My dear husband died in a tragic auto accident. I sustained severe injuries and was hospitalized for a month. I live with my parents now and am recovering from injuries. As we belong to suni Muslim faith, we followed the division of his belongings consistent with the Quran, surah nisa as an Imam from a Masjid in Illinois briefed us. I was married for one and half year ago and I have no children. My husband has one brother and two sisters and he does not have any written will.
According to an Imam, 1/4 of his wealth should go to spouse and 3/4 to my father and mother in law (as both parents are living). The Imam stated that the Group life insurance from my husband’s company should go to the primary beneficiary nominated by my husband in the insurance Form (in this case me). My husband has put me as only primary beneficiary and his father as contingent beneficiary.
We need your guidance and advice on the following issue: How the Group Life Insurance from my husband’s company should be handled? I like to keep things simple as I feel that Islam is a simple and straightforward religion. I am looking for your kindness and advice. Since this was not my husbands wealth I believe it should not be divided. I want to do the right thing and would appreciate it if you could give me guidance on this issue. Jazakallah.
One more issue which has been brought to our attention by several is regarding inheritance, i.e. any property etc given to my husband by his parents when he was living. I like to know how this issue should be treated from Islamic point of view. I like to have only an understanding of this issue and I do not like to raise this issue with my in-laws, unless they themselves decide to do so. I am looking for your kindness and advice.
With best regards
Before answering your question, I would first like to clarify that my opinion regarding the law of inheritance as given in the Qur’an does not fully correspond to the opinion ascribed to the classical Muslim scholars. The answer that I give in the following lines is based on my own understanding of the law and may be different from that ascribed to by the Imam, whom you have already referred to and from the mainstream Sunni or Shiite scholars.
My opinion on the given situation follows:
Firstly, it should be kept in mind that the law of inheritance of the Qur’an applies only to the unassigned wealth of a deceased. Any wealth that is already assigned – as, for instance, would be the case with Group Life Insurance where the beneficiary has already been determined by the deceased – shall not be subject to the law of inheritance.
Secondly, because the Qur’an has clearly mentioned that a married man must make adequate provisions for the upkeep and maintenance of his wife after his death for at least a period of one year (Al-Baqarah 2: 240), therefore, no one has a right to object if a man makes his wife the beneficiary for any amount of life insurance that he may have taken for himself.
Keeping the foregoing points in mind, I consider it absolutely justified that the wife of the deceased be made the sole beneficiary of the group life insurance of the deceased. She may, or her own accord give any part of this amount to any of the deceased’s relatives, yet she is, by no means, restricted by the Shari`ah to do so.
As for the unassigned wealth of the deceased, it should be distributed as follows:
1/6th each to the deceased’s father and mother;
1/4th to the deceased’s wife;
The balance of the total (5/12th) is to be distributed among the siblings of the deceased as follows:
5/24th to the brother of the deceased; and
5/48 each to the two sisters of the deceased.
Any property or wealth given to the deceased by his parents before his death shall be included in the total wealth of the deceased and distributed with the total unassigned wealth of the deceased.
I hope this helps.
January 16, 2004