Inheritance and Gifts
Economic Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

The case in point is: A father during his life time gives a sum of money to all his daughters and says to them that this is your inheritance. The daughters take the money without saying anything to the father as they respect him. After a few years, the father dies and all the money as far as the sisters know is now with the one and only son, ie their brother. The father does not leave any instructions regarding the distribution of his wealth. The sisters know that the wealth of their father was much more than the amount given to the sisters as inheritance during the father’s life. Now my questions are:

1. If during the life, a father distributes his wealth, does he have to distribute it in accordance with Sharī‘ah, or can he give the son much more than the daughters?

2. After his death, who is responsible for the distribution of his wealth as per the Sharī‘ah?


As a principle, a person in his own lifetime has the right to give or gift his wealth in any proportion to any or all of his children. In this regard, the Sharī‘ah imposes no obligation on him except that he should be fair and just with all his children in this regard.

As far as his inheritance is concerned, it solely relates to the wealth and property which he leaves behind after his death. In this case, the Sharī‘ah has fixed the shares of his heirs. They must be given their share in the prescribed proportion. All his heirs must sit together and distribute his wealth among themselves according to this proportion. If any one of them does any injustice in this distribution, he must know that according to the Qur’ān (4:13-14) he is doing a grave sin. The other heirs have the right to take this case to the court if they think that they are being deprived of their right by someone.

Consequently, whatever you received from your father in his life was a gift from him. It cannot be regarded as your share of inheritance. You still have a share in his wealth as his legal heirs, which of course you have the right to demand.

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