How does Islamic law dictate the distribution of inheritance and the rights of heirs?


A lady from Malaysia forwarded some questions to Hazrat Amirul Momineen, Khalifatul Masih Vaa regarding the inheritance distribution of her deceased father. Huzoor-e-Anwaraa, in his letter dated 18 August 2022, provided the following guidance:

“1. You have enquired, ‘Will our late father’s children from his two non-Ahmadi wives (from whom he had divorced) also be heirs to our father’s inheritance, given that he had no contact with these children and they were not very close to him.’

“The children from your father’s first two wives (whom he had divorced) are also, according to Islamic law, heirs to your father’s estate. Hence, if those children wish, they have the right to claim their legal share. However, if your father left any written statement or documentation about not giving the inheritance to those children, and it also mentions the reasons for doing so while those children are still demanding their share, then it becomes a contested matter. The resolution of this dispute falls under the jurisdiction of Dar al-Qadha or the country’s legal system, which will decide the matter after examining evidence, witnesses, and other proofs.

“2. You have mentioned a second point, stating that, ‘According to our late father’s will, the amount my sister and I received from the equal division of his estate, we have now realised, is more than our rightful share. Consequently, a portion of this amount will need to be returned by both my sister and me, resulting in an additional amount being due to our brothers. Can I voluntarily donate the extra amount that came into my share for a charitable cause, or is it imperative for me to return it to the trustee?’

“Given the scenario you have described, since this amount rightfully belongs to the other heirs and was mistakenly given in excess to you and your sister, it should be returned to the trustee. The trustee would then ensure this amount reaches its rightful recipients.

“3. Your third question pertains to the following matter: ‘Regarding our late father’s will, would the one-third share stipulated in the will be distributed first, or would the remaining inheritance be divided prior to that?’

“In the Holy Quran, where detailed instructions on the distribution of inheritance have been provided, a particular phrase is reiterated multiple times, emphasising that before dividing the inheritance, any will made by the deceased should be executed, or any debts owed by the deceased should be settled. (Surah an-Nisa, Ch.4: V.12-13) Thus, the will made by your late father will be executed prior to the distribution of the inheritance. Following that, the remaining portion of your father’s inheritance will be divided among the rightful legal heirs as per the sharia.

“You have raised a fourth point, writing, ‘Will the decision to spend this portion of the will’s amount be made by the trustee, or will my mother and we siblings decide where this amount should be spent?’

“Your question is not entirely clear. Hence, please first clarify what you mean by the will of your late father that you have referenced and for whose benefit this will was made. Islam provides various directives concerning wills. Therefore, until these matters are clarified, a response to your question cannot be given. Similarly, please explain what you mean by ‘trust’ in this context so that a comprehensive and accurate response can be provided to you.”

No posts to display


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here