Recently, I had asked you to give your advice about the eligibility of inheritors if they became non-Muslims or just plain turned off from Islam.
You gave me your opinion that they should all still be given their share even if they did not retain Islam as their religion. Your opinion was opposite of the one from most Muslim jurists per your communique.
I am sure your opinion is based on some thought process and am sure it is in line with the spirit of Shari`ah. Kindly elaborate on the BASIS on which you gave your opinion.
Ja Zaak Allaah.
Was Salaamu ‘Alaikum
Before I can point out the basis of my referred opinion regarding the eligibility for the share in inheritance for a non-Muslim relative (for instance a son), it is important to note that the Qur’an has not made the religious affiliations of the relatives, a condition of eligibility for getting their stipulated shares. Thus, it is not on the basis of any directive of the Qur’an that the Muslim Jurists have opined for the ineligibility of non-Muslim or apostate relatives. It is, in fact, on the basis of a narrative ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) that the Muslim Jurists have formed their opinion. The Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said: “a Muslim shall not inherit from a Kaafir (rejecter) and neither shall a Kaafir inherit from a Muslim”1.
In my opinion, keeping the lack of stipulation of this condition in the related verses of the Qur’an, the saying ascribed to the Prophet (pbuh) is specific to the rejecters among his direct addressees. It is not common for all non-Muslims or for all times to come. The position of the rejecters among the direct addressees of the Prophet (pbuh) is not comparable to the non-Muslims of other times. It was those rejecters (from amongst the direct addressees of the Prophet) with whom, the Qur’an had directed the Muslims to sever all social relations. The severance of inheritance among those rejecters and the Muslims was only an extension of the severance of the social relations with them. It is due to the special position of those rejecters that, in my opinion, the directives of the Qur’an and the Prophet (pbuh), regarding them cannot be generalized for all non-Muslims for all times to come2.
November 11, 2000
- Bukhari, Kitaab al-Faraaidh [↩]
- For further explanation of the position of the rejecters among the direct addressees of the Prophet (pbuh) and for the implication of the word “Kaafir“, please refer to two of my previous responses to questions titled: “Prophets and Messengers” and “What is the Difference between Ahl e Kitaab and Kaafirs?“. [↩]