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First the Debts are Paid Off, then the Will, then the Fixed Inheritance

Allah said,

﴿ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِيَّةٍ۬ يُوصَىٰ بِہَآ أَوۡ دَيۡنٍ

((The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts.) The scholars of the Salaf and the Khalaf agree that paying debts comes before fulfilling the will, and this is apparent to those who read the Ayah carefully. Allah said next,

﴿ ءَابَآؤُكُمۡ وَأَبۡنَآؤُكُمۡ لَا تَدۡرُونَ أَيُّهُمۡ أَقۡرَبُ لَكُمۡ نَفۡعً۬ا‌ۚ

(You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children, are nearest to you in benefit.) This Ayah means: We have appointed a share to the parents and children, contrary to the practice of Jahiliyyah and the early Islamic era, when the inheritance would go to the children, and parents get a share only if they were named in the will, as Ibn `Abbas stated. Allah abrogated this practice and appointed a fixed share for the children and for the parents. One may derive benefit in this life or for the Hereafter from his parents, the likes of which he could not get from his children. The opposite of this could also be true. Allah said,

﴿ ءَابَآؤُكُمۡ وَأَبۡنَآؤُكُمۡ لَا تَدۡرُونَ أَيُّهُمۡ أَقۡرَبُ لَكُمۡ نَفۡعً۬ا‌ۚ

(You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children, are nearest to you in benefit,): since benefit could come from one or the other of these relatives, We appointed a fixed share of inheritance for each. Allah knows best. Allah said,

﴿ فَرِيضَةً۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ

(ordained by Allah), meaning: These appointed shares of inheritance that We mentioned and which give some inheritors a bigger share than others, is a commandment from Allah that He has decided and ordained,

﴿ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمً۬ا

(And Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.), Who places everything in its rightful place and gives each his rightful share.

﴿ وَلَڪُمۡ نِصۡفُ مَا تَرَكَ أَزۡوَٲجُڪُمۡ إِن لَّمۡ يَكُن لَّهُنَّ وَلَدٌ۬‌ۚ فَإِن ڪَانَ لَهُنَّ وَلَدٌ۬ فَلَڪُمُ ٱلرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَڪۡنَ‌ۚ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِيَّةٍ۬ يُوصِينَ بِهَآ أَوۡ دَيۡنٍ۬‌ۚ وَلَهُنَّ ٱلرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكۡتُمۡ إِن لَّمۡ يَڪُن لَّكُمۡ وَلَدٌ۬‌ۚ فَإِن ڪَانَ لَڪُمۡ وَلَدٌ۬ فَلَهُنَّ ٱلثُّمُنُ مِمَّا تَرَڪۡتُم‌ۚ مِّنۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِيَّةٍ۬ تُوصُونَ بِهَآ أَوۡ دَيۡنٍ۬‌ۗ وَإِن كَانَ رَجُلٌ۬ يُورَثُ ڪَلَـٰلَةً أَوِ ٱمۡرَأَةٌ۬ وَلَهُ ۥۤ أَخٌ أَوۡ أُخۡتٌ۬ فَلِكُلِّ وَٲحِدٍ۬ مِّنۡهُمَا ٱلسُّدُسُ‌ۚ فَإِن ڪَانُوٓاْ أَڪۡثَرَ مِن ذَٲلِكَ فَهُمۡ شُرَڪَآءُ فِى ٱلثُّلُثِ‌ۚ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِيَّةٍ۬ يُوصَىٰ بِہَآ أَوۡ دَيۡنٍ غَيۡرَ مُضَآرٍّ۬‌ۚ وَصِيَّةً۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ وَٱللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ حَلِيمٌ۬

(12. In that which your wives leave, your share is half if they have no child; but if they leave a child, you get a fourth of that which they leave after payment of legacies that they may have bequeathed or debts. In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth if you leave no child; but if you leave a child, they get an eighth of that which you leave after payment of legacies that you may have bequeathed or debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in Kalalah has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third; after payment of legacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts, so that no loss is caused (to anyone). This is a Commandment from Allah; and Allah is Ever All-Knowing, Most Forbearing.)

Share of the Spouses in the Inheritance

Allah says to the husband, you get half of what your wife leaves behind if she dies and did not have a child. If she had a child, you get one-fourth of what she leaves behind, after payment of legacies that she may have bequeathed, or her debts. We mentioned before that payment of debts comes before fulfilling the will, and then comes the will, then the inheritance, and there is a consensus on this matter among the scholars. And the rule applies to the grandchildren as well as the children, even if they are great-grandchildren (or even further in generation) Allah then said,

﴿ وَلَهُنَّ ٱلرُّبُعُ مِمَّا تَرَكۡتُمۡ

(In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth) and if there is more than one wife, they all share in the fourth, or one-eighth that the wife gets. Earlier, we explained Allah's statement,

﴿ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِيَّةٍ۬

(After payment of legacies)

The Meaning of Kalalah

Allah said,

﴿ وَإِن كَانَ رَجُلٌ۬ يُورَثُ ڪَلَـٰلَةً

(If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question was left in Kalalah.) Kalalah is a derivative of Iklil; the crown that surrounds the head. The meaning of Kalalah in this Ayah is that the person's heirs come from other than the first degree of relative. Ash-Sha`bi reported that when Abu Bakr As-Siddiq was asked about the meaning of Kalalah, he said, "I will say my own opinion about it, and if it is correct, then this correctness is from Allah. However, if my opinion is wrong, it will be my error and because of the evil efforts of Shaytan, and Allah and His Messenger have nothing to do with it. Kalalah refers to the man who has neither descendants nor ascendants.'' When `Umar became the Khalifah, he said, "I hesitate to contradict an opinion of Abu Bakr.'' This was recorded by Ibn Jarir and others. In his Tafsir, Ibn Abi Hatim recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "I was among the last persons to see `Umar bin Al-Khattab, and he said to me, `What you said was the correct opinion.' I asked, `What did I say' He said, `That Kalalah refers to the person who has no child or parents.''' This is also the opinion of `Ali bin Abi Talib, Ibn Mas`ud, Ibn `Abbas, Zayd bin Thabit, Ash-Sha`bi, An-Nakha`i, Al-Hasan Al-Basri, Qatadah, Jabir bin Zayd and Al-Hakam . This is also the view of the people of Al-Madinah, Kufah, Basrah, the Seven Fuqaha', the Four Imams and the majority of scholars of the past and present, causing some scholars to declare that there is a consensus on this opinion.

The Ruling Concerning Children of the Mother From Other Than the Deceased's Father

Allah said,

﴿ وَلَهُ ۥۤ أَخٌ أَوۡ أُخۡتٌ۬

(But has left a brother or a sister), meaning, from his mother's side, as some of the Salaf stated, including Sa`d bin Abi Waqqas. Qatadah reported that this is the view of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq.

﴿ فَلِكُلِّ وَٲحِدٍ۬ مِّنۡهُمَا ٱلسُّدُسُ‌ۚ فَإِن ڪَانُوٓاْ أَڪۡثَرَ مِن ذَٲلِكَ فَهُمۡ شُرَڪَآءُ فِى ٱلثُّلُثِ‌ۚ

(Each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third.) There is a difference between the half brothers from the mother's side and the rest of the heirs. First, they get a share in the inheritance on account of their mother. Second, the males and females among them get the same share. Third, they only have a share in the inheritance when the deceased's estate is inherited in Kalalah, for they do not have a share if the deceased has a surviving father, grandfather, child or grandchild. Fourth, they do not have more than a third, no matter how numerous they were. Allah’s statement,

﴿ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ وَصِيَّةٍ۬ يُوصَىٰ بِہَآ أَوۡ دَيۡنٍ غَيۡرَ مُضَآرٍّ۬‌ۚ

(After payment of legacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts, so that no loss is caused (to anyone).) means, let the will and testament be fair and free of any type of harm, without depriving some rightful heirs from all, or part of their share, or adding to the fixed portion that Allah ordained for some heirs. Indeed, whoever does this, will have disputed with Allah concerning His decision and division. An authentic Hadith states,

« إِنَّ اللهَ قَدْ أَعْطَى كُلَّ ذِي حَقَ حَقَّهُ فَلَا وَصِيَّةَ لِوَارِث »

(Allah has given each his fixed due right. Therefore, there is no will for a rightful inheritor.)

﴿ تِلۡكَ حُدُودُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ وَمَن يُطِعِ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ يُدۡخِلۡهُ جَنَّـٰتٍ۬ تَجۡرِى مِن تَحۡتِهَا ٱلۡأَنۡهَـٰرُ خَـٰلِدِينَ فِيهَا‌ۚ وَذَٲلِكَ ٱلۡفَوۡزُ ٱلۡعَظِيمُ وَمَن يَعۡصِ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۥ وَيَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَهُ ۥ يُدۡخِلۡهُ نَارًا خَـٰلِدً۬ا فِيهَا وَلَهُ ۥ عَذَابٌ۬ مُّهِينٌ۬

(13. These are the limits (set by) Allah, and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger, will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and is the great success.) (14. And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, and transgresses His (set) limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall suffer a disgraceful torment.)