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Book: Inheritance according to the Five Schools of Islamic Law

The present book, vol. 7 of 8, is dedicated to dissecting the intricate ways of Inheritance, the conditions and situations that may occur. The issue is presented according to the five Schools of thought.

The heritage (al-tarikah) comprises the following things:

1. That which the deceased owned before his death in the form of:

a) tangible property,

b) debts,

c) any pecuniary right, e.g. the right consequent to tahjir (demarcation of ownerless vacant land with an intention of cultivating it), where he intends to cultivate ownerless vacant land and demarcates it by constructing a wall or something of the kind, thus acquiring a right to cultivate it in preference to others; or an option (haqq al-khayar) in a contract of sale; or the right of pre-emption; or the right of retaliation (qisas ) for murder or injury, where he is a guardian of the victim (e.g. if a person kills his son and then dies before retaliation, causing the right of qisas to change into a pecuniary right payable from the murderer’s estate, exactly like a debt).

2. That which the decedent comes to own at his death, e.g. compensation for unintentional homicide (al-qatl al-khata’), where the heirs opt for compensation instead of qisas. The rule applicable to this compensation is the one applicable to all other properties, and all those entitled to inherit, including husband and wife, will inherit from it.

3. That which the decedent comes to own after his death, e.g. an animal caught in a net that he had placed in his life, and similarly where he is a debtor and his creditor relinquishes the debt after his death or someone volunteers to pay it for him. Also, if an offender mutilates his body after his death and amputates his hand or leg, compensation will be taken from him. All these will be included in the heritage.

This work on the Shariah or Islamic Law offers a comparative study of the Divine Law that, according to authentic Islamic doctrines, embodies the Will of God in society. In the Islamic world view, God is the ultimate legislator. The five major schools that are used in the comparison are: Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi’i, Maliki and Jaf’ari.

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