Special Case: The Mafqood (Missing Person)

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Below is the answer to the problem we concluded with in the previous post:

The estate will be divided into 6 equal portions:

The Mother gets 1 portion.
The Haqeeqi sister gets 3 portions.
The Akhyaafi brother/Haqeeqi paternal uncles son gets 2 portions.

Everyone else is deprived.

Any questions/confusions about the above answer should be posted in the comments section below, insha’Allah.


Our Shari`ah is arguably the most comprehensive collection of laws and ahkaam in existence. This is clear from previous posts (such as the post regarding the khuntha mushkil) and the hundreds of fiqh kitaabs  that have been written expounding laws on almost every topic imaginable. One great example of the comprehensive nature of the Shari`ah is the laws regarding the mafqood, or the missing person.

In inheritance law, a missing person (mafqood) is assumed to be alive with regards to his estate and dead with regards to the estate of others. In other words, the mafqoods estate will not be divided and distributed among his heirs until his death is confirmed or decreed by a shar`i court. On the other hand, if the mafqood is an heir, he will not inherit in the estate of the one he would have inherited from had his whereabouts been known.

A mafqood will be declared dead by a shar`i court (or a shar`i council in the absence of a formal court) by way of reliable information. If no reliable information comes forth, the mafqood will be declared dead when his age reaches 90 Islamic years. This time-span of 90 years is according to early Hanafi fuqaha (jurists). Some later hanafi jurists have ruled according the Maliki madhab, which declares the mafqood dead at the age of 70 Islamic years and some have  opted for an even lesser duration. Nevertheless, whenever the mafqood is declared dead, his estate will be divided and distributed among the heirs who were alive when he was declared dead. The heirs who passed away before the mafqood was declared dead will not inherit.

If the mafqood is an heir, he simply does not inherit. But despite him not inheriting, his share may be set aside for him in case he returns. There is no set rule in this regard. A share may or may not be set aside for him, either way is fine. Simply put, there are four possibilities in this regard:

  1. If a share is set aside and he is declared dead, that share will be redistributed among the original heirs∗ (NOT the mafqoods heirs).
  2. If a share is set aside and he returns, it will simply be given to him.
  3. If a share is not set aside and he is declared dead, the distribution is fine and nothing changes.
  4. If a share is not set aside and he returns, then his share will be taken out of the shares of the other heirs.
∗There is an additional nuance to remember here; if there are both zaawil furoodh and `asabaat inheriting, the share will only be redistributed among the `asabaat – UNLESS the mafqood is from a zaawil furoodh category of multiple heirs (i.e. multiple daughters, multiple wives etc.), in which case the share will be equally distributed amongst the remaining heir(s) of that category. If there are only zaawil furoodh categories inheriting, the share will be redistributed among them in proportion to the ratio of their portions.

No matter which possibility occurs, the distribution can simply be adjusted if needed. However, certain factors make these problems prone to error. Thus, we have formulated a simple rule one can follow which will make solving these problems a lot easier. The rule is as follows:

We will momentarily assume that the mafqood is no longer a mafqood, but a legitimate heir. Keeping this assumption in mind, if this ‘mafqood’ partially or totally excludes another category of heirs which would have otherwise gotten its full share, then a share will NOT be set aside for him (the mafqood). Otherwise, a share WILL be set aside for him.

Remember, the above rule is not essential in reaching the correct answer, rather it is just for the sake of avoiding complications.

Insha’Allah, now lets move on to some example problems.

Example 1: A woman dies leaving behind

  • Mother
  • Mafqood Husband
  • 1 Son
  • 1 Daughter
  • $144,000

We’ve decided to include specific money values in this example in order to properly demonstrate the distribution of inheritance in these types of cases.

Lets take this step by step.

First we have to decide whether we want to set the mafqoods share aside or not. Lets apply the rule we previously discussed. First, we momentarily assume that the husband is not a mafqood, but rather a normal heir just like the others. Now we ask ourselves the following question: does he partially or totally exclude another category which would have otherwise gotten its full share? Well the mother is partially excluded to 1/6, but not because of the husband, rather because of the son and daughter. So the answer to the question is “no”. Thus, we will set aside a share for the husband. Just remember that in doing so, he is to be thought of as a normal heir (just for the purpose of calculating his share), and thus will be included in the chart, as shown below:

Mafqood ex 1

Calculating the actual money values, we get:

Mother = $144,000(6/36) = $24,000
Mafqood Husband = $144,000(9/36) = $36,000 [to be set aside in case of his return]
Son = $144,000(14/36) = $56,000
Daughter = $144,000(7/36) = $28,000

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 36 equal portions:

The Mother gets 6 portions.
The Son gets 14 portions.
The Daughter gets 7 portions.

9 portions will be set aside for the mafqood husband in case he returns.

Now, before moving on to the next example, lets suppose the mafqood is declared dead (either by way of reliable information or having reached the specific age decided by the shar`i court). In this case, the share that was set aside for him (the 1/4, or $36,000) will go entirely to the children. Remember, if there are a mix of zaawil furoodh and`asabaat inheriting, the mafqoods share (once he is declared dead) goes directly to the `asabaat. The zaawil furoodh heirs get nothing from the mafqoods share in such cases. This was mentioned as a nuance earlier in this post.

Thus the $36,000 will be divided among the son and daughter in a 2:1 ratio. The son gets an additional $24,000 making his total $80,000, while the daughter gets an additional $12,000 making her total $40,000. Alternately you can think of it in terms of portions. The mafqood husbands 9 portions are transferred to the children’s category, giving them a total of 30 portions. Out of these 30, the son gets 20 portions while the daughter gets 10. Either way, the answer is the same.

Example 2: A man dies leaving behind

  • Mother
  • 2 Grandsons
  • 1 Mafqood Son

First, lets decide whether we should set aside a share for the son or not. As in the previous example, we follow the rule and momentarily assume the son to be an heir just like the others. Does he partially or totally exclude another category which would have otherwise gotten its full share? The answer is definitely “yes”, as the son excludes the grandsons. So we will NOT be setting aside a share for the mafqood this time.

A quick question here: can we also say that the answer is “yes” due to the additional reason of the mother being reduced to 1/6? Not exactly. Remember, the rule states “…if this ‘mafqood’ partially or totally excludes another category of heirs which would have otherwise gotten its full share, then a share will NOT be set aside for him (the mafqood)…” Key word here is “otherwise”. The grandsons also partially exclude the mother, hence she would have been partially excluded to 1/6 regardless of whether the son is thought of as an heir or not. In other words, she would NOT have otherwise gotten her full share if the son did not partially exclude her, as the grandsons are already sufficient in doing that.

Moving on, the following is the chart for this problem:

Notice, we do not include the mafqood in the chart this time, as no share needs to be set aside for him.

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 12 equal portions:

The Mother gets 2 portions.
Each grandson gets 5 portions.

If the son were to return, the grandsons’ share would be given to him. The grandsons, of course, would be excluded.

Example 3: A man dies leaving behind

  • 1 Wife
  • Paternal grandfather
  • 1 Haqeeqi sister
  • 1 Mafqood grandson

The haqeeqi sister is excluded by the grandfather right away.

Now we have to determine whether we set aside a share for the mafqood grandson or not. Once again, lets momentarily assume him to be a normal heir. Does he partially or totally exclude another category which would have otherwise gotten its full share? Then answer is “yes”. The grandson partially excludes the wife to 1/8. Therefore, we will NOT set aside a share for the mafqood grandson. Remember, similar to the last problem, the excluded sister is not one of the reasons for the answer being “yes”, because she would be excluded anyway (by the grandfather) whether the grandson is assumed to be an heir or not.

Mafqood ex 3

As in the last problem, the mafqood grandson is not included in the chart because we are not setting a share aside for him.

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 12 equal portions:

The Wife gets 3 portions.
The Paternal grandfather gets 9 portions.

If the grandson were to return, the wife’s share would be reduced to 1/8, the grandfather would get 1/6 as usual, and the residue would go to the grandson. If we make a new chart for this scenario, we get the following: The estate would be divided into 24 equal portions; the wife gets 3, the grandfather gets 4, and the grandson gets 17.

Example 4: A man dies leaving behind

  • Mother
  • 1 Haqeeqi sister
  • 2 Allaati sisters
  • 1 Wife
  • 1 Mafqood Akhyaafi brother
  • $195,000

Let us first decide whether we should set aside a share for the mafqood or not. As usual, we momentarily assume him to be a normal heir, and ask ourselves the following question: Does he partially or totally exclude another category which would have otherwise gotten its full share? The answer is “no”, therefore we will set aside a share for the mafqood akhyaafi brother.

Accordingly, the chart is shown below:

mafqood example 4a

As you can see, this is an `awl problem. Calculating the money values, we get:

Mother = $195,000(2/15) = $26,000
Haqeeqi sister = $195,000(6/15) = $78,000
Each Allaati sister = $195,000(1/15) = $13,000
Wife = $195,000(3/15) = $39,000
Akhyaafi brother = $195,000(2/15) = $26,000 [to be set aside in case of his return]

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 15 equal portions:

The Mother gets 2 portions.
The Haqeeqi sister gets 6 portions.
Each Allaati sister gets 1 portion.
The Wife gets 3 portions.

2 portions will be set aside for the mafqood akhyaafi brother in case he returns.

Now let us assume that the akhyaafi brother is declared dead. In such a case, that $26,000 which was set aside for him now needs to be redistributed among the rest of the heirs in ratio to their number of portions. Therefore, the $26,000 will be divided into 13 equal portions , (13 because you add up the number of portions of the eligible heirs) and each money value portion will be multiplied by the number of portions given to the heir. The result will then be added to the original money given to that heir.

Lets try this out:

$26,000 ÷ 13 = $2,000 <—— Money value of a single portion out of the 13 that will be distributed among the heirs.

Mother:
$2,000 x 2 = $4000
The mother will receive her original share of $26,000, plus the additional $4,000 from the mafqoods share, giving her a total of $30,000.

Haqeeqi sister:
$2,000 x 6 = $12,000
The haqeeqi sister will receive her original share of $78,000, plus the additional $12,000 from the mafqoods share, giving her a total of $90,000.

Each Allaati sister:
$2,000 x 1 = $2,000
Each allaati sister will receive her original share of $13,000, plus the additional $2,000 from the mafqoods share, giving each a total of $15,000.

Wife:
$2,000 x 3$6,000
The wife will receive her original share of $39,000, plus the additional $6,000 from the mafqoods share, giving her a total of $45,000.

Alternately, we can calculate the shares in terms of portions. Easiest way to do this is to make a new chart, with the mafqood excluded this time, as shown below:

If we calculate the money values according to the above chart (by multiplying $195,000 by the fractions formed by the portions and the base number), the answers should come out the same, insha’Allah.

We hope, insha’Allah, that the explanations and demonstrations in this post were clear and easy to understand. Before concluding the post, we will – as usual – leave you with an example problem to do on your own, the answer to which will be given in the next post insha’Allah.

A woman dies leaving behind:

  • Maternal grandmother
  • Father
  • 2 Akhyaafi brothers
  • 1 Mafqood son

How will the estate be divided and distributed? Specifically, will a share be set aside for the mafqood according to the rule we discussed? If a share is set aside, how will the distribution change if the son is declared dead? If a share is NOT set aside, how will the distribution change if the son returns?

Note: There are no money values to calculate in this scenario. Calculations should only be in terms of number of portions.

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