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:

 ~Um Yusuf as-Siddiq 

3 thoughts on “The Islamic Will (Al-Wasiya)

  1. Asalam alaykum rahmatulahi wabaraktuhu,
    Asalam alaykum rahmatulahi wabaraktuhu,
    MarshAllah please could I have permission to copy your article and pass it on to all my sisters as subhanAllah a sister died “To Allah we belong and to Him we return” a few days ago and her family are planning to cremate her as they are not Muslims. If only she had written a will and entrusted it to one of us we would be able to stop her family but as it stands at the moment all our efforts to contact the family to try and persuade them to allow us to do her funeral have so far not been successful, we will not stop trying till we have to and Alhamdulilah everything is in the hand of Allah. I have been looking for some naseeha to pass on to my sisters, (as lots of us have non-Muslim families) and MarshAllah Allah guided me to your article.
    JazakAllahukhiran, um ismail

  2. Wa alaikum asalaam wa rahmatu Allah wa barakatuh Um Ismail,
    Sure, you may certainly send this article out – Insha’Allah it will be of some benefit. May Allah reward you for your efforts; Ameen.

  3. JazakAllahukiran, InshAllah I am going to print it and take it to a gathering tonight to read and also print copies of the wasiyya to give out. SubhanAllah Allah sends us signs to wake us up and due to the un relenting attitude of the sisters family (they cremated her)against Islam ,this has been a huge sign from Allah and alhamdulilah with your permission I will be able to inshAllah advise my sisters and encourage them on this very important duty. May Allah reward you my sister and guide may to your site Ameen.

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