternal uncle receives twice the share of the paternal aunt.

 

Ruling 2776 - If the deceased has only one maternal uncle or only one maternal aunt, he or she inherits the entire estate. If he has both a maternal uncle and a maternal aunt, whether they be full – i.e. they share the same father and mother with the deceased’s mother – or they be half-maternal uncles/aunts from either the father’s or mother’s side, then it is not farfetched that the maternal uncle inherits twice the share of the maternal aunt. But it is also probable that they inherit equally. Therefore, based on obligatory precaution, they must arrive at a settlement on the extra amount.

 

Ruling 2777 - If the only heirs of the deceased are one or more maternal half-uncles and maternal half-aunts from the mother’s side, and full maternal uncles and maternal aunts, and maternal half-uncles and maternal half-aunts from the father’s side, then for the maternal half-uncles and maternal half-aunts from the father’s side to not inherit is problematic. In any case, the maternal half-uncle or maternal half-aunt from the mother’s side, if there is only one of them, receives one-sixth, and if there are more than one, they receive one third of the estate. The remainder is given to the maternal half-uncle or maternal half-aunt from the father’s side or the full maternal uncle and maternal aunt. In each case, it is probable that the maternal uncle inherits twice the share of the maternal aunt; however, based on obligatory precaution, they must arrive at a settlement.

 

Ruling 2778 - If the heirs of the deceased are one or more maternal uncles, or one or more maternal aunts, or a maternal uncle and a maternal aunt with one or more paternal uncles or paternal aunts, or a paternal uncle and a paternal aunt, then the estate is divided into three parts: one part is given to the maternal uncle or maternal aunt or both of them, and the remainder is given to the paternal uncle or paternal aunt or both of them. The method of distribution among each group has already been mentioned.

 

Ruling 2779 - If the deceased does not have any living paternal uncles or paternal aunts, or maternal uncles or maternal aunts, then their shares pass on to their offspring. Therefore, if the deceased has one female cousin from his paternal aunt and some male cousins from his maternal uncle, the female cousin receives two-thirds and the male cousins receive one-third to be divided equally among them. This group – i.e. the children of paternal and maternal uncles and aunts – have priority over the deceased’s father’s and mother’s paternal and maternal uncles and aunts.

 

Ruling 2780 - If the heirs of the deceased are his father’s and mother’s paternal and maternal uncles and aunts, the estate is divided into three parts: one part is inherited by the deceased’s mother’s paternal and maternal uncles and aunts; in this regard, whether each of them receives an equal share or whether the males receive twice the share of the females is a matter of disagreement [amongst jurists]. Therefore, the obligatory precaution is that they must arrive at a settlement. The remaining two parts is divided into three parts: one part is received by the deceased’s father’s maternal uncle and maternal aunt to be divided between them in the same manner that was mentioned, and the remaining two parts is received by the deceased’s father’s paternal uncle and paternal aunt to be divided between them in the same manner that was mentioned.

 

Inheritance of Husband and Wife

 

Ruling 2781 - If a woman dies without any offspring, half of her estate is inherited by her husband and the remainder by her other heirs. But if she has offspring from that husband or from another husband, then her husband inherits one-quarter of the estate and the remainder is inherited by her other heirs.

 

Ruling 2782 - If a man dies without any offspring, a quarter of his estate is inherited by his wife and the remainder by his other heirs. But if he has offspring from that wife or from another wife, then his wife inherits one-eighth of the estate and the remainder is inherited by his other heirs. A wife does not inherit anything from the land of a house, garden, plantation, or from any other land, neither from the land itself nor from the value of it. Furthermore, she does not inherit from what stands on the land, such as buildings and trees; she does, however, inherit from their value. The same applies to the trees, crops, and buildings that are on the land of a garden, plantation, or on any other land. However, she does inherit from the actual fruit that was present on the trees at the time of her husband’s death.

 

Ruling 2783 - If the wife wishes to have right of usage over things which she does not inherit, such as the land of a residential house, she must obtain permission from the other heirs. It is not permitted (ʾiz) for the other heirs – as long as they have not given the wife her share – to have right of usage without the permission of the wife over those things of which she inherits the value, such as [the value of] buildings and trees.

 

Ruling 2784 - If the heirs wish to undertake the valuation of the buildings, trees, and similar things, they must do so in the way experts usually undertake valuations. That is, they must disregard the particulars of the land it is situated on, and not base their valuation on how much it would be worth if it were [per impossible] uprooted from the land or if it remained unrented on the land.

 

Ruling 2785 - The watercourses for subterranean canals and suchlike have the same rule as land, and the bricks and other things that were used for their construction have the same rule as buildings. As for the water itself, the actual water is inherited.

 

Ruling 2786 - If the deceased has more than one wife and no offspring, then one-quarter of the estate must be divided equally among his wives. And if he has offspring, then one-eighth of the estate as per the explanation given previously must be divided equally among his wives. This rule applies even if the husband did not have sexual intercourse with all or some of them. However, if he married a woman during his terminal illness and did not have sexual intercourse with her, then that woman does not inherit from him and nor is she entitled to a dowry.

 

Ruling 2787 - If a woman marries a man while she is ill and subsequently dies from that illness, her husband inherits from her even if he did not have sexual intercourse with her.

 

Ruling 2788 - If a woman is given a revocable divorce (al-ṭalāq al-rijʿī) in the manner explained in the rulings pertaining to divorce, and she dies during the prescribed waiting period (ʿiddah), her husband inherits from her. Furthermore, if her husband dies during that ʿiddah period, his wife inherits from him. However, if one of them dies after the expiry of the ʿiddah period or during the ʿiddah period of an irrevocable divorce (al-ṭalāq al-bāʾin), then the other does not inherit from him/her.

 

Ruling 2789 - If a husband divorces his wife while he is ill and dies before the expiry of twelve lunar months, his wife inherits from him on fulfilment of three conditions [as below], irrespective of whether the divorce was revocable or irrevocable:

  1. During this time, she has not married another man. If she has married another man, she does not inherit, although the recommended precaution (al-iḥtiyāṭ al-mustaḥabb) is that they [the ex-wife and the heirs] arrive at a settlement.
     
  2. The divorce has not taken place at the request of the wife, otherwise she does not inherit, irrespective of whether she paid her husband something to divorce her or not.
     
  3. The husband died with the same illness he had when he divorced her, and he died due to that illness or some other cause. Therefore, if the husband recovers from that illness and dies later due to some other cause, the divorced wife does not inherit from him unless his death happened during the ʿiddah period of a revocable divorce.

 

Ruling 2790 - The clothes that a husband buys for his wife to wear is treated as part of his estate after his death even though she may have worn them, unless he gave ownership of them to her. A wife is entitled to seek ownership of clothes from her husband as part of his obligations to provide maintenance (nafaqah) for her.

 

Miscellaneous Rules of Inheritance


Ruling 2791 - The deceased’s Qur’an, ring, sword, and clothes which he had worn or had kept in order to wear, belong to the eldest son. If the deceased had more than one of the first three things – for example he left two copies of the Qur’an or two rings – the obligatory precaution is that the eldest son must arrive at a settlement with the other heirs regarding those things. The same applies to the reading stand (riḥāl) for the Qur’an and the gun, dagger, and other weapons. The sheath of the sword and bookmark for the Qur’an are regarded as being part of those items.

 

Ruling 2792 - If the deceased has more than one eldest son – for example, two sons are born of two wives at the same time – the items mentioned earlier must be divided equally among them. This rule is specific to the eldest son even though there may be daughters older than him.

 

Ruling 2793 - If the deceased has a debt which is equal to his estate or more, the eldest son must give those things mentioned earlier that belong to him to settle the debt, or he must pay their equivalent worth from his own wealth. If the debt of the deceased is less than his estate but his estate without those items that belong to the eldest son is not sufficient to settle his debt, then the eldest son must give from those items or from his own wealth to settle the debt. However, if the rest of his estate is adequate to clear the debt, then the obligatory precaution is that the eldest son must still participate in clearing the debt in the manner mentioned previously. For example, if the estate of the deceased is worth £600 and the items that belong to the eldest son are worth £200 and the deceased has a debt of £300, the eldest son must pay £100 from the items he received to pay off the debt.

 

Ruling 2794 - A Muslim inherits from a disbeliever (kāfir) but a disbeliever does not inherit from a deceased Muslim, even if he is the deceased’s father or son.

 

Ruling 2795 - If a person kills one of his relatives intentionally (ʿamdan) and unjustly, he does not inherit from him. However, if the killing was justified – for example, it was a retributory punishment (qiṣāṣ) [as sanctioned by a judge], or the legal execution of a punishment, or it was in self-defence – then he does inherit from him. The same applies if the killing was due to some error. For example, if he threw a stone in the air and by chance it hit one of his relatives and killed him, he inherits from him; however, he does not inherit from the blood money (diyah) that his relatives pay for the killing. As for manslaughter – i.e. killing someone, without intending to, by intentionally doing something to the person that would not usually result in death – this does not prevent him from inheriting.  

 

Ruling 2796 - Whenever it is proposed to divide the inheritance, the share of a child who is in its mother’s womb and will inherit if it is born alive must be kept safe. This is on condition that it is known whether it is one child or more and whether it is male or female, even if this is discovered using scientific instruments. If it is not known but a reliable probability exists that there is more than one child in the womb, the share of one son multiplied by the probable number of children must be put aside. And in the event that, for example, one son or one daughter is born, the extra amount must be divided between the heirs.

 

Will and Inheritance Rulings Footnotes

  1. Ruling 2091 provides further clarification of this term: it refers to someone who spends his wealth in futile ways.
  2. As mentioned in Ruling 6, the term ‘problematic’ (maḥall alishkāl) amounts to saying that the ruling is based on obligatory precaution.
  3. Maẓālim refers to property which has been unrightfully or unknowingly taken.
  4. This refers to the maximum amount of one’s estate over which he has discretion in a will for it to be disposed of in accordance with his wishes after his death.
  5. An avowal in Islamic law is when someone admits to a right to his own detriment or denies a right for himself over someone else.
  6. See Ruling 2045, condition 4.
  7. As mentioned in Ruling 103, the ‘People of the Book’ are Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians.
  8. Dhimmīs are People of the Book who have entered into a dhimmah treaty, i.e. an agreement that gives them rights as protected subjects in an Islamic state. 
  9. That is, a paternal half-brother of his father (see alMasāʾil alMuntakhabah, p. 477, Ruling 1344).
  10. As mentioned in Ruling 6, the term ‘problematic’ (maḥall alishkāl) amounts to saying that the ruling is based on obligatory precaution.
  11. For practical purposes, a legal opinion that is termed ‘not farfetched’ equates to a fatwa.