APPRAISAL OF THE IMPEDIMENTS TO INHERITANCE UNDER ISLAMIC LAW
1.1 GENERAL BACKGROUND
Some obstacles and impediments prevent an inheritor from benefiting from the assets left by his/her deceased relation. Broadly, there are four cases consisting of the obstacles, bars or impediments to inheritance; they include Homicide (Qatl), a difference of religion, Apostasy (Riddah), and Slavery. Some jurists, however, include the difference in domicile as an impediment to inheritance. Each one of them functions independently from another and bars the beneficiary from materializing his right of inheritance.
There are divergent views from different schools of Islamic Jurisprudence over the concept or, rather, what constitutes impediments to inheritance under Islamic Law, despite the fact that some of these impediments are clearly contained in the primary sources as explained by the Prophet (S.A.W).
Impediments to inheritance are the personal acts or attributes of a person who disqualifies him from succession and who would otherwise be an entitled heir on the grounds of blood or marital relationship with the propositus.
For those relatives of the deceased person ‘who are debarred from inheritance by reason stated above do not adversely affect the right of other heirs from an inheritance, neither do they exclude nor restrict their respective shares. In essence, disqualified heirs are deemed, in law, to be non-existing at all for the purpose of Islamic law of inheritance. For example, where a deceased person left behind two or more agnate brothers who, if not disqualified, would have restricted the mother’s Qur’anic share from one-third (1/3) to one-sixth (1/6) even when they are excluded by the father of the deceased person, but for the disqualification which befalls them, would not affect or restrict the mother’s Quranic share. This is because of that impediment; they are not recognized in the eyes of the law.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The provision of the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW) has specifically and unambiguously stated those that are debarred from inheritance. This debarment is either partial or complete.
But the problem lies in the arguments forwarded by each school of Islamic Jurisprudence or jurists with respect to a particular bar on inheritance. It will not be feasible for the Muslim world if these arguments go on without careful regard for the fundamental provision of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
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