Dividing inheritence when no proper accounts were maintained

23 Aug 2018 Ref-No#: 919

A man died leaving behind his sons, daughters and wife as heirs. And a Clothes Shop and a house as his property. Since the children were young (Eldest son was around 10 Years old), His Brother (children’s uncle) took charge of the shop and use to spend on his brother’s family. After approx. 8-9 Years, He handed over the shop to the Eldest son. Eldest son also use to spend on his family for the next 10-12 years. Then after Eldest son got married and after 2-3 years of marriage he moved out of the house and started living separately. Similarly other brothers moved out of the house after their marriage and started their own business. Eldest son use to give some nominal fixed amount to his mother who was staying in the old same home for next 10-12 years. (Mother assumed the son his giving monthly expense for her from his side, Elder son is saying it was her profit share from the shop). Now for the past 12-15 years, Eldest son is not giving any share to anybody. Also when asked, he says he will do after some years. House has been sold and all the heirs have got their share.
Now the main problem is the Eldest son has not maintained any accounts/Profit and loss statement of the shop. The another brother who is in the same business and started the business 25 years ago, also holding similar worth properties of Elder brother, Based on his estimate he is claiming amount which is very high according to elder brother.
Hence this matter is pending from last 50 years
Following where the suggesting given by various people
1) Evaluate the current property of the eldest son, let him keep 1/3 of it and remaining should be divided among the heirs [Eldest son not ok with this formula]
2) From the initial amount which was present when eldest son took charge. Assume 1/3 of it was given to elder son and on remaining amount have 20 – 25% yearly profit till today. And claim that amount. [Eldest son not ok with this formula]
3) Check how much worth gold in grams could have brought with initial amount then, Compare that gold in grams in today’s rate and divide [ Others are not ok with this formula]

Request you to kindly answer the following please
1) Is it permissible to delay further inheritance share, and till what extend of time.
2) Many internal discussions in the family has failed. Request you to kindly provide solution to the above scenario.

Answer

Wa’alaykum as Salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu,

The Guardians/Trustees have the right to withhold the assets of an heir who may still not be matured enough to know how to use the inheritance. The Qur’aan explicitly grants such a right to the guardian:-

وَلاَ تُؤْتُواْ السُّفَهَاء أَمْوَالَكُمُ الَّتِي جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ قِيَامًا وَارْزُقُوهُمْ فِيهَا وَاكْسُوهُمْ وَقُولُواْ لَهُمْ قَوْلاً مَّعْرُوفًا.

وَابْتَلُواْ الْيَتَامَى حَتَّىَ إِذَا بَلَغُواْ النِّكَاحَ فَإِنْ آنَسْتُم مِّنْهُمْ رُشْدًا فَادْفَعُواْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ وَلاَ تَأْكُلُوهَا إِسْرَافًا وَبِدَارًا أَن يَكْبَرُواْ وَمَن كَانَ غَنِيًّا فَلْيَسْتَعْفِفْ وَمَن كَانَ فَقِيرًا فَلْيَأْكُلْ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ فَإِذَا دَفَعْتُمْ إِلَيْهِمْ أَمْوَالَهُمْ فَأَشْهِدُواْ عَلَيْهِمْ وَكَفَى بِاللَّهِ حَسِيبًا.

And do not give over to those who are weak in intellect such wealth (of theirs) in which Allah Ta’aala has kept livelihood for you. But feed and clothe them therewith and speak to them with kindness. And try orphans (as regards their intelligence) until they reach the age of marriage; if then you find sound judgement in them, release their property to them, but consume it not wastefully, and hastily fearing that they should grow up, and whoever amongst guardians is rich, he should take no wages, but if he is poor, let him have for himself what is just and reasonable (according to his work). And when you release their property to them, take witness in their presence; and Allah is All-Sufficient in taking account.” (Surah Nisaa 4: verses 5 and 6).

Each heir should have gotten his share when he reached the age of marriage (18-23).

Nevertheless, the elder brother should fear Allah and realise that it is a serious offence to go against the laws of inheritance. After outlining the laws of inheritance, Allah Ta’ala warned:

ومن يعص الله ورسوله ويتعد حدوده يدخله نارا خالدا فيها وله عذاب مهين (سورة النساء ، 14)

“And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad ), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment”. [An-Nisaa’: 14] 

Likewise, the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said,

“مَنْ قَطَعَ مِيرَاثًا فَرَضَهُ اللهُ وَرَسُولُهُ قَطَعَ اللهُ بِهِ مِيرَاثًا مِنَ الْجَنَّةِ ” (شعب الإيمان – (10/340)

 “Whoever cuts/takes from his heirs’ inheritance, Allah will cut out his share from Jannah on the day of Qiyaamah (Day of Judgement).” (Shuabul-Imaan; Vol. 10, Pg. 340)

Thus, the elder brother will have to honestly say under oath whether he was really giving profits of the business to his mom, or was it just a monthly stipend. If it was a monthly stipend, he will have to now give back the entire capital with profits. And if it was profits, then he will have to make sure that he gave her the exact amount that she was deserving of.

The second brother who was also in the business will have to bring proof on the value and profits which he is claiming. If he cannot bring proof, the elder brother will have to take an oath and declare that he is giving what he feels correct. If he is dishonest, he should realize that Allah knows what he is usurping.

We feel that option three is the best; the value of gold should be given, as well as the profits of last 12-15 years. The other heirs should appreciate that they are getting the correct value of their shares at the time of the demise of their dad; as well as all the profits over this entire period. They should also be thankful to the eldest son for spending on them (or giving them profits) for so many years.

 If there are any inconsistencies thereafter, then all the family members should forgive each other. The life of this world is short, and it is best to rather maintain family ties and love amongst yourselves. Insha Allah, Allah will put Barakah, and bless you with more. If you make any compromise for the pleasure of Allah, then although outwardly it will seem as if you are getting less; Allah will ultimately bless you with more. Anas (r.a) mentions that the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said,

” من أحب أن يبسط له في رزقه ، وينسأ له في أثره ، فليصل رحمه ” (متفق عليه)

“Whoever desires that Allah expands his wealth and bless him with a long life, he should maintain family ties.” (Bukhari and Muslim)

Therefore, try to sort out this estate soon, forgive each other, and keep the peace.