An Islamic will is a legal declaration that you, the testator, make. It tells the world who will get your assets and who will manage your estate and implement your wishes when you die. When you die without a Will—called dying “intestate”—the state decides who gets your assets with no regard to your wishes and the needs of your heirs.
An Islamic will covers everything that a secular will covers, including:
However, unlike a secular will, an Islamic will also includes Sharī‘a-complaint solutions to managing your estate after death, including:
The Islamic law of inheritance is found in the Qur’an and in the traditions of the Prophet (saw). The Prophet (saw) said that the law of inheritance is half of all knowledge.
The Islamic law of inheritance is a mandatory intestacy inheritance system. That means the estate of a decedent is distributed according to a prescribed-share formula in the Qur’an. As the Qur’an states: “This is an apportionment from God. In truth, God is All Knowing, All Wise” (4:10).
Sharī‘a divides the Islamic heirs or Islamic beneficiaries of your estate into three categories:
In addition to these categories, there are specific inheritance rules, like blocking rules and reapportionment rules, that also come into play. This is the basic framework for the Islamic inheritance system.
What does the Quran say about Islamic Wills
In the Qu’ran, Allah directed Muslims to make a will:
What does the Sunnah say about Islamic Wills?
The Sunnah has many traditions about wills. The collections of Hadith, including Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, report that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: “It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to will to stay for two nights without having his Last Will and Testament written and kept ready with him.”
What does Islamic Law say about Islamic Will in America
Let’s start with the Quran:
The other Quranic verse that mentions a bequest is:
The first verse is known as the “bequest verse”. The Arabic word “al-waṣiyya” in this verse has been translated to “bequeath”, “make a will”, or “make a bequest”.
Surat ʾal-Nisaʾ was revealed after the revelation of these bequest verses. For this reason, most Muslim scholars concluded that the new revelation of the inheritance rules contained in Surat ʾal-Nisaʾ qualified, and some said abrogated, the previously revealed bequest verses. Basically, Surat ʾal-Nisaʾ changed the discretionary inheritance system to a mandatory default Islamic Inheritance fixed share system.
For Muslim living in the United States, the default Islamic inheritance system is not the law of the land. For this reason, the Quranic verse directing Muslims to make an Islamic Will to relatives would be a requirement, if a Muslim American wishes the rules of inheritance in Surat ʾal-Nisaʾ to govern the distribution of his or her estate.
Islamic Wills and Islamic Waqf (trusts) are estate-planning tools. A major difference between an Islamic will and an Islamic Waqf (trust) is the effective date. An Islamic will goes into effect only after you die. An Islamic Waqf (trust) goes into effect the moment you create it.
Another difference is when property is distributed to a person’s beneficiaries. When a person dies the Islamic Will directs his or her legal representative to carry out his or her wishes of how to divide the estate. By contrast, an Islamic Waqf (trust) is used for the creator of the tryst to act as trustee to manage his or her assets during his or her life and to distribute the trust assets after death.
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