Question # 80: I have a question on inheritance law in Islam. In one of the official document, I am supposed to provide inheritance share of my family in case of my death. If I die today, I will be survived by my wife, mother, 2 full (blood) brothers, 2 full (blood) sisters, 1 brother and 1 sister from my mother’s side. Someone told me that the share of my maternal siblings will be more than my full brothers and sisters, is that correct?

bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,

Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,

All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).

Dear questioner,

First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.

Shorter Answer: Following the Qura’nic text, the shares will be as follows: Wife: 1/4 (25%), Mother: 1/6 (16.67%), Full Brother – 1: 1/12 (8.34%), Full Brother – 2: 1/12 (8.34%), Full Sister – 1: 1/24 (4.16%), Full Sister – 2: 1/24 (4.16%), Uterine Brother: 1/6 (16.67%) and Uterine Sister: 1/6 (16.67%). Indeed, the share of uterine (maternal) siblings will be more than the full brothers and sisters, according to the Law of Inheritance in Islam.

Long Answer: Let’s start with each member in your family:

Wife: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “In what your wives leave, your share is a half, if they leave no child; but if they leave a child, ye get a fourth; after payment of legacies and debts. In what ye leave, their share is a fourth, if ye leave no child; but if ye leave a child, they get an eighth; after payment of legacies and debts…” (Soorah An-Nisa, 4:12)

According to the above verse, when a husband dies, his wife (widow) gets 1/4 share, if there is no child.

Mother: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “…For parents, a sixth share of the inheritance to each, if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased Left brothers (or sisters) the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases (‘s) after the payment of legacies and debts…” (Soorah An-Nisa, 4:11)

According to the above verse, mother gets a fixed share of 1/6, if amongst the surviving heirs, there is two or more full/half-siblings (any combination).

Siblings: A brother or a sister may be full (also called germane or real), consanguine or uterine. Consanguine (paternal) refers to siblings, who has the same father but different mothers, while uterine (maternal) refers to siblings, who has the same mother but different fathers. Since your case refers to full and uterine siblings, let start with discussing the latter:

Uterine Siblings: Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “…And if a Kalala man or woman (one who has neither ascendants nor descendants) is inherited from, and he (or she) has a (uterine) brother or (uterine) sister then for each of them (there is) one-sixth. But if they (uterine brothers and sisters) are more than that then they are sharers in one-third (equally) after (fulfilling) any legacy he may have bequeathed or (after payment of any) debt without causing loss (to anyone). This is the Commandment from Allah; and Allah is Ever All-Knowing, Most-Forbearing.” (Soorah An-Nisa, 4:12)

  • The uterine brother/sister inherits as a sharer.
  • The uterine brother/sister when entitled to inherit, if alone inherits a fixed 1/6 share, if there are two or more uterine siblings they together inherit a fixed 1/3 share equally.
  • The general rule that the male inherits the portion of two females does not apply to uterine siblings.

So, in your case, the two uterine siblings will receive 1/6 share each to make up for 1/3 share together according to the above verse and explanation. That leaves, 1/4 share for your full siblings (as residuaries) after taking out the shares of your wife (1/4), mother (1/6) and two uterine siblings (1/3). Consequently, since the full brothers inherit twice the portion of full sisters, brother’s share will be 1/12 each and sister’s share will be 1/24 each. In percentage terms, the following is the inheritance share of the entire family, Wife: 25%, Mother: 16.67%, Full Brother – 1: 8.34%, Full Brother – 2: 8.34%, Full Sister – 1: 4.16%, Full Sister – 2: 4.16%, Uterine Brother: 16.67% and Uterine Sister: 16.67%. So you are right in pointing out that Uterine Siblings receive 33% (together) as against Full Siblings’ share of 25% (together).

Only exception to the law: Although not applicable to your situation, it is important to understand and be informed. A deceased woman left behind a husband, a mother, two uterine brothers and two full brothers. This case was decided by ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) as follows: Husband: 1/2, Mother: 1/6 and 2 Uterine Brothers: 1/3 and 2 Full Brothers: Residue. Consequently, the two full brothers acting as residuaries receive nothing because there is no residue. The two brothers argued that even if their father was a donkey (Himar) or a stone cast into the sea and they had no paternal relationship, they still had the same and equal relationship with the deceased as the uterine brothers through the same mother. ‘Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) reconsidered and made the final verdict as follows: Husband: 1/2, Mother: 1/6 and 2 Uterine Brothers: 1/6 and 2 Full Brothers: 1/6. Therefore, the full siblings share equally with the uterine siblings. Both the male and female full siblings inherit equally, since they are inheriting in the capacity of their uterine relationship. This rule came to be known as Himarriyyah rule.

Umar bin Al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه), Uthman bin Affan (رضي الله عنه), Abdullah ibn Mas’ud (رضي الله عنه), Zaid bin Thabit (رضي الله عنه), as well as Imam Malik and Imam Shafi’i have adopted the Himarriyyah rule, which supposedly rests upon the juristic principle of Istihsan (Juristic preference or seeking the best solution).

The only combination of heirs which results in the Himarriyyah rule is that of a husband, mother (or true grandmother), two or more uterine siblings and one or more full brothers.

However, other Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) such as Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه), ‘Ali bin Abi Talib (رضي الله عنه) and’ Abdullah bin ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) were of the opinion that the full brothers would be excluded under such circumstances. In accordance with this opinion, Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal have not adopted the Himarriyyah rule whatever the logic may be. Because firstly, the Ashabul-Furud (Sharers) have priority and secondly, the Himarriyyah rule goes against the Qur’anic text which states that two or more uterine siblings should get 1/3 which they do not under this rule; and the male should inherit the portion of two females whereas under this rule full brothers and sisters inherit equally.

(The above reply is based on the book ‘The Islamic Law of Succession’ by Dr. A Hussain)

Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.