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

Heirs5 Consanguine brothers, 2 Consanguine sisters
ShareWhole estate
Base number12
PortionsEach 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

Heirs3 sons
ShareWhole estate
Base number6
PortionsEach 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;

Heirs3 sons
ShareWhole estate
Base number3
PortionsEach 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

Heirs2 daughters
Base number3
PortionsEach 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

Heirs1 Full sister
Base number2

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

HeirsWife1 Son; 1 daughter
Base number4
Portions1Son = 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

HeirsMother2 Full brothers; 1 Full sister
Base number6
Portions1Each 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.

Quick links

Your Questions, Our Answers

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!

Read the mails