Estate Planning for the Muslim Faithful: A Simple Guide to Fara’id Rules

//Estate Planning for the Muslim Faithful: A Simple Guide to Fara’id Rules

Estate Planning for the Muslim Faithful: A Simple Guide to Fara’id Rules

Two childhood friends, Yahaya and Musa, were once walking down a road after visiting Yahaya’s wealthy uncle.

Yahaya, asking suddenly: Ah Musa, what would you do if my uncle willed N100 Million from his Estate to you?

Musa, rubbing his hands excitedly: Well, I would give you N1Million and then I would use the remaining N99Million to take care of myself and my family!

Legend has it that Yahaya and Musa are still exchanging blows and accusations of thievery to this day.

If even imaginary characters can express such an emotional reaction over imaginary money, how much more real people with real needs?

Fortunately for every Muslim, there exists an ancient mathematical wisdom used to calculate the property due to each qualified heir should the Testator pass on. The rules of this wisdom are collectively known as the Fara’id rules of distribution, which ensure fairness in Estate administration.

Since all must eventually die, the Fara’id rules are among the most important parts of Islamic knowledge. In this article, we will help you understand all of the rules and how they apply.


The first thing to note is that under Islam, a Muslim must ensure that at least 2/3rd of the entire Estate is made available for distribution to his/her legal heirs upon his/her death.

The origin of this rule is Sahih Muslim Book 13, No. 3991. Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas, while ill, received a visit from the prophet (pbuh). He told the prophet (pbuh) that he was afflicted, with no one to inherit his wealth save his only daughter. He asked whether to give 2/3rd or half of his property to Sadaqa (charity). The prophet (pbuh), while answering the question, laid down the wisdom that a Muslim man should give no more than 1/3rd of his estate to charity. The remaining 2/3rd must always be made available to his legal heirs.

It is that remaining 2/3rd of a Muslim’s estate that is then governed by the Fara’id Rules of distribution.


For easy comprehension, the most important thing to note is that there are only 6 portions of distribution under Fara’id. These fixed portions of are as follows:

a)  1/2 b)  2/3 c)  1/4 d)  1/3 e)  1/8 f)  1/6

Each portion is due to a specific legal heir, according to a similarly specified hierarchy. In the event that a position is vacant, the lot falls to certain other heirs as defined by the hierarchy.


A simple breakdown of those who qualify as legal heirs, as well as their entitlements, is given as follows.

  1. Husband: Where the Testatrix (Will maker) is a woman, her husband gets 1/2 (half) of the entire property if they had no children, and 1/4 (a quarter) if they had children from the marriage.
  2. Wife (or Wives): A wife (or wives) of a Testator will be entitled to 1/8 of the entire Estate if the deceased husband had no children by marriage and 1/4 if the husband had children by marriage.
  3. Daughter: Where a daughter is the only child, she is entitled to 1/2 of her parent’s residual Estate. However, where a Testator/Testatrix had more than one daughter but no son, the daughters will be entitled to receive 2/3rd of the entire residual Estate.
  4. Son: The share of a son is not expressly stated. Consequently, a son (or sons) will receive double of whatever the daughter receives under the wisdom in verse 176 of Surah An-Nisa, which mandates that males receive double of what females receive. A son also receives Asabah (as a residuary).
  5. Father: After provision has been made for the spouse(s) and children of a deceased Muslim, the father of the deceased comes next. If the Testator/Testatrix had children by marriage, he receives 1/6th of the Estate. Where there was no child, he receives Asabah in addition to his 1/6th.
  6. Mother: If a Muslim Testator/Testatrix had no child by marriage, their mother would be entitled to 1/3rd of the entire Estate. In the event that the deceased had children by marriage, their mother would instead receive 1/6th of the Estate.
  7. Paternal Relatives: These include the deceased’s brothers and sisters, who generally only receive a portion of the Estate when the Testator has no living son or father at the time of demise.
  8. Maternal Relatives: In essence, a deceased Muslim’s relatives from the mother’s side only inherit from the Estate when none of the legal heirs mentioned above are in existence. Such a situation is usually very rare.


Now that the numbers are somewhat clearer, let us look at an illustration of the Fara’id rules in action.

Upon his death, Alhaji Ibrahim Yusuf left behind a wife, mother, father, a son and a daughter. He also bequeathed up to 1/8th of his entire estate to the Muslim Boys Orphanage Home as Sadaqa (charity).

The distribution of the estate would therefore be as follows:

Muslim Boys Orphanage 1/8th (Note that a testator can only give up to 1/3rd of his estate to non-legal heirs. 1/8th, being lesser than 1/3rd, is therefore valid)
Father 1/6th (Since there are children in the marriage)
Mother 1/6th (Since there are children in the marriage)
Wife 1/8th (Since there are children of the marriage)
Wife 1/8th (Since there are children of the marriage)
Son & Daughter Asabah (residuary) would be calculated in such a way as to ensure that the son gets double of what the daughter gets.

The above fractions, expressed as parts of 100% would be:

Beneficiary Share Bequest
Muslim Boys Orphanage 1/8th 12.5% of the entire Estate.
Father 1/6th 16.67% of the entire Estate.
Mother 1/6th 16.67% of the entire Estate.
12.5% + 16.67% + 16.67% = 45.84%          
100% (total estate) – 45.84% (allocated estate)   =    54.16% (Asabah/residuary)Asabah divided in such a manner that son gets double of what daughter gets:2/3rd of 54.16% = 36.1%1/3rd of 54.16% = 18.05%
Son Double of what daughter gets 36.1% of entire Estate
Daughter Half of what son gets 18.05% of entire Estate.


Even if the above calculations look very different from what you imagined before reading this article, there is no need to worry. Although the Fara’id rules are designed to provide for the survivors of a deceased Muslim, it is extremely easy for any of several factors to cause confusion in both complex and simple Estates.

Fortunately, we happen to know professionals who have brilliantly administered the Estates of Muslim faithful for 55 years and counting, according to the Fara’id rules of distribution stipulated by Islam.

Are you wondering how you can avoid hassle when planning for the future of your loved ones?


NB: For more details on Islamic Estate Planning, visit UTL Trust Management Services Limited here

2022-01-19T11:59:17+00:00 November 26th, 2021|0 Comments

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