Doubtful wealth

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by

Q: A mother’s wealth is either mostly haram while the rest is lawful, or all haram! One of these cases  apply. It is extremely difficult to know the extent to which her wealth is lawful or unlawful. This is based on a very extreme case of ambiguity and devious behaviour on her part. She keeps on pestering two of her children to buy a property.  They are hesitant due to her wealth, while she doesn’t care for lawful and unlawful, nor does she understand that her children are aware of her extremely dubious past full of lying, stealing, fraud, riba, dishonesty etc. She thinks, because of her over confident personality, that everyone else is stupid, while she is aware and intelligent. This woman suffers from a severe case of egoism and cognitive issues, but is unaware of this herself. Apart from being irascible and volatile, their mother, in short, causes them major difficulties, which involve psychological and emotional distress. These two people who are both adults, have discussed this issue extensively. There is the issue of the UK inheritance tax, but if their mother gifts them this money to buy a property each, this would mean she would have to live for 7 years after this in order that no inheritance tax be paid by her children. This is a tax law that helps people either reduce, or avoid completely inheritance tax should then sign up to avoid it. They are both having trouble establishing themselves, even though they have the capacity to make it in life. It is just that right now they seem dogged and paralysed by this woman’s demeanour, and are finding life very difficult along with other factors. One is living with her, and so is experiencing great pains! He is finding it difficult to be obedient, as she constantly harasses him and bullies him. He is on benefit, and financially is weak. The other is renting a room close by, but is struggling financially, dependent on benefits to provide basic living standards and food, and also dependent on his mother for food; well, both of them are. My questions on behalf of them are:

1. Despite Sharia’s stance on taking from someone else’s unlawful wealth, is it permissible for this woman’s two children to purchase a property each using her wealth?  It would provide the start they need.  Better living standards, stability etc.

2. What if they can’t do this, but wish to avoid inheritance tax, being their sole intention for buying the property, would this be allowed, while they both live in each bought property paying their own household bills with their own money?

3. Would they also be allowed to make a living from the properties by renting part of them out?  And would zakat be due on this, in this case?

4. Because of the unlawfulness assigned to her wealth, how would this affect Islamic inheritance?  Would the two brothers have to sell the properties after their mother dies, and divide the money up according to sharia amongst four of them altogether; or give the money away?

5.  If they are not allowed to take from her wealth, then what should they do with her inheritance as a whole after her death?  Give it to Islamic charity, inherit it etc?


A: If they themselves are in constraints and difficulties they could take assistance from their mother’s wealth.

And Allah Ta’ala (الله تعالى) knows best.


Answered by:

Mufti Ebrahim Salejee (Isipingo Beach)