What are the Customary Principles of Succession under Muslim Law?
The four basic principles of the pre-Islamic law of succession were: first, the nearest male agnate or agnates succeeded to the total exclusion of remoter agnates. Thus, if a Muslim died leaving behind a son, and a son of a predeceased son, then the son inherited the entire property and the grandson was totally excluded.
Secondly, females were excluded from inheritance; so were cognates. Thus, a daughter or a sister or a daughter’s son or sister’s son could never succeed to the property. Thirdly, the descendants were preferred over ascendants and ascendants over collaterals.
For instance, in the presence of a son, father could not succeed. Similarly, in the presence of father, brother could not inherit. Fourthly, where there were more than one male agnates of equal degree, all of them inherited the property and shared it equally, taking per capita. For example, if a person died leaving behind three brothers, all of them succeeded and each took one-third of the estate.