Class 8-Inheritance and Distribution of Estate

Class 8

‘Inheritance & Distribution Of Estate’

This is a topic which cannot be learnt/taught in a single class as there are multiple case scenarios. In this class we will learn about the General Rulings of distribution and who the Heirs are.

The Estate Goes to the Legal Heirs

The estate of a deceased goes to the heirs that have been legally indicated in the Islamic law. The Islamic state has no right to any part of it, except in the rare situation where the deceased was not survived by any relatives — close or far. Allah S.W.T. says:

لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ نَصِيباً مَفْرُوضاً

“There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether the property be small or large – a legal share.” (Aayah No. 7, Surah An-Nisa’).


Male Heirs The possible male heirs are fifteen relatives as follows

  1. Son.
  2. Son’s son, and further down by mere male lineage.
  3. Father.
  4. Father’s father, and further up by mere male lineage.
  5. Full brother (from both parents)
  6. Paternal brother (from the father only).
  7. Maternal brother (from the mother only).
  8. Full brother’s son, and further down by mere male lineage.
  9. Paternal brother’s son, and further down by mere male lineage.
  10. Full-paternal uncle (father’s full brother).
  11. Paternal-paternal uncle (a father’s paternal brother).
  12. Full-paternal uncle’s son, and further down by mere male lineage.
  13. Paternal-paternal uncle’s son, and further down by mere male lineage.
  14. Husband
  15. Male Emancipator (of a Slave)

Female Heirs
The possible female heirs are eleven relatives as follows

  1. Daughter
  2. Son’s daughter, and further down by mere male lineage.
  3. Mother.
  4. Maternal grandmother, and further up by mere female lineage
  5. Paternal grandmother, and further up by mere female lineage.
  6. Paternal great grandmother, and further up by mere female lineage
  7. Full Sister
  8. Paternal Sister
  9. Maternal Sister
  10. Wife
  11. Female Emancipator (of a Slave)

It is important to note that, in the case of female heirs, the inheritance stops at them and does not move on to their children as in the case of male heirs.

Specified Shares

Children and Parents
Allah has decreed the shares of a deceased’s offspring and parents in the following ayah: «Allah instructs you concerning your children’s (inheritance): a male receives a share equal to that of two females. But if they (the children) are only women, and are more than (or equal to) two, their share is two thirds of that which he (the deceased) had left. And if there is only one woman, her share is half (of the estate). And for his parents, each one’s share is a sixth of that which he left if he had children. But if he had no children, and the parents inherit from him, the mother’s share is one third. And if he had siblings, the mother’s share is a sixth. (These distributions should be done) after the payment of any bequeathals that he may have made or debts (that he may have had). Your parents and offspring — you do not know which among them are nearest to you in benefit. (These shares are) an ordainment imposed by Allah. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Wise. An-Nisa 4:11.

The ‘ulama derive many important instructions from this ayah, the most relevant of which to our discussion are the following:

  1. The debts and bequeathals are taken out of the estate before dividing the rest among the heirs.
  2. A deceased’s offspring share in his estate, a son receiving twice as much as a daughter. This is done after taking out any ordained shares.
  3. The grandchildren take the position of the children in their absence.
  4. If the deceased’s offspring are only females (two or more), they receive two-thirds of the estate, which is then equally divided among them.
  5. If the deceased is survived by only one daughter, she receives one- half of the estate. If, in addition, there are granddaughters, they share one-sixth, bringing the total for the daughters to two-thirds (as in the previous point). This is further supported by Ibn Masud’s explicit hadith in this regard.
  6. In the presence of children, the parents receive one-sixth each.
  7. In the absence of children, if the deceased leaves brothers or sisters — full, paternal, or maternal, then the mother receives one-sixth. The father’s share in this case is determined differently.
  8. In the absence of children and siblings, the mother receives one- third. This “one-third” does not apply to the whole estate, but only to the remaining part of it after taking out any prescribed shares. This is the opinion of ‘Umar, Zayd Bin Thabit, and others among the sahdbah, as well as the majority of the ‘ulama after them — as will be discussed next chapter.

Spouses and Maternal Siblings
The following ayah deals with the share in the inheritance of the spouses and maternal siblings: «You receive one half of that which your wives leave if they have no child. If they have a child, you receive one fourth of what they leave — after payment of any bequeathals that they had made or debts (that they had). And they receive one fourth of that which you leave if you have no child. If you have a child, they receive one eighth of what you leave — after payment of any bequeathals that you had made or debts (that you had). If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question has neither ascendents nor descendents, but has a (maternal) brother or sister, each one of them two receives a sixth; and if they were more than two, they share a third — after payment of any bequeathals that had been made or debts (that are owed), and that are not intended to cause harm (to the legal inheritors). This is a commandment from Allah; and Allah is ever Knowing and Tolerant. (An-Nisa 4:12)

Among the instructions that were derived from this ayah are the following:

  1. A husband receives one-half of his wife’s estate if she does not have any offspring — from him or other men, immediate or grandchildren. Otherwise, he receives one-fourth.
  2. A wife is a woman who was married to the deceased when he died, or that was divorced by him a non-final (third) time and had not completed her ‘iddah (waiting period). If there are more than one wife (maximum four) for a deceased, their share is divided equally among them.
  3. The wives receive one-fourth of their husband’s estate if he does not have any offspring — from them or other women, immediate or grandchildren. Otherwise, they receive one-eighth.
  4. There is a consensus among the ‘ulama that the brothers and sisters mentioned in this ayah are the maternal siblings, because the shares of the other siblings are mentioned in the ayah at the end of Surat an-Nisa (4:176).
  5. The shares of males and females of the same rank (brother and sisters, uncles and aunts, sons and daughters, etc.) are such that a male receives twice as much as a female.
  6. The maternal siblings are the only exception to the above rule. If there is only one maternal sibling, he (or she) receives one-sixth. If there are two or more, they share one-third.

Full and Paternal Siblings

When a deceased does not have branch (offspring and below) or origin (fathers and above) heirs, his inheritance is called kalalah, which means “borders or margins”. It is thus named because the only possible heirs for such a person are his margin relatives — instead of the origin and branch heirs.

The kalalah case for a deceased who is only survived by maternal siblings has been dealt with in the previous ayah (an-Nisa 4:12). The following ayah deals with the kalalah for one who is survived by paternal or full siblings: «They ask you for a legal ruling. Say, “Allah gives you a ruling concerning kalalah (leaving neither descendents nor ascendents). If it is a man that dies leaving no child but only a sister, she receives half of what (estate) he left. And he inherits her (completely) if she (dies first and) has no child. But if they are two sisters, they receive two-thirds of what he left. And if they are both brothers and sisters, a male receives the share of two females. Thus does Allah make clear to you (His laws) lest you go astray. Allah is All-Knower of all things.» (An-Nisa 4:176).

This ayah indicates that if a deceased leaves only paternal or full siblings, it will be one of the following cases: –

  1. If there is only one sister, she receives half of the estate.
  2. If there are two or more sisters, two-thirds of the estate is divided equally among them.
  3. If there is only one brother, he receives all of the estate.
  4. If there are mixed brothers and sisters, the whole estate is divided among them, giving a male twice as much as a female.

Daughter, Grand-Daughter, and Sister

‘Abdullah Bin Mas ud (R.A.) was once asked in regard to the inheritance of a daughter, granddaughter, and sister (surviving a deceased). He said, “My judgement in this case is that of Allah’s Messenger ‘The daughter’s share is one-half, that of the son’s daughter is one-sixth, and whatever remains is for the sister’.

Nearest Male
After giving the heirs with prescribed shares their portions, anything remaining after that is given to the nearest male to the deceased — or divided among those who are equally near.

Ibn ‘Abbas reported that Allah’s Messenger said: Divide the wealth among the heirs with prescribed shares, according to Allah’s Book. Whatever is left after that, (give it) to the nearest male person (to the deceased). (Muslim, Abudawood & Ibn Majah)

Non-Standard Heirs
In the absence of standard legal heirs, the inheritance goes to other relatives who are further away from the deceased. If the deceased has absolutely no relatives, the Islamic state takes the entire estate.

For those who want to learn details of the inheritance shares you can get the calculations in the link…

Link to Urdu Lecture by Shaikh Yasir Al-Jabri 

Note: The Lecture can have more or less details from the that what is written here in English. The Tests will ONLY be from what is written here in English. The Lectures are provided to have give better understanding of the matter.