The World Federation One Stop Fiqh

Ask an Alim

Right of Siblings on Property Named or Owned by Single Brother


I have a land (plot) on my name after the death of my father and mother my siblings are asking their share from that property because at the time of balloting (govt scheme) my father used my NIC and gave payment for it…luckily in that scheme my name was selected and then rest of the installments were paid by me.

* There is no will of my father regarding that property whether to be distributed or not but the file is on my name (I own its ownership since starting and payment of all installments were done through my account).

Please guide me in the light of Quran n Sunnah with reference.


Salaamun Alaykum

Initially it must be said that having a land legally registered in the name of a person, does not mean that in reality i.e. Islamically speaking that the person is the actual owner – What matters is, who the real buyer is and with what intention did he or she make the transaction. In your particular case there are various potential answers to your question. Below is the Shari’a ruling for each of them and thereafter you must act according to whichever one was truly your scenario.

What is certain is that your father was the actual buyer of the land – but the intention that he bought the land could be as follows:

1. Scenario 1: You and your father had agreed from the beginning that he was to buy the land for you and so when he purchased the land, he himself had no intention of owning the land. In this case, the ruling is that you are the owner of the land and the other heirs have no right to this land.

Please note – this initial down payment for the land that your father made from his own money – If your father considered this money as a gift for you, you have no requirement to pay this money back. If, however your father gave you this money as a loan and you had not paid him back before he passed away, this money is now owed to all the heirs and counted as “inheritance”. You would need to then put that amount into the overall pot of inheritance money and then divide it according to the rules of inheritance.

2. Scenario 2: your father made purchased the land with the intention of it being a joint ownership between him and yourself; For example, your father knew from the beginning that he had an amount of money for the initial down payment but thereafter, he could not pay towards the instalments for the land and therefore, from the beginning, he intended to buy this land so that you and him could jointly own this land and pay for it with the help of each other. In this case, you and your father jointly own this land and each person owns this land for the amount of money he has given; For example, your father gave 70% of the money and you gave the 30%. In this case, 70% of the land belongs to your father, which is considered “inheritance” after death, and you must divide it among the heirs. But the other 30% of the land you paid for is yours – i.e. on the 30% your brothers and sisters have no share of it.

3. Scenario 3: your father’s intention from the beginning of this transaction was to own the land himself but simply use your personal details such as name and national identity code etc to obtain the property. i.e formally, your conditions for buying this land were better and so he registered your name, but his intention was that he himself would own the land. Then this land will belong to your father.

However, regarding the payments you were making – the following should be noted.

There are two possibilities here:

1. If after buying the land, you both came to an agreement that from now on – whatever amount of instalments you will be paying towards the land, you will own that percentage – then although at the beginning of the transaction your father owned the whole land, after this agreement, you became a partner with your father. So, it becomes like the second scenario as above. i.e. whatever money you have put towards the land, you are the owner of that percentage. The other percentage is owed by your father and now that percentage is divided amongst you and your siblings etc as inheritance.

2. The other alternative is that there was no agreement with you after he initially purchased the land. Rather, because the land was legally in your name, by law you had to pay the instalments from your own bank account while your father was the legal owner of the land. In this case, the money you had been paying on behalf of your father was a debt on your father and this should have been re-paid back to you before he passed away.

Now that the he has passed away, before your father’s finances is divided between the heirs, you can deduct the amount of money that you had paid via instalments from his liquid assets and thereafter divide the rest between the heirs.

Please note – this is no longer a percentage that should be calculated rather the exact monetary amount that you had paid towards.

For example, five years ago, your father bought this land for one hundred thousand dollars, for which over the years you had paid an accumulative total of sixty thousand dollars in instalments. Even if this property is now worth a million dollars today, you are only entitled to deduct the same sixty thousand dollars. The rest will be distributed amongst you and the other heirs as inheritance.

Abu Jawaad