Bismillahir Rahmaanir Raheem.
As salaam aleikum wa Rahmatullah.
All praises and thanks to Allah The Most High, The Most Merciful.
Please help me sort this thing out, so I could have a piece of mind; my mother peacefully passed away in April 1984, may Allah have Mercy on her soul. She left behind a husband, 3 sons and 3 daughters, and two step-daughters, one is hers from her previous husband and still alive, and the other is my father’s from his previous marriage, she died a few years after my mother, and left a daughter.
This story begins in 1979 when my parents purchased their first property; I was then 12 years of age. By the time they got to sign property documents, they both agreed that I, as a first son of their , should be the property owner. The reason she set me forth as a guardian is that she feared, in case she passes off before her husband, some harm would come to us, meaning, losing the family umbrella for any reason coming from our father’s part! (My understanding of this is that she knew who she dealt with as a husband), therefore, someone must step up and prevent this from happening.
Years went by, and there were some improvements made to the said property, and my mother was the most achieving in this account (I understand that this should not matter in case of inheritance split and here is not the case). She took a loan to finalize the works, she alas died meanwhile. The loan was profoundly passed due since my mother’s demise. By the time I started earning some income in 1991-2, I saved for nearly 5 years and finally made a full payment towards it in 1995-6 Al-Hamdulil Lah.
Here is where things started getting complicated; my father re-married in 1985 to my aunt (my mother’s sister), and to another woman in 1986. My aunt gave him 2 daughters before they divorced in 1991; she had 3 daughters prior from her first marriage. She also managed to have built her own house before she left. No further story to tell so far about her or the house.
The situation is a mind boggling altogether and yet the following case is truly affecting; my second step-mother had a son and a daughter from her previous , and she gave him 2 daughters and a son, before she passed in February 1999, a month after I left my country (Burundi) and came to live in Canada. She also managed to have built a property. However, according to hearsay, from her and from other trusted people, the land was a gift from her uncle, my father and she, simply built the house.
Like my mother predicted things according to what she was experiencing, this late step-mother did too; She said to everybody who would listen (this could be taken as wasiyyah) that she also wanted all her children to have their own place they can call home, that’s why she made sure of it; a separate property.
In year 2000, my father re-married (He currently have 2 daughters with his wife) and earlier that year, he unfortunately sold the late step-mother’s property. We were all shocked by this action. I spoke with my father over the phone after hearing this bitter news, he confirmed the facts and gave me his own reasons; property swap, from one city to another. I took it as valid and we agreed to ultimately meet by September during the same year to discuss the type of property we’d purchase jointly (I proposed to add more funds in order to get better).
To my surprise when I got there, he did not have the money but a mere lump sum of the proceeds! He explained that he had some legacies and debts to pay; therefore I should understand why he had less than expected. Only Allah knows best! Since I told him that I was coming with some money in addition to what he had, he then wanted me to leave it to him, a thing which I never did, reasonably I just started putting my life together, and if I had to spend any money, at least it should be on some meaningful project, either his or mine. I did not see any reason why I should do so; therefore I left the situation as such and returned to Canada. One can easily understand the outcome of this fact, he was unhappy.
Some time passed by, and in late 2001, I returned back to my country, this time with a purpose of purchasing my own property, and I bought it, Al-Hamdulil Lah. Before I left to Canada, I promised that I won’t have any further partnership with him rather, but if I am blessed with anything, he’d benefit from it. I did that by allowing him to collect all the rental proceeds to his advantage.
During my stay in the country, my siblings stumbled on some suspicious documents in my father’s possession regarding property title change in the house, and they told me about it. I started making some investigation and I found out later it was a true case after I left the country. Then I made a phone call to him, wanting to know why he would do such a move behind by back; my name is on the title and I am an adult now. If anything needs to be done, my presence is necessary by all means!
To cut the story short, he managed to fraudulently change the title, taking my name off and putting his on! I suspected he wanted to sell or put a lien on the property but he could not, hence the dramatic change. I took an emergency trip to my country. I was in position of opening a Lawsuit however, I refrained myself from doing so. Am I wrong not having done so? Please keep me posted after analyzing the whole case.
We did a family gathering to discuss the matter, and then he explained his point of view: He has so many children from so many women, if he disappears now, and I, in case I won’t be just, could easily usurp the property from others. To some people, this is plausible! And by Allah, to support his case, he lied about me, stating that I expressed that intention to him personally! Subhaanal Lah!
I was truly hurt and disappointed and still am, because it is his word against mine, any of my siblings would actually entertain the idea of me being that type of mind! Only Allah knows what they think of either me or our father! As a matter of fact it later appeared that he wanted money against his property, however, to my knowledge, he had not taken it; he put forward another reason to have the title changed, therefore, he became cautious about taking another risk of disproving himself, since it became public!
This indeed is some kind of him trying to get more money out of our pockets in a way: i.e. He takes money from a bank; then tells us he cannot afford to pay; we all know he doesn’t have, to a certain extent, the ability of undertaking such a risk and carrying it out successfully; then we all have to come up with a solution to save the family honour! This will definitely stall our well-being! We are all outraged with this thought! It is in my view haram, but I do not want to give it such a verdict.
Dear brothers in Islam, I really need your belated solution on these following facts;
1) Considering the fact that we lost our beloved mother at that tender age and according to the Qur’an and Sunnah in light with inheritance, and according to our family complexity at every stage of life changes, what would have been done then, which hasn’t been accomplished to this day? In what way it should have been carried out? Should I have played the property owner role up until now? Was the pact between my parents in line with Allah and His Messenger's command? For all the siblings I mentioned earlier in my narration, who should be entitled to what and how? I feel the urge of displaying all these facts before my father eye so I can assuredly feel at peace with myself, trying to convey the message, Allah willing, he might seek guidance and accept the outcome.
2) Considering the fact that my father built on his wife’s property, ultimately, he has some right over it once the other party passes away however, what would the outcome be to all of us generally and particularly to the step-children in terms of wasiyyah and inheritance rights? Does he have the right to overlook that fact and also, not forgetting that his late wife had still both her parents and her other close siblings?
3) What stand should I or should all of us take before our father? We’ll always respect him, we all love him, and we are all trying to make his life better as we can, but shouldn’t we be truthful to him when it comes to Allah justice and him being a not-so-fair Imam? I got into a heavy argument with him regarding all these facts, obviously, I happen to be the one who sees his action as transgression on Allah’s command in the matter, he should seek guidance in order to be in line with Allah's rules and regulations.
No matter how politely and calmly I try to put this idea forward he is harsh with me at all times, we don’t communicate properly as I also grow in frustration; I stand the ground on what I believe to be right before Allah and he’s always right because he is the father! Deep down in his heart he knows he’s wrong but he would not want to appear so before his children!
4) I also withdrew my property rental income from him nevertheless; it still serves as tuition to my young sisters, and all other expenses that income can cover for them. Generally it still does benefit him but not directly. Is this correct or will it be more grief on me, more wraths from my father?
I thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter. The purpose of following this through is that, if Allah grants me some more time, and eventually if I will happen to make a call regarding my family inheritance issues one day, I truly want to be ready or to have some kind of a back up. We do not have so many Fuqaha’a in my country. Should the reply be on this website or be as a mail or e-mail, I am alright with any communication tool you’d prefer to adopt. This is just a tip of the iceberg, my life has been in the rough with my family. Please help me!
Was Salaam Aleikum Wa Rahmatul Lah Wa Barakaatuh.
In the name of Allāh, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Assalāmu ῾alaykum wa Rahmatullāhi Wabarakātuh
The scenario presented is indeed very sensitive and complex. You are dealing directly with your biological father. You need to be extremely careful of your approach and how you conduct yourself before him.
So many years have passed by since your mother has passed away and the inheritance has still not been distributed. Now that there is a problem amongst the shareholders, if you wish to resolve the issue, there has to be co-operation and understanding from all sides (after all you are dealing with family). Some may have to compromise their rights in order to resolve the issue.
a) Firstly, there seems to be an inconsistency in your query. The problem you have mentioned is regarding your parent’s property which was put in your name, thereafter you have stated that earlier in the year 2000 your father sold the property of the late step-mother.
b) If the property referred to is that of your biological mother, then too, it will defer whether the property belonged to them and merely put in your name for a specific reason or the property was given over to you completely.
If the property was not given to you but merely put in your name, then whatever portion of the property was owned by your mother, should be distributed amongst her rightful heirs.
If she was survived by her husband, 3 sons , 3 daughters and no ascendants, her estate will be distributed in the following manner after all her debts are paid, burial expenses and her bequest thereafter executed from up to one third of the estate:
Her estate will divided into 12 equal shares,
Her husband will receive 3 shares,
Each son will receive 2 shares,
Each daughter will receive 1 share.
c) Rasulullah (sallallahu alaihi wasallam) has prohibited a person from making a wasiyyah (bequest) for an heir. Hence, it is not permissible for your mother or father to make a bequest in your favor. However, they can make a bequest for their step-children (not their biological children). The step children do not qualify as heirs and will inherit from their biological parents.
d) If you wish to forfeit your right from the rental income, it is your right and you may do as you desire. If you wish to give your right over to your sisters, it is also good and you will be rewarded.
And Allāh Ta῾āla Knows Best
Ml. Rayhaan Docrat,
Student Dārul Iftā
Checked and Approved by:
Mufti Ebrahim Desai
Dārul Iftā, Madrasah In῾āmiyyah
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