Question: I am a visa 18 OFW and accountant by profession. My Muslim officemate died of cancer few weeks ago. As I was computing her death benefits and other indemnities, our Personnel Manager came to my side to tell me that my officemate’s brother shall have a share from the monetary benefits or other indemnities of the deceased. He pointed out that the brother should participate in the hereditary estate since the deceased left no children, except a baby girl. He also told me to allocate about 1/6 to the deceased’s mother. He handed me a table of computation or formula in dividing the money among the surviving heirs of my deceased colleague, i.e. the wife, daughter, mother and brother. Anyway, is this true under Shari’a or Islamic law? I am apprehensive as this may apply to me being a convert to Islam with only three (3) children, all girls. Please advise me.

Name withheld

Answer: Yes, it is true. Your Personnel Manager is correct. Under Shari’a or Islamic law the brother and mother of your deceased officemate shall participate in the hereditary estate of the decedent on a case-by-case basis as shares of the Islamic heirs vary depending upon their number and/or relation to the decedent. For example, the presence of a surviving son excludes the deceased brother. (Articles 110-123, P.O. 1083; S.4 and S.5, The Holy Qur’an). In Shari’a or Islamic law, property has not only its rights, but has also its responsibilities, and ultimately all property belongs to the Almighty, therefore it is only He through the Holy Qur’an that property is apportioned in a just and reasonable manner (4:5-6,2:188, 59:7-9, The Holy Qur’an). Your apprehension is a strong test of your faith. This time, you have the option to choose between a man-made law and the law of the Almighty as regards the distribution of your property to your 3 daughters and Islamic heirs, if any. However, please be guided that in your case, your non-Muslim relatives or heirs are not entitled to any share from your property (Al-Hadith). Moreover, let me share to you that Shari’a or Islamic law applies to all Muslims whether converts or natives (whose parents are both Muslims or whose father is a Muslim). In a strongly worded verse of the Holy Qur’an, the Almighty GOD labeled those who do not judge themselves by what He has revealed as disbelievers, wrongdoers or rebellious. (5:47,48 and 50, The Holy Qur’an). Along this line, you have further the option where to align yourself as a Muslim. By the way, Islam as a religion is not only praying 5 times a day or fasting the Holy month of Ramadhan, but it is a complete way of life including the sincere adherence to the law of the Almighty (Maulana Maudodi, Islamic scholar). I wish I could always be of service through this column.

* Published under writer’s pen name


B. DISPOSITION OF PROPERTY (Date published: 28 July 2002)

Question: We are a family of OFW converts to Islam since my father was in Saudi Arabia during the early 80’s. Now that he is getting old, I received a letter from him informing me of his proposal to apportion his property to us according to Shariá or Islamic law, and to be implemented upon his death. In the said letter, he also informed me that my younger brother’s share is equal to the shares of two daughters. Thanks God, as I am a Muslim. However, is this true in Islam? I am not questioning the wisdom of God. I am just curious as a convert. Fortunately, we are only three in the family: two daughters and a brother. My mother passed away five years ago.


Answer: Your father’s proposal to apportion his property is very ideal. Obviously he wanted a peace of mind and harmonious relations among his children upon his death. Above all, he wanted to ascertain that as a Muslim, Shariá or Islamic law is applied in the disposition of his property. As regards the share of your younger brother which is equal to your and your sister’s combined shares, I wish to inform you that this is emphasized under Verse 11 of the Holy Qurán and Article 117 of PD 1083. I wish further to inform you that the mere fact that your younger brother has a double share is neither a gesture of favoritism nor act of inequality by reason of sex. This principle is a just and fair balancing feature of distribution of property since males have added social responsibility and burden in the support of the family, and giving dowry to the wife for the latter’s protection and benefit. And in time of war, males are always in the frontline both in defense of the country or pursuit of national interest. In fact, said principle is one of the many reforms introduced by Islam, as females have no share at all or could not inherit from their parents during the pre-Islamic era. The principles of inheritance law are laid in broad outline in the Holy Qurán, and the precise details have been worked out on the basis of the Prophet’s practice and that of his companion (Justice Jainal Rasul, Comparative Law: The Family Code of the Philippines and the Muslim Code). I agree with you, as Muslims, we do not question the wisdom of the Almighty because He knows best.