Inheritance under Muslim Law.

Inheritance under Muslim Law.

Muslim law of succession constitutes four sources of Islamic law:
1. The Holy Quran
2. The Sunna, the practice of the Prophet
3. The Ijma, the consensus of the learned men of the community on what should be the decision on a particular point
4. The Qiya, that is, an analogical deduction of what is right and just in accordance with the good principles laid down by God.

Muslim law recognizes two types of heirs, Sharers and Residuaries. Sharers are the ones who are entitled to certain share in the deceased’s property and Residuaries would take up the share in the property that is left over after the sharers have taken their part.
The Sharers are 12 in number and are as follows:
(1) Husband,
(2) Wife,
(3) Daughter,
(4) Daughter of a son (or son's son or son's son and so on),
(5) Father,
(6) Paternal Grandfather,
(7) Mother,
(8) Grandmother on the male line,
(9) Full sister
(10) Consanguine sister
(11) Uterine sister, and
(12) Uterine brother.

The share taken by each sharer will vary in certain conditions. For instance, a wife takes 1/4th of share in a case where the couple are without lineal descendants, and a one-eighth share otherwise.

Features of the Muslim Law of Inheritance:

  • Non Testamentary and Testamentary succession under Muslim law:
    In Non testamentary succession, the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) Application Act, 1937 gets applied.

  • Distribution of the Property:
    Under the Muslim law, distribution of property can be made in two ways – per capita or
    per strip distribution. Per capita distribution method is majorly used in the Sunni law. According to this method, the estate left over by the ancestors gets equally distributed among the heirs. Therefore, the share of each person depends on the number of heirs.
    According Per strip distribution method of property inheritance, the property gets distributed among the heirs according to the strip they belong to.

  • Birth right:
    Inheritance of property in Muslim law comes only after the death of a person, any child born into a Muslim family does not get his right to property on his birth.

  • Widow’s right to succession:
    Under Muslim law, no widow is excluded from succession. A childless Muslim widow is entitled to 1/4 of the property of the deceased husband, after meeting his funeral and legal expenses and debts. However, a widow who has children or grandchildren is entitled to 1/8 of the deceased husband's property.

  • A Child in the Womb:
    He/she is regarded as a living person and the property vests immediately in that child.

  • Rights of females:
    Muslim does not create any distinction between the rights of men and women. On the death of their ancestor, nothing can prevent both girl and boy child to become the legal heirs of inheritable property

  • Escheat:
    Properties are inherited by Government where a deceased Muslim has no legal heir under Muslim law.

  • Marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954:
    Where a Muslim contracts his marriage under the Special Marriage Act, 1954, he ceases to be a Muslim for purposes of inheritance. Accordingly, after the death of such a Muslim his (or her) properties do not devolve under Muslim law of inheritance but by the provisions of the Indian Succession Act, 1925.


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