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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Inheritance of Wife, 4 Daughters, Mother and Brother

Q: In the case where a Muslim male has a wife and 4 daughters, as well as a living mother and a brother (who is currently involved in un-Islamic dealings and on drugs and has previously stolen money from the family). The brother is the only living male family. How should the inheritance be distributed?

According to the Islamic Law of Inheritance in the above case the brother will certainly inherit if the other brother passes away. The wife will receive 12.5 percent of the entire estate, the mother will receive 16.66 percent, the daughters 66.66 percent (to be shared equally) and the remainder to the surviving brother. This is a fixed ruling mentioned in the Quran and cannot be changed, regardless of the bad habits and evil ways of any particular heir.

The concern is obviously the fact that this brother will squander his share of inheritance on feeding his evil habits. This is a valid reason for adopting a scheme to prevent him from inheriting a share of the estate. Muftis of former times gave permission for this. Hence, the brother is allowed to give away all or most his assets in his lifetime to his mother, wife, and daughters. So when he dies, there will be nothing much left to share, and this errant brother will get nothing or very little from the estate. Remember that when a person dies, all he owns automatically passes on to his heirs. This devolution property cannot be stopped at all. However, if property is distributed in one’s lifetime then the recipients become the owners and when the father dies, such property will not form part of his estate. A condition for such distribution is that the recipients must take possession of the property and must become the real owners. The gift or donation must not just be on paper, instead it should be physically and tangible.

If you need further details on how to distribute such assets, please write back but also provide a list of the assets that need to be distributed, such as house, car, business, etc. We can then explain how each asset can be disbursed among family members.

Mufti Siraj Desai