The Islam That Made You Convert

I had the pleasure of attending a gathering today with my fellow sisters; some of whom converted to Islam such as myself, and some of whom were born into an Islamic family.  While discussing Islam, one sister who was born Muslim said, “I want to learn Islam.  I want to learn the Islam that made you guys convert.  Upon saying that another sister agreed with her and stated how amazing it was to see the conviction and practice of converts. 

That statement hit me hard.  I wasn’t thinking so much about the practice of converts vs. the practice of born Muslims – I thought about the conviction behind the practices.  In a split second I was equally amazed, grateful, inspired and humbled.  I shared in their appreciation and it made me reflect upon my own path to Islam.  I learned about Islam for about year and a half before taking my shahadah, from converts, born Muslims, and through my own reading.  I understood and loved everything I learned, but still did not want to take that plunge.  The events of September 11th inclined me to view life with a purpose, a beginning and an end, and was a big turning point for me.  I remember hearing a sister speak about the coming of Judgment Day and the need to correct our affairs.  It wasn’t so much what she was saying that affected me, but it was more of how she was saying it – it was spoken with such conviction.  Her certainty or ‘yaqeen’ showed me her Iman and although it was like water for her it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I was taken back by witnessing her firm beliefs and faith, in something I also believed in, but did not have the same level of faith in.  I had the belief, but the faith was not there.  I heard a Sheikh once say that belief and faith are not always the same – they are two different things.  At times they go hand in hand, and at times they do  not, which is what Allah refers to in the Qur’an.  Now I understand why.

At that time I had known this sister for about a year, and she was one of the people who made me really love Islam – through her behavior, her etiquette, and her actions.  It was through her Islam that portrayed to me the true teachings of Islam and mannerisms of a Muslim.  That is what appealed to me so much. 

I always reflect upon the great blessing of hediya that Allah SWT willed for us, and also for putting good examples of Muslims in my path.  Not everyone has this experience wa la quwatta illah billah.  My friend and a few other sisters have made such a positive impact in my perception of Islam – before my shahadah and right after.  All praise is due to Allah SWT first and foremost, and for using them to show me ‘their Islam’.  It was through ‘their Islam that made me convert.’  Alhamdulillah.

May Allah SWT make all of our Islam the Islam that makes others want to convert.  A reflection of the true teachings of Allah and His Messenger (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam).  Allahumma Ameen.   

The Islamic Will (Al-Wasiya)

I wanted to post a *VERY* important reminder about the Islamic will (wasiyya).  I cannot express enough how important this is.  Here are some things I compiled about the will.  A really great book on this subject is “The Final Bequest – The Islamic Will and Testament” by Muhammad al-Jibaly.  He goes over the will and inheritance laws from A-Z.  

The Obligation of Writing a Will

Writing an Islamic will is unfortunately neglected today, or not stressed upon enough to say the least.  There are obvious reasons of not wanting to think about it, putting it off, or not knowing the importance of having one.   But for Muslims this should be the opposite attitude – it is very very *very* important to have a will, and we should make it a priority to have one ASAP if we don’t already have one, and update it as often as needed.   Nobody knows when they are going to die, so we should hasten to write our will.  When a Muslim dies their will should be read and executed.  Everyone has certain rights that need to be fulfilled, all of which were described and prescribed by Allah and His Messenger (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam)   

  • “It is prescribed for you, when death approaches any of you, if he leaves wealth, that he makes a bequest to parents and next of kin, according to reasonable manners. (This is) a duty upon Al-Muttaqoon (the pious)” Surah al-Baqarah 2:180
  • “(The distribution in all cases is) after the payment of legacies he may have bequeathed or debts” Surah al-Nisa 4:11
  • “It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequest not to let two nights pass without writing a will about it.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
  • Ibn Omar (radiyAllahu anhu) then noted, “Not even one night passed me, ever since I heard this from the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam), without having my will with me” (Bukhari, Muslim, and others)  
  • “A man may do good deeds for seventy years but if he acts unjustly when he leaves his last testament, the wickedness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will enter the Fire. If, (on the other hand), a man acts wickedly for seventy years but is just in his last will and testament, the goodness of his deed will be sealed upon him, and he will enter the Garden.” (Ahmad and Ibn Majah)  

Protecting Our Rights

As Muslims we have many rights over each other, with our families, our children, our friends, and with our own selves.  Having a wasiyya will insha’Allah ascertain with Allah that we did our best to make sure we fulfilled these rights.   Death comes to anyone at any given place and at any given time.  We are not guaranteed anything, not even another second.   We don’t want to die without giving someone their rights, nor do we want to die and not have our rights given to us.   Rights are so important that they will hang over us on Judgment Day until scores are settled – because Islam is a religion of justice.   Alhamdulillah.  We should take advantage and make our will while we are of sound mind and health.  We do not want to be on our deathbed, or sick, suffering from pain, incoherent, (may Allah protect us all) while trying to verbalize our will wishes.   We want to make sure that our instructions on what will happen to our family, children, wealth, property, assets, debts, and our bodies, etc are articulated and clearly understood.   We want to protect the rights of our kids, our families, and ourselves.  

Importance of an Islamic Will

  • Everything we have in this world, our wealth and our property, is from Allah and a trust from Him.    While we are alive we are required to utilize our wealth in the best way and we will be asked about that on Judgment Day.   When we die, part of that trust is to pass our wealth and property along appropriately.  Aside from having non-Muslim families who may not know the Islamic practices, many countries do not recognize or follow the laws of Allah.   We have to be very careful of this, and make sure we do what we can to protect our rights and be in accordance with the Shari’ah.
  • Certain rights and duties between people must be settled before a person’s estate can be divided according to the inheritance laws in the Qur’an.   Examples are loans, promises, unpaid bills, borrowed items, unpaid zakat, dowry, etc.   We have to give everyone their due right.  We can include names and contacts of anyone we owe loans to, creditors information, and so on in our wills. 
  • Islam is perfect and prescribes a way for everything.   Many practices today, including funeral procedures, washing, burying, and mourning, etc are not done in accordance with the Sunnah; there is a lot of innovation (may Allah protect us from that).   The will can specify the requests of the deceased to be honored – to have all practices and procedures done according to how Allah and His Messenger prescribed.  (Buried in a Muslim cemetary, buried as soon as possible, without structures on the grave, without excessive wailing, etc etc etc)

You can also specify and name certain people whom you want to wash your body.  The person should be pious, one who knows how to do the Ghusl and wrapping according to the Sunnah, one who will protect your dignity and honor (should they see anything on you that might harm your honor during the washing, they will never tell), and so on.   Before we get put in the grave, we want to be cleaned and wrapped in the best way insha’Allah. 

Basic Elements of a Will

There is no specific wording for a wasiyya, but basically it should have the following elements:

  • The testator’s expression of sound mental ability and health
  • Declaration of faith (the Shahadah)
  • Commanding the survivors to do good and avoid sins
  • Declaration of liabilites and assets
  • Appointing an executor of the will and guardian(s) of wealth and children
  • Bequeathed part of the estate (Naming beneficiaries and indicating the amount of your estate you wish to bequeath – up to 1/3) 
  • Emphasizing Islamic heirship (specifying legal heirs and their correct shares)

The will should be notarized and signed by 2 witnesses.  Legal advice is also recommended.  The will has a special sanctity and must be observed and executed.  Anyone who changes it or hides any part of it is sinful and liable for Allah’s punishment!

  • “And if (after the testator’s death) anyone alters such a provision after having come to know it, the sin of acting thus falls only upon those who have altered it.  Indeed Allah is Hearing and Knowing.”  (Surah al-Baqara 2:181)

My dear brothers and sisters, dont delay what we have to do today until tomorrow because we never know what can happen to us.  There are many standard wills available online, which can be modified according to specific requests/ needs:

http://icbr.org/Docs/LastWill_Testament.pdf

http://www.dremali.com/articles/current/last-will-testament.html

 ~Um Yusuf as-Siddiq