Man is a trustee of the wealth that he owns for he duration of his life. When his term of life expires, his trusteeship over his wealth and property expires. It has then to be redistributed in accordance with the directive of The Absolute Owner – Allah Ta'ala. Directives regarding the distribution of wealth after the demise of the provisional owner are explicitly detailed in the Noble Quraan.
The First Science to be Lifted – The Holy Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wa sallam has said: "The first branch of knowledge which will be taken away from my Ummah will be Ilmul Faraidh [knowledge pertaining to inheritance]. This branch of knowledge is almost extinct. Most Muslims are blissfully unaware of the importance of the Islamic law of succession and the consequences of an un-Islamic Will.
Evolution of the Law of Succession –
a) Inheritance by Virtue of Migration: During the early stages of Islam, the social system in Madinah vas based on the brotherhood of the Muhajir and Ansaar.
This meant that when a Muhajir passed away, and he did not leave an immediate relative who had also migrated, his Ansaari brother would inherit from him.
The Noble Quraan refers to this bond of brotherhood in the following words:
"Certainly, those who believed and emigrated (to Madinah) and strove in the path of Allah with their property and persons as well as those who gave the asylum and aided them; they are heirs and protectors of one another."
b) Discretionary, Inheritance: This was later abrogated and replaced by a discretionary inheritance to blood relations. The Noble Quraan states:
"And blood relations among each other are more entitled (to inherit) according to the decree of Allah then the (brotherhood) of believers and the Muhajir."
The Noble Quraan further states: "It is Prescribed that when death approaches one of you, if he leaves any assets, that he makes a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable usage. This is binding upon the Allah conscious.
c) Abolition of inheritance by virtue of adoption: Adopted children were no longer regarded as blood relations and were therefore barred from inheriting. The Noble Quraan states: "Allah has made your adopted sons your (real) sons. Such is only your manner of speech."
d) Ordained Shares: Discretionary shares were abrogated and replaced by fixed shares for every heir. The Noble Quraan states "From what is left by parents and those nearest related, there is a share for men and a share for women, whether the property be large or small. A share made compulsory."
This verse elucidates three basic principles: "Those nearest related" – The criteria for determining the legal heirs and their proportionate shares is "proximity of relation". This proximity is not left to the subjective discretion of man, but is determined by Allah Ta'ala Himself. The Noble Quraan states "Between your fathers and sons you do not know which one of them is nearer to you in benefit…"
Any, attempt to alter the heirs of their fixed shares is tantamount to challenging the wisdom and directive of Allah Ta'ala.
"A share for men and a share for women" – During the days of ignorance, only those who could fight and defend the family were entitled to inherit. Women and children were thus naturally excluded from the estate. Islam entrenched the right of women, to the extent that a woman is guaranteed to inherit in her capacity as a mother, wife and daughter and in some instances in her capacity as a sister.
"A share made compulsory" – The Quraan has fixed the shares of each individual, which cannot be altered or changed. The share of each heir is binding in the same way as the number of Rakaats are binding in Salaah.