Inheritance case and adding names to land unlawfully
A person bought land in India in the 1950s. He then passed away in the 1970s and his wife also passed away a few years after. From the time the owner bought the land, the income was used for the family members’ daily expenses who were living in India. Thereafter, since the past 15-20 years, the income is distributed among the poor people. The owner’s sons and daughters’ names were added on to the title deeds with their family name. After that in the 1990s, a family member living in India added the names of the owners’ sister’s sons and daughters’ names without the family name which is used in all official documents and ID. So now, there are the initial owners’ sons and daughters’ names on the title deeds along with the owners’ sister’s sons and daughters’ names. The owner’s sons and daughters had no knowledge that other names were added on. They only found out after a few years. The question is who does the land belong to and who should the monies from the sale of the land be distributed to.
بسم الله الرحمن الرحیم
If the person who purchased the land owned the land in full and he passed away leaving behind his wife and children and no parents, the ownership of the land transferred to his wife and the children upon his demise. Thereafter, once the wife passed away, assuming she did not marry and had no other living parents or children from another husband, her share in the land transferred to the children. The land therefore belongs to the children (one share for the daughters and two shares for the sons) of the deceased owner and any proceeds of the land or its sale will be given to the children of the deceased.
It was therefore wrong for the names of nephews and nieces to be added on the title deeds, and this has no effect from an Islamic perspective. They must remove their names, otherwise they will be sinful for misappropriating wealth. There is severe punishment mentioned in the ḥadīths for the one who misappropriates land. In one ḥadīth, the Prophet ﷺ said:
من أخذ من الأرض شيئا بغير حقه خسف به يوم القيامة إلى سبع أرضين
Whoever takes a piece of land unjustly, will sink down the seven earths on the Day of Resurrection (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, 2454)
Please note this answer is based on the information in the question. We are not responsible for any misrepresentations or omissions in the question.
Allah knows best
15 Dhū al-Qaʿdah 1444 / 4 June 2023
Approved by: Mufti Shabbir Ahmed and Mufti Muhammad Tahir