Month: May 2014

Determining the Base Number

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The base number is the crux of any inheritance problem. Its imperative that we thoroughly understand what it is and how its calculated.

What Exactly is a Base Number?

Firstly, lets give a quick breakdown of a share. A share, as explained in the previous post, is the specific fraction assigned to a zaawil furoodh heir (ex: 1/2; 1/6; 1/8; 1/4 etc).

A share, like any other fraction, is made up of two parts: The numerator and the denominator. The top number is the numerator, and the bottom number is the denominator. Hence, if the share of a daughter is 1/2, the number 1 is the numerator and the number 2 is the denominator. In 2/3, the number 2 is the numerator and the number 3 is the denominator. Hopefully you get the idea.

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Some Terminology and the Procedure for Solving an Inheritance Problem

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In this post, insha’Allah, you will be given a general understanding and overview of certain standards and procedures to follow when dealing with an inheritance problem. Detailed explanations on how to solve an inheritance problem will be presented in later posts, insha’Allah.

Before moving on, its essential that we understand and differentiate between certain terms that will be used from here on.

Category: A category of heirs are all the heirs who will inherit together (i.e. share in a certain part of the inheritance), regardless of their number.

Take a look at the following example:

A man dies leaving behind

  • 3 Wives
  • Paternal grandmother
  • Maternal grandmother
  • Father
  • 3 Sons
  • 4 Daughters

In the above example, the 3 wives are one category, since they share in 1/8 equally. In this particular example, the paternal grandmother is excluded due to the father, so the maternal grandmother is a category by herself. However, assuming the father was not present, both grandmothers together would be one category, since they share 1/6 equally. The 3 sons and 4 daughters are also all in a single category because they share residue together in a 2:1 ratio, hence they have to be grouped together. The father is a category by himself.

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Inheritance of Siblings

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1) Haqeeqi Brother (Full brother)

  1. He is an `asbah, and hence gets the entire estate when inheriting alone. Multiple brothers share the estate equally.
  2. When inheriting with others, he gets residue. Multiple brothers share the residue equally.
  3. He is excluded by father, father’s father (and higher) and son, son’s son (and lower) (Rule #2).

2) Haqeeqi Sister (Full sister)

  1. If one, her share is 1/2.
  2. If two or more, they share 2/3 equally amongst themselves.
  3. When inheriting alone, she gets the entire estate. Multiple sisters share the estate equally.
  4. She is excluded by father, father’s father (and higher) and son, son’s son (and lower) (Rule #2).

3) Haqeeqi Brother(s) and Haqeeqi Sister(s) Inheriting Together

  1. When inheriting together, they inherit as `asabaat (see the post How Some Zaawil Furoodh Relatives Become `Asabaat). They both get residue, with each male getting twice the share of each female (2:1 ratio).
  2. If they are inheriting with no other heirs, they get the entire estate, to be shared between them in a 2:1 ratio.

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Inheritance of Children and Grandchildren

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1) Son(s)

  1. The son is an `asbah, and hence will automatically inherit the entire estate if inheriting alone. Multiple sons will share in the estate equally if there are no other heirs.
  2. He gets residue when inheriting with other heirs. Multiple sons share the residue equally.

2) Daughter(s)

  1. If there is one daughter, her share is 1/2.
  2. If there are two or more daughters, they share 2/3 equally.
  3. When she is the only heir, she inherits the whole estate. Multiple daughters share the estate equally if there are no other heirs.

3) Son(s) and Daughter(s) Inheriting Together

  1. If son(s) and daughter(s) are inheriting together, they both become `asabaat (see the post How Some Zaawil Furoodh Relatives Become `Asabaat) and share the residue, with each son getting twice as much as each daughter. In other words, they share the residue in a 2:1 ratio.
  2. If only son(s) and daughter(s) are inheriting, with no other heirs, they share the entire estate in a 2:1 ratio.

Note: The 2:1 distribution rule will be explained fully in a later post, insha’Allah.

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Inheritance of Spouses

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1) Husband

  1. His share is 1/2.
  2. He is partially excluded to 1/4 if the deceased (i.e. his wife) leaves behind children or grandchildren (however low down the line), male or female.
  3. If the husband has multiple wives, he will only be partially excluded to 1/4 if the wife or wives with whom he had children dies. Example: A man has four wives A, B, C  and D. He has two children from wife A, and zero children from any of the other wives. Now if wife A passes away, the husband will receive 1/4 of her estate, since she left behind children. But if wife B passes away, he will get 1/2 of her estate since this wife did not leave behind any children of her own. The children from wife A are only considered her own, they are not the children of any of the other wives. Rather, they are considered the step-children of the other wives.
  4. If  a wife who has a child from a previous marriage passes away, then the husband will still be partially excluded to 1/4.
  5. If the husband has multiple wives, and one of them passes away, the other wives do not inherit in her estate. There are no ties of inheritance between the wives of the same man.
  6. If the wife/wives pass away leaving behind no children of their own (neither from current, nor from a previous marriage), then the husband will get 1/2. In this case, even if the husband happens to have children from a previous marriage he will still inherit 1/2, as those children are not from the deceased wife/wives.

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Inheritance of Grandparents

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1) Paternal Grandfather

  1. His share is 1/6.
  2. When inheriting alone, he gets the entire estate.
  3. Is also among the `asabaat. Meaning, he gets residue (if any) in addition to his 1/6 share, after all other eligible heirs have gotten their shares.
  4. Gets excluded by father (Rule #4 of total exclusion)
  5. The closer generation paternal grandfather excludes the farther generation paternal grandfather. Therefore, grandfather excludes great-grandfather and higher. Great-grandfather excludes great-great-grandfather and higher; and so on.
  6. He is never partially excluded.

As is evident, the rules for the paternal grandfather are pretty much the same as that of the father. The only difference is that, unlike the father, the paternal grandfather can be excluded.

Note that the maternal grandfather is a non-heir.

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Inheritance of Parents

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Insha’Allah, in these next few series of posts, we will learn, in detail, how different types of heirs inherit in different situations. Along with that, we will also learn the rules of Hujub Nuqsaan (Partial Exclusion). As a brief reminder for those who may have forgotten, partial exclusion is when the share of a zaawil furoodh heir gets reduced due to the presence of another heir.

Examples have been provided to facilitate easy understanding.


1) Father

  1. His share is 1/6.
  2. When inheriting alone (i.e. no other heir is present) he gets the entire estate.
  3. Is also among the `asabaat. Meaning, his minimum share is 1/6, but he may also receive residue (if any remains) in addition to the 1/6, after all other eligible heirs have gotten their share. This is why he receives the entire estate when he inherits alone. What really happens is he first receives 1/6, then he is also entitled to the residue (the remaining 5/6). The end result is he inherits the entire estate.
  4. When inheriting with daughter(s), granddaughter(s), or a combination of daughters and granddaughters, he gets the residue (in addition to his fixed share of 1/6), if any. When inheriting with son(s), grandson(s) or  a combination of male and female descendants he will receive only the 1/6. In other words, when the mayyit (deceased) leaves behind only female descendants, then the father may get the residue (if any remains); and when the mayyit leaves behind all male or a combination of male and female descendants, than the father only receives his set share of 1/6. The logic behind this is simple: Female descendants are zaawil furoodh (i.e. they have a fixed share) and hence are not guaranteed to exhaust the estate. Thus there is a possibility that in certain cases residue will be left behind which will go to the father. On the other hand, all male or a male-female combination of descendants are `asabaat, hence they will get any and all residue, leaving none for the father.
  5. Father neither gets excluded nor partially excluded by anyone.

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