What does Muslim personal law say on inheritance?

Source: The post is based on the article “What does Muslim personal law say on inheritance?” published in The Hindu on 29th March 2023

What is the News?

A Muslim couple from Kerala has recently decided to get their marriage registered under the Special Marriage Act (SMA), almost 30 years after getting married according to Islamic principles. 

The couple has done this so that principles of the SMA Act could apply to matters of inheritance in his family, and enable his daughters to inherit the couple’s property under the Indian Succession Act, of 1925. The couple has three daughters and no sons.

This decision has put the spotlight on Islamic principles of inheritance. 

What does Islamic Law say?

The Quran clearly outlines the principles of inheritance for both direct and indirect heirs.

According to the rules on the division of property in Islam, a daughter gets half the share of the son. So if a son inherits a plot of 100 meters from the father, the daughter gets a plot of 50 metres or half the value of the 100-metre plot. 

If a couple has only a daughter or daughters, the daughters can inherit only two-thirds of the father’s property. Beyond that, the shares are for the mother and for paternal blood relatives.

What are the other options available under Islamic Law?

Within Islamic law, options are available to such a couple in case they want the property to remain within the family. 

The first option is to make a will or vasiyat under which a person can declare that upon his death, a particular heir shall inherit not more than one-third of the property. This is often done in case one of the children is not financially sound, or has special needs, or has served his or her parents more than other children. 

The second option is the concept of virasat. Under virasat or inheritance, there is the option of hiba which allows the unrestricted transfer of wealth or property to a person during the lifetime of the donor. This is like a gift deed. 

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