This article discusses the Muslim law of inheritance or Faraid. These rules generally apply to the assets of a deceased Muslim, though we will address some exceptions as well.
The Administration of Muslim Law Act under section 112 sets the grounds for rules when distributing a deceased person’s assets. According to this law, if a deceased Muslim was domiciled in Singapore at the time of his or her death, then the deceased’s assets shall be distributed under the principles of Muslim law and Malay customs, where applicable.
Faraid is the law that determines the manner and order of distribution of a deceased Muslim’s assets. Faraid’s principles are present in several sources, including as the majority opinion of Islamic scholars, the sayings and traditions of the Prophet (pbuh), and the Holy Quran.
Faraid applies to the assets of a deceased Muslim, which have not been given away under the deceased’s will (wasiat) and do not come within the description of any of the “excluded assets” listed below.
AMLA’s section 111 permits a Muslim to create a will in order to dispose of their assets upon their death. The will, however, must follow the conditions of, and is subject to restrictions imposed by the Muslim law school declared by him or her.
Under Faraid, there are generally three types of a deceased Muslim’s assets that are excluded from distribution:
Property owned by a deceased Muslim in a joint tenancy with another person(s) will be passed on to the joint tenant(s) who outlive the deceased. Under Faraid, the “share” of the deceased’s property will not be distributed to his or her heirs (waris). Civil law courts in Singapore take this view, as well as the Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (MUIS) in its recent (2019) ruling (Fatwa).
In the event that a deceased Muslim appoints a nominee(s) to receive his or her CPF monies after his or her death, this person(s) shall receive the designated amount(s). The nominated amount(s) of the deceased’s CPF monies will not be distributed to his or her heirs (waris) under Faraid.
When a deceased Muslim has named a nominee(s) to receive his or her insurance policy benefits/payouts upon his or her death, such nominee(s) shall have the right to receive these policies. Under Faraid, the nominated policy benefits/payouts of the deceased’s insurance policy will not be distributed to his or her heirs (waris). MUIS has proclaimed in a fatwa that revocable insurance policy nominations are allowed under Muslim law.
AMLA’s section 112(3) imposes that the court may make an order for the division of assets relating to matrimonial property or harta sepencarian. This includes assets jointly acquired by a deceased Muslim and his or her spouse. Under this ruling, the court may divide the assets in proportions it deems appropriate. Though the division of harta sepencarian has its origins in Malay customs, in practice, people rarely apply for such an order. The subject of a court order made under section 112(3) of AMLA, harta sepencarian, will not be distributed to the deceased’s heirs (waris) under Faraid.
When a deceased Muslim gives away assets under his or her will, such assets will not be allocated to the deceased’s heirs (waris) under Faraid.
The term ‘consanguine siblings’ refers to siblings who have the same father but different mothers. On the other hand, ‘uterine siblings’ refer to those having the same mother but different fathers.
It can be quite difficult to calculate the distribution of assets under Faraid. Refer to the MUIS’s official website to use an online inheritance calculator.