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Both the individual right of controlling one’s wealth and the right of the collectivity vis-à-vis each person’s wealth, inasmuch as one is a member of society, have to be satisfied simultaneously. Individual temperaments differ enormously, and sickness or other accidents may affect a person all out of proportion to the norm. Therefore, a certain discipline should be imposed upon the individual in the interest of the collectivity.

Thus Islam has taken two steps: distributing a deceased person’s goods among his or her close relatives according to a method that cannot be challenged, and restricting the freedom of bequest through wills and testaments. The legal heirs require no testamentary disposition and inherit the property in the proportions determined by law. A testament is required only for those who have no right to inherit.

Parents and grandparents inherit, and one cannot award to one son (elder or younger) more than to the other, regardless of age. Before the property is distributed, however, the burial expenses have to be paid first, and then the creditors, as paying debts has priority over the inheritors’ rights. After this, the will is executed in such a way that it does not exceed one-third of the remaining property. Only after satisfying these obligations are the heirs considered. The surviving spouse, parents, and descendants (sons and daughters) are the first-class heirs and inherit in all cases. Brothers, sisters, and more remote relatives (e.g., uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, and others) only inherit if there are no nearer relatives.


Senturk, Omer Faruk. “Charity in Islam” Tughra Books Press. January 2007.