September 25, 2018

Shariah Considerations

It is mentioned in...

Sahih al-Bukhari

‘Ibn Umar reported that the Messenger of Allah said: “It is a duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequeath not to let two nights pass without including it in his will”.

It is further mentioned in the Quran...

Surah Al-Baqarah, Verse 180

Prescribed for you when death approaches any one of you if he leaves wealth is that he should make a bequest for the parents and near relatives according to what is acceptable – a duty upon the righteous.

Allah has made it the duty of all Muslims to leave a Will in order to dispose of their financial affairs following death. This is to ensure that their wealth is distributed fairly amongst family members and to avoid conflict between other family members. The precise details of who inherits and how much they inherit is detailed in the Quran.

It is certainly a mercy to mankind that Allah has already decided how our assets should be distributed once we pass away. The main Shariah rules pertaining to the distribution of assets upon death are set out in Surah An-Nisa and can be summarised as follows;

Outstanding Debts. All outstanding debts owed by the deceased should be repaid from the estate before distribution is made to the inheritors. If a person’s debts exceed the assets left by the deceased, it is recommended that the family repay the shortfall to avoid the situation where the deceased is held to account for these debts on the Day of Judgement. However this repayment of debts is not an obligation on the family.

Funeral Expenses. All funeral expenses should be paid from the assets of the deceased, if the expenses are not voluntarily met by the family of the deceased.         

Bequests. The person making the Will can bequest up to one third of their net assets (that remain after deducting debts and funeral expenses if applicable) to be left to recipient(s) that are not otherwise entitled to receive a share of assets under the Islamic Inheritance. Such bequests cannot be made to persons such as spouses, siblings, children and parents as they generally have their shares stipulated by the Islamic Inheritance. Many Muslims choose to make a bequest to a charity as a means of ensuring some good deeds continue to benefit them after death.

Remaining Assets. After deducting debts, funeral expenses and bequests (if applicable), the remaining assets are to be distributed according to the rules of inheritance as set out in the Quran. The actual distribution of assets depends entirely upon the number of surviving family members. We recommend that you consult an Islamic Scholar if you would like to find out how the Shariah will distribute your assets upon death.