Internal Oppression: The Perspective of Islamic Inheritance -

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Internal Oppression: The Perspective of Islamic Inheritance

The attitude of sitting on other people's inheritance is of great concern in our society. I used to think the fraud only occur in those Yoruba movies we used to watch back then. But now, I am a living witness to several live cases. I handled a similar case of a family where a father died and left behind properties in Lagos and Ilorin. The eldest among the children do not want the properties to be distributed between the legal heirs. They take the rents alone and spend it as they like. Each time the young ones try to ask for their rights, they use different means to prevent them. A well respected Professor in that family invited me to intervene in the matter, and to a great extent, we were able resolve the differences, even though there were still some lingering issues which must have been laid to rest now. They had to sell the property in Ilorin, and share its proceeds in accordance with the provisions of Islamic law. 

It should be noted that I am not an expert in estate distribution under the Shari'ah. It is a very technical area that requires sound knowledge and understanding. The estate was already shared in accordance with Islamic law. I was only invited to mediate between the legal heirs. For proper distribution of estates of deceased Muslims, you may contact Ustaadh Ahmad Nafiu Aljawhari. He has a special foundation for that purose. May Allaah bless the wonderful initiative.

Ordinarily, matters of inheritance is very difficult to handle in our society because those who are in charge don't usually want to release the properties to their bonafide owners. Some of them might have even used the said properties as collateral for some mortgage arrangements. So, they find it difficult to fear Allaah or do what is right in the circumstance. They use different means to protect this evil. They do all sort of magic and they can even kill anyone who tries to drag things with them. 

Also, one of the most dangerous and destructive practice many people in our society engage in after the death of a deceased Muslim is the changing, forging and falsification of his wasiyyah (will) This is very common. They don't count it to be anything. They just change it and move on, despite clear Qur'anic provision against it. Someone would die upon verifiable and authentic wasiyyah, and some people would sweep it under the carpet. They will not implement any of it. The deceased would give a valid wasiyyah and they would turn it upside down in order to satisfy their own personal interest. 

Someone would say: once I die, bury me in the Muslim Cemetery, they would change it and bury him at home. Someone would say: don't do any fidau or cooking after my death, they would ignore it and celebrate his death as if they are doing wedding. Someone would say: so and so should be the ones to manage my institution after my death, they would change it. Someone would say: give so and so this and that (not exceeding 1/3 of the total estate), they would ignore it. And so on. Anyone who participate or support this kind of evil has sinned against Allaah. Allaah says

(فَمَنْ بَدَّلَهُ بَعْدَمَا سَمِعَهُ فَإِنَّمَا إِثْمُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ)

Then whoever alters the bequest after he has heard it - the sin is only upon those who have altered it. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.[Surat Al-Baqarah 181]

People who often sit on other people's properties unjustly lack fear of Allaah. They are oppressors. Anyone who has good siblings and relatives should thank Allaah. One of the major tests of identifying true siblings and relatives is inheritance. You will see siblings and relatives cheating and defrauding one another. SubhanaLlaah! It is just sad that people who are of the same blood are the ones cheating one another. That is a form of internal oppresion, and it is one of the worst of oppressions. No wonder, one of the scholars said:

لُحُومُهُمْ لَحْمِي وَهُمْ يَأْكُلُونَهُ

                                   وَما دَاهِياتُ المَرْءِ إلاَّ أَقارِبُه

*"We are blood relatives, yet they slander me behind my back; man's worst nightmare are his relatives." (translated by my beloved brother and friend, Ustaadh Sanusi Lafiagi)*

So, if someone cannot fear Allaah regarding his relatives, how will he fear Allaah with respect to other people in the society? Islamic law of inheritance is a process of catering for the needs of the family of the deceased when he or she is no more. It is from the Sunnah to strive in halal ways to leave properties for one's heirs so that they would not be going about begging people for means of sustenance. The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم advised Sa'd ibn Abi Waqas رضي الله عنه accordingly. It is the right of the legal heirs no matter how small or young to share from the estate of the deceased. Even if a heir is an underage, in the absence of any of the impediment specified in the Sunnah, his or her own share must be properly kept and delivered to him when attain the age of majority. Allaah says:

(وَلَا تَقْرَبُوا مَالَ الْيَتِيمِ إِلَّا بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ حَتَّىٰ يَبْلُغَ أَشُدَّهُ ۚ وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ ۖ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولًا)

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned. [Surat Al-Isra' 34]

It is a great evil to mismanage the properties of an orphan. Why should some heirs prevent other heirs their rights over their parent's properties? Anyone who sits on another person's property or entitlements is an evil doer. He or she could fall the group of the muflisoon (bankrupt people) on the Day of Judgment if he fails to repent, because Allaah would pay his victims from his own good deeds, if at all he has any. As for those who do this kind of injustice thinking they can get away with it, let them fear Allaah and repent sincerely. Allaah does not like the unjust people. They are to be warned that they are eating fire in their stomachs. Allaah says:

(إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَامَىٰ ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نَارًا ۖ وَسَيَصْلَوْنَ سَعِيرًا)

Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze. [Surat An-Nisa' 10]

Those who sit over the properties of other people should also be reminded that the dua of the oppressed against an oppressor is potent, nothing stops it from reaching Allaah. And the oppressor should not rejoice over his evils because every act of injustice would be rewarded by Allaah. One of the scholars said:

دعاء المظلوم ليس له مرد* **  *ولا حجب تقيه ولا سماء

The supplications of the oppressed is not to be rejected, and it does not have any screen or heaven that prevents it (from reaching Allah)

فلا تغررك أيام حسان ** *فلا تظلم فإن له جزاء
Don't be deceived by the good days (the properties you steal), and do not oppress others, for surely, it has reward (repercussion)

May Allaah guide us aright.

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