What are the general principles of Inheritance?

In this article, you will read about the general principles of Inheritance. You should know that under the Islamic rules of law, the concept of general principles of Inheritance is meant where a legal heir of the deceased person is entitled to receive the property of the deceased. Which he has left behind him either by will or by operation of law. After the death of a Muslim, his properties are used for the payment of funeral expenses, resuming of debts and the legacies, after these payments the remaining property is called heritable property.

The following headings are important to understand the general principles of Inheritance:

Definition of Guardian
Importance of inheritance in Islam
Objects of Inheritance
General Principles of Inheritance
Sharer of Inheritance

Definition of Guardian

The term inheritance is referred to as someone lawfully receives property upon the death of his relative as his legal heir even without a will.

Importance of Inheritance in Islam

Following Hadith shows the importance of inheritance in Islam.

Hazrat Anas (R.A) narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, If anyone deprives an heir of his inheritance, Allah will deprive him of his inheritance in Paradise on the Day of Restoration.

Objects of Inheritance

Following are the objects of the inheritance under Islamic law. When a Muslim dies there are four duties that need to be performed by heirs.

Funeral and Burial Expenses

It is the main object of the  inheritance is that expenses of funeral and burial to be paid from the property of the deceased

Clearance of All Debts

It is the second object of the inheritance is that all debts of the deceased to be paid from the property of the deceased

Determination of Will

It is the third and important object of the inheritance is that a will to be determined if it was made by the deceased during his lifetime. Which can only be a maximum of one-third of the property

Distribution of Remainder Property

It is the fourth and the last object of the inheritance is that remains of the property of the deceased to be distributed among the relatives of the deceased accreting to Shariah Law.

General Principles of Inheritance

Whenever a Muslim dies, all his property will be inherited by his legal hefts. Subsequently, on the death of every such legal heir, the following are some principles of inheritance.

Fundamental Birth Right

A newly born child is not entitled to get the right of inheritance on his birth. He cannot get this right until the death of ancestors. After the death of an ancestor, he can become its legal heir and is entitled to get a share in the property of the deceased.

Doctrine of Representation

Under this doctrine, if during the lifetime A an ancestor, his legal heir dies but leaves latter heirs behind him; In this case, such heir will get entitled to receive the share of the property of the deceased as he is representing his immediate generation.

Per-capita Distribution

Method of per capita distribution of property is used under the Sunni law, according to this method; the property of a deceased person is equally distributed among the hefts. That’s why; the shares of each pet on depending on the number of heirs.

Per-stip Distribution

Method of per strip distribution of property is used under the Shia law, according to this method, the property of a deceased person is not equally distributed among the heirs. That’s why the shares of each person are not equal.

Female’s Right of Inheritance

Under Muslim law, there is no difference between the inherited rights of men and women on the death of their ancestors. However, there is a general rule that the amount of share of a female heir is half of the male heir. The justification of this rule that the female shall receive dower and maintenance from her husband after her marriage.

Rights of a Childless Widow

Under the Shia law, a Muslim widow who does not have any children shall be entitled to inherit one-fourth share of the property of the deceased husband. But, a widow who has children is entitled to one- eighth of the deceased husband, property.

Note: if a Muslim man who gets married during a period of his illness and dies without having sexual Intercourse, in such case the widow shall not be entitled to inherit on the property of the deceased husband.

Child’s Right of Inheritance in the Womb

Under Muslim law, a child in the womb can only be entitled to the sham in the property of the deceased if he is born alive. But if he is born dead in this case his right will be abolished with him and it will be presumed that this right never existed.

Step Children’s Right of Inheritance

Under Islamic law, the general principle of inheritance of stepchildren is not entitled to get the right of inheritance after the death of their deceased step-parents.

Remember: If a Muslim who marries with a widow and a widow has a son from her previous husband, in this case, son of a widow is a stepson for her husband.

Government as Legal Heir

Under the Islamic rules of law, if a person dies without leaving any hefts behind him in this case the property of such person will go under the control of existing government and state become the legal heir of the deceased property.

Sharer of Inheritance

Following are the sharers of inheritance:

  • Husband
  • Wife
  • Daughter
  • Son
  • Father
  • Father of father
  • Mother
  • Mother of mother
  • Full Sister
  • Consanguine sister
  • Uterine sister
  • Uterine brother

You should read about the Role of a Lawyer in our Modern Society.


To sum up the above discussion, I can say that there are some general principles of inheritance in Islamic Law. These general principles of inheritance are part of Pakistan law as well.


I am interested in writing content for educational purpose.

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