By Naseer Ahmed, New Age Islam
19 August 2015
There are only three main verses relating
to inheritance based on which books have been written to cover all possible
situations which number 200 or more. Imagine the Quran containing say 200
verses covering each distinct case of inheritance alone! The Quran covers the
subject in three verses and these three verses are both necessary and
sufficient to cover every possibility. However, it requires us to know some
basic school level arithmetic covering fractions and proportions and nothing
more. It is not at all surprising however, that there are very few who have
even such rudimentary knowledge of arithmetic because of which they blame God
that He does not know His arithmetic!
The three verses are:
(4:11) Allah (thus) directs you as regards
your Children´s (Inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two
females: if only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the
inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of
the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the
parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left
brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases
(´s) after the payment of legacies and debts. Ye know not whether your parents
or your children are nearest to you in benefit. These are settled portions
ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Al-wise.
From 4:11 above, we deduce that siblings of
the deceased inherit only in the absence of child of the deceased. The presence
or absence of parents of the deceased has no effect.
(12) In what your wives leave, your share
is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth;
after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth,
if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after
payment of legacies and debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question,
has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a
sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a
third; after payment of legacies and debts; so that no loss is caused (to any
one). Thus is it ordained by Allah; and Allah is All-knowing, Most Forbearing.
The Arabic word Kalala has been
translated as “without ascendants and descendants”. My view is that it means
without descendants alone since we have seen in 4:11 that siblings inherit when
parents of the deceased are survivors but not when a descendant or child of the
deceased is a survivor. The same applies for the word Kalala used in 4:176
below.
(176) They ask thee for a legal decision.
Say: Allah directs (thus) about those who leave no descendants or ascendants as
heirs. If it is a man that dies, leaving a sister but no child, she shall have
half the inheritance: If (such a deceased was) a woman, who left no child, Her
brother takes her inheritance: If there are two sisters, they shall have two-thirds
of the inheritance (between them): if there are brothers and sisters, (they
share), the male having twice the share of the female. Thus doth Allah make
clear to you (His law), lest ye err. And Allah hath knowledge of all things.
The brother/sister in 4:12 is understood to
be uterine brother/sister meaning having a common mother but different father.
Otherwise, 4:176 would appear to contradict 4:12. Also, uterine siblings can
inherit only in the absence of descendants and siblings from common father.
The division starts after all debts of the
deceased are settled including outstanding Mehar (if any) and one year
maintenance of his wife or wives and the legacies or the will of the deceased
if he has left a will.
The deceased leaves assets in the form of property,
cash, jewellery etc. All assets can be valued and it is the value that is
divided and each inheritor can then choose in what form he will take his share
of the value. What cannot be divided can then be sold and converted to cash or
the excess/shortfall settled in cash. For example, if a property is worth Rs 40
lacs and a person’s inheritance is determined as Rs 30 lacs, he could still
choose to take the property by paying Rs 10 lacs which will be used to settle
the inheritance of the rest. This person will then obviously not take anything
from the Jewellery and other assets because he has taken the full value of his
inheritance from the property alone.
Let us work through a few examples to
understand the principle of distribution enunciated in the Quran.
A couple of points can be stated upfront: A
son (or a brother in the absence of descendants), always inherit as residuary
or what is left after those with fixed fractions are given their share. In the
presence of a son, the daughter inherits as a residuary. In the absence of a
son, the daughter(s) inherit as residuary if what remains after those with
fixed proportions get their share is less than the maximum fixed share of the
daughter(s) or as inheritor with fixed fraction if what remains is more than
their maximum fixed share. The same goes for a sister with/without brother.
When there are residuary, the maximum
residuary is 1 or 100% and the minimum residuary is after reducing the share of
spouse, and both parents. If the deceased is a male, then the minimum residuary
is (1-(1/8+1/6+1/6))= 13/24
If the deceased is a female, then the
minimum residuary is (1-(1/4+1/6+1/6)) =5/12
So there is never a problem about
distribution when there is a residuary meaning either a son or a brother in the
absence of a child or children.
When there is no residuary (neither a son
or brother) and only inheritors with fixed fractions, then it goes without
saying that the fixed fractions will in general not add upto 1. Such a case is
dealt with by treating the fractions as relative proportions for the
distribution.
For example, if a person is survived by
only parents and no children or spouse or siblings, then the fathers fixed
share is 1/6 and mother’s 1/3, Since there are no other inheritors, the
fractions will be treated as proportions and the father and mother will inherit
in the proportion 1/6:1/3 or 1/6:2/6 or
1:2 and the father will inherit 1/3 and the mother 2/3.The calculation follows
simple rules of logic and arithmetic and there is no flaw in the Quran. Those
who talk about arithmetical flaw in the Quran are poor in logic and arithmetic.
In general, when there is no residuary as
inheritor, treat the fractions as the relative proportion for distribution.
Now take the case when a person is survived
by both parents and one daughter only. Each of the parent’s share is then 1/6
and the daughters is ½ or less. Now since the residuary after each of the
parents get 1/6 is 2/3 which is more than ½, the daughter’s share will also be
treated as a fixed fraction. They will therefore inherit in the ratio
1/6:1/6:1/2 0r 1:1:3. The father gets 1/5, the mother 1/5 and the daughter 3/5.
Notice that each one gets more than the fixed fraction because the fixed
fractions add upto less than 1. However the final distribution is in accordance
with the law since the proportion of each inheritor is maintained.
Take the case of the deceased survived by
both parents and 2 daughters. The fixed share of two or more daughters is 2/3
or less. Since after the parents are given their share of 1/6 each, what
remains is exactly 2/3, the two sisters will share this equally or each one
gets 1/3. This is a rare case when the fixed fractions add upto 1. If we solve
this problem with proportions also we get the same result as may be expected. The proportions now are: 1/6:1/6:2/3 = 1:1:4
The father therefore gets 1/6, mother 1/6 and each of the two sisters get 2/6
(=1/3).
Let us now take the case of a person
survived by his wife, both parents and 2 daughters.
What remains after the wife gets her share
of 1/8 and each parent 1/6 is (1-(1/8+1/6+1/6)) = 13/24 which is less than 2/3.
The daughters will now inherit as residuary and each one will get 13/48.
Now consider the case where the deceased is
survived by only one parent and two daughters.
The proportions now are 1/6:2/3 or 1:4 The
parent gets 1/5 and each of the two daughters get 2/5
The calculations with son/brother as
residuary are shown below:
Let us say a man is survived by a son and
daughter only (no spouse, parents or grandparents).
The son gets 2/3 and the daughter 1/3.
In general, if there are x sons and y
daughters only, then the share of each son is 2/(2x+y) and the share of each
daughter = 1/(2x+y). If the sons and daughters are residuary then the share of
each son = (residual fraction)*2/(2x+y) and the share of each daughter =
(residual fraction)*1/(2x+y)
Now let us take the case where a man is
survived by spouse, both parents and a son and a daughter.
The wife gets her fixed share of 1/8 and
each of the parents 1/6, leaving a residual of 13/24 which is distributed among
the son and the daughter in the ratio 2:1 or the son gets 2/3*(13/24) = 26/72
and the daughter 13/72.
The share of the son and daughter in the
residue could also have been calculated using the formula: Share of each son =
(residual fraction)*2/(2x+y) and the share of each daughter = (residual
fraction)*1/(2x+y), where x and y are the number of sons and daughters
respectively. In this case, since x and y are both 1, the share of son =
13/24*(2/(2*1+1) )= 26/72 and the share of the daughter = 13/24*(1/3)=13/72
Let us consider a controversial case. Let
us say a deceased is survived by only daughter and sister (no parents, spouse
or brother).
According to 4:11, if only daughter, her
share is ½ and according to 4:176, if only single sister without brother her
share is ½. So do the daughter and sister inherit ½ each? Remember that
siblings inherit only in the absence of descendants and the daughter is a
descendant. Siblings cannot inherit when there are descendants. The daughter
therefore inherits 100%. Most Muftis are likely to not allow a daughter more
than ½ as per 4:11 which is clearly incorrect.
With the help of the examples worked out
above, the methodology has been made clear and you should now be able to work
out any case.
All the above rules derive logically from
the Quran. If the Quran was to explicitly cover each and every situation, a
separate chapter with 200 verses would have been required just to cover each
distinct case of inheritance since the number of combinations of inheritors in
the absence of a male who is a residuary run into more than 200.
Read a book on inheritance and try to cover
the same in three verses and then you will be able to appreciate the beauty of
these verses which succinctly cover every case but require us to use rules of
logic and arithmetic.
Disclaimer: You can trust our Ulema to
muddy the clearest of waters. This subject is more amenable for muddying than
any other subject because very few understand it in any case. You will
therefore find variations depending upon the various schools of jurisprudence.
I have not followed any school but directly derived the rules from the three
verses in the Quran and rules of logic and arithmetic.
Naseer Ahmed is an Engineering graduate from IIT Kanpur and is an independent
IT consultant after having served in both the Public and Private sector in
responsible positions for over three decades. He is a frequent contributor to
NewAgeIslam.com.
URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-ideology/naseer-ahmed,-new-age-islam/inheritance-related-calculations-based-on-the-quran/d/104318