The Law of Mirath, which mean succession is concerned with the distribution of the estate left by the deceased person, the method implied in the sharing it and the heirs themselves. This aspect of the family law as very important as it is has not been fully understood by the majority of the Muslims in general. The general public has not taken interest in the learnings and writings on it, especially the lay man who constituted the majority in our community. The field is left to the few educated elites and Jurist.
The issues of inheritance as we are seeing it happening in our society has become a problematic issue that most family are facing due to lack of proper understanding of the law by those who are applying it to the people and those who are concerned. Thus, I take this opportunity to extract some important areas and write in a simple language the Islamic law of inheritance, to enable me learn more about it and also to serve as reference to any student who might want to write on it at the later period.
I hope the thesis will be a useful one. THE PURPOSE OF THE RESEARCH In view of the fact that Islamic law on mirath is a difficult aspect of law which many tries to run away from, and their running away from it makes the law very far away from the quick understanding of the people, particularly the Muslims whom the law is meant for their protection in the matter of their rights to property of their deceased relatives.
How to bring this law of succession to the door step of ordinary Muslim is the concern of the researcher and so conducted the research with good intention of making the individuals to be aware of his rights to succession as well as that of those to succeed him. THE SCOPE OF THE RESEARCH This research is concern with the knowledge of the definition or the meaning of succession and its importance. It will also have a brief look at the system of inheritance before Islam as well as the Islamic reform on inheritance.
The research will also focus its attention on the essentials and condition of inheritance as well as the ground of inheritance. It will then look into the impediments to succession and what shares goes to each heir, then concludes. Thus, the whole project will be divided into six chapters and conclusion and bibliography to come at the end. THE RESEARCH METHODOLOGY For the purpose of this research, I am hoping to use the Books on Islamic Laws and Journals pertaining to this topic.
There will be also the Quotations from the Holy Qur’an and Ahadith of the prophet (SAW) to prove what ever is written in the project. Interviews will also be applied where necessary, and also some handout produced for the law students will be contacted. JUSTIFICATION FOR THE USE OF RESEARCH METHOD The methodology used in this research is the best and the right method to be used for the purpose of this type of subject matter. This is because the topic is pertaining to Law and Allah is the Law giver who has already laid down these laws for his servants to follow.
I therefore find it not necessary to employ any other research method that will bring contradiction to the topic. Thus restricted my self to the Islamic law books written by our learned scholars and Jurist, as well as some books and handout produced out of these books on order not to commit my self by bringing new thing to the Law of Allah which is a divine and unchangeable law. THE MEANING OF INHERITANCE AND ITS IMPORTANCE In legal terminology, Mirath means inheritance to be divided from the property of the deceased among his successors.
Inheritance could also be dined as the terminology used to mean the science or method of division of the property of the deceased person among his/her successors. Muhammadu Dasuki, a great and famous Muslim jurist had defined succession as a science by which persons (heirs) who inherit are distinguished from those who do not; the knowledge also ascertain in most cases, the quantum of the shares each inheritor is entitled to take. It all centres around the estate left by a deceased person. The science of Mirath is sharia gives rules which guide as to who inherits and who is to be inherited and what shares go to the heirs.
The rules of succession are based on the principles that property which belonged to the deceased should devolve on those who by reason of consanguinity or marital relations have the strongest claim to benefit from it. The death of a person brings about transfer of most of his rights and obligation to persons who survive him. The transmissible rights includes all rights to property as well as rights connected with property and other dependent rights, such as debt, right to compensation and the transmissible obligations which are capable of being satisfied out of the deceased’s estate.
There are some verses of the Qur’an which refers to inheritance mirath in one way or the other. For instance in the following verses. To Allah belongs the inheritance of the heavens and the earth; and Allah is well acquainted with all that you do. 1 The prophet of Allah (Zakariya) have also prayed to Allah to be given successor to inherit him where he says or said:- And remember Zakariya, when he cried to his Lord: O my Lord! Leave me not without off-spring, though you are the best of inheritors. 2.
The one concerning the prophet of Islam, Muhammad (SAW) where the people of Quraish in Makkah resorted to machination and taunts against him. They used to say about him that he was a man with no posterity referring to the early death of his sons. One of them once remarked, “Do not be bothered with him; he will die without descendant and that will be the end of his mission”. Thus, one could simply say, mirath is concern with the heir, the estate left by the deceased person, the method of distributing the estates all other rights which are capable of being satisfies and the classes of the heirs.
The Muslim law of inheritance takes into account the fact that the property of the deceased should be applied primary to the support of persons who were entitled to be first supported by the deceased in his life time, and who have greatly suffered by his death. The Muslim law of succession is very important, in fact it is even one of the most important aspect of the family law with its establish rules and regulations that is guiding it.
There is even a prophetic sayings, conveyed by Ibn Maja and Dara Qmutni in the epitome of Tadhkirat al Qurtubi, declares: Try to learn the knowledge of Faraid: teach this knowledge to the youth: the knowledge of Faraid is half of (the whole religions knowledge. It will be this knowledge that my umma will forget first. With the above ahadith we can see how great importance is the acquisition of the knowledge of inheritance that knowing it amount to knowing half the religious knowledge.
•With the death of a person, his female relatives and daughters became a co-sharer with their male counterpart as stated in the following verses of the Holy Qur’an: From what is left by parents and those nearest related there is a share for men and a share for women whether the property be small or large a determinate chare. Unlike during the pre-Islamic era where females were denied the right of inheritance from the property of their deceased relatives and even considered them as part of the inheritance to be inherited together with the estate.
•In the law of succession, property of the deceased person are divided among his heirs in a democratic basis, instead of handing it all over to the eldest son, as it used to be during the Jahiliyya period. •It also takes in to consideration those closest relatives who were dependent on the deceased. When he was alive and made them to have a greatest benefit. •Other relatives are also considered for inheritance like brother, sister, uncle, son of sister.
•There is on favouritism in the sharing of the property or estate left, and in the will where by the testator shows his or her preference to one person over the other by giving much to him or her and none or very little to the others. •Allowance is also made for bequest, if the testator wishes to help a person or charitable cause. The making of a bequest is encouraged by the holy prophet, but it should not exceed one third of the total property, and should not be in favour of one of the heirs, but to the people outside the heirs or charitable organization or mosque and schools.
Bequest or will is encouraged even before the final introduction of the Islamic law of inheritance where it says. It is prescribed when death approaches any of you, if he leaves any goods, that he make a bequest to parent and next if kin, according to a reasonable usage. This is due from Allah fearing person. If any one changes the bequest after hearing it, the guilt shall be on those who make the change. For Allah hears and knows all things.
From all that has been said above, one can say that the rights and duties of the individual do not end with his death. This is illustrated by the rules of inheritance which regulate what must be done after the death of the owner and before the final division of the property among the heirs. The people in charge of disposing or dividing the estate are strictly warned to have the same fear in their mind as then would have if they had left a helpless family behind. They are to observe the principle of justice, be kind and helpful.