‘Always Keep the Will Ready’
Why Write a Will?
Writing an Islamic will is unfortunately neglected today, or not stressed upon enough to say the least. There are obvious reasons of not wanting to think about it, putting it off, or not knowing the importance of having one. But for Muslims this should be the opposite attitude – it is very very *very* important to have a will, and we should make it a priority to have one ASAP if we don’t already have one, and update it as often as needed. Nobody knows when they are going to die, so we should hasten to write our will. When a Muslim dies their will should be read and executed. Everyone has certain rights that need to be fulfilled, all of which were described and prescribed by Allah and His Messenger ﷺ .
The Prophet ﷺ said, “It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequest not to let two nights pass without writing a will about it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Ibn Omar (radiyAllahu anhu) then noted, “Not even one night passed me, ever since I heard this from the Prophetﷺ , without having my will with me” (Bukhari, Muslim, and others)
Protecting Our Rights
As Muslims we have many rights over each other, with our families, our children, our friends, and with our own selves. Having a wasiyya will insha’Allah ascertain with Allah that we did our best to make sure we fulfilled these rights. Death comes to anyone at any given place and at any given time. We are not guaranteed anything, not even another second. We don’t want to die without giving someone their rights, nor do we want to die and not have our rights given to us. Rights are so important that they will hang over us on Judgment Day until scores are settled – because Islam is a religion of justice.
The money and material property that we possess in this world is a trust from Allah. During our lifetime, we are required to use it in the way that is most pleasing to our Lord. On the Day of Judgement, Allah (S.W.T.) will surely ask us about our wealth, how did we earn it, and how did we spend it.
Part of our fulfillment of the trust is that we strive to make sure that, after our death, the wealth is passed down to those who deserve it. Of course, Allah (S.W.T.) has already decreed in His Book the way that our estate should be divided after our death. But there are a few concerns:
1. The local authorities may not recognize Allah’s law in this regard. Unless we require its application in our will, our estate may be divided in a way that goes against the Sharia.
2. There might be individuals to whom we owe money, and others who owe us money. Such rights and duties must be settled before the estate can be correctly divided among the heirs. Clarifying this before death is vital in order to prevent confusion afterwards.
3. Allah’s Messenger ﷺ has given us the option of bequeathing up to one-third of our estate before the rest is divided among our legal heirs. Some non-inheriting relatives and other individuals and institutions might be in dire need of whatever monetary support we are able to provide to them.
4. The Muslims are generally very ignorant about the Islamic teachings, especially in funeral and mourning-related issues. We may need to express some guidelines to prevent violations to Islam during our funeral. These are just a few of the many reasons that make writing a will an obligation that should never be neglected. Neglecting it constitutes a permission for unfairness and injustice to rule when we have the ability to stop it.
Muslims Living in Non – Islamic Countries
As indicated above, writing a will is a religious obligation for all Muslims who possess something worth bequeathing. This obligation is further emphasized for Muslims living or possessing property in a non-Islamic country. They should write their will and make sure that the Islamic requirements in it are legally binding on the executors and heirs. If they fail to do so, their estate may be distributed in discord with the Islamic law. All states of the United States, for example, have laws to divide the estate of a person who dies “intestate” — without a will. However, dying intestate has several problems: it involves a great deal of delay in the settlement of the estate; if the court were to appoint a lawyer as administrator, his fees may be very expensive; and most importantly, the state’s method of dividing the assets of the estate will not conform with Islam. Thus, a will should answer three basic questions:
1. How should the property be distributed?
2. Who should settle the deceased’s financial affairs?
3. Who should take care of the deceased’s minor children?
Will to guide others after Death and to avoid Bidahs
It is a sad fact that mostly people do not know of the Funeral Processions and just follow rituals that may or may not be from Islam. So it is also recommended by scholars that one leaves in his will guidelines so that his family who will not be able to think straight due to their loss and hence save them from falling into Bidahs.
You can find a beautiful example of one such Will in the link below… http://www.ibad-ur-rahman.org/Will_and_Testament-1.pdf
Giving Gifts while Alive
There is a difference between a will and a gift. Property that is willingly given away whilst one is alive is considered to be a gift, which does not come under the same rulings as a will. But it should be noted that it is not permissible for a person to give a gift to some of his children and not others, or to prefer some of them over others in gift-giving. Rather they must be treated fairly, because of the hadeeth of al-Nu’maan ibn Basheer, who said that his father brought him to the Prophet ﷺ , when he gave him a gift, to ask the Prophet ﷺ to bear witness to it. The Prophet ﷺ asked, “Have you given something similar to all your children?” He said, “No.” He said, “Then take it back.” Then he said: “Fear Allaah and treat your children fairly.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari)
Giving in Charity while Alive
When one writes his will, and considers how his estate will be distributed after his death, he should think of something more important: How can he best benefit from the wealth that he currently control? After he departs from this life and resides under the earth, would he be more concerned about how well his kin are enjoying the inheritance, or how well and secure he himself is? Even though the answer to this question is obvious, and everyone will rush to say that he would care more about his own well-being after death, we find that the people’s practice demonstrate the opposite!
The evidence that this (writing a will) is prescribed in Islam is to be found in the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and the consensus of the scholars. Allaah says (interpretation of the meanings):
“It is prescribed for you, when death approaches any of you, if he leaves wealth, that he makes a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable manners. (This is) a duty upon Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)”[al-Baqarah 2:180]
“(The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts” [al-Nisa’ 4:11]
The Prophet ﷺ said: “Allaah was being generous to you when He allowed you to give one-third of your wealth (in charity) when you die, to increase your good deeds.” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, al-Wasaayaa, 2700; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan Ibn Maajah, no. 2190)
It is permitted to write a will concerning one third or less. Some of the scholars said it is preferable for it to be less than one-third, and the will does not apply to any of the heirs, because the Prophet ﷺ said: “There is no will for the heirs.” (narrated by al-Tirmidhi, al-Wasaayaa, 2047; classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in Saheeh Sunan al-Tirmidhi, no. 1722). If the will is intended to harm the heirs or make things difficult for them, then that is haraam, because Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): “so that no loss is caused (to anyone)”[al-Nisaa’ 4:12]
So it is recommended that we look at our relatives who are not heirs that may be in need so we can give them some from our wealth.
With regard to the distribution of personal belongings, he does not have the right to state how they should be distributed after he dies, because the share of each heir has been defined by Allaah, and He has explained who inherits and who does not inherit (we will study about this in detail in future class in the course). So it is not permitted for any person to transgress the limits set by Allaah.
And Allaah knows best.
Thus, O servant(s) of Allah, when you sit down to write your will, remember this, and think earnestly of things you can do with your wealth while you live that will benefit you after death.
May Allah guide us and grant us righteousness, a good end, and death upon the testimony of Islam.
Link to Urdu Lecture by Shaikh Yasir Al-Jabrihttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGfQPPwgEkM&feature=youtu.be&list=PL4apQErKO_2OdFtQbM116ZmPKajYYo3mN
Note: The Lecture can have more or less details from the that what is written here in English. The Tests will ONLY be from what is written here in English. The Lectures are provided to have give better understanding of the matter.