Islam is a comprehensive way of life that has bestowed upon humanity a set of principles and edicts to govern every facet of existence. The domains of property and inheritance, in particular, hold a paramount and delicate position in the Islamic framework. Shariah has delineated an intricate network of laws, specifications, and provisions to regulate these vital matters.
However, despite the Islamic legal framework for the distribution of property, there are several problems and challenges that arise in practice. One of the primary issues is the lack of awareness and understanding of the Islamic inheritance laws among the general population. Many people are unaware of their rights and obligations under Islamic law, which often leads to disputes and conflicts among family members.
What Is The Main Consideration Of The Deceased’s Property?
Islam has established a comprehensive legal system for the distribution of property after the death of an individual. The Islamic inheritance system is based on dividing the property among heirs, with specific shares allotted to each category of heirs. This system aims to ensure equitable distribution of the deceased’s assets among their heirs so that no one is unjustly deprived of their rights.
The Islamic law of inheritance is based on five key principles:
- Prevent the concentration of wealth among individuals and instead promote its equitable distribution in society.
- Recognize the right to private property ownership earned through lawful means.
- Emphasize that human beings are trustees of the wealth they produce, and are not authorized to dispose of it in any way they please.
- Strengthen the family system as the primary social unit in Islamic society.
- Encourage economic activity and provide incentives for work, in accordance with Islamic principles.
An Outdated System Of Inheritance And Bequeathal Existed Before Islam.
The era of ignorance, known as Jahiliyyah, which has been eradicated from the world, including the Arab world, sometimes appears to still exist. In many parts of the world, people follow practices and theories that were prevalent during times of ignorance, or even worse than that. In the present era, remnants of the era of ignorance can be seen in some places, especially during the distribution of property and inheritance.
In both the pre-Islamic world and modern societies, the law of inheritance has been associated with various shortcomings, which can be summarized as follows:
- It was the Pre-Islamic era, and women have completely forsaken the right to inherit property. They were considered as part of the deceased’s possessions and thus were not entitled to any share in inheritance.
- Clans’ culture or tribal systems, such as pre-Islamic Arabia and somewhere in modern times as well, not only women but also weak and sick individuals and minor children were excluded from inheritance. The prevalent principle was that only those who wielded the sword were entitled to inherit.
- In some societies, such as certain so-called civilized parts of the world, the law of primogeniture still exists. This law entitles only the eldest son to inherit the entire property of the father or to receive the majority share.
Islamic Laws of Property Distribution.
Islam emphasizes moderation and fairness in its principles and laws, especially in sensitive matters that people often overlook for their personal gain. In such cases, Islam enforces strict rules and regulations, including the theory of accountability and punishment for wrongdoing.
One of the significant areas where Islam emphasizes fairness is the transfer of inheritance and property. In the pre-Islamic era, there were many unjust customs and traditions in the transfer of property. However, Islam abolished all those useless practices and introduced a structured and fair system for the distribution of inheritance and property.
Islam recognizes the importance of maintaining justice and fairness in society, and that includes a fair and equitable distribution of wealth. Therefore, Islam provides comprehensive guidelines for the transfer of inheritance and property, which ensures that everyone receives their rightful share.
Let’s summarize, Islam upholds the values of moderation, fairness, and justice, and it has provided a structured and equitable system for the transfer of property, which was a significant reform during the pre-Islamic era.
Islam brought significant changes to the laws of inheritance that can be summarized as follows:
Firstly, it introduced clear and specific guidelines for determining the portion of inheritance that each heir should receive. This helped to limit the discretion of the property owner in distributing their property as they wished.
Secondly, Islam granted women the right to inherit property alongside men. This was a significant step towards restoring the dignity of women and ensuring that their social and economic rights were protected.
Thirdly, Islam established rules for the fair and equitable distribution of wealth in society. By breaking up concentrated wealth, inheritance was distributed more widely amongst a larger number of individuals.
Lastly, Islam rejected the law of primogeniture, which stipulated that the eldest son was entitled to inherit all of their parent’s wealth. This paved the way for a more democratic approach to the division of inheritance among all heirs, regardless of their birth order or gender.
Features of Islamic Law
The Islamic law of inheritance has several unique characteristics, including the principles it lays down for the distribution of the deceased’s estate. The first and foremost rule is that the distribution of property, including both movable and immovable assets, can only be made after fulfilling certain obligations.
- These obligations include paying for funeral expenses.
- Additionally, any debts incurred by the deceased must be cleared before the distribution of the assets.
- If there are any bequests, they can only be fulfilled to the extent of one-third of the total assets.
- The Mahr of the wife, if unpaid, is included in the debt.
It is also important to note that it is not permissible to make a bequest in favor of a person who is entitled to a share in the inheritance.
Exclusions From Entitlement To Inherit Property
“And do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly or send it [in bribery] to the rulers in order that [they might aid] you [to] consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know [it is unlawful]” (Quran 2:188).
Islam is very clear in its perspectives and laws. Islam not only established the criteria for determining heirs, but it also defined the limits of what is prohibited in inheritance. There are certain limitations on individuals who are not eligible to make a claim on the property of the deceased.
- A person who is a runaway slave and has fled from their master is not entitled to inherit property.
- Someone who intentionally or unintentionally murders their predecessor is also excluded from inheriting property.
- An individual who does not profess the Islamic faith is ineligible to inherit property.
- It is not permissible for someone living in Dar-ul-Harb (a non-Muslim country) to inherit property from someone living in Dar-ul-Islam (a Muslim country) and vice versa.
Real Heirs Of The Property According To Sharia Law
“And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully” (Quran 17:26).
Above mentioned verse, is clearly indicated This is a detailed explanation of the Islamic laws of inheritance according to the Qur’an and Hadiths. In Islamic law, the heirs are divided into three groups: Dhaw-u’l-Fara’id, Asabat, and Dhaw-u’l Arham.
Dhaw-u’l-Fara’id is those persons who have a right to define shares in the assets left by the deceased. These sharers are twelve in number: four males (father, grandfather, uterine brothers, and husband) and eight females (wife, single daughter, son’s daughter, mother, grandmother, full sister, consanguine sister, and uterine sister).
- Father: 1/6th if there are sons or grandsons, also a share of being ‘Asaba if no son or grandson is present.
- Grandfather: Same share as a father, doesn’t reduce the mother’s share, and the grandmother has no share in the presence of a father but has a share in a presence of a grandfather.
- Uterine brothers and sisters: 1/6th if one, 1/3rd if more than one.
- Husband: 1/2 if the wife dies childless, 1/4 if she has children.
- Wife: 1/4 if the husband dies childless, 1/8 if he has children.
- Real daughter: 1/2 if alone, 2/3 if more than one, treated as ‘Asaba if there is a male child present.
- Full sister: 1/2 if alone, 2/3 if more than one.
- Consanguine sister: 1/2 if one, 2/3 if more.
- Mother: 1/6th if there is a child or grandchild, 1/3rd if childless.
- Paternal and maternal grandmothers: 1/6th if no father is present.
When the heirs of the first group have received their respective shares, the residue of the assets falls to the share of those relatives who are called Asabat. This is the second group of inheritors. There is no fixed share of the ‘
- Son: gets the residue first, daughters entitled to half of what son gets, grandsons not entitled if a son is present.
- Father, grandfather, and great-grandfather: included in Dhaw-u’l-Fara’id, but the father can be considered ‘Asaba if no son, grandson, or great-grandson is present.
- Brother, nephew, or grandnephew: entitled to share in absence of a son, grandson, father, or grandfather.
- Consanguine brother: entitled to share in absence of all above, preferred to full brother’s son.
- Full paternal uncle: entitled to share last.
This category of inheritors is referred to as Dhaw-u’l Arham, which includes relatives who are connected through females. However, it is uncommon for them to receive any portion of the inheritance. The following are the relatives who fall under this category.
- The son of the daughter and daughter of the daughter belong to the category of Dhaw-u’l Arham, but they rarely inherit anything.
- The son of the daughter of the son, daughter of the daughter of the son, and their children also belong to this category and do not usually receive a share of the inheritance.
- Other relatives in the Dhaw-u’l Arham category include the maternal grandfather, maternal grandfather of the father, grandfather of the mother, maternal grandfather of the mother, grandmother of the mother, children of the sisters, and sisters of the father and mother. However, they too seldom receive any inheritance.
In conclusion, the inflation crisis in Pakistan and the challenges associated with the distribution of property under Islamic laws are significant issues that require urgent attention. The government must take concrete steps to address the inflation crisis and alleviate the economic hardships faced by the Pakistani population. Similarly, there is a need for greater awareness and understanding of Islamic inheritance laws to ensure that the distribution of assets is equitable and just.