If a person passes away and all his relatives including both his parents are non-muslims, will the parents receive a share in his wealth? In the case where they are old and sickly, will they receive something?
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.
As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “A Muslim cannot be the heir of a disbeliever, nor can a disbeliever be the heir of a Muslim” [Bukhari, Muslim)
There are two situations which relates to this:
- Muslim person inheriting from non-Muslim
- Non-Muslim person inheriting from Muslim.
According to above Hadith, inheritance is prohibited in both of these cases, between a Muslim and a non-Muslim.
A non-Muslim individual who reverts to Islam also cannot inherit from his/her non-Muslim relatives; neither can they inherit from him.
Hence, a non-Muslim cannot inherit from a Muslim, nor can a Muslim inherit from a non-Muslim, regardless of whether he or she is one’s parents, children, or some other relative.
However, in such a case as you mentioned, where one’s parents are in need, and one wishes for some wealth to be passed on to them, then it is permissible for a Muslim to make a bequest that a maximum one-third (or less) of his or her wealth be given to their non-Muslim parents (or any other person who is not a legal heir) after their death, even if he or she is not a Muslim.
It should be noted that if a Muslim dies without leaving any rightful heir (according to the rulings of Shari’ah), such as a wife, husband, children, parents, etc, or if they exist but they are all non-Muslim, then his or her money becomes the property of the Muslim common fund (baytul-mal). If there is no common fund (as in our times today), then it is the responsibility of the righteous Muslims to distribute it to the poor and needy. If one is in such situation and is wealthy, they should maximise their spending in the path of Allah and for the benefit of the Muslims. One should also make a bequest by writing an Islamic will that one’s wealth must be distributed after one’s death in Islamic avenues, such as Islamic schools etc. Also an Aalim (Islamic scholar) whom one trusts should be appointed as an executor of this bequest.
NB: Writing and preparing an Islamic Will is undoubtedly very important for every Muslim, especially in non-Muslim countries, insuring that upon death, one’s wealth and assets are distributed according to Shari’ah.
The Prophet ﷺ said: “It is not befitting for a Muslim who has something to make a Will of, to remain for two nights without having one’s last Will and testament written and kept ready with one.”
The narrator of this Hadith (Abd Allah ibn Umar ibn al-Khattab) stated after hearing this “I did not let even one night pass by except that my Will would be kept by me.”
And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best
Mufti Arshad Ali
Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom (Trinidad)