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For over fifteen years I have been asking people of all walks of life from Morocco to India and from Turkey to Sudan about the implications of a son’s request for his inheritance while the father is still living. The answer has almost always been emphatically the same. The conversation runs as follows:

Has anyone ever made such a request in your village?

Never!

Could anyone ever make such a request?

Impossible!

If anyone did, what would happen?

His father would beat him, of course!

Why?

This request means – he wants his father to die!