Second Category of Zaawil Arhaam

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The second category of zaawil arhaam consists of ascendants who are not already zaawil furoodh or `asabaat and may only inherit if the first category does not exist. This category can be split up into the following two classes:

Class 1: Maternal grandfather

Class 2:

  1. The maternal grandfather of the mayyit’s father – Father’s Mother’s Father
  2. The paternal grandfather of the mayyit’s mother – Mother’s Father’s Father
  3. Mother’s maternal grandfather – Mother’s Mother’s Father
  4. Mother’s paternal grandmother – Mother’s Father’s Mother

As you can see, class 1 consists of only a single male while class 2 consists of three males and one female. Please also note that class 1 excludes class 2.

Note that there are further generations of grandparents who are zaawil arhaam, but we are leaving them out due to their almost complete non-existence in a non-hypothetical situation.  We are only going to discuss up to three generations above the mayyit (i.e. great-grandparents).

But nevertheless, just to show you the extent of how many ascendants are zaawil arhaam, we’ve created the following diagram below:

Grandparent tree diagram

You can click on the diagram or HERE to see a larger version.

The right side is maternal (ascendants from the mother’s line) and the left side is paternal (ascendants from the father’s line). Starting from the parents up, there are 5 generations of ascendants. The mayyit’s generation does not count.

M —-> Grandmother

F —–> Grandfather

The M and F immediately above the mayyit are the Mother and Father. They are not included in this discussion. Those crossed out with the red lines are zaawil arhaam, the rest are zaawil furoodh.

As you can see, the only ascendant crossed out in the second generation above the mayyit is the maternal grandfather (mother’s father), and there are four ascendants crossed out in the third generation. Up to this point, at least, the diagram matches with the list of zaawil arhaam ascendants we’ve provided. Beyond that it becomes increasingly unrealistic for such ascendants to exist for a mayyit, which is why we will not even be bringing the fourth plus generation into the discussion. But still the fuqahaa (jurists) have gone ahead and labeled such ascendants as either zaawil arhaam or zaawil furoodh.

Now that you have a visual aid for the zaawil arhaam ascendants we’ll be discussing, lets go in deeper insha’Allah.

The detailed rules for each class are presented below, followed by examples.

Class 1

  1. Since this class consists of only the maternal grandfather, if he exists he will inherit the entire estate.

Example 1: A man dies leaving behind

  • 2 Wives
  • Maternal grandfather
  • Mother’s father’s father

Mother’s father’s father is excluded by the maternal grandfather. The wives will get their share and the residue will go to the maternal grandfather.

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 8 equal portions:

Each Wife will get 1 portion.
The Maternal grandfather will get 6 portions.

Notice that in this case the grandfather did not receive the entire estate as we mentioned, rather he received the residue after the wives got their share. Keep in mind the following: when we mention that a zaawil arhaam heir will inherit the entire estate, we mean this only if there is no spouse present. If a spouse is present, the spouse will get his/her share and the residue will be given to the zaawil arhaam heir(s). So in effect, the zaawil arhaam will either inherit the entire estate (in  absence of a spouse) or the entire residue (in the presence of a spouse).

Class 2

  1. If only a single member exists, he/she will get the entire estate.
  2. If multiple males exist, the estate will be divided equally among them.
  3. If a mix of males and the female (the only female in this class) exist, they will inherit in a 2:1 ratio.

Example 2: A woman dies leaving behind

  • Husband
  • Mother’s mother’s father

The husband will gets his share (of 1/2) and the rest will go to the great-grandfather.

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 2 equal portions:

The Husband will get 1 portion.
The great-grandfather will get 1 portion.

Example 3: A man dies leaving behind

  • Father’s mother’s father
  • Mother’s father’s father
  • Mother’s father’s mother

Since there are two males and one female here, the estate will be divided between them in a 2:1 ratio.

Final Answer: The estate will be divided into 5 equal portions:

Father’s mother’s father gets 2 portions.
Mother’s father’s father gets 2 portions.
Mother’s father’s mother gets 1 portion.


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