How to make an Islamic Will?
1. Valid Will
For your Will to be valid, the basic requirements of UK domestic law must be satisfied:
- You must be at least 18 years old and must be of sound mind;
- Your Will must be in writing;
- You must identify yourself as the author of the Will;
- You should state that it is your last Will – and that any previous Wills and Codicils are revoked;
- The Will must be dated and signed by you in the presence of and attested by two witnesses who are neither a spouse nor a beneficiary under the Will.
2. Do you need a solicitor?
It is possible to make your own Will, but because it is a legal document, you are strongly recommended to seek professional advice, especially if you wish to make several specific bequests or if your financial and property affairs are complicated.
3. Value your assets
Before making a Will it is a good idea to make a list of everything that you own. This is known as your ‘estate ‘and includes your home and its contents, your car and your savings – less your debts, such as unpaid dowry (mahr) and Zakah.
4. Decide what to leave to whom
After the payment of any taxes, debts, and funeral and administration expenses, up to a maximum of one third of your estate can be left to whomever you wish – this may include friends and family not entitled to inherit under Sharia, as well as charities.
As regards to calculating the shares, the basic principles are these:
- The closest relatives (husband, wife, son daughter, father, and mother) will always inherit a share and will always have precedence over and exclude more distant relatives.
- In the absence of the closest relatives, the more distant relatives (such as grandparents and grandchildren, for example) will then be entitled to inherit fixed shares.
5. Decide on your funeral and burial arrangements
You should specify in your Will that you would like your funeral and burial rites to be carried out in accordance with the practices of Islam. These include:
- not having your dead body subjected to a routine post mortem examination because the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Breaking a dead man’s bone is like breaking it when he is alive.” (Sunan of Imam Abu Dawud)
- having your body released for burial immediately after death;
- having a Muslim burial;
- advising where and how your body is to be buried;
- if you do not wish for any of your organs to be used for medical research or organ replacement operations, then say so.
6. Choose your executor(s) wisely
You will need to choose up to four people to carry out the wishes expressed in your Will. Executors can also be beneficiaries in your Will. If you are choosing friends or relatives, make sure they are willing to accept what can be a lengthy and time consuming responsibility.
7. Choose a guardian for children
If it is possible that you may have children under the age of 18 when you die, you should appoint a guardian to look after them in the unlikely event of both you and your spouse dying while they are still minors.
8. Choose your witnesses
Ideally, choose two trustworthy Muslim men to witness the signing of your Will. If this is not possible, then two non-Muslim men may be taken as witnesses. Women may also act as witnesses. Under Sharia, two women may act as witnesses instead of one man. For the purposes of English law one woman may act as a witness instead of one man. Remember: anyone who will benefit from your Will cannot be taken as a witness. If this does happen, he or she will not be permitted to inherit from you.
9. Keep your Will safe
Once you have made your Will and it has been signed and witnessed, store it in a safe place or with your solicitor or a trustworthy relative or friend. Make sure that your executor(s) are informed where the original Will is being kept and keep a photocopy for your own records.
10. Donating your Estate
Under Islamic laws of inheritance and, as a Muslim can bequeath up to one-third of his/her assets to whoever he/she pleases, we remind you when making your Islamic Will to consider those that are less fortunate and to leave this one-third, or part of it, to a Muslim charity so that your legacy can continue to work and help others after your death, as a ‘sadaqa jariya’ or on-going charitable work.
Here is a list of some of the charities you may wish to leave a gift to:
Islamic Relief – www.islamic-relief.org.uk
Muslim Charity – www.muslimcharity.org.uk
Islamic Aid – www.islamicaid.org.uk
Muslim Aid – www.muslimaid.org.uk
Muslim Hands – www.muslimhands.org.uk