Principles of Sunni Law of Succession and Recent Reforms

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"Principles of Sunni Law of Succession and Recent Reforms"

"There is a share for men and a share for women from what is left by parents and those nearest related, whether, the property be small or large - a legal share" Quran, Chapter 4 Verse 7.


he Muslim Law of Inheritance consists mainly of the rules relating thereto as laid down in the Qur'an or prescribed by the Prophet in his teachings. A statement attributed to the prophet Mohamed says-

"learn the laws of inheritance and teach them to the people for they are one-half of useful knowledge."

Islam recognizes the human nature ( فطشح ) and restores natural system by allowing people to own or accumulate wealth which gives them incentive to work harder. At the same time, it also promotes spending of wealth (with balance) and charity to help needy in community, which provides satisfaction and spiritual healing.

And it identifies ways to distribute wealth amongst the masses.

Sir William Jones� rightly remarks-

"I am strongly disposed to believe that no possible question could occur on the Muhammadan Law of Succession which might not be rapidly and correctly answered"

The Truth of the above remarks will be evident if the conception of the ownership of property and the principle of its distribution, as laid down in the Qur'an, are taken into consideration. The Qur'an says:

"Unto men is allotted what they earn, and to women what they earn" (IV: 32).

The above verse clearly shows that men and women are the sole owners of their properties, inherited or self-acquired, during their lifetime.

However before discussing the principles of succession under Sunni law w should know about the pre-Islamic rules of succession which may be discussed under the following heads-

The nearest male agnates succeeded to the entire...