Introduction to Zaawil Arhaam

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In the very first post, The 3 Main Types of Heirs, we learned about the three major types of heirs in `ilm-ul-faraa’idh. These were: zaawil furoodh, `asabaat and zaawil arhaam. At this point, we know quite a bit about the first two types, alhamdulillah. Now, insha’Allah, as promised in the first post, its time to commence a a detailed study of the third type of heir.

Until now, we have been referring to the zaawil arhaam members simply as “non-heirs” for the sake of simplicity. We will no longer be doing this. Now, the only non-heirs are The True Non-Heirs. From this point on, the zaawil arhaam will simply be referred to as zaawil arhaam.

The members of the zaawil arhaam group can be loosely defined as potential heirs who are not already zaawil furoodh or `asabaat.

The zaawil arhaam are divided into four categories:

  1. Descendants (grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.)
  2. Ascendants (grandparents, great-grandparents etc.)
  3. Nephews and Nieces
  4. Uncles, Aunts and Cousins

Each category refers only to those members who are not already zaawil furoodh or `asabaat. So “descendants” in the above list does not refer to children of the son, as we already know that these are zaawil furoodh or `asabaat.

The four categories above will be covered in detail in upcoming posts insha’Allah. But for now, lets cover some basic rules regarding zaawil arhaam:

Rule #1: Zaawil arhaam only inherit if there are no zaawil furoodh or `asabaat. All zaawil furoodh and `asabaat members automatically exclude all zaawil arhaam members. The only exception to this are the spouses. If the mayyit leaves behind a spouse and zaawil arhaam members, the spouse will be given his/her share and the rest will be given to the zaawil arhaam. Side note:  This is why we initially referred to the zaawil arhaam as simply “non-heirs”, because cases where they inherit are relatively rare, and a beginner should focus more on the zaawil furoodh and `asabaat inheriting. Cases of a mayyit leaving behind only a spouse and zaawil arhaam or no zaawil furoodh/`asabaat (and thus, allowing the zaawil arhaam to actually inherit) are very infrequent.

Rule #2: The order of the above four categories of zaawil arhaam is very important. In the presence of the first category, the second, third and fourth are excluded. Similarly, the second category excludes the third and fourth, and the third category excludes the fourth. Essentially, each category excludes every category below it. Consequently, in any case of inheritance, only a single category of zaawil arhaam may inherit.

Rule #3: Zaawil Arhaam are similar to `asabaat in that they do not have fixed shares. The estate is simply divided equally between members or in a 2:1 ratio depending on the heirs. This rule will be understood more as we learn about each category, insha’Allah.

The next few posts, insha’Allah, will focus on an in-depth study of the four categories of zaawil arhaam.

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