In today’s edition, we shall be discussing the different categories of heirs in Islam, Ashabul Fara’id.
This may serve as a sequel to our discussion in a previous article where we examined generally the Islamic Law of Inheritance also known as Faraid. Just in case you missed that edition, you can check it out. HERE
There are two categories of Heirs entitled to inherit from the estate of a deceased Muslim under Islamic law of inheritance; the first is the principal class while the second is the subsidiary class.
The principal class includes legal heirs which are directly related to the deceased Muslim through blood; this however does not include the husband and wife because they are related through marriage rather than blood. The subsidiary class on the other hand includes heirs which inherit the property only in certain circumstances.
The Primary classes of heirs in Islam
1. Ashab Al-Furudh or Quranic heirs
This refers to the relations of the deceased Muslim whose percentage of the heritable estate has been expressly stated in the Quran. They are usually given preference over others in the sharing of estate and because their percentage has been clearly stated in the Quran, no human can deny them their share. Examples include the following:
- Husband: a surviving husband can inherit his wife’s property. If the wife has a child or a grandchild, he is entitled to one-quarter of the heritable estate. However, if she doesn’t have any, he inherits half.
- Wife: a surviving wife is entitled to receive one-quarter of the heritable estate in a case where she has no child or grandchild in her custody (lineal descendants). However, if the husband leaves a child, then the wife inherits 1\8. In cases where the husband has more than a wife, then the wives have to divide this share (1\8) equally amongst themselves.
- Son: the male child gets the share of two females according to the Holy Quran. This has been provided for in the Quran thus: “Allah thus commands you concerning your children: the share of the male is like that of two females. “Al-nisa 4:1.
Note however that an illegitimate child cannot inherit from the father, neither can the father inherit from the child because an illegitimate child is considered to be the child of the mother alone.
- Daughter: a female child will inherit half a share compared to the property inherited by the male legal heir due to the fact that males in Muslim law are given more responsibility and financial obligation than females. If there are however two or more females, their share is two-thirds altogether which they shall share equally.
The other sharers or primary heirs include; father, mother, paternal grandfather, paternal grandmother, consanguine sister, uterine brother, uterine brother, and grandchildren.
2. Residuary Heirs
- consanguine brother (consanguine siblings are siblings related only by a common father)
- son of consanguine brother
- consanguine brother of the father
- son of the consanguine brother of the father
- germane brother (germane siblings are siblings who share the same father and mother)
- son of germane brother
- germane brother of the father
- son of the germane brother of the father
3. Uterine Heirs
Uterine heirs are heirs who share the same mother with the deceased Muslim. They are the distant kindred who inherit part of the estate only in the absence of the Quranic heirs and residuary. Such occurrences are not commonplace but it is possible when the deceased leaves behind only a wife or a husband without any other residuary or sharer.
In such instances, the distant kindred can inherit the remainder of the estate after the share of the surviving wife or husband has been taken. They include:
- Daughter’s children and their descendants
- Children of son’s daughters and their descendants
- False grandfathers
- False grandmothers
- Full brother’s daughters and their descendants
- Consanguine brother’s daughters and their descendants
- Uterine brother’s children and their descendants
- Daughters of consanguine brother’s son
- Full paternal uncle’s daughters and their descendants.
- Consanguine paternal uncle’s daughters and their descendants
- Maternal uncles and aunts and their children
Subsidiary class of heirs in Islam
- Successor by contract: a successor by contract is someone who has entered into a contract with the deceased before his demise either to receive interest or a fine.
- Acknowledged kinsman: this is a person with whom the deceased made an acknowledgment of kinship. For example, when a man can acknowledge another as his brother before his death, such a person becomes an acknowledged kinsman.
- Sole legatee: this is a person designated by the deceased Muslima as the only person entitled to inherit the property of the deceased. This however only happens in the absence of any relations contained in the above-mentioned category.
- Inheritance by the state: this is also known as escheat. It is the reversion of property to the state in a situation whereby a deceased Muslim dies without legal heirs.
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Shukran Jazeelan for reading.
See you next month!