While acting upon the directives of the Holy Qur’an in its true spirit, our approach should be with fresh mind leaving aside all our pre-information and default memories. The Qur'an put on us many duties to discharge related to our family, our society, our land and all other fellow human beings. It emphasizes on man to man relations and duties in a very explicit way.
It happens that someone very close in blood-relation to us departs from this world on his way to eternity. It may occur with us one day. The deceased leaves behind his kith and kin sobbing on one hand and movable and immovable properties, assets, cash and kind on the other hand. It may differ in quantum according to his or her financial position in this world.
It is very obvious by his departing without taking anything with him that he was not the owner of any of worldly wealth. Otherwise he would have carried them with him. Surely it is the Almighty Who is the Ultimate Possessor and Owner of all the wealth of the Universe. The person who departed from the world was only a trustee appointed by The Creator for a certain period of time. Our Lord has clearly pointed out this in HIS Last Testament, chapter 3 verse 26:
“Announce: ‘O ALLAH, Lord of all dominion! YOU do grant dominion unto whom YOU will, and take away dominion from whom YOU will; and YOU do exalt whom YOU will, and abase whom YOU will. In YOUR hand is all the good. Verily, YOU have the power to will anything.”
All the wealth and blessings given to any person in his lifetime is only for his test, as to how he responds with these riches! Whether he feels his duty to contribute to the society he belongs to, or he misuses it. Whether he miserly nourishes only his lusts with it or helps other human beings who are in need of it!
It is also one of our misunderstandings that we are the owner of all the riches we have. A beautiful example of great king Solomon we find in The Last Testament. He was the great king having abundant material, man power and military might of all the times. The era was before the Christ in the Middle East. As he was the Prophet also, he very well knew the fact that what for these riches, kingdom and might are! The Holy Qur’an quotes his prayer in chapter 27 verse 40:
“…….. (While observing the riches, might and power he was enjoying, Prophet & King Solomon exclaimed): "This is only and only my Sustainer's bounty. God tests me by this abundant wealth, whether I remain grateful or become ungrateful and arrogant! He who is grateful to Almighty God, is but grateful for his own good. And he who is ungrateful (he should know that), verily my Sustainer is most self-sufficient, most generous in giving.”
In the light of such verses of the Holy Qur’an, we should draw the lesson that the real possessor of all kind of wealth and material is the One who is the Creator of the Universe. Whatever power and treasure He gives to any of His slave, He makes him only a trustee for a destined period. It is very much obvious that when trustee leaves, all the wealth goes back to the original owner. And the Real Owner of this Universe is One and Only One, The Omnipotent, The Omnipresent The Omniscient The GOD of all.
GOD alone decides who will be the next trustees now. He wants to distribute the wealth left behind among the nearest kith and kin of the deceased trustee in a fixed proportion. We should accept the commands of our Lord by heart and soul. We should apply it, follow it and act on it accordingly in its entirety.
In the terminology of the Holy Qur’an, all the movable and immovable wealth of the deceased left behind, whether male or female, are called TARAKAH.
Death is inevitable for every one who is born and who is alive in this Universe. No doubt, the day, date, place and time of death is unknown. This is an arch reality. No body can deny it. One who has the direct link with the Holy Revelation and recites it daily, should be well aware of the fact that The Qur’an puts upon each of us the responsibility to discharge our duties towards the fellow beings. When one of our close relatives departs and leaves the property and belongings behind him, it is our moral duty to let it be distributed among his close relatives. Our negligence and carelessness will cost us heavily in the next world we are bound to enter after finishing our term here on this globe. On the day of Final Judgment, no one will come to rescue us from the torment on such moral failure. It is very clearly said by The Almighty in chapter 31 verse 33.
“O men! Be conscious of your Sustainer, and stand in awe of the Day on which no parent will be of any avail to his child, nor a child will in the least avail to his parent! Verily, ALLAH's promise (of taking accounts) is true indeed: let not, then, the life of this world deludes you, and let not (your own) deceptive thoughts about ALLAH delude you!”
At the same time, we should not forget that the Holy Prophet also reminded us in the words: “The left-overs of the deceased, whether short in quantum or abundant, must be distributed as soon as possible, according to the portions prescribed in the Qur’an”. It is obvious that passing of time may complicate the case.
It is a phenomenon that the human being is very precipitous in getting his rights. But when it comes to discharging the duties towards others, and towards rights of other fellow beings, he is not so punctual. But our Master ordains in the Holy Qur’an to be very careful and punctual in discharging the duties towards other human beings. We must remain punctual in our payments more, than in our receipts.
As far as our own rights and receipts are concerned, if we are not getting it properly or fully, it should not become blockage for us in discharging our duties and paying our dues.
Whatever our receipts are due, obviously we will get it on the Final Day of Judgment in the next world. And there will be additional special Mercy, Bounty and Pleasure of our LORD.
The ordinance in the Holy Qur’an regarding inheritance and its determined portions or shares has to be accepted and implemented with heart and soul. Implementation should be on our own selves, not on others. There is no need to policing. Any negligence or partiality by us in the matter of distribution of inheritance will cost us heavily at the Day of Reckoning in the next world.
For our safe side, first of all we should be aware of those verses in which our LORD destined it to be followed by every one and at all times to come.
The title of the fourth chapter of The Qur’an is An-Nisa, which means ‘The Women’. It seems by its name that it will deal with the matters of women folk which consists almost half of the humanity. No doubt it touches the subject but a deep study of it reveals that the Chapter deals with various social and moral aspects of the human life. And in humanity, half of it is women-folk. Certain fundamental points which are very touchy to the human society are raised in the chapter. Let us revive some of it here.
First of all, in the matter of ownership of any property, asset and earnings, The Creator treats both the sections of humanity, males as well as females as separate, individual and independent units. Both of them are treated as sole owner of whatever wealth and property every individual possesses and whatever he or she earns. No one can acquire it by force irrespective of how close they may be to one another. Even they may be husband and wife, but both of them have their own rights on their properties, movable or immovable and their financial gains. None can take it over by any unlawful act. Let us revise the portion of verse 4/32 here.
“...for men, portion, of what they earn, and for women, portion, of what they earn...”
It is the custom in every society that when a person departs from this world, his near and dear ones and relatives come either for burial or for offering condolences for a few days. It is stated in a saying of the Last Messenger of Almighty: “Mourning should not be longer and more than three days.” It is a very healthy directive favoring the larger interest of the human society in general. Bereavement for many days may disturb normal life.
Thirdly, when the inherited property like cash, kind and stocks are distributed, other relatives, though having no right in inheritance, but if they deserve any financial help, it should be taken care of. The Qur’an suggests the heirs to have sympathy towards them too. The heirs should not forget that they are inheriting good portion of wealth as their right, while there are many needy persons in their society. A decent and kind behavior is commanded for them in the verse 4/8:
“And at the time of division, other relatives and orphans and poor are also present, then provide to them out of it something and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.”
Fourthly, a person departing from this world may leave behind old age parents, widows or innocent children. Those who are dealing with the inherited wealth should keep in their minds that one day they would also depart from this world leaving behind helpless off-springs and dependents. It is said in the verse 4/9:
“And the disposers of inherited wealth should be careful as if they would have left helpless family behind, afraid of; they should keep fear of ALLAH and should speak and deal in appropriate justice.”
Now let us come close to the wordings of the verse concerning inheritance ordinance recited earlier with the translation. We hope that our Creator will guide us on the right path.
“Concerning the inheritance of your children, Allah enjoins this upon you:
“The son shall have the equal of two daughter’s share.
“But if there are more than two daughters, they shall have two-thirds of what the deceased leaves behind at the time of death.
“And if there is only one daughter, she shall have one-half thereof.
“And as for the parents of the dead person, each of them shall have one-sixth of what the deceased leaves behind, in the event of his having left a child.
“But if the deceased have left no child and his parents are his only heirs, then the mother of the deceased shall have one-third.
“And if the deceased has brothers and/or sisters, then the mother of the deceased shall have one-sixth, after the deduction of any will/bequest the deceased may have made and any debt the deceased may have incurred.
“As for your parents and your children – you know not which of them is more deserving of benefit from you. This is the ordinance from Allah. Verily Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.”
We very well know that we are created in two genders by our Creator. We also know that from the very first pair of humanity created by the LORD, Adam and Eve, He has spread the humanity in every nook and corner of the planet. We are informed in the Book of our LORD that HE has created every creature in pair as HE says in 51/49:
"And of everything WE have created in pairs, so that you may reflect."
But a unique feature we find in the human race. And it is the system of marriage among mankind which gives us prominent status among other creatures like animals, birds and aquamarines. The GOD Almighty invites our attention to this unique point in His Holy Book chapter 25 verse 54:
“And it is GOD Almighty Who, out of water-components has Created man, and has endowed him with respect to blood relations and relations established by marriage-tie. Your Sustainer is ever infinite in HIS power and wisdom.”
So this is our uniqueness among other inhabitants of the globe that we have father and mother, sisters and brothers, grannies from father’s side and from the side of our mother. We have so many uncles and aunts from our father as well as our mother’s side. There are so many maternal relatives who come out of the marriage tie of our father and mother. And so many relatives we have from the side of our spouses also.
Fortunate are the children who enjoy the care, love and upbringing by their parents from their very early stage of life. And privileged are those parents who observe the youthfulness of their children in their life. And fortunate enough are those parents who get the return of their blind investment in the form of love, affection and services of their children towards them in their old age. And commendable are those children, now more grown up, who are repaying or have repaid their debt to their parents in due time.
Now we are going back to the verse related to the Commandments regarding inheritance. The verse begins with heavenly full of wisdom wordings like: “Yoosi Kumullah fi Auladikum…” “Allah commands you concerning your children...”
It is the blessings of our LORD that HE has put in the human being the compassion, attachment, affection and love for their off springs. However, the other creatures on the earth though have the same system of birth, they don’t have such kindness.
The Almighty blesses us with male and female children who remain to us as our sons and daughters no matter how old we are and how old they are! Here in the verse, our Lord says that HE enjoins us about our children. First to calculate the share of a daughter, and its double will be the share of the son.
It is not the matter of gender, but it is the matter of relation with the deceased. On the basis of this, one should not treat this as gender discriminative because in the same verse in a certain case, the share of mother and father is equal. In other case, the share of a brother and sister is also the same. So how one can assume from this verse that Almighty GOD discriminates between genders! The commandments of the Qur’an can never be gender biased!
In our findings till now, Man is the only creature on this globe who is future conscious; rather future oriented. He toils for money, material, wealth and power throughout his life. He accumulates the wealth for himself and for his family with full consideration of the future. But in the course of time he starts feeling that whatever he earned and possessed, it is the result of his hard work and talents. But he forgets that it is only the bounty of his Lord bestowed upon him due to his hard work.
Throughout the life, every single soul struggles for all these material wealth. Every person starts his day subconsciously to become a millionaire. But it is the destiny, destined by the Creator to bestow how much HE Wills and for whom HE Wills as HE says in 29/62:
“ALLAH grants abundant sustenance, or gives it in scant measure, to whichever HE wills of HIS slaves: for, behold, ALLAH has full knowledge of everything.”
Man departs from this world bereft of all his worldly things just as he came in this world bare hand. More interestingly, the riches that he earned throughout the life with great efforts, he has to leave them behind. In the terminology of the Last Revelation, such a wealth is called TARAKAH means left-overs.
It is also a symbol of GOD the Creator, that only the mankind has many relatives from many corners which is not found in other creatures. A grown up has relations from almost four corners. The first from his father, another from his mother, third from his spouse and the last but not the least, from his children, their spouses and their off springs. An average person has many off shoots like a vast grown up tree spreading its roots in the earth far far away.
It is obvious that these relatives will be his heirs of his left-overs. It is also obvious that there must be universal law to deal with the left-overs. The law must also be very humane and balanced. For the breach of the law, there must be punishment for the guilty. Let us see what commandments our Creator bestowed upon us in this regard.
Amidst many relatives, man has blood relations very close to him. In such relations come spouse, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters and parents. It is also in human nature that in this proximity, he remains comfortable with some and on edge with some. Although man or woman is treated as a single entity appearing in the test of this life individually, his blood-relations are destined and final by his Creator. It is not in our hands and in our capacity to change and alter it by our own self. It has its own dignity, decorum and esteem and it is our duty to maintain the same and be careful in the matter. Moreover, scientifically also, our genes are from them only.
No doubt, getting caring and affectionate parents and well mannered children is also a boon of The Sustainer, the Most Wise. It is desired by the Greatest of the Great that every soul should perform his duties towards other fellow beings in which blood-relations are very principal.
Many a times the children do not perform their duties towards their old age parents who showered on them their love and affection when they were in dire need of it right from their birth. The Owner of this Universe has repeatedly instructed us in His Commandments to discharge our duties towards our parents when they are in their old age and in need of our care, love, affection and respect. In His Last Commandment, He says in chapter 17 verse 23 & 24:
“Your Sustainer has ordained that you shall worship none but HIM. And do good unto (your) parents. Should one of them, or both, attain to old age in your life time, never say "Uff" to them, never to scold them, but address them in reverent speech. And spread for them humbly the wings of your tenderness, and pray: ‘O my Sustainer! Bestow Your Grace upon them as they cherished and reared me in my childhood’”
Every one of us has his own identity. Every one of us has his obligations to fulfill. Every one of us has to face whatever mistakes and sins we commit in our life time. Similarly every one will get the reward of his efforts only. It is said very categorically in the Holy Scripture.
“……in his favor shall be whatever good he does, and against him whatever evil he does……”
Although the Creator created us through a system very well known to us, actually HE put us in our individual test here. We came in this world through a system which destines our all the relations of blood and kinship. It is destined by our Creator only. It was not in our hands, nor was it at our choice to select our blood-relatives. Possibly some of them we do not like, but the relation will remain unhurt and unchanged.
If the children are not happy with the parents, still they will remain their parent without any change with full obligations. And if the parents are not happy with any of their children, they have no right to bar them from inheritance rights according to the Holy Commandments. Blood-relations will remain unaffected in all the situations which may arise.
In the life time, a person is very rightfully considered the possessor of his wealth. In his lifetime he may give out of it to whomever he likes among his children, grandchildren or relatives, near or distant. He may even gift it to any person regardless of foe or friend. But he has no right over his wealth once he is dead. Now logically, the left-overs should also be distributed according to the Will of The Original Owner, and that is GOD Almighty. Let us see how The Most Merciful bestowed the laws for all the times to come. And that is described in His Last and Final Testament called The Holy Qur’an.
And logically the responsibility of distribution of the left-overs lies on the shoulders of the heirs. If other responsible persons of the society are also taking care of the distribution, we do not find any injunction disallowing it. But all who are involved in the distribution should be careful to discharge their duty most justly without any partiality.
Unfortunately, we find in the society many misunderstandings regarding the distribution of inheritance. Many times we observe bitter infighting among the heirs causing unending rivalry among them. In our view, it is all due to our distancing from the Holy Wordings and relying on unreliable sources of information. It is in our interest to be well versed with the Divine Words, which are very much with us since last fifteen centuries. By it only, we can abstain ourselves from being unjust, partial, biased, prejudicial and from nepotism. And all such acts of ours will cause us heavy damage, rather punishment, in our life to come.
We have to face our LORD absolutely individually and HE will take us to task individually. We will only be responsible for our own acts, deeds, approach and style. We can not pass the buck to any body as it should be very clear in our mind that:
Verse 38 of chapter 75:
“On the Day of Judgment, every human being will be held in pledge for whatever (evil) he has wrought.”
It is categorically mentioned in the Holy Qur’an that there is no agency between a person and his Creator, The Almighty. Everyone has to stand for his own accounts in front of HIM.
In the beginning of the verse, the Holy Qur’an has mentioned the world “Auladikum” which means “your children” which clearly includes sons and daughters both. There is no place for any misunderstanding by treating this verse as gender discriminating. This is only for the relation one has with the deceased, as a son or as a daughter. The word of original Arabic appears here “Lizzakare” only in the term for son, not as male because words “your children” are appearing. In children, we don’t have men and women, but we have sons and daughters. And they will remain as our son and daughter irrespective of their age.
Surely our Lord commands us first to calculate the share of a daughter and double it for a son. The Most Wise tells us in the verse the wisdom behind this in the words:
“…you know not which of them is more deserving of benefit from you….” (4:11)
We can safely assume that the portions or shares have been ordained on the basis of dependability one shares with another. Similarly the responsibility rests on one’s shoulder after the death of a person in question. According to the Heavenly Commandments, first of all, the share of the daughter be calculated and settled and then double of what she gets be decided in favor of the son.
We know that every family has its own number of members which often differ with the other. There may be only sons, only daughters, sons and daughters, childless family, one of the spouses already left for heavenly abode, parents already passed away or any of them present. It is also possible that a woman has children from the first husband and current one too. It is also possible that a woman is widowed, issueless or has neither her parents nor children alive or in another case the wife or husband is dead. The cases will differ with each other.
Case of every family will be settled according to the situation of members of the family present at the time of the death of the deceased in question.
Due to ignorance to words the Original Wordings of the Divine Law, we feel that the laws laid down by Holy Qur’an are gender biased and based on gender inequality. The second part of this verse also demolishes this hypothesis once again very badly and it is:
“…..And as for the parents of the dead person, each of them shall have one-sixth of what the deceased leaves behind, in the event of his having left a child…...”
Even a person of little understanding may grasp the fact that the word “parent” includes mother and father. Both of them are from different gender but getting equal portion of 1/6th. Holy Qur’an is not gender bias at all. It is our mistake not to take care of the Original Wordings and decide the matter on our defaults already fed by unauthentic sources.
We know that while living on this planet, a person creates his own world. He passes a good portion of his life on this planet. He collects wealth, property and valuables by his efforts, talents and capacity. In the same way, he deals with different people very differently in different situations. In the process, it is possible that some one becomes indebted to him or he himself incurred some debts to others.
God Almighty is taking its note in the verse which deals with the inheritance law. Naturally those who are inheriting the left-overs of the deceased, must be responsible to pay back the debts and loans of the deceased. The Almighty is making us aware of this vital responsibility which deals with the other persons of the human society involved. The Merciful wishes that no creditor should be in loss even by the death of the debtor. The heirs are made responsible to repay the loans and debts before distributing the wealth among them selves.
In the case of any failure of the payments to the creditors, all the heirs who are enjoying the portion of the inherited wealth will be treated responsible on the Doomsday and will be punished for it. Rather they have to pay back on the Day of Reckoning.
Similarly if the deceased has made some kind of will, it should also be followed accordingly with generosity. Now it rests with the heirs to repay the loans and debts in full, or make provisions for it before the distribution of the inherited property among them selves, and also complete the will or its provision before the distribution.
It must be made clear that if the inheritors distribute the left-overs among them selves without fulfilling the will or repayment or provision to pay the debts and loans of the deceased, they would commit a great sin. Such an act and attitude will be termed as extremely selfish and opportunistic. On such grave violations, Allah has declared a very serious punishment in the verse that will follow.
It is the result of our ignorance of the Holy Qur’an and its Divine Injunctions that we no longer mention such Qur’anic teachings in our gatherings and assemblies. It must be our responsibility to be very serious in the dealings in our life time. Our dealings with other human being will definitely have the effect on The Day of Judgment. All such accounts will be settled there. The Super Supreme Judge, God Almighty, will decide the matter. How the judge will let off such defaulters, whether financial or otherwise! None of our deal will go unnoticed.
We must bring a change in our lifestyle and attitude. We must mold and reshape our life-style according to the teachings of the Holy Qur’an. In order to achieve this goal, it is essential for us to establish our relationship with The Last and Final Commandment.
We should feel the danger of dependency on unreliable information, and act accordingly. It is our own duty to equip us with such basic commandments. We can ask about shares of a particular case and will get the suggestions from many sources. But who will teach us the home-work to be done in such cases and in all the dealings. It is only the Divine Book which guides us in all the matters of our day-to-day life. If someone asks us about such laws, better to recite before him the verses of the Holy Qur’an relating to inheritance law which provides shares as well us specific details and Heavenly Teachings without any ambiguity.
It seems relevant here to understand the seriousness of the debts. We incur it without much care. It is better to make good planning and budget. Our expenditure needs to be according to our resources. It is not wise to borrow without proper care of re-payments. All our debts, we have to repay here or we will have to repay on the day of Final Judgment in the Super Supreme Court of Allah the Mightiest. Let us look into its other aspects we may face in our life.
In the current age, many types of investments and loans have become prevalent. For example, if someone has a job in government or other national and multinational institutions, a sizeable amount of his funds is invested in many ways like Life Insurance, Health Schemes, Provident and such other funds. Similarly there are deposits or loans on various types of credit cards. The deceased may also incur many taxes to be remitted.
The deceased may be income tax payer also. In case of his demise, income tax dues and state duty and similar taxes may remain to be paid. Various taxes on properties may also be unpaid. Electricity or other such bills and rents may also remain unpaid.
We should also focus our attention on the moral lessons reported from the Holy Prophet. There is a very educative and thought provoking Hadis which is from Sahih Bukhari in this regard.
“The coffin of a dead person was brought to the Holy Prophet to perform the last rituals. He asked, if he has any debts! People answered in negative. So he led the death-prayer. Next time another dead person was brought to him for the same purpose. He asked, if he has any dues on him! People answered in the affirmative. Upon this, he remarked: “Pray for your fellow person. Hearing this, Abu Qatada – a companion—said, “O Prophet I bear his debts.” Then only The Prophet performed.”
In our era, various new types of loans are prevailing. In many countries, many a times it becomes the need for vital necessasities of life. Its negative aspect is artificial purchasing power. For luxurious items, many times we become the victim of debts. Huge borrowings of accessories put us in a pool and web of debts.
We know that loans from banks and other financial institutions are not interest free. Such loans are not allowed and suggestible for a good and healthy economics. Although we are not responsible for such borrowings, it may be the act of the deceased; still we have to be realistic in our approach. It is more likely that many installments may have remained unpaid. These are the ground realities of modern world, no one can deny. The verse recited earlier which is under our study clearly says that before any distribution of the wealth of the deceased, all the debts should be cleared. We have to clear such loans or make reserve-funds to repay at least basic amount before distributing the inherited wealth and property of the deceased.
Obviously the verse puts the duty to repay all the debts on the shoulders of the heirs. Before clearing all such dues or making provision for the payments and repayments of all the taxes and all the loans on their proper time, even if the wealth has been distributed just according to the portions laid down in The Qur’an, still the heirs will have committed a great sin.
Although the loan is borrowed by the deceased, not by the heirs, still he left the cash, kind, stock, wealth and property by which the debt can be paid back in full. And if before due care is taken and provision is made, the wealth is distributed among the heirs, it will be a proof that the heirs are not acting as financial agents of the deceased. They only want to enjoy all which the deceased has left behind. On the final Day of Judgment how they will be spared by the Almighty, without settling of all the accounts?
It is also very much possible that all the wealth may go in repaying the debts. We the heirs have to keep our hearts broad and do our duties related to a relative close to us and now who has gone away from this world. Our first and foremost duty is to settle the debts and dues. If nothing is remaining for us to distribute among ourselves, let us remain empty handed. For the sake of some financial gains, we should not put our next eternal life at risk.
Even if the whole property is used up in paying off the debts, it should not be a matter of disappointment or dejection for any one of us! Rather we should do it wholeheartedly with full responsibility. These verses relating to inheritance evidently show that they are not designed to cater to the needs of the heirs. Rather they guide us to discharge our duties towards the deceased as we discharged our duty in his or her last rites.
It may also be possible that the debit becomes more than the credit, cash and kind. The heirs have to settle the debt and dues justly in a fair manner without partiality. Our own conscience will help us in such matters in a great way. Rest of the matters shall be left for the Great Grand Justice Day to be settled by the Almighty.
This is according to our understanding of the Holy Scripture right now. We feel very safe in avoiding the risk of the Doomsday at the cost of inheritance that we may receive. Our greediness and partiality may put us in trouble in the coming world which we are bound to enter.
On the other side, it is necessary for the heirs to calculate all the savings, deposits and balances to get from others, various policies to be cashed in case of death, various insurances to be cashed-in in all such possibilities. It may be possible that the death occurred due to road, rail, air or industrial accident in which the family of the deceased gets compensation. The responsibility of its due care and proper handling also rests with the heirs.
For their convenience, the heirs can appoint responsible persons mutually acceptable among them selves to take care of all the liabilities and receipts of the deceased and take care of the funds reserved for it. It may be any institution or persons out of the family, but matters should be dealt with serious consideration. The tendency of only to get our own portion of the inheritance and become aloof of all the responsibilities will not serve us favorably in front of our Lord on the Day of Accounts.
In the same way, the will of the deceased should also be taken into consideration before distribution of inheritance. Such are the injunctions of our LORD in HIS Book and we are bound to obey them in full. If spontaneous fulfillment of the will is not feasible, provision for proper reserve funds is a must.
From Hadis collections, this is from the book of Tarmazi on the authority of Sa’ad Bin Abi Waqas who narrates from the Prophet (s.a.w.s) that “the will should not be more than 1/3 and it is also a higher side.”
It would be wise to remind here that we should be careful enough not to make any will contrary to the Holy Injunctions of The Qur'an and The Hadis. If we are facing any such case of will contradicting the Divine Book and the sayings of The Prophet, it is wise to settle the matter according to the Devine will of our Lord only. We should also make duas for the deceased to be pardoned by Allah as the deceased made an error.
Due to any ill treatment or sore relations with any child or near blood relative, we are not entitled to deprive him or her of the right of inheritance. We should keep in mind the fact that blood relations are made by The Creator and we have no choice in it. Any transgression in such serious matters can cost us very heavily with Allah, The Lord Supreme.
After discharging all these formalities laid down by The Master of the Universe, whatever amount, wealth, stock, cash, kind, property and jewelry remains, it can be distributed according to the Law enacted by the Supreme who has supremacy over everything. Unnecessary delays should be avoided as passing of time may create unwanted problems. It is likely that the property may attract accrued taxes and dues leading to newer problems. It is also possible that the property may incur some penalties in due course on account of non-payment of the taxes or dues.
At such sad events of any death in the family, many relatives pay visit and offer condolences. They may be distant or near ones. They may not be heirs in direct line having any share in the inheritance. Out of them many may be financially weak. Our Sustainer ordains us in the verse 8 of this chapter 4 in these wordings:
“And at the time of division, other relatives and orphans and poor are also present, then provide to them out of it something and speak to them words of appropriate kindness.”
The heirs must keep their hearts wide open for such financially weaker relatives. They should also be helped in one way or the other. In all the cases they should be treated very gently and nicely.
Sometimes while dividing immovable properties like land and buildings among the heirs, the property becomes miniature and fragmented serving no purpose to any heir. In some other cases, the area, direction and situation also become bone of contention among the heirs. The heirs wrangle about getting a definite area or part of land. Due to property being inherited, the heirs don’t agree to sell it out also.
According to our understanding, we suggest that one or two heirs may buy the property at its current market value. After deducting their share amount, they may pay the other heirs in cash or otherwise. This will help us to avoid dissensions, quarrels and litigations.
Sometimes the sons and daughters disagree over a property being used by any or some of them who exhibit reluctance to part with or withdraw occupation. Any property must not become so precious for us that we suffer in our coming life. The following verse of the Holy Qur’an must be a deterrent for us and help us not to usurp or seize any thing unjustly. The verse says:
“And whoever disobeys ALLAH and HIS Messenger and transgresses HIS bounds, him will HE commit unto fire, therein to abide; and shameful suffering awaits him.”
It is our duty to make our children aware of all these Divine Injunctions for them to be on the safer side after our demise. These noble teachings will be our noble heritage for them which will have everlasting impact on their morals.
It is our observation that usually people asking questions about the distribution and shares of inherited property are those who have not had any one deceased among them. They are interested in criticizing or debating with others. It is not our duty to entertain each and every person. It is also not our duty to pass the decree on others nor should we encourage such debates.
If there is a sad event in the family of the person enquiring with us, it is safer to recite these verses to him and emphasize the seriousness of the debts and unpaid dues of the deceased. While taking into consideration the blood-relatives who are alive at the time of death, the shares of each are very clearly mentioned in these verses of The Divine Writ. Moreover, regardless of so many differences prevailing in Muslims on even petty issues, all are almost unanimous on the shares. No school of thought differs regarding the share portions.
It is also unhealthy to think about our share in the property of our close relative who is in old age. It is also likely that we may pass away before his demise!
We should seriously take the spirit of these verses. We don’t have the power to implement them for others or for the society. But when the matter is in our hands, we have to abide by the Divine Injunctions. We should always draw moral teachings from the verses of The Qur’an.
In the following verses, there are other details about the portions and shares. We know that every family has different type of members. Let us see what our Lord says further.
Now let us ponder over the following verse in which further details regarding the law of Inheritance are appearing. That is:
“And you shall inherit one-half of what your wives leave behind, provided they have left no child.
“And if they have left a child, then you shall have one-quarter of what they leave behind, after the deduction of any bequest/will they may have made, or any debt they may have incurred.
“And your widows shall have one-quarter of what you leave behind, provided you have left no child; but if you have left a child, then the wives shall have one-eighth of what you leave behind, after the deduction of any bequest you may have made, or any debt you may have incurred.
“And if a man or a woman has no heir in the direct line, but has a brother or a sister, then each of these two shall inherit one-sixth.
“But if there are more than two, then they shall share in one-third (of the inheritance), after the deduction of any bequest/will that may have been made, or any debt that may have been incurred, no loss is caused (to anyone). This is an injunction from ALLAH: and ALLAH is all-knowing, forbearing.”
In this verse, other fundamentals related to Inheritance Procedure have been mentioned. When one dies and does not have the first row of the heirs which are parents and children, the second row will come into effect, which is brothers and sisters. Such heirs will be called “Kalalah” in the terminology of The Qur'an.
Here we are focusing our attention on the punishments and warnings in case of any negligence from our side in distribution. We have come to know the seriousness of the debt that we may leave behind.
It is also evident from this verse that the Qur’an is not gender biased. Here it is providing equal portion to a sister and a brother which are fortunately different genders. This clearly indicates that the Holy Qur’an is not partial to any, man or woman. We can understand how obvious and important it is to learn The Qur'anic Arabic, so as to understand the Qur’an in its original form.
If we contemplate deep into the meaning of the verses of the Qur’an, their delicate points and minute details, then only we can find almost all the answers to various questions which very often plague our minds. The wisdom behind these Qur’anic laws has also been clearly mentioned in these verses side by side.
Another very wise and reasonable point has been made in the verse. And that is, the real possessor of any thing available on earth is The Almighty Allah. The human being stands trustee for a short period of time, which is his life time only. In spite of this, we develop a deep sense of love for our belongings and possessions and deem them as our own which was just a trust consigned to us by The Almighty.
Obviously all our belongings and possessions are only the articles of individual test and trial. When a person dies and his property is divided amongst his heirs, clearly it means that The Almighty has chosen other trustees for this material wealth who too will be put to test now. In this way the cycle of transfers of wealth and properties will continue until everything will ultimately go back to Allah. This is said in chapter 19 verse 80:
“And WE will inherit him in what he mentions, and he will appear before US bare and alone.”
A great emphasis is laid upon fulfilling the will and clearance of debt before distributing the inheritance. No doubt borrowing and lending is a part of human life. But it should be the basic ingredient in the life of a good natured, faithful and honest person that negligence in repayment of debts and over borrowings would directly impacts ones spiritual life and the position in the Hereafter. Repayment does not stand still in the case of death. The heirs are made responsible to fulfill the duty of clearing it on the behalf of their departed relative. If the departed one leaves enough wealth to clear above mentioned dues, then he will not be responsible in the Hereafter and the responsibility will be of the heirs to fulfill the same.
Sometimes our memory catches a few undesirable things which we very often implement through our actions and thoughts under our default memory. We think through this default memory that Allah does not take notice of many of our actions. But in fact there is no one more vigilant than Him. HE will settle all such accounts by providing compensation from the defaulters to those who were deprived of their rights.
If a creature has done any wrong to another one, he has to compensate or be punished for such misconduct on the earth. Why do we then invite risk for ourselves by committing such things? It is better for us to unburden ourselves and repay our dues before death takes its course. We should try to take ourselves to the Lord unburdened of debts. We should never forget that this world and the short life that has been given to us are only to be taken away from us and we will enter into an eternal place.
We should not be negligent in recording down the details of the loans and debts. We should create awareness among our family for such debts.
The following verses give us a kind of notice about defaulting debts, inheritance and other injunctions of our Lord, The Supreme.
“These are the bounds set by ALLAH.
“And whoever pays heed unto ALLAH and HIS Messenger, him will HE bring into gardens through which running waters flow, therein to abide: and this is a triumph supreme.
“And whoever rebels against ALLAH and HIS Messenger, and transgresses HIS bounds, him will HE commit unto fire, therein to abide; and shameful suffering awaits him.”
These are the irrefutable and clear rules and regulations regarding distribution of property of inheritance in order to maintain a healthy society and balanced familial system.
Some fundamental points regarding will or bequest must be kept in mind. No matter if it is not documented as our Lord wishes that we should always keep the words. If there are two mature, sensible and noble persons witnessing to any oral will, it also has the weight. We can not do any will or bequest for the portions and shares destined by our Lord for our kith and kin. We are free to make it for those who do not fall in the category of those already defined in the Holy Scripture. But in all the cases, it should not be more than 1/3 of the whole wealth that we may leave behind.
The will should not provide undue and unjust favor or disfavor for any of the heir in his or her share. Neither it should lead to usurping the share of someone nor should it enrich the share of other.
There is a grave misunderstanding, which many people entertain in their minds. We feel that The Qur'an is not compassionate regarding the poor grandchildren. Such needy ones have been barred from receiving any portion as inheritance of the grandparents.
According to our understanding, the case is of non-compassionate grand parent who has forgotten his duty towards his needy grand children, who neither made any will for them, nor did anything for them in his life time! It must be borne in our mind that if we are also facing similar situation in our family, we can do something for them in our life time. At least we can also make a will for them which we have the right upto 1/3rd of our all the wealth.
Many a times we involve ourselves in settling the matters of inheritance in the family of in-laws. Actually we don’t have any role there. Although our spouse has the right over there, but we feel that there should not be any misappropriation in the share of our spouse. How beautiful our approach is! Why are we so worried about it? If our in-laws are doing some misappropriation, they will be responsible for such injustice and will face the consequences. And we don’t have any right on the income, asset, savings and jewelry of our spouse. But our worries show our attitude.
This doesn’t mean that we should not play any role in the distribution of inheritance of our in-laws. If we are called upon, we should be helpful to them with very clean mind and approach.
Thank you, God Bless you.