Assalamualaikum w.b.t. I have a question on inheritance. What is the way to decide whether a person is eligible and rightful to inherit the inheritance? Hope for an explanation. Thank you.
Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
In Surah al-Nisaa’ starting from the seventh, eleventh and twelfth verses, as well as other verses, Allah SWT narrates and states numerously on the division of the inheritance for each rightful and eligible people of it. So, from these verses, we can see the reasons which obligates one to inherit the inheritance.
Imam al-Rahabi states in his matn:
أسباب ميراث الورى ثلاثه ... كل يفيد ربه الوراثه
وهي نكاح وولاء ونسب ... مابعدهن للمواريث سبب
The reason to inherit one’s inheritance are three,
Those who hold these reasons will inherit,
Which are marriage, wala’ and lineage,
There are none other than these three.
[See: Matan al-Rahabiah; pg.3]
Dr. Muhammad al-Zuhaily stated in his book that the reasons for inheritance are four things, in which he added the fourth reason which is Islam and the baitulmal. So, it can be concluded that there are four reasons of inheritance which are:
Lineage meant here is the relationship or real ties through blood and family bond or a relationship that connects between the warith (heir/inheritor) and the testator. So, they consist of usul and furu’ to the deceased, furu’ for both parents as well as furu’ for grandparents. [See: al-Mu’tamad fi al-Fiqh al-Syafi’i; 4/350].
Usul here means those who are at the upper position to the deceased (the ancestors of the deceased) while furu’ are those at the lower position to the deceased (the offspring of the deceased).
Usul for a deceased is the mother, father, grandfather and grandmother and above. While furu’ for him are children and grandchildren going down the lineage either boy or girl, old or young. Not to be forgotten are the furu’ of parents for the deceased which are the siblings to the deceased either biological (having the same parents), paternal or maternal half-siblings. Also, the furu’ for grandparents of the deceased which are uncles and aunts for the deceased. Furu’ for the parents of the deceased and furu’ for the grandparents of the deceased who are called as the hawasyi are also the heirs for the deceased.
Lineage is not the same as marriage relation in terms of it is not easily removed when compared with marriage which prone to separation and breakage.
It is through valid marriage according to syarak between man and woman, includes the meaning of a husband and a wife or more, even if they did not have intercourse were alone together yet. This is based on the twelfth verse of surah al-Nisaa’.
Both husband and wife have a right to inherit from one another. They also have the right to inherit during iddah of talaq raj’ie. Also see our article on the inheritance of a divorced woman in the official website of Mufti’s Office of Federal Territories. However, a husband and a wife shall not inherit his or her spouse if the marriage is invalid. [See: al-Fiqh al-Manhaji; 5/76].
The author of the book al-Mu`tamad (4/350) said: “It is a condition for the marriage to truly exist in which the woman is in a marriage when her husband passes away, or under the law like a woman who is divorced by raj’ie talaq, then her husband passes away while she is still in the iddah period.”
Third: Wala’ (Freed Slaves)
According to the Arabic language, wala’ means family relationship. The meaning of wala’ here means the freeing of slaves. It is the specialty for those who had slaves. The ex-masters will inherit their ex-slaves whether men or women. These ex-masters are considered as asabah due to life. (al-Asabah bi al-Nafs). The Prophet PBUH said:
الوَلاَءَ لَحْمَةُ كَلُحْمَةِ النَّسَبِ
“Wala’ is a kinship like lineage.”
Musnad Ahmad (1/191,194)
However, an ex-slave has no right to inherit the property of his ex-master.  [See: al-Fiqh al-Manhaji; 5/76].
Fourth: Islam and Baitulmal
When a Muslim passes away and he has no heirs according to the above stated reasons a person has a right to an inheritance, the property should be given to Baitul Mal.
This is in accordance with the saying of the Prophet PBUH:
مَنْ تَرَكَ كَلاًّ فَإِلَىَّ وَمَنْ تَرَكَ مَالاً فَلِوَرَثَتِهِ وَأَنَا وَارِثُ مَنْ لاَ وَارِثَ لَهُ أَعْقِلُ لَهُ وَأَرِثُهُ
If anyone leaves a debt or a helpless family I shall be responsible but if anyone leaves property, it goes to his heirs. I am the heirs of him who has none, paying blood-wit for him and inheriting from him
Sunan Abu Dawud (2956)
In conclusion, if one has family relation or marriage to the deceased, or one is the ex-master of the deceased (the deceased was his slave), then they are eligible and rightful to receive the inheritance of the deceased either by furudh, ta’sib (remainder) and dzawi al-arham as what is stated through al-Quran and al-Sunnah.
- Ashāb al-furūd - The main heirs who are prioritized in division and recipient of the property. These group of people are the heirs who are stated their portion or share in the division of inheritance according to al-Quran, al-Sunnah and ijma’. For example, husband, wife and daughter.
- Al-‘Asabah – The heirs who will receive all of the property if there is no ashāb al-furūd or receiving the remainder of the property if there is any after giving the portions to the ashāb al-furūd. For example, a son.
- Dhawi al-arḥam – The heirs other than ashāb al-furūd and al-‘asabah whose right in inheritance are not set in al-Quran, Sunnah or ijma’. For example, a grandson from the daughter of the deceased.
[See: al-Mawarith fi al-Shariah al-Islamiyyah, pg. 37]
While for those with no heir, then his inheritance will be given to the baitulmal to be used upon public welfare (maslahah am).
Lastly, we pray that Allah SWT gives us understanding in His religion. May Allah SWT give us easiness and sincerity within us to worship Him, setting our heart and faith as well as blessing all pf our deeds.
 Most probably the wisdom of wala’ be included under the inheritance is because the heir will replace the deceased (the freed salve) as set by syara’. This replacement is considered due to the master’s kindness to free his slave due to love and closeness when he was alive, but then he passes away. Those who give freedom to their slaves seem the same as what an heir would do. [See Ahkam al-Tarikat wa al-Mawarith by Abu Zahrah pg. 103].