I understand that if I do not have surviving Islamic heirs from my paternal side, my estate will be distributed to my descendants from the maternal side. Is that correct? And how does that work?
Let me provide some background.
Sharī‘a divides the Islamic heirs or Islamic beneficiaries of your estate into three categories:
- Qur’anic heirs (ahl al-fara’id). Qur’anic heirs take a predetermined share—either one-half, one-quarter, one-eighth, two-thirds, one-third, or one-sixth. They are: Four males: Husband, maternal brother, father, and paternal grandfather Nine females: Wife, daughter, son’s daughter, mother, paternal grandmother, maternal grandmother, full sister, maternal sister, and paternal sister.
- Residuary heirs (taking by taʿsīb). If there is anything left in the estate after the Islamic heirs take their prescribed shares, the residuary heirs inherit the balance. They do not have a fixed share. The residuary heirs are ranked in order of priority. For example, a son and daughter take any balance remaining after the prescribed shares. If there are no children, then the siblings take the balance remaining, if there are no siblings, then the nephews take the balance remaining and so forth.
- Dhawūʾl l-arḥām.If no Qur’anic or taʿsīb heirs survive (a rare occurrence), then the estate goes to dhawūʾl l-arḥām. The most common translations are “distant kindred,” “uterine heirs,” or “outer family.” While spouses are Qur’anic heirs, they are not eligible to receive any balance or residue left if the estate is not exhausted, so the remainder of the estate will pass to distant kindred if there are no other Qur’anic heirs or residuary heirs.
If there are no surviving Qur’anic heirs or taʿsīb heirs (residuary heirs), the Ḥanbalī, Ḥanafī, and Shāfi’ī schools will distribute the estate to dhawūʾl l-arḥām. The Mālikī school, on the other hand, will distribute the estate to the public treasury. Modern Mālikī scholars, however, have concluded that in the absence of a true Islamic government, such as in the United States, the estate will be distributed to dhawūʾl l-arḥām.
There is no exact English translation for dhawūʾl l-arḥām. The most common translations are “distant kindred,” “uterine heirs” or “outer family.” Al-rḥām (plural: Al-ʾarḥām) means “to have mercy, compassion or sympathy.” In the Qur’an, it means “a familial relationship.” (Qur’an 4:1. Fear God in Whose name you make requests one of another, and sever not the ties of kinship [Al-ʾarḥām]. God watches well over you.). Juristically, dhawūʾl l-arḥām refers to relatives that are not Qur’anic heirs or taʿsīb heirs (residuary heirs). While spouses are Qur’anic heirs, they are not eligible to receive radd if there are other surviving Islamic heirs.
Muslim scholars divided a dhawūʾl l-arḥām–specific relative into one of three categories:
1. Descendants of daughters:
Children of your daughters and their children;
Children of your son’s daughters and their children;
2. Descendants of your father
Children of sister (both full or paternal) and their children
Daughters of brothers (both full or paternal) and their children
Children of maternal brother and their children
Daughters of male nephews (full and paternal) and their children
Maternal uncle – the decedent’s father’s brother from his mother, decedent father’s uncle, decedent’s grandfather’s uncle from his mother; and their children
Aunt (full, paternal or maternal), including decedent’s father’s aunts or grandfather’s aunts and their children
Daughters of uncles (full, paternal or maternal) and their children
Daughters of the son’s of uncles (full, paternal or maternal) and their children
Father’s mother’s father
Mother’s father’s father’s father
Father’s mother’s mother’s father’s father
Farther’s mother’s father’s father’s father
Father’s mother’s mother’s father
Father’s mother’s father’s father’s mopther’s father
Farther’s mother’s father’s father
Mother’s mother’s father’s father’s father
Mother father’s father’s father’s father
Aunt’s aunt (sharing father or sharing mother)
Father’s uncle (sharing mother)
Grandfather’s uncle (sharing mother)
3. Decedent’s of your Mother
Mother’s siblings and their children (full, paternal or maternal)
Mother’s mother’s siblings and their children (full, paternal or maternal)
Father’s mother’s siblings and their children
Mother’s aunts and uncle and their children
Father’s aunts and uncles and their children
Mother’s aunts and uncles and their children
Mother’s father’s father’s father
Mother’s father’s fathers’ mother
Father father’s mother’s mother
Father’s father’s mother’s mother’s mother
Mother’s Father’s mother
Mother’s father’s mother’s mother
Mother’s father’s father’s mother
There are three scholarly opinions on how to divide the estate to dhawūʾl l-arḥām beneficiaries. The ʾahl al-rḥām method divides the estate equally between all of the dhawūʾl l-arḥām, irrespective of gender or generational class. The majority of scholars, however, have since rejected this opinion, despite its simplicity. The ʾahlʾl-tanzil method divides the estate using distribution by representation. This means that a relative in the dhawūʾl l-arḥām group steps into the shoes of the Qur’anic heir or residuary heir relative and inherits what that relative would have inherited had he or she survived the decedent. The standard inheritance rules of prescribed shares, residue, and blocking apply. The Ḥanbalī, Mālikī, and Shāfi’ī schools adopted this opinion. The ʾahl qaraba method divides the estate using distribution per capita. With distribution per capita, heirs of the same generation will each receive the same amount. The estate is divided into equal shares among the surviving heirs of the generation closest to the deceased.
I am an American Muslim. Does the Sharī‘a require me to have a will?
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyzVXkddFsg[/embed] Many Muslim scholars living in the United States suggest that American Muslims are obligated to have an Islamic will, because without one, the estate will be divided according to non-Islamic laws. If you leave a surviving spouse and you did not leave a will, your parents, for example, would not inherit, under many state intestacy laws. According to Sharī‘a, a will that leaves a bequest is either obligatory, recommended, disliked, or prohibited, depending on the circumstances. The obligatory bequest is one you must make. An example of this is when you owe someone a debt, but no one knows about this debt except you and the creditor. In this case, you must include the debt in your will. Another example is if you are wealthy and have poor relatives that are not eligible Sharī‘a heirs; you are obligated to leave them something. The recommended bequest is one you should strongly consider. For example, if your Islamic heirs and relatives are wealthy and not in need, leaving part of your estate for charity is recommended. The disliked bequest is not recommended. For example, if your estate is not large, your Islamic heirs and relatives are poor, and you leave part of your small estate to non-Islamic heirs, the scholars concluded such a bequest is disliked, because it will create hardship for your family. The prohibited bequest is not allowed under Sharī‘a. For example, it is prohibited to leave more than 1/3 of your estate to non-Islamic heirs or to give an Islamic heir more than his or her share as stated in the Qur’an. This is based on the famous Hadith of the Prophet that says “there shall be no bequest to an Islamic heir.” Unlike the Sunni opinion, the Ja‘fari (Shia) school permits a bequest to an Islamic heir as long as it does not exceed 1/3 of the estate. To summarize, if you want your estate to be distributed according to the Sharī‘a, you must have an Islamic will. Use our ISLAMIC WILL software to prepare your own customized Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state.Read More
What does the Qur’an say about wills? Does the Sunna mention wills?
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyzVXkddFsg[/embed] Yes, the Qur’an and the Sunna both cover wills. In the Qur’an, Allah directed Muslims to make a will: “It has been ordained upon you, when death is near one of you, leaving wealth behind, to make a will in favor of parents and close relatives, impartially. This is incumbent upon the pious” (2:180). Allah also says: “When death draws near one of you... it is time to make a bequest” (5:106). God also explained that you must deduct any bequests and debts from your gross estate before distribution to Islamic heirs (Qur’an 4:11). The Sunna has many traditions about wills. The collections of Hadith, including Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, report that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: “It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to will to stay for two nights without having his Last Will and Testament written and kept ready with him.” Check our other frequently asked questions below for more information about specific Sharī‘a inheritance rules and answers to numerous real-life Sharī‘a inheritance questions. You can also use our software to check how your estate will be distributed to your heirs or customize your own Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state.Read More