Kitabul Meerath (The Book of Inheritance) is an attempt to explain Islamic Inheritance to ordinary Muslims. This subject which concerns every Muslim is about the most neglected branch of Islamic knowledge. Most Muslims are grossly ignorant of the Ahkam (laws) of inheritance. Even pious and learned people commit grave errors in this matter.
Muslims largely ignorant of the Shariah’s demands pertaining to inheritance, direct the distribution of their estates in accordance with unfettered freedom or in terms of certain restrictions of western Kuffaar law.
Having opted ignorantly for some western matrimonial property system, Muslims are precluded from drawing up Islamic Wills. Others again, simply do not care of the dire consequences awaiting them in the Akhirah, hence they bequeath their estates as directed by their whimsical desires.
Kitabul Meerath deals with both the Shar’i legal and moral aspects pertaining to inheritance. It is hoped that Allah Ta’ala will make this humble effort a means of hidayat (guidance) for Muslims so that they understand the gravity of their transgressions in the sphere of inheritance.
Although effort has been made to simplify this subject, we are aware that many Muslims will find it difficult to comprehend the many rules of inheritance. Undoubtedly Meerath is a difficult subject with its numerous different cases, classes and categories being somewhat confusing. While this book will assist in giving a better understanding of the workings and importance of Meerath, it is necessary for the layman to consult with an Alim who is proficient in this subject, before effecting the distribution of the estate.
The Qur’an Majeed and the Ahadith of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) apply great emphasis on the importance of Meerath. It does, therefore, not behove the Muslim to depart from this transitory abode with the accursed burden of the transgression which he has loaded onto himself by way of his unjust violation of Allah’s orders of inheritance.
[Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]
Mujlisul Ulama of South Africa
P.O. Box 3393
Port Elizabeth 6056
(Knowledge of Inheritance)
Fara-idh is the plural of Fareedhah which literally means something which has been fixed or determined. Since the Qur’an Majeed has fixed the shares of the different heirs in the estate of the Murith (the deceased whose estate they inherit), this branch of knowledge is called Fara-idh. Inheritance is called Meerath.
The Qur’an and Hadith place great emphasis on the knowledge of Meerath and Fara-idh. Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) exhorted much the acquisition and teaching of Ilmul Fara-idh. In this regard he said:
“I shall be taken away. Learn Fara-idh and teach it (to others). The time is near for the door of Wahi to be closed. The time for the disappearance of knowledge will dawn when two persons will dispute regarding a necessary mas’alah (deeni question) and they will find no one to decide the dispute.”
Speaking on the virtues of Fara-idh, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“O people! Learn Fara-idh. It is half of knowledge. “
In view of the importance and significance of inheritance, its knowledge is described as ‘half of knowledge’.
Regarding the disappearance of this knowledge, Rasullallah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) predicted:
“The first (branch of) knowledge which will be taken away from my Ummah will be Ilmul Fara-idh.”
Emphasising the importance of Ilmul Fara-idh, Hadhrat Umar (radhiallahu anhu) said:
“O people! Learn Fara-idh with the same concern and effort with which you learn the Quran.”
“O Muslims! Learn Fara-idh. It is an essential part of the knowledge of your Deen.”
Hadhrat Abu Musa (radhiallahu anhu) said:
“Whoever has learnt the Qur’an, but not Fara-idh is like a head without a face.”
Allah Ta’ala, by his infinite mercy brought man into existence from the state of pure non-existence and placed him on earth to live here for a short while. For his earthly sojourn, his Creator, Rabbul Alameen, bestowed a variety of material provisions to him. These provisions for sustaining his earthly life have been awarded to man temporarily.
The wealth, property, garments and whatever have been assigned to his custody are not his property. He is not the owner of these divine bestowals. Their only owner is Allah Azza Wa Jal, the Creator, Sovereign and Owner of the Universe. Nothing in man’s possession belongs to him.
When man’s term of life comes to an end, the bounties which were on loan to him revert back to Allah Ta’ala, The Original and True Owner. Hence, man is not permitted to dispose of his estate according to his wishes and desires. His outer facade of ownership of his’ possession ceases with death. Man, therefore has no right of operating in the wealth which was bestowed to him for his benefit in this earthly sojourn. Upon his death the rights of others – the heirs – become automatically related to the estate he left behind.
Thus, it is an act of grave transgression for a man to attempt to assert his non-existing right and authority in the estate which he will be leaving behind. In so doing, he is guilty of two great sins and acts of transgression, namely:
(1) Usurping the Huqooq (rights) of the rightful (heirs).
(2) Flagrant violation of Allah’s command pertaining to Inheritance.
The divine punishment for such flagrant transgression is severe in the Aakhirah. According to one Hadith, Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said that there are some people who spend a lifetime in acts of worship and obedience, however, on the eve of their meeting with Allah Ta’ala, i.e. when about to die, they usurp the rights of the heirs. In consequence, they are despatched directly to Jahannam. Heirs are either. deleted from the testator’s will or their divinely-fixed shares are tampered with.
Rasulullah (Sallallahu alayhi wasallam) also said that whoever deprives an heir of his rightful due, will be deprived of Jannat. Thus, the Muslim who violates the Shariah’s laws of Inheritance is destined for the chastisement of the Fire before he can enter Jannat. Violation of the divine laws of Meerath is akin to Kufr, hence the Qur’an declares the punishment for such flagrant violators in the following very stern and severe tone and terms:
“Allah will cast him into the Fire; forever will he dwell therein; and for him will be a disgraceful punishment.”
Extension of one’s transgressions to even the period after death is not a transgression of small measure. The sin is vile in the extreme. There is no pleasure in the perpetration of this flagrant sin, the effect of which will manifest itself after the death of the perpetrator.
While he has destroyed his life of the hereafter by his wretched sin of defrauding and depriving the divinely appointed heirs of his estate, he derives no nafsani pleasure from his evil commission.
As a result of greed, baseless hopes and deficiency of Iman, most people fail miserably in the execution of the Shariah’s laws of Meerath. Their attachment to the worldly possessions in their custody blinds their rational and spiritual faculties, constraining them to make a vain attempt to extend this worldly love even to their lives in Barzakh (the state of life after earthly death and before Qiyamah). In a futile endeavour they seek to control what never belonged to them, even after death. Indeed, this evil attitude indicates an evil death.
When the Mu’min departs from this transitory abode, he should be liberated from all worldly encumberences. However, it is observed that numerous people depart with a heavy load of sin – such sin for which there is no hope of repentance. When man had bequeathed his estate in flagrant violation of the Shariah’s code of Meerath, this transgression while having been enacted in his lifetime, comes into effect after his maut. He thus is denied the opportunity to make amends, to rectify this usurpation of rights and to repent.
Unlike all other sins for which there is always the opportunity to set right the wrong and for repentance, there is no such opportunity to rectify the injustice and violation from a Haram testament made by the Mayyit (deceased). Hell-Fire being the destination of such an oppressor should, therefore, be easily understandable.
The book will be added here in regular installments insha-Allah.