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How to calculate inheritance in Islam

How to split Inheritance in Islam

In the Islamic tradition, the rules around the distribution of wealth are carefully outlined in the Shariah and apply to every Muslim. These rules are strict and do not differ from person to person, which is the primary difference between an Islamic will and a conventional will.

While the fixed shares of one’s wealth are outlined in the Shariah, there are a number of conditions that must be met in each case. Bequeathing or ‘gifting’ is also allowed in an Islamic will, given that certain conditions are also met.

It can be tricky to know where to start when compiling an Islamic will, since the matter is rich in rules and guidelines. Seeking professional advice, services and support is crucial for ensuring that your will is valid.

Rules about inheritance in Islam

Heirs and their shares

In Islam, the heirs of a deceased Muslim’s wealth are determined in the Shariah and apply to every Muslim. What’s more, a Muslim is not permitted to distribute their wealth to only a select few of the heirs that are outlined, the heirs and their shares are fixed.

Primary or Fixed Heirs (Ashab-ul-Furud)

First six primary heirs

The Qur’an specifically outlines those who are in every instance eligible for inheritance. These heirs are:

Mother, Father, Wife, Husband, Daughter, and Son.

Parents (father and mother) 

The amount that parents (father and mother) inherit from their deceased child is typically 1/6 each. However, this can vary in some instances (please see example below).

Husband or wife

In Islam, a wife is entitled to a quarter share of her husband’s estate upon his passing if she has no children. In the instance that she does have children, she is only entitled to one eighth. If the wife passes, the husband will receive half of the deceased wife’s estate if she has no children, and a quarter share if she does.

According to UK law, if the husband and wife have joint ownership of an estate, the entire ownership of the asset automatically passes to the surviving partner upon the death of the other.

Children (sons and daughters) 

Under Islamic law, daughters typically inherit half of the share of the son. There are several reasons for this. Most importantly, the law represents her right to inheritance.


In the Islamic tradition, the paternal grandfather may inherit in the absence of a father of the deceased, but a maternal grandfather may not.

The paternal grandfather will receive 1/6 of a share in the presence of the following heirs:

  • Son(s)
  • Male descendant(s)
  • Combination of son(s) and daughter(s)
  • Male descendant(s) and daughter(s)
  • Male and female descendant(s)

In the presence of the following, the paternal grandfather will receive 1/6 + residue:

  • Daughter(s),
  • Female descendant(s)
  • Combination of the daughter(s) and female descendant(s)
Other primary heirs – Includes grandchildren, half-siblings

Other primary heirs include grandchildren and half-siblings, who inherit in the instance that the deceased does not have relatives in the first and second categories.

Secondary or Residual Heirs (Al-Asabat)

Secondary or residual heirs inherit in the instance that there are no primary six heirs. These include:

  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Other distant relatives.

Other Heirs – Distant Relatives (Dhawul-Arham)

Dhawul-Arham or extended family may receive inheritance, only in the instance that there are no primary or secondary heirs. These include:

First class heirs

First Class heirs are otherwise referred to as Qur’anic heirs. These consist of:

  • Four males: Husband, maternal brother, father, and paternal grandfather
  • Nine females: Wife, daughter, son’s daughter, mother, paternal grandmother, maternal grandmother, full sister, maternal sister, and paternal sister
Second class heirs

Residuary relatives in this category only inherit in the event that there are no first-class heirs. These residuary relatives are related to the deceased through the male line only.

All the residuary are related to the deceased through males only. The residuary relatives are further divided into the following sub-categories:

  • Son(s) or male lineal descendants
  • Father of grandfather of deceased
  • Offspring of father, including full brothers, consanguine brothers, and their male lineage
  • Offspring of grandfather
Third class heirs

Wealth distributed to third class heirs are a rare occurrence as none of the first or second class heirs will have survived in order for the third class to be eligible. These are considered distant relatives and consist of the following:

  • Descendants from daughters
  • Grandparents’ descendants through a female
  • Descendants through parents
  • Descendants through grandparents

Denying inheritance

The ability to deny inheritance occurs in only very specific circumstances, as there are strict and fixed rules around who is entitled to inheritance, which must be adhered to by every Muslim.

A person found guilty of homicide is an example of when inheritance may be denied to an heir, but for every individual case you must seek a scholar to assess your situation and provide a specific ruling.

Obligations and bequests

Whilst the rules regarding inheritance are already determined by the Shariah, it is possible to leave behind gifts (also referred to as bequests).

In the Shariah, there is the option to bequeath some of your assets to whomever at your discretion, including, for example, a charity or institution. However, you are only permitted to do so up to a maximum of 1/3 of your total estate, with the remaining 2/3of your assets divided according to the Shariah.

Pre-inheritance obligations

When compiling an Islamic will, it is imperative that one factors in the following expenses:

  • Making sure that the debts of a Muslim are paid
  • Ensuring that any Kaffarah is paid (any missed fasts/penalty payments – this varies between Islamic schools of thought or Madhhabs)
  • Making sure that funeral costs are accounted for

Doing so ensures the wellbeing of one’s afterlife, as well as the wellbeing and security of the loved ones remaining and the Muslim community at large. Taking care of one’s affairs is a duty upon every Muslim throughout their lifetime as it has a compounding effect on those who remain.

Nuzriah before death

The Nuzriah, or Nazar is a vow that a Muslim can make whilst alive to dedicate part or all of their wealth to another party before their death.

An example of this is that of a husband performing Nazar for his house to be gifted to his wife while he is alive, with the intention that it will not be sold and distributed among the legal beneficiaries.

Paying Zakat on inheritance

Once one is in receipt of their inheritance, it is potentially zakatable and the value needs to be looked at alongside any other zakatable wealth.

Example of Islamic inheritance distribution

Here’s a simple example of how assets may be divided according to the Shariah between a husband and wife:

Upon the passing of a husband:

Wife 1 12.50% 1/8

Son 1 36.11% 13/36

Daughter 1 18.06% 13/72

Mother 16.67% 1/6

Father 16.67% 1/6

Upon the passing of a wife:

Husband 25.00% 1/4

Son 1 20.83% 5/24

Son 2 20.83% 5/24

Mother 16.67% 1/6

Father 16.67% 1/6

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We ensure our content is reviewed and verified by qualified scholars to provide you with the most accurate information. This webpage was last reviewed by Sheikh Salim Al-Azhari.

Page last reviewed: 31 August 2022

Next review due: Within 12 months

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