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On Matters of Inheritance


On Matters of Inheritance


Was published in Arabic in December, 19,2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy



1- We have received this message from a Quranist who is seeking our advice concerning an issue of an inheritance.

2- He says in his message the following: (…I am the third and last son of my father who died after begetting three sons. My elder brother died before my father's death. My other brother and my mother died after my father's death. Inheritors now are the following persons: myself, my son, and my wife as well as my elder brother's widow and her two sons and two daughters, in addition to my second brother's widow plus her son and her daughter. We all live in a three-story house. I would have liked to build a fourth floor for myself, but both widows have protested against my project. Both widows demand their share of my father's inheritance. I am an avid reader of your Quranists' website, as I am a Quranist myself, and I have read meticulously your book on matters of will and inheritance, while writing my comments on the subject using a pseudonym. However, I found no answer to my dilemma in your book. Of course, I would not deprive my nephews and nieces of their rightful shares of the inheritance. My dead brothers have spent sums of money to educate me. I am the only one in the family who got educated. Both used to treat me kindly. The core problem is in delimiting the inheritance; it is a complicated matter that I have to explain: my late father used to be a peasant and a fisherman. Due to his god reputation, he got married to my mother who used to be in a higher social class. My father's first house was an old dilapidated one built of uncooked brick, inherited from my grandfather. I spent my childhood in that modest house. My maternal uncles used to feel ashamed of such a house unsuitable for their rank and financial status. They used to quarrel with their sister, my mother, and she in turn used to quarrel with my father, on this issue in particular. Eventually, one of my maternal uncles gave my father a sum of LE 50.000 as a loan to build a new suitable house, and they agreed to return the loan in installments. My father built a one-story house. In order to settle the other installments, he made my elder brother drop out of the university, travel abroad to an Arab country to work there to get the necessary money to pay the installments. At the end, the load was fully repaid. My elder brother got married, and the house was too narrow. My second brother travelled to work abroad in the same Arab country to get the necessary money to build a second floor for my elder brother and his family. Later on, my second brother built another new floor for his family as well. Meanwhile, I have been busy in my education. I graduated from the faculty of pharmaceutical studies and opened the first pharmacy in our village. I have achieved success in my work and lived in the ground floor with my family consisting of my wife and children as well as my father and mother. My mother became the matron in control of everything, even the three meals that united all the families daily. My elder brother died abroad, then my father and later on my second brother. My mother was the last one to die. During her lifetime, due to her strong character, no one claimed any share of the inheritance; everybody used to be content with what they have already. After her death, both widows and my wife began to quarrel a lot. Many problems have been raised, and independence was demanded. Both widows claimed that their husbands were the rightful owners of the house. Both want to lay their hands on my pharmacy, under the pretext that it has been bought with money earned by my late brothers. I proposed to build a fourth floor and to allow the ground ne to be owned by all of us. I told them that my eldest brother died before my father; therefore, he cannot inherit anything. His offspring deserve about the third of the inheritance: the floor they are living in now. As for my late second brother, his progeny has the right to inherit as he died after the death of my late father. The inheritance ought to be distributed based on that. I have read on your book that in the case of my mother, she would have inherited 1/8 of the inheritance, while the rest of us get the other part in equal shares. The share of my second brother goes to his widow and progeny: the floor they are living in now. I told them my mother would have inherited 1/6 of my late second brother's inheritance, and therefore I am her only inheritor. I have the right to own the ground floor in which I am living now. Yet, I am ready to make it a common share for all of us in return to have the right to build a new floor to myself. My wife finds no privacy now in the ground floor. This ground floor is fit for visitors only. I pose my query to you now, Dr. A. S. Mansour, am I doing them injustice by my proposals? Do they have any rights in my pharmacy? This pharmacy used to be by rent and then I have bought it by money got from my profits…)


Secondly: we say, in general:


1- Inheritors who deserve shares in any inheritance are the close relatives, not all relatives in general: "Men receive a share of what their parents and relatives leave, and women receive a share of what their parents and relatives leave; be it little or much-a legal share." (4:7). Those close relatives include husbands, wives, progeny of both genders, and parents of both genders. Mere ordinary or distant relatives outside this list have no right to inherit any legal share. They might receive gifts from the inheritance if possible; this is not obligatory: "If the distribution is attended by the relatives, and the orphans, and the needy, give them something out of it, and speak to them kindly." (4:8) and "It is decreed for you: when death approaches one of you, and he leaves wealth, to make a testament in favor of the parents and the relatives, fairly and correctly-a duty upon the righteous." (2:180).

2- The close relatives are firstly the dead person's progeny, who have the priority even in case of the existence of siblings of the dead person, who in that case have no right to inherit. If the dead person had no progeny, siblings have the priority to inherit. Let us be reminded of this verse: "They ask you for a ruling. Say, "God gives you a ruling concerning the person who has neither parents nor children." If a man dies, and leaves no children, and he had a sister, she receives one-half of what he leaves. And he inherits from her if she leaves no children. But if there are two sisters, they receive two-thirds of what he leaves. If the siblings are men and women, the male receives the share of two females." God makes things clear for you, lest you err. God is Aware of everything." (4:176).

3- As for the following verse: "" (2:180), this is concerning the dying person who has no written will. While dying, if possible, he or she ought to dictate, confirm, or modify a will.

4- It is possible that a believer might write a will while he or she is still alive and healthy.

5- Outside the written will as per Quranic rules of legal shares, one might give away gifts of money to some relatives who have no legal right to inherit, but they deserve this for particular reasons. In other words, in your case, your father has lost his elder son who died before your late father. This elder brother spent his lifetime in enlarging the fortune and money of the family. He died before receiving any inheritance while leaving weak progeny who lived with their grandfather. Such progeny has no right to inherit due to the existence of two sons and a wife; i.e. close relatives. Yet, your father ought to have given them gifts of money for the sake of his late elder son. This is not a will; but a mere gift due to them because of the elder brother's good deed.

6- Let us not forget that Quranic rules of legal shares of inheritance are executed while caring for the higher value in Islam: justice. Norms of justices submit to what is commonly known in a given society. That is why in special cases, such as yours, one can modify the matter of distributing shares for the sake of doing justice for all.


Thirdly: In particular, we say in your case the following:


1- Within a meeting confined to family members, you can bring trusted lawyers and accountants to evaluate all possessions (the house, the pharmacy, and any other possessions), in order to specify how much your late eldest brother have contributed to the wealth and welfare of the whole family. The same is to be applied to the late second brother. The same is to be applied to you as well. Let the criterion be the price of gold at the time and now.

2- Our advice here has nothing to do with your right to build a new floor to your family, taking into consideration whether the house can stand a new floor to be built or not.

3- Let us greet you on your endeavor to apply justice and feeling grateful to both your late brothers. You are expected to be a helping, loving, and caring paternal uncle to their progeny. God bless you.          

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