In this edition, we will be discussing extensively the concept of the Islamic Law of Inheritance also known as “Faraid”.
Inheritance Rules in Islam
In Islam, a Muslim has the freewill to decide how only 1/3 of his estate will be distributed. In other words, an individual’s testamentary (that is at death/after death). freedom is limited to the distribution of one-third (1/3) of his estate. This means that after death, the debts of the deceased must be repaid in addition to all expenses relating to his/her funeral having been settled, then the Islamic distribution under Faraid comes into effect.
However, 1/3 of the assets/properties is available for distribution based on the freewill of the deceased as may be contained in a testamentary document. The remainder 2/3 of the deceased assets will automatically be distributed under the compulsory rules of Islamic Inheritance (Faraid).
In Islam, Faraid provides a systematic distribution of property upon the death of a Muslim and ensures that the surviving dependent and relatives of a deceased person will benefit from his estate. This is what is also termed as forced heirship rules which does not allow certain persons to be disinherited by a settlor
Did you know that before the coming of Islam and even in modern societies, certain practices were being done which was designed to exclude a certain category of persons or set certain grounds for inheritance. Some of these practices are
- Women had been completely denied the share of inheritance. They were rather regarded as part of the property of the deceased and, therefore, their right to property by inheritance was out of question.
- The grounds of Inheritance were based on participation in war and as such weak and sick persons and minor children were given no share in it.
- In certain societies there is law of primogeniture (it exists even today in some of the so-called civilized parts of the world) which entitles only the eldest son to inherit the whole of the father’s property or to get the lion’s share.
As a Muslim and Islamic faithful, it is necessary for Muslims to learn about Faraid and to understand the portions that belong to their legal heirs in inheritance distribution.
The law of inheritance in Islam is based upon five main considerations:
- To break up the concentration of wealth in individuals and spread it out in society;
- To respect the property right of ownership of an individual earned through honest means;
- To re-enforce the fact that man is not the absolute master of wealth he produces but he holds it in trust for God and is not, therefore, authorized to pass it on to others as he likes;
- To consolidate the family system which is the social unit of an Islamic society;
- To give incentive to work and encourage economic activity as sanctioned by Islam.
The steps involved in the process of distribution of a deceased Muslim estate are:
- First, the identity of the legal heirs must be determined.
- All impediments to the ability of their heirs to inherit must be addressed. For instance, if a legal heir is the reason the deceased is dead, then under Islamic Law, he/she will be prevented from inheriting from such deceased person although he/she is a legal heir.
- The property should be divided: Under the law of Inheritance, the Quran has prescribed the specific percentages and shares of each of the heirs. Upon the death of the deceased, the 2/3 of his estate should be divided amongst his heirs in line with the specified shares in the Quran.
- Distribution and documentation: after the estate has been divided, the divided estate must be distributed and handed over to the beneficiaries and respective heirs. It is also advisable for the division to be documented for referencing to avoid future conflicts
How Are The Properties Distributed?
Shariah laws for property distribution may be confusing to grasp at first. Here is an example to help you better understand how it works
In the operation of Faraid, it is important to note the following rules in the distribution of estate.
- A surviving husband receives one-half of the assets involved.
- A surviving husband receives one-fourth of the assets if he has children.
- A surviving wife receives one-fourth of the assets involved.
- A surviving wife receives one-eighth of the assets if she has children.
- The deceased person’s mother and father will receive one-sixth of a share each.
- If the deceased person has children, the remaining shares will go to the children in a 2:1 ration for sons and daughters.
The eldest child does not get an increased share by virtue of being the oldest. However, sons will receive two shares for every one share that a daughter gets. This is consistent with the Islamic notion of the male as the person responsible for the entire family unit. Accordingly, the male’s share is given on the basis that he will spend it upon the family, as needed. A daughter’s inheritance has no such conditions.
In conclusion, family drama, rifts, and other issues may make you want to disinherit one or more of your beneficiaries. However, as a Muslim you cannot do this because Allah (SWT) has allocated a specific formula for inheritance in the Quran. The Faraid portion of your wealth is mandated to go to its rightful heirs.
Are you a Muslim and have concerns about potential threats that may impact your legacy, family and affairs?
Do you worry about the distribution of your estate after your death? Would you want guidance in respect of how to plan your estate in line with existing peculiarities surrounding your family and assets?
At Fiduciary Services Limited, we provide Islamic Estate planning and Islamic distribution services. So, regardless of the complexity of your family or estate, our Islamic Estate advisors are well trained and versed in providing you with customized services. Kindly reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org to get started on your estate planning journey.