Inheritance – Various Important Issues

←Back to Contents Page of Kitaabul Meerath (inheritance)

ABUSE AND VIOLATIONS
A man writing out his last will and testament abuses the rights of the heirs and violates the sacred command of Allah Ta’ala regarding inheritance in several ways:
 
1. By deleting an heir: Some people attempting to supersede the wisdom and command of Allah Ta’ala consider it unnecessary to include in their will the names of daughters, especially if they happen to be married to wealthy husbands. A disobedient child is also excised from the will.
 
2. By reduction in the fixed sham: Sometimes, a man feels that a certain heir is not deserving of the share granted to him/her by the Shariah. The testator, therefore, tampers with the fixed share and reduces it according to his fancy. Thus, a daughter’s share or a disobedient son’s share is reduced. The affluence of a married daughter and the disobedience of a child are not recognised by the Shariah as valid grounds for tampering with the Shar’i shares in any way whatsoever.
 
3. By the imposition of un-lslamic restrictions:
 
Those leaving behind large estates are generally the perpetrators of this violation. They stipulate that the estate’s winding up be prolonged for years. Heirs are denied immediate possession of their shares. Baligh (adult) heirs are treated as minors because they have not reached the kuffar age of adulthood, viz. 21 years. Men lacking in Deeni knowledge, bereft of taqwa and deficient in Iman are appointed as executors and administrators who impose on the heirs the norms and restrictions of a kafir law and life-style.
 
4. By discriminating in the assets of the estate:
 
Some people discriminate in the assets of their estates. Part of the estate is bequeathed to an heir while the remainder is subjected to the Shariah’s law of inheritance, e.g. the house is bequeathed to the wife and the rest of the estate is distributed according to the law of inheritance.
 
5. By the introduction of non-heirs into the distribution:
 
Some people implying to have more mercy than Allah Ta’ala (Nauthubillah!) consider it essential to bequeath the share of a deceased son to his children (i.e. the grandchildren of the testator). Some again feel the need to regard an adopted child as an automatic heir on par with their own children or in the absence of their own children, as their own child.
 
6. By bequeathing more than a third to an outsider, i.e. one who is not an automatic heir; A wasiyyat (bequest) in excess of one third the value of the estate to an outsider is neither permissible nor valid.
 
7. By denial of the rights of creditors:
 
No provision is made for the paying of creditors who have no legal nght of claiming according to the law of the land. The debt having been incurred in a fictitious arrangement such as a limited company or close corporation is overlooked inspite of the right of the creditors being related to the estate of the deceased.
 
The aforementioned examples are all grave violations of Islam’s laws of inheritance and constitute flagrant acts of transgression which invoke the wrath and severest punishment of Allah Ta’ala.
 
It does not behove the servant of Allah Ta’ala to submit the issue of inheritance to his understanding. The All-Wise Creator knows what is best for all. He says in the Qur’an Majeed:
 
“Your fathers and your sons – you do not know who among them is closer to you in regard to benefit (for you). (These Shares are) Shares fixed by Allah. Verily, He is fully aware and wise.”
 
 
MEERATH IS NOT DISCRETIONARY
 
Meerath (Inheritance) is not an act which has been assigned to the volition and discretion of man. The Muslim has absolutely no choice in the disposal of his assets after his demise. Even the one third in which he is allowed to bequeath to non-heirs, is by divine dispensation. Allah Ta’ala, by His Volition, permitted the Mu’min to act by his discretion in one third of the bounties (assets) in his possession.
 
Inheritance is a right which is confirmed for the heirs without the directive of the murith (testator) and without the volition and acceptance of the heirs. The heirs assume ownership of their shares simultaneously with the death of the murith. Regardless of the pleasure or displeasure of the testator or of his heirs, the latter become the owners of their respective Shar’i shares. Even if a heir voices his dissociation from his share of the inheritance, he/she remains the owner of his/her respective share.
 
If a man for some reason says that he does not wish to be the heir of his murith, his wish is of no significance. His wish does not cancel his right of inheritance. He automatically becomes the owner of his share whether he accepts or rejects it. Example: A man in an argument with his murith, said: “If I accept anything from you by way of inheritance then my wife is divorced.” On the death of the murith, this person (the heir) automatically becomes the owner of his share of inheritance and the talaq comes into effect whether he accepts his share or not.
 
If a man refuses his share of inheritance it is not transferred to the other heirs. The Qadhi or ruler will deliver the heir’s share to him and compel him to accept. If necessary the Qadhi will order forceful entry into his home to deliver his share of the estate. Once the wealth gained by inheritance has been placed in the heir’s custody and possession, he/she may do with it as he/she pleases.
 
It should now be clear that every will, testament or codicil drawn up in conflict with the Shariah is haraam and not valid.
 
 
WHAT TO DO IF THE WILL IS UN-ISLAMIC
 
When a man has left a will which contravenes the Shariah, the heirs should understand that they are accountable to Allah Ta’ala for any usurpation of the rights of the other heirs who have been wronged by the mayyit. It devolves on them as an incumbent duty to rectify the injustice directed in the will. The heirs should fear Allah Ta’ala and understand that according to the Qur’an Majeed they will be devouring haraam and consuming fire if they rob and defraud any heir of his/her rightful share. There is no difference between a robber/thief and one who robs the heirs of their proper Shar’i shares. In fact, the latter is worse in that he transgresses in his final worldly act before meeting Allah Ta’ala. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) said:
 
“Actions will (be judged) with the end .(i.e. final deed),”
 
When life closes with flagrant transgression, the destination is only Jahannam. The Qur’an Majeed is categoric in this assertion:
 
“Allah will cast him into the Fire; for ever will he dwell therein, and for him will be a disgraceful punishment.”
 
The law of the land of the kuffar requires the distribution of the deceased’s estate according to the directive of the testator. Notwithstanding this unlawful directive and demand of the kuffar law, there is no way in which the haraam distribution could be enforced on heirs who opt to submit to the Law of Allah Ta’ala. Among themselves they should arrange the distribution of the estate in terms of the Islamic laws of inheritance while signing the fictitious documents required by the non-Muslim authorities.
 
 
DISPOSING OF THE ESTATE DURING ONE’S LIFETIME
 
If for some reason a person wishes to dispose of his estate during his lifetime by distributing his assets among his heirs, this may be done. However, he should bear in mind the following two important requisites:
 
a. The motive for disposal of his estate should not be to deprive any heir. Allah Ta’ala has fixed the heirs and their shares by His wisdom. It is most unworthy of a Muslim to attempt any interference in this divine dispensation. Any plan aimed at depriving a heir is an unholy conspiracy which is tantamount to a flagrant act of rebellion against Rabbul Aalameen (The Creator and Sustainer of all worlds). The consequence of such a satanic scheme is stated in the Qur’an:
 
“Allah will cast him into the Fire; forever will he dwell therein, and for him will be a disgraceful punishment.”
 
b. Sons and daughters should be given in equal measure. While a son inherits twice the share of a daughter, this rule should not be adopted when making gifts to one’s children during one’s lifetime. During one’s lifetime discrimination in gifts to one’s offspring is not permissible although valid. Sons and daughters should be given gifts of equal value.
 
Inspite of such discrimination in gifts being sinful, the gifts made will have legal validity in the Shariah, i.e. the one to whom the gift is made becomes the owner thereof. But, such discrimination is a punishable offence in the Akhirah.

 

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