There are Many Misconceptions on Islamic Inheritance Law - Mufti Faraz Adam


Monday, August 02, 2021 / 7:22 PM / Bukola Akinyele-Yisau for WebTV / Header Image Credit: Yaqeen Institute


A Will is a document that details how assets and property should be distributed. Wills from an Islamic perspective must align with Shariah's rules and principles. Anyone should plan the arrangement of their after-life affairs.

The Law of Succession in Nigeria defines Estate Planning as an arrangement for the use, preservation, and transfer of one's property during one's lifetime and at death.  

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Mufti Faraz Adam, CEO, Amanah Advisors gave  a presentation on the  "Misconceptions on Islamic Inheritance law" at a recent webinar organized by Simply Ethical. 

The Holy Prophet Muhammad emphasized the learning of rules concerning Islamic inheritance  to gain understanding of its finer requirements and rules, and ensure that a younger generation of Muslims also have knowledge of Wills and Transfers. Speaking further, he said misconceptions prevail if there is a decrease in knowledge and an increase in ignorance around the transfer of assets by individuals.

Why  Shariah Emphasizes Inheritance

He explained that Shariah underscores the importance of proper intergenerational transfer of assets, noting the following:

  • Inheritance is one of the major causes of disputes, families may have crisis
  • Inheritance matters on how to deal with estate planning and that is why Islam really emphasizes how inheritance should be dealt with
  • Inheritance is a very easy way to take advantages of vulnerable people according to the Quran. Wealth of orphans have special status in Islam because they also have a right from an Islamic perspective but because they are young and vulnerable, they can be easily exploited and Islam gives a lot of guidelines on how the wealth should be managed

It is important to discuss Wills in a family from an Islamic perspective as our Iman will not be on earth forever. 

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Features of  Islamic Inheritance System

Adam outlined the following broad principles of Islamic inheritance:

  • All assets of the deceased will form part of the estate, not going to come for someone in the life thereafter
  • Inheritance is the right of relatives not of strangersInheritance in Islam is  the right of everybody. Whether young, the old male, female and not only for who are fit and healthy or the menfolk. The almighty has given a system of  wealth transfer and wealth distribution which encompasses every single person. 
  • Islamic inheritance system is based on the principle of proximity
  • Islamic Inheritance gives and confers every single person unrestricted and complete ownership.  Islam is balanced when it comes to inheritance and Islamic law system has been in existence for 1400 years ago

How is Islamic Inheritance Practice Applied

Reviewing the practice of inheritance in Medina at the time of the early years of Islam, Mufti Adam made the following observations:

Islamic inheritance has gone through several phases due to the fact that God wants the community to develop. In Mecca, for the first 13 years, there was no focus on inheritance but Iman (faith). During those years, the instruction was to bequeath something to your family and relatives. In Medina, there was a system called Muahak based on brotherhood and the social bonds that tied people together. It was another manifestation of how medina was formed and this created several relationships and a strong brotherhood/sisterhood.  It was Islam that moderated the society and changed it from what it was.

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Purpose of Inheritance

  • It is spiritual dimension- it is not your money but temporarily with you and you have to pass it on. Islamic inheritance teaches that wealth is not from us but a blessing from Allah and it must be used the way he wants.
  • It bring within us the love for our dependants
  • It is an amazing mechanism for inter-generational wealth distribution and gives ability to one dependent to become self-sufficient
  • It creates a family bond and love amongst the people
  • Inheritance should be Sadaqah by leaving behind this wealth should be distributed in the way Allah wants it.

Speaking on if Islamic inheritance disadvantaged women, according to Faraz Adam it is absolutely no due to the fact that there are four scenarios where only female inherits half of the male inherits.

Islamic Inheritance and Women 

The notion that women were not entitled to inheritance is a general misconception in secular sections of society as the Islamic scholar observed that women actually had property rights under different circumstances that may include the following:

  • There are approximately 10 to 11 scenarios where a female inherits the same share as a male
  • There are several scenarios in which the female Muslim inherits equal assets as the male Muslim
  • There are between 14 and 16 scenarios where females inherit more than males
  • There are also  scenarios in Islamic inheritance system where only females inherit assets left by the deceased

The scholar argued that the Islamic inheritance system was balanced, and claimed that it was divinely ordained. He suggested that God was the one who set the laws.  

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