Sheikh Salah al-Budair, may Allah preserve him, delivered the Friday Khutbah entitled, “The Enormity of Usurping Inheritance,” in which he talked about the seriousness and unlawfulness of encroaching upon the inheritance of others, particularly that of women and orphans, as the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, warned against consuming their property. He also showed the heinousness of this act and its punishment in the hereafter.
Praise be to Allah. Praise be to Allah, Who has guided and sheltered us without measure. I seek refuge in Him from procrastination and deception in discharging obligations. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah alone, Who has no partners – a testimony whereby we hope to win deliverance from being in error and misguidance. I also bear witness that our prophet and master, Muhammad, is His servant and messenger, who said, “If anyone dies and leaves behind any property or right, it goes to his heirs; and if anyone dies and leaves behind destitute dependants or a debt, I will be responsible for his dependants and his debt.” May Allah bestow His peace and blessings upon him and upon his family and Companions, the best companions and the best generation that has ever lived.
Now then, O Muslims!
Fear Allah regarding all the acts that you do, be mindful of Him regarding secret and manifest deeds, and worship Him as He should be worshipped in the evening and the morning. “… And fear Allah, and know that Allah is with Al-Muttaqun (the pious).” (Al-Baqarah: 194)
The life of this world is nothing but a brief passing enjoyment. Those who are greedy for it are drawing near to their own doom, and those who covet what others possess will soon be disappointed and engulfed in misery. For the true believers, the hereafter is better than all riches, more sublime than whatever is dispensable, and greater than all that is valuable.
The distribution of estate is determined by a divinely-revealed law and is an obligation that guarantees fairness and justice. Those who lack honesty and are notorious for treachery, ill intentions, betrayal, deception, and viciousness will unjustly divide the estate, cheat their partners, and steal their shares. They will deny their partners’ rights, leaving them absolutely nothing. If asked about this, they will bear grudges; if questioned, they will turn away; and if called upon, they will not reply and will disappear into thin air. These are signs of dishonesty, theft, deception, and fraud.
“… And, verily, many partners oppress one another, except those who believe and do righteous good deeds, and they are few.” …” (Sad: 24)
The meaning of the Arabic word Khulata’ (which was translated as “partners” in the above verse) includes peers, relatives, and associates.
The worst of all people are those who steal when they covet, transgress when they are satisfied, snatch when they need, and commit vile acts when they have enough. One example of extreme injustice is to steal the inheritance of the rightful heirs. Allah, Majesty be to Him in His Loftiness, says: “And you devour the inheritance all with greed.” (Al-Fajr: 19)
This refers to those who commit transgressions when distributing inheritance, taking their share and the shares of others.
Those who deceitfully try to drop the obligations and allocations imposed by Allah, change the heirs’ legitimate shares, unjustly distribute the inheritance, deprive heirs of their shares, withhold the estate, hide the inheritance assets, conceal its documents and deeds, give themselves the exclusive right to dispose of it, delay distributing it, intend to take advantage of it, or force the heirs to give up their shares or accept only parts of them – those who do so have indeed contravened Allah’s judgement and obligations regarding the distribution of estate and have transgressed the limits He has set.
In the last verses on inheritance in Surah An-Nisa’, Allah, Majesty be to Him in His Loftiness, says:
“These are the limits (set by) Allah and whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success. And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.“ (An-Nisa’: 13-14)
That is, these laws and shares of inheritance are the limits that Allah has set. Those who do not increase or decrease the share of any of the heirs by any means or trick and leave them as Allah has judged, decided, and allotted will be admitted to Paradise to abide there for ever. As for those who oppose His judgement and the manner He has set as regards inheritance as well as the guidance of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, in this regard, they will be thrown into Hellfire to abide there in eternal disgrace.
Justice serves to maintain ties of kinship, nurture affection, and bring people together. On the other hand, injustice begets differences, disunity, hatred, quarrels, and disputes over trivial worldly matters and desires.
A perfidious, unjust person would await every opportunity to consume the inheritance shares of women and orphans. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “O Allah! I declare inviolable the rights of the two weak ones: orphans and women” (Reported by Ibn Majah on the authority of Abu-Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him). The Arabic verb harraja (translated here as ‘declare inviolable’) means ‘declare forbidden in the strictest sense of the word the act of those who violate the rights of women and orphans and consider them sinners and wrongdoers.’
O You who have found the inheritance of others easy to usurp! Hold back from committing such a crime. O you who have consumed women’s inheritance, taking advantage of their weakness, silence, and shyness! O you who have usurped the inheritance of unmarried women and orphans, deluded in this by their young age, helplessness, and loneliness! May you be destroyed! May your efforts be futile! May you remain in misery for ever!
How could you allow yourself to usurp others’ wealth and property, leaving your siblings and relatives to poverty, weakness, and loss? How could you allow yourself to seize the estate revenues, farm crops, and property rent, and turn your back on your siblings and relatives, ignore them, and treat them with disdain and contempt? Who has given you the right to conclude and revoke matters? Who has given you the right to withhold, reserve, grant, or spend the inheritance assets? Woe to you! Woe to you!
You are but one of the heirs and, like them, you have your rights as well as your obligations. Therefore, fear Allah, your Lord, before disgrace and ruin befall you. Take the matter seriously and abide by the prescribed law of inheritance and its fixed shares. Give everyone his due rights and his full share. Do not make excuses and delay the distribution of inheritance. Do not do injustice to other heirs through delay and procrastination. Beware of postponement, deferment, and slowness, as afflictions may take one aback, impediments may prevent one from doing good, and death may strike all of a sudden.
Abdullah ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father, narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Distribute wealth among those entitled to shares of the inheritance according to the Book of Allah, then whatever is left over should be given to the deceased’s nearest male relative” (Reported by Muslim).
Successful indeed are those who take the initiative and act righteously! And wretched indeed are those who have gone astray and are blinded to the truth! Those who turn to Allah in repentance and ask Him for forgiveness have indeed made the greatest achievement. Whoever repents and returns to Allah will find Him the Most Merciful, the Oft-Forgiving, and the One Who accepts repentance.
I have said what you have heard and I seek forgiveness from Allah. Ask Allah for forgiveness; He is ever Oft-Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again in obedience and in repentance.
By Sheikh Salah al-Budair