Death is inevitable. As a result, Islam being a complete way of life has spelt out how the deceased’s estate should be shared among his heirs. By estate, we mean the entire property a deceased leaves behind such as houses, cars, clothes, furniture, land, farm, jewellery, cash (at hand and in bank), shares, bonds, and so on including socks and underwear; everything. Subhanal-Lah.
It should be noted that when a Muslim dies, the obligations to be taken out of his estate (in order of priority are):
1. Kafn (shroud) and other basic expenses relating to the funeral like grave digger’s wage, transportation to cemetery, etc if they are to be paid for. A surviving husband is responsible for the shroud and burial expenses of his deceased wife if she is not endowed. There is difference of opinion in respect of a wealthy woman. Some scholars said that the husband is still responsible while others are of the view that they should be paid from her estate.
2. Repayment of his outstanding debt.
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “A believer’s soul remains in suspense (cannot enter Paradise) until all his debts are paid off.” Ahmad, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhy Collections.
Narrated Muhammad ibn Abdullah ibn Jahsh: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “By Him in whose hand Muhammad’s soul is, if a man were to be killed in Allah’s path then come to life, be killed again in Allah’s path then come to life, and be killed once more in Allah’s path then come to life owing a debt, he would not enter Paradise till his debt was paid.” Bukhari Collection.
Generally, debt can be owed to fellow humans or to Allah e.g. unpaid Zakat. The former has to be repaid, not questions about that. Scholars differ as regards repayment of debt due to Allah. Some are of the view that it should be repaid while others are in support of non-repayment. A third view is that it should be repaid if and only if the deceased instructs same.
3. Fulfilment of his will.
Provided it does not exceed one-third (1/3) of the entire estate and it’s not in favour of an heir. If any or both of these conditions are not satisfied, the validity of the will is subject to approval of all the heirs, otherwise, its void.
4. The rightful heirs then inherit the remaining estate.
Significance of acquiring and teaching the Laws of Inheritance
Narrated Abu Hurairah: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Learn the Fara’id (laws of inheritance) and teach it, for it is half of knowledge and it is (easily) forgotten, and it is the first thing to be taken (away) from my nation.” Ibn Majah Collection.
Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud: Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said to me, “Acquire the knowledge and impart it to the people. Acquire the knowledge of Fara’id (laws of inheritance) and teach it to the people, learn the Qur’an and teach it to the people; for I am a person who has to depart this world and the knowledge will be taken away and turmoil will appear to such an extent that two people will not agree in regard to a case of inheritance distribution and find none who would decide between them.” Tirmithy Collection.
The content of this website is based on a book with the same title: INHERITANCE IN ISLAM: An attempt to simplify one of the complex branches of Shari’ah, published by Sadaqatu Tayyibatun Foundation. It can be downloaded for FREE below.
Inheritance in Islam (pdf, 566 kb)
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 aspects of inheritance not covered in the book. Hence, we thought it wise to reproduce the emails so that others may benefit as well.