An-Nisa · Juz 4 · Qur'an Tafseer

Some Additional Rules of Inheritance

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

In his Tafseer, Ma’arif-ul-Qur’an, Mufti Muhammad Shafi Usmani gives some additional rules of inheritance, which are as follows:

A Muslim Cannot Inherit From A Disbeliever

Although, the distribution of inheritance is based on the nearness of kinship there are certain exceptions to this rule. First, the deceased and his inheritor should not be from two different religions.

Therefore, a Muslim will not inherit from a disbeliever and no disbeliever will inherit from a Muslim, no matter what lineal relationship they may have between them. The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said,

“The Muslim does not inherit the disbeliever, nor does the disbeliever inherit the Muslim.”

This rule relates to a situation when a person is a Muslim or a disbeliever by birth. But, if a person who first a Muslim, turned away from Islam and became an apostate and died in that state, all his earnings while being a Muslim shall go to his Muslim inheritors, and whatever he may have earned after his apostasy shall be deposited in the Bayt al-Maal [Public Exchequer].

However, if a woman becomes an apostate, all her property, whether acquired during her days of Islam or during apostasy, shall go to her Muslim inheritors. However, an apostate as such, man or woman, shall not inherit from any Muslim or from any other apostate.

[The Punishment for Apostasy]

The Inheritance of the Killer

If someone kills a person from whose property he was entitled to receive a share, he shall no longer remain his inheritor and shall be excluded from the inheritance of the person he has killed.

The Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhu wa sallam said, “The killer shall not inherit.”

However, some forms of qatl al-khataa [accidental or unintended homicide] are excepted from this rule, details of which appear in books of Fiqh [jurisprudence].

[Prescribed for You is Qisas, for those Murdered]

The Inheritance of the Unborn Child

If a person leaves some children and his wife is pregnant, then this unborn child will also be counted among the heirs. But, since it is either difficult or uncertain to determine the gender or the number of children in the mother’s womb, it would be appropriate to postpone the distribution of inheritance until the birth of the child. [Here, one may argue that with the latest technology it is easy to determine the gender of the child or their number, however, even today we come across many incidences when a girl is born while the ultrasound showed a boy or twins and triplets are born while the ultrasound showed only one child. Therefore, the law of inheritance requires waiting until the delivery of the child because one does not even know if the child will be born alive.]

The Inheritance of a Woman in the Period of ‘Iddah

In case a person divorces his wife and the divorce is revocable and this person dies before the revocation of the divorce and the expiry of his wife’s waiting period, then this woman will get a share in the inheritance, for the marriage is still valid.

If a person divorces his wife during his sickness culminating in his death even though the divorce is irrevocable or pronounced thrice and he died before the expiry of the waiting period, even then, this woman will get a share in the inheritance. In order to make her inherit, the longer of the two waiting periods shall be taken as operative in the following manner:

The waiting period following a divorce is three menstrual periods and the waiting period following the death of the husband is four lunar months and ten days. The waiting period out of the two which lasts longer shall be prescribed as the waiting period for the aforesaid woman so that the woman may get a share in the inheritance.

And if a person divorces his wife, irrevocably or by pronouncing it thrice, prior to any sickness culminating in his death and a few days later he passes away during the period of his wife’s waiting period, then, she will not get a share in the inheritance under this situation. However, if the divorce given was revocable, she will inherit.

[The Iddah – Waiting Period – of the Widow]


If a wife secures a separation from the husband at her own instance i.e. khul or annulment of marriage within the period of his sickness which culminates in his death, then she will not inherit anything even though her husband may die during her waiting period.

These are only some of the rulings pertaining to inheritance – one must consult a Mufti or a qualified scholar when someone passes away and the matter of distribution of inheritance arises.

We ask Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala to guide us to what is best and enable to implement His commands in our lives with excellence, ameen.

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