#145: Inheriting from a Non-Muslim

Question:

Assalamualaikum ustaz. I’m a muallaf and my parents passed away while they have yet to embrace Islam and leave some assets. Is it permissible for me to receive the inheritance? Hope for an answer.

Answer:

Alhamdulillah, praise and gratitude to Allah SWT for His countless blessings for us all. Praise and salutations to our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those who follow his footsteps until the Last Day.

An inheritance is everything that is left by a deceased whether it is in the form of movable assets such as gold, silver, cash, furniture, stock and others or in the form of immovable assets such as land, house and others. All of these are included under the meaning of inheritance. Thus, when a person dies and left such and such assets as stated above, then they must be divided to the rightful heirs. [1]

Allah SWT states:

لِلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ نَصِيبًا مَفْرُوضًا

For men is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, and for women is a share of what the parents and close relatives leave, be it little or much – an obligatory share.” [1]

From Abdullah bin Abbas R.Anhuma, the Messenger PBUH said:

أَلْحِقُوا الفَرَائِضَ بِأَهْلِهَا، فَمَا بَقِيَ فَهُوَ لِأَوْلَى رَجُلٍ ذَكَرٍ

“Give the shares to those who are entitled to them, and what remains over goes to the nearest male heir.” [3]

According to the above Quranic verse and hadith of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, they show the sanctioning of inheriting the inheritance left for the rightful heirs. Imam al-Qurtubi in his commentary of this verse stated that this is the evidence of the inheritance division following the faraid. [4]

In madhhab al-Syafie, inheriting assets of a non-Muslim to a Muslim heir is impermissible. From Usamah bin Zaid R.Anhuma, the Prophet PBUH once said:

لاَ يَرِثُ المُسْلِمُ الكَافِرَ وَلاَ الكَافِرُ المُسْلِمَ

“A Muslim may not inherit from an infidel or an infidel from a Muslim.” [5]

Imam Ibn Abd al-Barr: It is thabit from the Prophet PBUH who said “A Muslim may not inherit from an infidel,” which is narrated by thiqah hadith scholars. Whoever differs from this hadith will actually argue against all the companions, tabi’in, jurists (fuqaha’) such as Malik, al-Laith, al-Thauri, al-Auza’ie, Abu Hanifah, Al-Syafi’ie, and all hadith scholar who stated the fiqh of the hadith states that a Muslim may not inherit from a non-Muslim just like a non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim as stated in the hadith. [6]

However, if the property left by the non-Muslim is a gift or hibah which has been bequeathed, then it can be accepted and benefited for his entire life.

According to the above question, a Muslim is impermissible to inherit from a non-Muslim based on the instruction of the Prophet PBUH. However, we are inclined towards the opinion that states if the asset is given as a gift (bequeath) then it is permissible to accept the inheritance. We suggest a discussion with all the family members regarding the inheritance left by one’s parents. Preserving family relationships is a must and it is a part of a good dakwah in introducing Islam.

May Allah SWT bless us with the understanding of our religion. Amin

Wallahu a’lam.

 

[1] See al-Fiqh al-Manhaji, 5/71

[2] Surah al-Nisa’: 7

[3] Narrated by al-Bukhari (6732), Muslim (1615)

[4] See Tafsir al-Qurtubi, 5/47

[5] Narrated by al-Bukhari (6764) and Muslim (1614)

[6] See al-Tamhid, 9/164

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