Levels of inheritance problems (level one)

Level 1(a): One category of heir with no fixed share
Rule A: The number of heads of heirs is the base number

Example 1

Heirs 5 Consanguine brothers, 2 Consanguine sisters
Share Whole estate
Base number 12
Portions Each brother = 2; each sister = 1

The estate is divided into 12 portions (i.e. the base number). Each male is given 2 portions because he has “2 heads,” whereas each female receives 1 portion since she has “1 head.” Observe that step 4 in which the base number is multiplied by the share of the heir to generate his/her portion is not applicable here in view of the fact that the heirs have no specific shares. That necessitated the use of their number of heads.

Example 2

Heirs 3 sons
Share Whole estate
Base number 6
Portions Each son = 2

This is quite straight-forward. Just one thing. The principle that males have “2 heads” while females have 1 may not be relevant if the heirs are all male; in which case they can be considered as having “1 head” each so as to reduce the base number and by extension the number of portions the estate is divided into. Recall the definition of number of heads as, “the number of heirs if they are of the same gender.” As a result, the same problem can be solved like this;

Heirs 3 sons
Share Whole estate
Base number 3
Portions Each son = 1
Level 1(b): One category of heir with a fixed share
Rule B: Base number is the denominator of the share

Example 3

Heirs 2 daughters
Share 2/3
Base number 3
Portions Each daughter = 1

Estate is divided into 3 portions. Each daughter is given 1; equivalent to her number of head. There will be 1 extra portion.

Example 4

Heirs 1 Full sister
Share ½
Base number 2
Portions 1

Similar to example 3, estate is divided into 2 portions. Full sister takes 1 corresponding to her number of head. There is 1 extra portion.

Question: What happens to the extra? This has being answered earlier. There are 3 opinions of Jurists regarding this.

  1. The extra goes to the bait-ul-mal (public treasury).
  2. The heirs should redistribute the extra.
  3. It should be given to the cognates (relations whose connection to the deceased is traceable through the mother or female line) who are traditionally non-heirs.
 Level 1(c): Two categories of heirs with one having a fixed share
Rule C: Base number is the denominator of share of the category with a fixed share

Example 5

Heirs Husband 1 Son; 1 daughter
Shares ¼ Residue
Base number 4
Portions 1 Son = 2; daughter = 1

Considering step 4 for both categories of heirs,
Wife: 4 × ¼ = 1 portion
Son and daughter: Residue i.e. 4 – 1 = 3 portions
Son has “2 heads” hence inherits 2 portions while daughter has “1 head” therefore is given 1 portion.

Example 6

Heirs Mother 2 Full brothers; 1 Full sister
Shares 1/6 Residue
Base number 6
Portions 1 Each full brother = 2; full sister = 1

Mother: 6 × 1/6 = 1 portion
2 Full brothers and 1 full sister: Residue i.e. 6 – 1 = 5 portions
The 5 portions are distributed among the full brothers and full sister in a ratio of 2 to 2 to 1 respectively.

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We have received a number of emails from those who visited this website or downloaded and read INHERITANCE IN ISLAM. Almost all of them were questions on either aspects of inheritance not covered in the book or clarifications needed regarding specific cases. Hence, we thought it wise to reproduce the emails so that others may benefit as well. As always, we welcome suggestions, criticisms and of course, more questions!

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