Mirath (Inheritance) Section VIII : Miscellaneous Provisions

There were certain miscellaneous questions, which created doubts and difficulties in the minds of certain persons. The decisions reported here purport to resolve these issues:-

“When a man dies leaving his widow as his sole surviving heir, she takes the whole of his property. Similarly when a married woman dies leaving her widower as her sole surviving heir, the whole of the property goes to him.

The reason mentioned for this rule is that although their Koranic shares are fixed at 1/4 and 1/8, respectively, the residue cannot be taken by anyone else according to the Koranic regulations. The wife was after all a close relation of the husband, and was preferred to the state as a residuary. Both of these decisions are attributed to Ali bin Abu Talib, and as all the succeeding Imams followed them, the rule can be said to be firmly established.

a) An unbeliever was converted to Islam and later, killed accidentally. He had no heirs left surviving him. The blood-money due by his accidental death was distributed among the poor, who had been converted to Islam.

b) Similarly, a man died, leaving no heirs, but a will whereby he left the whole of his property to the poor. The will was upheld as valid and the whole of the deceased’s property was devoted to charity.

In all these cases, the blood-money would have gone to the state coffers, and Ali bin Abu Talib as Imam diverted the money to charity. All these decisions were given by Ali bin Abu Talib, and are therefore of the highest authority.

A man belonging to the sub-tribe Khuza’a, of the tribe Azd, died without leaving any heirs. The Prophet decided to give his property to a man of the sub-tribe Khuza’a.”


“When a man dies leaving several sons, the eldest is entitled to his father’s sword, buckler, ring and Koran. And if by accident the son dies, these chattels would descend in the same manner to his eldest son. This decision is based on the special position of the eldest son, as he is entitled to be the wasi.

This rule does not contravene the general law of inheritance whereby all the sons of a deceased person are entitled equally to their portion from the heritable estate. The special position of the eldest son is also mentioned in the testament of the Prophet and of Ali bin Abu Talib. This regulation is a secret sign (ramz) from the representative (wali) of God and is restricted to the Imams of the Prophet’s family and is inapplicable generally to Muslims.”


Imam Muhammad al-Bakir and Imam Jafar Sadik ruled in a certain cases that women were not entitled to inherit landed property, but were entitled to their proper share of inheritance, account being taken of the price of land forming part of the estate of the deceased. But this rule according to Qadi Noman, deals with certain exceptional cases, and is not of general application. “In any case” writes Qadi Noman “where landed property is owned by a deceased person as heritable property, the female heirs have a share in it in accordance with the rule laid down by God. This is a fixed rule, admitting of no variation.”