This month in our Malaadhu Thar’wah ( ملاذ الثروة ) Newsletter, we will be starting a series on “Understanding Islamic Succession”. In today’s edition, we shall be discussing the Basic Principles and the Importance of Succession in Islam”
Unarguably, the ultimate owner of heaven and the earth and all that is contained therein is Allah. As we all know, death is inevitable and according to Quran 3:185 Allah says; “All souls shall taste death”. After one’s death, the real owner of the property (i.e., Allah) takes control. This is the major reason why our property must be distributed according to the divinely fixed shares as contained in the Holy Quran.
The Importance of Ilmul Fara’id (Knowledge of Succession)
Ilmul Fara’id means knowledge of succession. Succession means the action or process of inheriting a property. Succession and its knowledge are so important that both the Quran and the Hadith provide clear injunction on how the property of one should be shared. The prophet categorizes it to be half of knowledge and sees it as a clean way to alienate poverty. It raises the living standard of its beneficiaries.
Furthermore, succession makes you realize the reality of life and serves as a caution to how one should acquire wealth. If you can understand that your wealth, those made legally and illegally will be shared with your family, including those that did not give you helping hands when you needed them. Such a person may be your wife, your husband, even your parent. As such, while one hustles and struggles hard for wealth, some others will freely inherit and benefit from it upon the death of the other. For that reason, it is sufficient for you to curb your wealth acquisition tendencies, particularly through unlawful means.
Abdullah bn Mas’ud reported that the prophet asked the companions that:
“Who amongst you loves his heirs’ wealth more than his own?”
Their reply was that none of them loved his heirs’ wealth more than his own.
The Prophet replied:
“Know that none among you prefer his heirs’ wealth to his own. Your wealth is that which you send forth (as to charity etc)”.
Succession also teaches us to be generous and be proactive in giving charity. It is most important for one to do what is most beneficial with one’s wealth before passing on, mostly by giving charity.
The prophet was also reported to have advised against the delay of charity till the point of death, where he said:
“The best type of charity is that which you give when you are healthy and needful, fearing poverty and hoping for wealth. Do not postpone it to when your soul reaches your throat, you then say; ‘give so much to so and so, and so much to so and so’. Verily, by then so and so had already gotten the much”.
If you are conscious of the day of reckoning and consider how you acquire wealth, you will avoid corruption, greed, and allied offenses. It is of great loss to acquire wealth in an unlawful way, which in the long run such wealth will be left to someone else to enjoy it, while one faces the consequence of illegitimate acquisition.
The prophet was reported to have said that:
“A person’s feet will not depart the presence of Allah on the day of judgment until he is questioned about 4 (four) things
- His lifetime how he spent it,
- His youth how he utilizes it
- His wealth, how did he earn it and how did he spend it?
- And what did he do about what he knew”
Conditions for Succession
For succession to be actualized effectively, there must be some certain conditions to be met, amongst which are:
1. Distributable Wealth
It is worthy of note that not all wealth of an individual is acceptable for inheritance. The ill-gotten part of the wealth if known is not distributable under Islamic succession, they are to be given to the poor and the deceased should not expect reward from the sadaqah. But if heirs do not know the part of the wealth that is ill-gotten, there is no sin on them.
2. Confirmation of Death
A person must be confirmed dead before he can be inherited. The confirmation may be done medically or after a formal burial of such a person. It is illegal to inherit a living person. If a person is missing, his or her property cannot be inherited not until the expiration of a calculated period of his/her possible lifespan or a period long enough to presume that he is dead depending on the circumstances.
3. The Shares and the Principle of Fairness
The divine share of each heir is stipulated in the Quran. Therefore, no heir is allowed to take or be given more than his divinely fixed share. The prophet says, if an heir takes or is given more than his share, he is compared to a person who eats the rights of an orphan. As such, he is eating nothing but Hell. The implication is that he would be thrown into Hellfire on the Day of Judgment.
In the same vein, no heir should be given less than his divine portion. Every heir must be adequately catered for. However, an heir is allowed to give out his or her share as charity. There must be fairness to every heir. Otherwise, those that fail to follow the rules will face the wrath of Allah (Q 2:279).
In the next edition, we shall be discussing the obligations to be fulfilled before distributing the property of a deceased person.
Would you like to distribute your property in accordance with the Islamic law of succession? Would you prefer to oblige with the injunction of Allah in respect to Islamic succession?
At Fiduciary Services Limited, we are professionals in Islamic estate planning and succession, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or speak to our Advisors on 08037265961 or 08063284343.
Jazaakumu llahu khayran for reading.
See you next month!