We need to educate ourselves with the compulsory rules of writing a “will” in Islam. The topic is huge, but I will try to be as brief as possible. If Allah (swt) wills.
- Allah’s (swt) prescription for the six
Allah (swt) has decided our will for six relationships- husband, wife, son, daughter, brother and sister. We “cannot” write anything for these relationships in our will. They will get what is written for them in the Quran.
- Charity in the will
Similarly, we cannot leave in charity more than “1/3” of our wealth. Remaining is the right of the above mentioned six relations. Charity is recommended to be done within the lifetime. Once we leave this world, we can part 1/3 of our wealth for charity.
- Remain just to daughters and wives
Sadly, daughters and wives do not receive their rightful shares from the inheritance. Allah (swt) has taken our right to make any changes in the will He has made for the above six relationships. Anyone, changing Allah’s (swt) decision, shall be answerable to Him in the hereafter.
- Will vs. gift
Will and gift are different. Anything given when one is alive is a gift. All children must be given equal amount of gifts under Islam.
There is a narration of a Hadeeth by Al-Nu’man ibn Basheer, where he said that his father brought him to the Prophet (sa), when he gave him a gift, to ask the Prophet (sa) to bear witness to it. The Prophet (sa) asked: “Have you given something similar to all your children?” He said: “No.” He said: “Then take it back.” Then he said: “Fear Allah (swt) and treat your children fairly.”(Bukhari)
Allah (swt) has stressed again and again to divide the wealth after settling debts. Once the debts are settled, whatever is left, can be divided amongst the six relationships according to what is ordered in the Quran. A person has authority of writing a will for 1/3 part or less from his wealth only.
- The Will formula
Formula: Wealth – Debts – (Charity, if written in the will to the extent of 1/3 of the total amount left) OR (anyone can be given 1/3 of the total wealth if it is in the will. Relatives, needy and poor are recommended) = Wealth remaining for distribution among husband, wife, son, daughter, brother and sister.
- Distribution of wealth- in the light of Quran
With regard to the distribution of personal belongings, we do not have the right to state how they should be distributed after we die, because the share of each heir has been defined by Allah (swt), and He has explained who inherits and who does not inherit. So, it is not permitted for any person to transgress the limits set by Allah (swt), because Allah (swt) has warned against doing that.
Allah (swt) says in Surah An-Nisa (interpretation of the meaning),
“Allah (swt) commands you as regards your children’s (inheritance): to the male, a portion equal to that of two females; if (there are) only daughters, two or more, their share is two-thirds of the inheritance; if only one, her share is a half. For parents, a sixth share of inheritance to each if the deceased left children; if no children, and the parents are the (only) heirs, the mother has a third; if the deceased left brothers or (sisters), the mother has a sixth. (The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts. You know not which of them, whether your parents or your children, are nearest to you in benefit; (these fixed shares) are ordained by Allah (swt). And Allah (swt)is Ever All‑Knower, All‑Wise.
In that which your wives leave, your share is a half if they have no child; but if they leave a child, you get a fourth of that which they leave after payment of legacies that they may have bequeathed or debts. In that which you leave, their (your wives) share is a fourth if you leave no child; but if you leave a child, they get an eighth of that which you leave after payment of legacies that you may have bequeathed or debts. If the man or woman whose inheritance is in question has left neither ascendants nor descendants, but has left a brother or a sister, each one of the two gets a sixth; but if more than two, they share in a third, after payment of legacies he (or she) may have bequeathed or debts, so that no loss is caused (to anyone). This is a Commandment from Allah (swt); and Allah (swt)is Ever All‑Knowing, Most‑Forbearing.
These are the limits (set by) Allah (swt)(or ordainments as regards laws of inheritance), and whosoever obeys Allah (swt)and His Messenger (Muhammad sa) will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success.
And whosoever disobeys Allah (swt) and His Messenger (Muhammad sa), and transgresses His limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein; and he shall have a disgraceful torment.” (An-Nisa 4:11-14)
- Wealth to nieces and nephews
There is no reason why we should not give our nephews and nieces whatever we want of our wealth whilst we are alive. As they are not our own children, we are not obliged to give to them all equally. We can give gifts to those whom we love, and to whoever we wish; or to whoever among them is in need according to his or her need. Try to give to those who are religiously committed in ways that will help them to obey Allah (swt). It is also permitted to leave to them one-third, or less of your wealth- so long as they are not your heirs.
- Alteration of the deceased will
It is permissible to alter a will by the heirs- only if- it is made against Allah’s (swt) orders, with the intent to protect the deceased from Allah’s (swt) wrath. Similarly, it is a great sin to alter a will for personal gains. It is a great sin to deprive anyone of his/her share of the will.
And Allah (swt) knows best.