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 • Wills and Estates

The Islamic law of succession is based on a system of rights that accrue to the legal heirs of the deceased person by the operation of law. Surviving relatives of the deceased are categorized into an order of precedence based upon the degree and strength of blood relationship. Descendants precede ascendants, who in turn precede the issue of the parents and, finally, the issue of the grandparents. Within each class, the relative nearer in degree to the praepositus excludes the more remote one, and among collateral relatives who are equal in degree, the germane relative (or his issue) excludes the consanguine (or his issue). Subject to these rules of exclusion are three major principles relating to entitlement and size of share.

First, only a limited number of female relatives are normally entitled to inherit at all. These are the widow, the daughter (or agnatic granddaughter), the mother (or grandmother) and the sisters (germane, consanguine or uterine) of the deceased. Other female relatives, such as non-agnatic granddaughters, nieces and aunts, ordinarily are not entitled legal heirs.

The second principle is that entitled females, when not competing with a male of identical blood relationship, take defined fractional portion of the estate. The size of the portion varies according to the nature and the number of competing heirs. A spouse relict, for example, takes 1/8 of the estate if issue of her deceased husband survive, and if there are no such issue. These Qur'anic portions' (so called because the fractional allotments are specified in the Qur'an itself) are minor shares of estate, deductible before the major portion of it passes by residual succession. Qur'anic portions are also allotted to the husband and father (or grandfather) as primary heirs, as well as to the uterine brother, when he is an entitled heir. View Articles

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