Q&A (Fatwa)

#231: Ruling on Inheritance and Debts


“As-Salaamu Alaykum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuhu. Please my question is centered on inheritance, firstly if a man dies and leaves a wife and children alive and it so happen that there is a debt the husband has been paying to the wife before his death, he stopped while he was ill before he died, when he died should the woman request for the remaining of the money he hasn`t paid before he died, even though she wanted to forgive the debt when he just died and the pain was unbearable. Secondly, if a woman was building a house while she was with her husband and in the course of the building the husband assisted in the building with some blocks and when completed they stayed in it together with him even though it belongs to her, what is its ruling when he died leaving the house for her, does his contribution in the building to be paid back even if it is not much (I mean in inheritance).”


Alhamdulillaahi Rabbi Al-Aalamin!

As for the first part of your question, Allaah – ta’aala – made it clear in the Qur’an that before any inheritance portions are to be shared and properly distributed, all debts and will must be apportioned and settled.

He – ta’aala – said:

من بعد وصية يوصي بها أو دين’

“After proper settling of all will which he apportioned or debts (which he owe)” Suratu An-Nisaa.

Shaykh Muhammad Muhyiddin Abdu Al-Hamid – rahimahullaah – said:

“The First Research: On discussing what has to do with what the Dead has left behind of wealth and a summarized mention of the positions of the Ulamaa about them. Know that the Ulamaa of the Hanafiya, the Malikiyya and the Shafi’iyya have agreed that with regards to what the dead leaves behind of wealth, there are five rights which are arranged in descending order in such a way that it is not permissible to move to the next one until the one above it has been duly exercised and something is left of the wealth.

The FIRST is every right of others that are owed by the dead or in the possession of the dead such as a collateral properties in his position, etc. The Hanbalis consider it to be a part of the debt category so they put before it the burdens of preparing the death for burial.

The SECOND of the rights are everything of money that are to be spend in preparing the corpse for burial.

The THIRD is the settling of everything that is upon him of debts.

The FOURTH is the execution of everything he has in his will that are executable.

The FIFTH is the distribution of his inheritance in its properly accorded way…”

Ref: “Ad-Durratu Al-Bahiyya Bi Tahqiqi Mabaahithi Ar-Rahbiyya” page 8-9.

Therefore, it doesn’t matter whose debts are owed, even if it is that of his wife. What matters is that they are debts, and they must all be paid before the wealth is distributed.

As for the second part of the question, as long as the house belongs to the wife, even if the husband contributed to the building and spent on it, that is merely a Sadaqah and cannot be calculated as a part of his wealth. And the Ulamaa are at a consensus that whatever the dead spends while he is alive has nothing to do with the inheritance.

Allaahu A’alam.
Baarakallaahu feekum!




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