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Non-Muslims and Inheritance

Answered by Shaykh Amjad Rasheed

I used to be a non-Muslim and alhamdulillah accepted Islam. I was born an orphan and my [h: adopted] parents adopted me while I was a child. If I die, what is the ruling of my parents inheriting from my wealth, keeping in mind that, unlike myself, they have not accepted Islam. What happens if I die and I don’t have any spouse or child? Who is the rightful heir of my wealth? 

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

الحمد لله رب العالمين و صلى الله على سيدنا محمد و على آله و صحبه و سلم أما بعد


[h: Islamically speaking, there are two main means by which ownership of property is transferred after the death of the owner: (1) bequests (wasiyya) and (2) inheritance (irth). The difference between them is explained in section L1.0 of The Reliance of the Traveller. One can dispose of a maximum of one-third of one’s property by bequest; the rest is disposed of according to the laws of inheritance. Only specific relatives, who must be Muslim, can inherit. Others, including non-Muslims, can receive bequests.]


A non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim, nor can a Muslim inherit from a non-Muslim, regardless of whether he or she is one’s father, son, or some other relative. If an orphan’s guardian does not have a reason to inherit from the orphan in his or her custody [h: by his or her being a rightful heir by virtue of his or her blood relationship to the orphan, for example], he or she may not inherit from the one under his or her charge, regardless of whether he or she is Muslim or non-Muslim. However, it is permissible for a Muslim to make a bequest that one-third (or less) of his or her wealth be given to his or her non-Muslim parents or his or her guardian, even if he or she is not a Muslim.


If a Muslim dies without leaving any rightful heir, such as a wife, husband, children, parents, or someone else [h: for a complete list of rightful heirs, see Reliance, L6.2], or if they exist but they are all non-Muslim, then his or her money becomes the property of the Muslim common fund (bayt al-mal). If there is no common fund [h: as in our times today], then it is the responsibility of the righteous Muslims to distribute it to the poor and needy. If someone in this situation is wealthy, I would advise him or her to avidly spend some of his or her wealth over a period of time for the interests of Muslims. By doing so, he or she will have given a tremendous charity and served his or her Muslim brothers and sisters. [h: When giving his or her money in charity, he or she should be careful to] keep in mind his or her personal needs as well [h: and not give so much charity that would cause his or her personal needs to go unfulfilled], thereby gaining both benefits. This is better than leaving one’s plenteous wealth to be played with by untrustworthy hands after one dies. One should also make a bequest [h: by writing a will, for example] that one’s wealth be distributed after one’s death to Islamic avenues and benefits. One should appoint a godfearing and knowledgeable person whom one trusts as an executor of this bequest.


Amjad Rasheed
Amman, Jordan
(Translated by Hamza Karamali and Moustafa Elqabbany)

السؤال : كنت كافراً وأسلمت والحمد لله ، ولدت يتيما وتبناني والدي وأنا صغير ، إذا مت فما حكمُ وراثة والدي من مالي نظراً إلى أنهما لم يسلما مثلي ؟ ماذا يفعل إذا مت وليس لي زوجة ولا طفل ؟ من الوارث المستحق لمالي ؟ الجواب : لا يرث الكافر من المسلم ، ولا المسلم من الكافر ، سواء كان الأبُ أو الابنُ أو غيرُهما من الأقارب . وكافلُ اليتيم إذا لم يكن له سببٌ في الميراث لا يرثُ مَنْ كفله سواء كان مسلماً أو كافراً . لكن يجوز للمسلم أن يوصي بثلث ماله أو أقلّ لأمه وأبيه الكافرين ولمن كفله وإن كان كافراً . وإذا مات المسلمُ وليس له وارثٌ من زوجة أو زوج أو أولاد أو آباء أو غيرهم ، أو كان له ذلك لكنهم كفارٌ ينتقل مالُه ملكاً لبيت مال المسلمين ، فإن فقد بيت المال فعلى صلحاء المسلمين توزيعُه على الفقراء والمساكين . وأنصح من هذا حالُه إن كان معه مالٌ كثيرٌ أن يهتمَّ بصرف شيء منه إلى مصالح المسلمين على مدى الأيام فتكون له صدقةٌ عظيمةٌ وخدمةٌ لإخوانه المسلمين مع مراعاة ما يحتاجه هو من مستلزمات حياته الخاصة فيكون جامعاً بين الخيرين ، وهذا أولى من أن يترك أموالَه الكثيرةَ تتلاعب بها أيدٍ غير أمينة بعد وفاته . وأن يوصي بأن توزَّع أمواله بعد موته في المصارف والمصالح الشرعية ويوصي بذلك إلى مَن يثق به من أهل التقوى والعلم .


This answer was indexed from Qibla.com, which used to have a repository of Islamic Q&A answered by various scholars. The website is no longer in existence. It has now been transformed into a learning portal with paid Islamic course offering under the brand of Kiflayn.