What principles are used to determine inheritance in an Islamic Will? مبادئ الوصية الإسلامية

People often ask what key principles determine the inheritance rights in an Islamic Will. Simply, it comes down to 3 factors:

  1. Relationship
  2. Generational Category
  3. Financial Burdens

Relationship is the simplest factor as it directly relates to how close of a relative the individual is. The closeness of the degree of relation is what determines if there is any entitlement and the size of the portion the individual is entitled to. For example, a son would block a grandson from inheriting and a brother would block an uncle.

Generational Category refers to whether an individual is from an older of younger generation. Individuals from younger generations are entitled to larger portions in comparison to those of older generations. The reasoning from this comes from the fact that older generations (e.g. grandparents) are further along in life and tend to have fewer financial responsibilities than younger generations.

Financial Burdens come into play after the first 2 principles if there are still multiple individuals in the group that is left. It refers specifically to the varying financial burdens between males and females in Islam. The most common example is when sons are willed more than the daughters. This is often the most contentious principle as it is sometimes viewed as being discriminatory.

Once these principles are understood it becomes fairly easy to make sense of the inheritance rights as they need to be in Islamic Wills.