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Jamal Ahmed (Lecturer)     22 April 2011

Property distribution under Muslim Law


Hello All

Need legal advice from any of the experts on this forum. This is regarding distribution and claim to father's property by children after father's death.

My name is Jamal Ahmed, i'm from Bangalore working as lecturer in a private college. We are practising Sunni Muslim family. I am the only son of my parents and I have 3 sisters who are married and well settled in their respective in-laws homes.

My father currently owns a big independent home in Bangalore worth Rs. 1 Crore. He has acquired this property through his own hard work and its not any ancestral property. As per a mutual discussion and agreement with my sisters, he gave each one of them Rs. 10 Lakhs as their one-time settlement and share in 2005. He had then decided that he will give me the independent home.

However, my sisters are now quarelling for more share of money and threatening to go to court. Their greedy husbands are behind this nasty behavior. I and my father are upset about this and want to find out:

1. What is the legal procedure by which my father can transfer this home to me in Bangalore? What papers are required? Who all should be witnesses to this transfer?

2. As per Muslim personal Law, my father has already provided my sisters their share of Rs. 10 Lakh each and treated it as full and final. All money was given in the form of Demand Drafts. Can my sisters approach the court now for claiming more share in property?

3. Can this home be transferred to me as a Gift Deed? 

4. Are there any other fool-proof mechanisms by which my father can transfer this property to me, so that after his death no problems can be created by my sisters?

All responses to this query will be highly appreciated.





 14 Replies

Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh)     06 September 2011

The factional shares in estate which are the entitlement of certain relatives are dealt with as an arithmetical discipline by applying particular techniques and methods of exposition adopted by the traditional Arabic authorities, and place an unnecessary strain upon the powers of comprehension of the common woman or even a modern lawyers."
Such an example is:
1) Families as grounds of inheritance Marriage: spouse relict in succession law.
Capacity of women Only in Hanafi and Shia law, has an adult woman the legal capacity to contract her own marriage guardian must conclude the contract on her behalf and any marriage contract without his intervention, in person or through his agent, is a complete nullity.
This is a quite separate issue from that of whether or not the bride's consent to the marriage is necessary. This latter question is determined by the extent of the guardian's power over his ward.
All schools recognize, in principle, that a power of 'matrimonial constraint' termed ijbar, is vested in a marriage guardian, who may validly contract his ward in marriage at his discretion and regardless of the ward's wishes in the matter. In Hanafi law the right belongs first to male agnate relatives in accordance with a system of priorities broadly parallel to that of priorities in inheritance -father, paternal grandfather followed by the agnatic brothers, nephews, uncles and cousins and failing them to females and non-agnate relatives. The ward may repudiate the marriage on attaining puberty.
Modern reforms In registration of marriage as a necessary legal formality in most muslim countries. In Pakistan and Tunisia, the effect of procedural regulation is to deny judicial relief to the parties to an unregistered marriage which is disputed, and this may result in an inability to establish a claim of inheritance as a spouse relict.
Marriageable age In Egypt for example, a law of 1923 provided that a marriage where the bridegroom was below the age of eighteen years or the bride below the age of sixteen could not be registered and therefore could not, if disputed be the subject of judicial relief. Capacity - the woman's consent to the marriage is now as a general rule, essential for its validity. A Maliki - woman may, now validly conclude her own marriage contract.
Women observing Idda. Idda is a period of waiting imposed upon a wife after the termination of her marriage. In cases of widowhood, the idda also serves as a mark of mourning for a deceased husband and lasts for a prescribed period of four months and ten days, or until the birth of the child in cases of pregnancy.
Difference of religion A Muslim woman is allowed to marry only a Muslim, while a Muslim male may marry either a Muslim or a woman belonging to a religion which has a revealed scriptture such as Judaism or Christianity.
A spouse relict inherits only if the marriage is valid in every respect. The right of inheritance arises from the marriage contract itself and does not depend upon consumption of the marriage. Rights of inheritance cease immediately upon an irrevocable divorce and do not persist during the wife's idda.
The system and instances of divorce in Islamic law are so common and easy that many women are divorced thus leave their entitlement to inheritance.
2. Blood relationship (nasab) Asaba rights of inheritance arise only from blood relationship and not from relationship by affinity or by fosterage. In the traditional Sunni law, the family group knitted together by the web of social rights and obligations was the extended agnatic family of males linked through males to a common ancenstor. Although maternal relatives do have rights of inheritance the main emphasis lies on the paternal connection and indeed the primary significance of the word nasab is that of paternity.
Legitimacy of birth is the legal postulate for admission to the family group. Illegitimacy precludes the existence of any legal bondbetween the blood relatives of the fathers on the one hand an the illegimate child and its issue on the other.
In sunni law, the mother and her illegitimate child and between their respective relatives, recognize the existence of legal duties and rights including those of inheritance. There is no process by which a child can be legitimized for example by the subsequent marriage of its parents and the law does not recognize any institution of adoptive paternity. Legitimacy in the conception of the child during the lawful wedlock of its parents.
Presumption of paternity Presumption of paternity arising from marriage, that a child born to a married woman is the legitimate child of her husband is expressed in the Arabic maxim: "al-walad li'l-firash", meaning " the child belongs to the marriage bed"
Acknowledgement of paternity An acknowledgement (iqrar) of paternity is not a process of legitimation but the formal recognition of a status of legitimacy which exists in fact. It may be implied by the deliberate conduct of a person who treats a child as his legitimate child. Subject to repudiation by an acknowledgee who is adult and sane, an acknowledgement of paternity is binding for all purposes and irrevocable.
Eqyptian legislation provided: That one solar year was to be regarded as the maximum period of gestation. In mo----------------law - the attention of the court so as the assistance of medical experts may be invoked for a solution.
1. It would appear that the traditional procedure of li-'an, though almost obsolete in practice, is still in law available to a husband in order to disown a child when he cannot establish non-access within the gestation period. 2. Li-'an in Tunisian law, states:- "If a husband disowns the child with which his wife is pregnant, or the child which is presumed to be his, this repudiation will not be effective withot a decree of court and in such a matter all legal means of proof may be used…if the court confirms the repudiation of paternity…it shall pass a decree of illegitimacy and of physical separation between the spouses."
Priorities in inheritance Dual basis of entitlement. The wife of sa'ad b. al-Rabi' came to the prophet with her two daughters and said: "O prophet, these are the daughters of 'Sa-ad -Rabi Their fathers died a martyr's death beside you in battle. But their uncle has taken Sa-'ad's estate and they cannot marry unless they have property." After this the verse of inheritance was revealed and the prophet sent for the uncle and said to him: "Give the two draughts of Sa'ad two- thirds of the estate, give their mother one -eighth and keep the remainder yourself."
The pre-islamic Arabia system of inheritance was designed to keep property within the individual tribe and maintain its strength as a fighting force. The tribe was patriarchal and patrilineal.
Women occupied a subordinate and subjugated position within the group whose bond of allegiance was that of asabiyya- descent through male links from a common ancestor.
A woman who married into another group belonged henceforth, along with her children, to the tribe of the husband. The maternal relationship therefore lay outside the structure of tribal ties and responsibilities. In these circumstances, the proper exploitation and preservation of the tribal patrimony meant, inter alia, the exclusion of females and non-agnate relatives from inheritance and the enjoyment of a monopoly of rights of succession by the male agnate relatives, or asaba, of the deceased.
Hence, the initial appropriation of Sa-'ad's estate by his brothers, as his nearest male agnate, to the exclusion of the wife and daughters.
Socially, islam emphasized the more immediate family ties existing between a husband, his wife and their children, and aimed at elevating the status of the female within this group. As mirrored in the novel rules of succession introduced by Islam. Politically the bond of a common religious faith, transcended tribal ties within the brotherhood of Muslims there was no place, in theory for intertribal hostilities and warfare. In Sunni view, the rules of the quran on inheritance do not altogether abrogate but merely modify the customary system of succession by superimposing upon it a new class of legal heirs.
The male agnates still exist and inherit, but now after the satisfaction of the claims of those relatives nominated by the quran.
Thus the Islamic of inheritance rests basically upon the recognition of two distinct categories of legal heirs - the male agnates or asaba, the heirs of the tribal customary law, and the new quranic heirs who are called ahl al -faraid (those entitled to prescribed portions). Early Muslim jurists fused together these two distinct basic elements gradually into a cohesive system.
But this process of amalgamation was not a simple one, and almost all the major complexities of the law stem from its dual basis and the attempt to harmonise the claims of these two categories of legal heirs.
Classification of heirs 1. Quranic heirs (ahl al- faraid) 2. male agnates (asaba) 3. distant kindred (dhawu l-arham) priority in succession is a term strictly used in the present context to distinguish between those surviving relatives of the praepositus who are legal heirs and those who are not, in the sense that a relative who has priority over another totally excludes the latter from any rights of inheritance. When it comes to the subsequent issue of the distribution of the estate among the legal heirs, the quranic heirs may be said to have priority over the male agnates in so far as the satisfaction of their allotted portions is the first charge upon the estate.
Indeed the result of this golden rule of distribution may be that in certain circumstances the satisfaction of the quranic portions completely exhausts the estate so that nothing of the inheritance remains for the male agnates as residuary heirs. In these cases, the residuary heirs are excluded from inheritance not directly by any rue of law which declares their relationship with the praepositus to be inferior to that of the other claimants, but indirectly by the fact that a certain number of other heirs happen to have survived. These cases are, therefore, perhaps best regarded as cases of defacto exclusion, to distinguish them from the cases of de jure exclusion where one relative is deemed by law to have a superior tie of relationship and thereby excludes other relatives from inheritance. It is the principles of such de jure exclusion that provide the logical starting point of the law of inheritance.
Example A daughter or granddaughter does not exclude any ascendant nor any agnatic collateral relative, male or female, although she does exclude uterine brothers does not exclude any brother or sister not even the uterine whose sole connection with the praepositus is through herself - or any remote male agnate.
Nor does any sister or the uterine brother, as a quranic, heir exclude any relative of the inner family. The power to exclude other relatives from succession remains essentially the prerogative of the male agnates. To the rule that a quranic heir excludes no other relative of the inner family, the two solitary exceptions are: a) the exclusion of the uterine brothers and sisters by the daughters or granddaughters b) the exclusion of the grandmother by the mother. There is no exception at all to the rule that a quranic heir does not exclude any male agnate.
As a general rule a substitute heir is excluded from succession by the respective primary heir, on the principle that the nearer in degree excludes the more remote, but is not excluded by any other relative. To this rule there are two exceptions. a) an agnatic daughter is not de jure excluded by the daughter from succession but is excluded by the son. The rule of degree operates within the class of agnatic descendants as a whole on the basis that a male always excludes any more remote descendants, male or female, but a female does not. b) According to the doctrine of sunni majority, a paternal grandmother is excluded by the fathers as well as by the mother of the praepositus. This doctrine rests upon the rule of priority by degree. Apportionment of an estate does not involve any distinction between moveable and immovable or between real and personal property. The estate available for the legal heirs consists of all the assets of the deceased that remain after the satisfaction of funeral expenses, debts and valid bequests. Each heirs entitlement is simply expressed in terms of a fractional share and attaches in specie to the various properties which make up the inheritance.
In sunni law, female heirs suffers from no disability to succeed to land or real estates. However, in other sects, land and real estates are only inherited by male, whereas females especially wives have a right of use and life interest or till remarriage.
Impediments to inheritance are personal acts or attribute which disqualifies from succession an individual who would otherwise be an entitled heir on the grounds of marriage or blood relationship to the praepositus.
These are three (i) homicide of the praepositus by the heir (ii) a difference of religion between the heir and the praepositus, (iii) land difference of domicile between the heir and the praepositus.
In the case of Zubeda Said Abdallah -v- Abdullah Mbarak Awadh An application by the widow against orders of the Kadhi's court. The chief Kadhi Sheikh Nassor Ali Nahdy had ruled that the appellant transfer title deeds to the respondent who was a brother to the deceased, and deposit rent income she collected to the court and observed that according to Islamic law of succession, the testamentary gift or will of the deceased was illegal and
void, and that the deceased was supposed to include his brother Abdullah Mubarak Awadh in the succession.
The high court on appeal reversed the finding of the chief Kadhi and noted that the property was in Trust for the children in the name of the appellant.
**** have been few compared with reforms in other branches such as criminal law and family law, but the fact remains that changes have been introduced.
Religion There are many religion individuals and even tribes as a whole who although Muslims, do not follow Islamic law but customary law including coastal people and certain people in the Marsabit and Tana River District.
A Muslim male may marry Jewish or Christian woman, although a Muslim woman cannot validly marry any but a Muslim husband. But while in general a husband owes the same marital duties particularly in matters of maintenance and support, towards his non-Muslim wife as he does towards his Muslim wife, the non-Muslim wife suffers certain disabilities. Her right of custody, for example, over the children of the marriage is not so extensive as that of a Muslim mother, because of the undesirable influence that her different religion might have upon the Muslim child. But more particularly,, a non-Muslim wife has no right of inheritance from her Muslim husband.
Since the law of inheritance is designed to distribute property among surviving relatives within the community of Muslims, naturally enough the difference of religion between Muslim and non-muslim, seen as a difference of communal allegiance constitutes a general bar to inheritance

Shakeel (FM)     22 August 2012

We need simple answer please.

Ibrahim Deshmukh (Legal Consultancy)     12 April 2013

Dear Jamal Ahmad

As per to Sunni Sect the son always gets twice that of the daughter thus the ratio is 2:1.   An Indian Muslim inheritance is considered as an integral part of Shariah Law Act 1937.

Under the customary Muslim law, a person cannot bequeath more than one-third of his property by will. But if he has married under Special Marriage Act, then he can will away entire property, and succession is governed by Indian Succession Act, and not the Muslim personal law i.e. Shariah Act 1937.

As long as the property is his own earned and not an ancestral one, and that he has already given 1/3rd to his daughters’ i.e. to your sisters  and 2/3rd he wants to keep for his son i.e. for you .  He has full right to do that by a Will which better to be registered and original to be saely-kept with the your local area sub-registrar’s office and you can have a copy of the same.

Please also note, he can amend/change/cancel his Will at any time during his life time, even without consulting you.

However, any legitimate payable debts by him or his old-age medical expenses and your mother’s old-age medical expenses etc he should clarify in the “will” that how and who will take care of the same, mostly it should be you as you are going to be the beneficiary in the will if he intends to do it.  As while making the Will he has to declare all these issues.

The Will must not be witnessed by you or any of your sisters/their husbands who are the direct beneficiary of his property but by any third party. Your concerned experienced lawyer can guide you how to make a valid will, who to witness it and how to formalize it.

There is no full proof mechanism in law, you can always expect protests by near and dear ones while probating the will and same stands for the Gift deeds too. At that time we the lawyers come to your rescue but  at a professionally charged fees.

Ibrahim Deshmukh
Legal Consultant

Abhinav (Student)     10 December 2014

can the nephew of a muslim widow having a predeceased only brother(nephew is the only son of this brother) and a predeceased only son pass as legal heir to her property?

Please reply ASAP


shaik mahammad gani   24 August 2015

hi this is  shaik.mahammad am from islamic sunni family i am adopted by my uncle(my Mothers broter) ,so father is having so much of propertys its came from my grand farher ,so legally  shell i have any rights on that paricular property? i have all documents in my ucle name only like ssc,PAN card,Adhar ,Dl ...Ect So give me anser plz......

S K KARNjhc (Legal Adviser)     25 August 2015

You have been very clearly described by learned lawyer either Mr. Makkad sir or Mr. Deshmukh sir

Krishna Murthy Pasupula (High Court Advocate )     25 August 2015

I am with Mr.Ibrahim Deshmukh sir, in appreciating his statement

Ejaz Ahmed   01 September 2015

@ Ibrahim Deshmukh. I think there no difference between earned and ancestral in Muslim personal law.And also untill one is alive he can do anything he want with his property whether it is earned or ancestral property. Correct me if I am wrong
1 Like

Originally posted by : Abhinav

can the nephew of a muslim widow having a predeceased only brother(nephew is the only son of this brother) and a predeceased only son pass as legal heir to her property?

Please reply ASAP


Nephews are entitled only when there are no brothers and sisters.

Sudam d morde   30 July 2018

If the muslim father and mother both are died and they have an one son and 5 daughter then how will Father property devolve on heirs

Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh)     23 September 2018

In the given facts, son shall get twice of his sisters after deducting legitimate debt of deceased.

Parvez Aktar   04 December 2018

@ Ibrahim Deshmukh. I think there no difference between earned and ancestral in Muslim personal law.And also untill one is alive he can do anything he want with his property whether it is earned or ancestral property. 


According to the Shariat law, a person can only leave one-third of their property to anyone they wish. The remaining two-thirds will, by law, go to their heir or heirs, equally shared between them.

For example, if an individual has Rs. 3.3 lakh (or an asset worth the amount), and he owes someone Rs. 10,000/. With the funeral expenses added to it, say, Rs. 20,000, he can only leave the one third of 3 lakh (Rs. 1 lakh) in his will to someone other than his heir. The remaining Rs. 2 lakh must go to his heirs.

Now, this is in case the person has more than one heir, and would like to leave an asset or property to just one of them. Although he can make a will asserting the fact that heir 1 will receive the asset, it will not be valid unless, after his death, heir 2 is willing to sign over the rights to heir 1.


Parvez Aktar   04 December 2018

In the given facts, son shall get twice of his sisters after deducting legitimate debt of deceased.

That is

Son = 2/7, Each Daughter = 1/7 of the entire property.

Raj Kumar Makkad (Adv P & H High Court Chandigarh)     19 June 2020

I stand with the opinion of Parvez.

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