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Estate with No Muslim Heirs

Ustadh Farid Dingle advises on how to apportion one’s estate and designate one’s heirs when one is the only Muslim in the family.

 

Question:

Assalam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

I am the only Muslim in my family, as I am a convert. My immediate family have passed away including my brother. My brother had a daughter, but she said that she does not believe in God. I have learnt that it is important to leave a will and was wondering who I can leave my estate to if I die?

Many thanks.

 

Answer:

Wa alaykum assalam wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuh.

You should just leave your estate to a good and reliable Muslim charity that benefits Muslims. That is what is supposed to happen in Muslim countries: when someone dies without any heirs, the money goes to the Muslim common fund for the general benefit of society. If that doesn’t exist, as is the case in question, then as long as it goes to the benefit of some Muslims somewhere then it is acceptable.

You may also put in your will that it goes to any friend or family member, even if they are not Muslim, such as your niece. However it can only one third of your total heritage. If you have this recorded legally, you should make sure it says that.

I pray Allah grant all of your family and friends faith in Him and His Messenger. Amin.

Farid

 

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.
 


 

Pooling Funds for Hajj

Ustadh Tabraze Azam is asked about the legality of polling funds for Hajj.

In our culture, we have a system of informal savings whereby people come together in groups and decide on an amount of money to deposit in a savings (locally, a wooden–metal box that is entrusted to a group member). They also decide on the frequency of tallying and awarding the bulk money to a group member that has been chosen out of a “hat.”

For example, if you have 5 people who have decided to contribute $200 per month and every 5 months, they give the total ($1, 000) to a person chosen at random. That means it will take 25 months for all the group members to benefit from the $1, 000. Currently, this method solves materia needs within communities. Now a group of UN colleagues want to use this same concept to purchase a ticket for Hajj.

Essentially, a group of 10 colleagues want to contribute $200 every month starting this January with the aim of awarding $6,000 per person every Hajj season until they all go for Hajj. So if they start in January, Hajj is in June, in sha Allah, then they would be able to pay for 2 people; then next Hajj season, 4 people, and so on, finishing in 2.5 years.

What makes this different from taking a loan is this: these people work for the UN, which means that they contribute a mandatory 7% of their salary towards a pension scheme every month, and at the time of death, the UN will pay out this, including their own contribution of 15% –  if you have more than 5 years of service to the employee’s designated beneficiary.

Hence every month on their pay slip, everyone can tell how much they have contributed towards their pension thus far. Obviously, everyone has different salaries and different years of service, but at the end of 2.5 years each one would have given $6,000 to the group. So, if one of them dies, the intention is to have a written document signed by each member of the group stating that $6,000 (minus whatever they have already paid to the group before their death) should be taken from their pension money and given to the group by their beneficiary.

The question is: is this method of going for Hajj acceptable in Shari‘a? Are there any conditions that need to be followed if yes? If possible, please provide the Hanifi as well as Maliki opinion, if they are different.

Jazakum Allah khayr for this opportunity to ask a question and have it responded to by competent scholars.

The manner of pooling funds together in order to facilitate the hajj pilgrimage for those otherwise financially unable is acceptable. But it isn’t necessary to do this because the hajj is only obligatory once its strict conditions have been met. 

As for deducting a certain sum from the estate after death, the specific scenario is unclear in your question. If the deceased person leaves a bequest (wasiyya) to contribute a certain amount to the fund, then this would be permissible as long as the guidelines of fulfilling such bequests are followed.

Please also see A Hajj Reader.

And Allah Most High knows best.

Wassalam,

Tabraze Azam

Checked and approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

Burial Amongst Muslims, and a Directive for Proper Burial/Estate Division

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: My question is about Islamic requirements for what to do after death.   I just told my mother that I’m Muslim after converting from Christianity four years ago. My sister does not even know yet.

My father died many years ago when I was young.  We all miss him very much.

Before my conversion, I wanted to be buried next to my father in the family grave.  Now, since I’m Muslim, I’m not sure whether that is appropriate.

This problem has caused me a lot of thinking. I don’t like that the last thing I do to my mum is making her sad … She has a very soft heart and always gave everything she could to care for us. Now I intend to write a provision for the case of my death, a kind of directive for my beloved ones and Muslim friends. I think I should define to them how my funeral should be since my family has no idea what a funeral for a Muslim would require. If I died today, I think they would simply bury my remains in a usual Catholic funeral because that’s what they know.

However, I am helpless about the grave problem. It could possibly be given that the position of our family grave is in direction of the city of Mecca. But even if that would be the case, would it be Islamically permitted to bury me there? There is a crucifix on the gravestone. Also, it is usual in our region to bury bodies in several levels inside one grave. Moreover, in Germany, burial is only permitted by placing the dead body inside a coffin.

Could you please provide me with some information about the most important aspects that I should define in my directive, and some guidance regarding the graveyard problem?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum warahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and states. May Allah reward you for your concern and steadfastness, and ease this situation for you.

Regarding the burial site, you should place in your directive for you to be buried in the Muslim cemetery. I understand the sensitivity of your situation, and I can appreciate your concerns for your mother. However, being buried amongst Muslims is one of the important general symbols (sha`a’ir) of Islam: we have our own ways of burial, based primarily on simplicity. Moreover, the presence of a crucifix at your family’s burial site is a major concern, as that is a powerful emblem of polytheism.

Do this for Allah’s sake, and turn to Him with regards to your mother and her feelings. Allah alone is in control of circumstances and people’s hearts, and He alone is to be relied upon. Always treat your mother with gentleness, care, concern and love, but do not compromise your principles or the boundaries laid down by Allah Most High. No one ever sacrifices something for Allah except that He gives them much more in return, in this life and the next.

Regarding general guidelines for your directive, please see the following link for a nice template that can be used:

http://www.islamicbulletin.com/free_downloads/last_will.pdf

It might be prudent to consult an attorney in your vicinity so as to make any necessary adjustments in accordance with the local law of where you live.

Lastly, this website might prove helpful in calculation of your inheritance as well as general guidelines for your will/testament:

https://www.islamicinheritance.com/

And Allah knows best.
wassalam
Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Does Islamic Law Require that My Property be Divided in Particular Way in the Event that I Die?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: Assalamulikum

My question is regarding inheritance. I am married and at present don’t have any children. I have some savings-form of money and gold. I would like to know who would inherit my wealth in the event of my death-is there a fixed percent that my husband, father and brothers are entitled to?

Or does Shariah law allow me to allocate to whoever I wish. How will this change if I was to have children?

JazakAllah for your time.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

Basic Principles

You are not allowed to allocate your wealth to whomever you wish as estate division; rather, the Sacred Law prescribes inheritance laws that are obligatory.

For a precise division of your estate, you would have to consult a scholar and provide details of which of your family members are alive. For example, you did not mention your mother. If she were alive, it would affect the estate division as the mother is entitled to either one-third or one-sixth, depending on the number of siblings or children of the deceased.

Based on what you mention in your question though, your husband would get one-half of the estate, and your father would get the other half. Your brothers would receive nothing due to the presence of your father.

If You Had Children…

In ALL of the cases listed below, your husband would get one-fourth, and your father one-sixth. Now…

–If you had only one daughter and no sons, she would get one-half of the estate, and that which remains would go to the father [in addition to his one-sixth mentioned above].

–If you had two or more daughters and no sons, those daughters would equally share two-thirds of the estate.

–If you had one son and no daughters, the son would receive the remaining amount.

–If you had two or more sons and no daughters, those sons would equally share the remaining amount.

–If you had one or more sons along with one or more daughters, then the remaining amount is shared among those children, each son receiving double of each daughter, as is explicitly stated by Allah Most High in the Qur’an, “And for the male is a portion equal to that of two females” (4:11).

[Maydani, Lubab; Razi, Tuhfat al-Muluk]

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam

Faraz

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani

Estate Division and the Sunna of Equal Treatment of Children in Gift Giving

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: Assalam Alaikum warahmatulla
One of my friend’s Dad is considering passing down his properties that he bought over his lifetime.  He has 3 sons and 1 daughter.

He has 4 houses, including the one he lives in.  He planned to just give one each to each sibling, but the question is who gets which one?  Some are very expensive and in good locations, and others are not.

What is a fair way to handle this?  Should he sell them and give the profits (two houses hold family memories, some of the are attached to them) or make them joint owners, what is the sharan answer (hanafi) – or is it ok to give what he wants to whoever – does he have to be fair?

JazakumAllah Khair

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

I pray this finds you in the best of health and faith.

If the father intends on making a bequest for the children in his will for a certain portion of the estate to be divided after death, then that would not be allowed unless all the heirs agreed to it after his demise. [Maydani, Lubab fi Sharh al-Kitab]

If the father plans on dividing the estate while alive, as gifts to the children, then the answer is based on the issue of equality to children in gifts.

Equality in Gifts to Children

According to the Hanafi school of law, the father should divide gifts equally among all children, both sons and daughters. In general, it is disliked to prefer some children over others in gifts, as that leads to mutual discord, while equality in gifts leads to harmony and increased love. [Ibn Nujaym, Bahr al-Raiq; Sarakhsi, Mabsut; Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i]

This is based on the general Qur’anic prescription of fairness, justice, and good treatment, such as in the verse, “Verily, Allah commands to justice, doing good, and giving to kinsfolk” [16:90].

This virtue is reinforced by the Noble Prophetic Sunna, as indicated in various hadiths. It is narrated that the Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] stated, “Be fair and just among your children,” and in some narrations with the addition “with respects to gifts” [Sahih Bukhari].

It is also narrated by the Companion Nu’man ibn Bashir that his father took him to the Prophet [peace and blessings be upon him] and said that he had gifted his son [Nu’man] a gift, to which the Prophet replied, “Did you give the like of it to all your children?” The father said, “No,” to which the Prophet replied, “Then take it back,” and in another narration, “Then fear Allah and be fair with respect to your children,” after which the father took the gift back. [Bukhari, Muslim]

An Exception to This Ruling

An exception, however, is if there is a legitimate reason to give financial preference to one child, whether son or daughter, in which case doing so is not disliked. Some examples are if a particular child has a greater financial need, a medical condition, or more dependents. [Laknawi, Ta’liq Mumajjad Sharh Muwatta’ Muhammad; Ibn Nujaym, Bahr al-Raiq]

There are several examples of Companions preferring certain children over others with gifts, which are understood to be due to particular legitimate reasons. Abu Bakr preferred his daughter Aisha with certain gifts, Umar ibn al-Khattab did the same with his son ‘Asim, and Abdur Rahman ibn Awf with the son of Umm Kulthum, may Allah be well-pleased with them all. [Qari, Mirqat al-Mafatih Sharh Mishkat al-Masabih]

Summary

To summarize then, with respect to your question, the father should follow the Sunna of equal treatment of children, particularly with regards to financial issues such as gifts. He should come up with the most ideal way to divide the homes equally among the children, in a way that leads to increased love and harmony in the family. However, an exception would be if he had a legitimate reason to prefer one or some children over others, in which case doing so would not be disliked. Without a legitimate reason, however, unequal apportionment of gifts could be sinful, such as if he intended harm to any of his children.

Lastly, it would be best for the father in question to consult a pious scholar and seek counsel before dividing up the estate.

And Allah alone gives success.

wassalam
Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani