I was trying to find a ruling in Surah Nisa (v 7-14) but was unsuccessful.

What is the ijtehad among the Ulema on how the wealth of a female Muslim is to be distributed if she has no parents, no husband, no siblings and no children after her?

Do we have anything in the Quran or the Sahih Hadiths that guide in this matter?

1 Answer 1


It depends on various factors, such as exactly who survived the deceased, the madhab being implemented, whether a Will \ Bequest was made etc. Broadly speaking the estate of a deceased is distributed among the following:

  • Creditors, who will be paid back their loans.

  • Those for whom a bequest was made. The deceased can make a bequest of up to 1/3rd of their estate to be given to any non-heir or to be an endowment for any purpose.

  • Those for whom there is a prescribed share in Islamic law, as mentioned in the Quran or Ahadith. This includes immediate kin such as parents, children, siblings or spouses. And in some cases it can include grandparents and grandchildren.

  • The closest male (and in some cases female) who is related to the deceased through a male link. After any bequests and prescribed shares are distributed, the remaining estate (if any) goes to this person. Your list excludes immediate kin but that still leaves other candidates like paternal grandfathers, paternal grandsons, paternal nephews, paternal uncles, paternal cousins.

    ألحقوا الفرائض بأهلها فما بقي فهو لأولى رجل ذكر

    Give the shares to those who are entitled to them, and what remains over goes to the nearest male heir.


  • Blood relations who are not included in the above and are related to the deceased through a female link. It includes relatives such as maternal uncles, maternal aunts, maternal grandchildren, maternal grandparents etc. These are heirs in the absence of the above, in some madhabs and not in others.

    وأولو الأرحام بعضهم أولى ببعض في كتاب الله

    But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allah

    Quran 8:75

    الخال وارث من لا وارث له

    The maternal uncle inherits from the one who has no heirs.

    Sunan Abi Dawud

  • In the total absence of relatives some madhabs allow for a bequest to be made by the deceased for more than a third of the property in favor of some stranger. That is because the limitation on bequests is to protect the rights of the real heirs, whereas in this case there are no heirs whose rights can be violated by accepting a greater bequest.

    Some of the madhabs (in the absence of heirs) allow for inheritance because of موالاة which is a contract between two people that they would inherit from each other. This is based on the verse 4:33 and the early practice between the Muhajireen and the Ansar (Abu Dawud 2921 , Bukhari 6747 ). Some have defined this contract as only applicable on a person who accepts Islam at the hand of another see Abu Dawud 2918.

  • Bait al-Maal - the public treasury. If a person has no specific heir then all the Muslims are equally entitled to the estate and their ruler will manage the property on their behalf. This is the last destination for any such property according to all madhabs.

    أنا وارث من لا وارث له أفك عانيه وأرث ماله

    I am the heir of him who has none, freeing him from his liabilities, and inheriting what he possesses.

    Abu Dawud ; Mughni al-Muhtaaj: وهو صلى الله عليه وسلم لا يرث لنفسه شيئا، وإنما يصرف ذلك في مصالح المسلمين

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