It Is Our Obligation
Hadhrat Abdullah bin Umar (Radhiallaahu Anhu) reports that Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Alayhi Wasallam) 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.” (Mishkat)
Whilst many Muslims ensure funeral rites are properly observed whenever there is a death. There is much less emphasis given to ensuring the assets of the deceased are distributed amongst the family in accordance with Quranic requirements. There is a compulsory (fard) obligation on the inheritors that is best achieved through preparing a legally valid Islamic Will
A Quick Overview
This verse lays down the general principles of the Islamic Law of Succession and makes mention of three pertinent facts.
1. “Those nearest related”
The criterion for determining the legal heirs and their proportionate shares is based on the law of “proximity of relation” to the deceased. This proximity is also determined by Allah and is not left to the fallible and subjective discretion of man. The Noble Quran states: “…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. And Allah is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise.” (an-Nisaa 4:11)
Allah has accordingly specified the shares of beneficiaries based on the law of proximity of relationship and not on the material needs of the beneficiaries. Financial needs are relative. A rich person may become poor, he could become incapacitated or terminally ill and likewise a poor person may become rich overnight.
2) “A share for men and a share for women”
During the days of pre-Islamic ignorance, only those who could fight and defend the family name were entitled to inherit. Women and children were thus naturally excluded from the estate. Even in contemporary law the “freedom of testation” allows an individual to bequeath to whoever he so wishes. Women are therefore not guaranteed a share from the estate. Islam guarantees the right of both women and children to inherit from the estate.
The protagonists of “reform” claim that Islam denies women their fair share of inheritance. They say that since she generally inherits less than her male counterpart, she is denied equitable and fair treatment. This call for “abstract” justice may seem justified if the laws of inheritance are not studied within the broader context of the social value system of Islam. In Islam, a woman retains total ownership of her property after marriage. Any income derived from her assets remains exclusively hers. She is not obliged to maintain herself or her family even if she is wealthy. In contrast to these privileges a male has to maintain:
b). His parents
c). His wife and children
d). His poor relatives
3) “A share made compulsory”
The Noble Quran has fixed the shares of each individual. These cannot he altered or changed by man. The shares of the heirs as determined by the Quran are binding just as the number of rakaats are binding in salaat.