Is It Allowed for My Mother to Give Preference to Me Over My Brothers in Her Will?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: My beloved mother has always maintained that she wants to give her jewelry and property to me and not my brothers (I’m an only sister of 2 brothers). Can she do that?

Answer: assalamu alaykum

If other members who are entitled to the inheritance agree to this, it would be permitted for you to take possession of such wealth. [al-Mawsili, al-Ikhtiyar]


Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Photo: Fabio

Can I Allow a Hospital to Use My Organs After My Death?

Answered by Ustadh Salman Younas

Question: Is it permissible to write in my will that I would like to donate my organs to the hospital?

Answer: assalamu `alaykum

Contemporary scholars have differed over the permissibility of organ donation. A majority have opined that it would be permissible provided certain conditions are met.

Regarding the specific scenario you mention, the Majma’ al-Fiqh al-Islami (the Islamic Fiqh Academy) passed a resolution that a living person may benefit from the organs of a dead person when needed provided the latter grants permission for his organs to be used prior to his death. Therefore, it would be permitted for someone to stipulate this in his or her will.


Checked & Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani.

The Realities of Death and Dying – SeekersHub Toronto’s Seminar with Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Shaykh Ramzey Ajem, and Habib Hussein al Saqqaf

Death. Dying. Bereavement. Afterlife. Not subjects we particularly want to think about. But sometimes, it’s the things we are most avoiding, that are, in reality, the closest to us.

As the first snowflakes of the year fell to the street outside the Hub, burying out the autumn leaves that had fallen just days earlier, I was struck by how death always seems to be a morose subject of discussion despite being manifested all around us. Why, then, I wondered, are we still not ready to acknowledge it?

But in the final of the Living Religion seminar series at SeekersHub Toronto, aptly titled Death and Dying, we literally looked death in the face.

Spiritual Dimensions of Death and The AfterLife – Shaykh Ramzy Ajem

“Who here, by a show of hands, is ready for death?” asked Shaykh Ramzy Ajem, the first speaker of the seminar. No one moved.

“No one? Death isn’t a morbid subject; it shouldn’t be like that for a Muslim.” He said. “Death isn’t an end, it’s a beginning. You have a merciful Lord.”

He encouraged us to look at death in a positive light, and look forward to receiving that mercy. In regards to the afterlife, no one will enter Paradise based on his good actions; Paradise is from the mercy of our Lord. He told us that this life could never be a time for us to “collect” good deeds in a basket to be presented to Allah on the Day of Judgement; it is in our neediness of Him, that we attain a knowledge of Him.

He ended by urging us to examine our lives in perspective. “Our lives aren’t just cooking and cleaning, career, spouse. Love what you like, but you’re going to lose it. If your attachments are unbalanced, dying is going to be painful.”

However, if we see things in perspective, and realize that our purpose in life is to know Allah, and nothing more, death will be a pleasure.


The Importance of Remembering Death – Habib Hussein al Saqqaf

The next lecture was a video broadcast from the UAE, where Habib Hussein al-Saqqaf resides and teaches.

“The traveller,” Habib Hussein reminded us, “will not settle until he reaches his destination.” He emphasized that this worldly life is only one of the many stages that a human soul will pass through; that the stage of life is connected to the body, the stage of the barzakh is connected to the soul, and the stage of the afterlife is a perfect connection of both. He referred to death as a liqaa, a meeting.

That liqaa could be a happy one for you, if you loved Allah, His Messenger, and the noble ones. However, if you were attached to evil in your life, your liqaa would be an evil one.

A theme that is echoed throughout Islamic teaching is the idea of the husn al-khatima, the good ending. Habib Hussein encouraged us to seek that good ending proactively and with direction.

“No one is protected from sin,” he said, “but follow a sin with a good deed without delay.” He especially urged us not to wait; a good deed could be as simple as a smile, a kind word, or the act of giving food to another.

Habib Hussein left us with a practical plan to fortify our hearts, saying, “Whatever is in the hearts of men will spill out at the time of death,” and that constant repetition of the shahada, the testification of faith, la ilaha illa-Allah (there is no deity except Allah) cause it to be contained within our hearts, such that those could be our last words at the time of death.

 Practical Guidance for Preparing for Death – Shaykh Faraz Rabbani

Shaykh Faraz, as is his habit, focused on the practical aspects of preparing for death. “At a spiritual level, you’re dying every moment, because you have no inherent existence. You winked into existence, you would wink out if He didn’t sustain you.”

He shared ten ways:

1. Know your realities—Who is your Creator? Who are you? What is life and its purpose?
“One of the most amazing things about our religion,” he said, “is that we don’t just talk about God in the abstract; we know His attributes.”

2. Reflect on death—“Only a fool would believe that something changing is eternal,” he said.

3. Know the rights of Allah over you—your obligations to Him.

4. Know the rights of creation over you—“You have no right to harm God’s creation,” he warned. That could come in the form of physical harm, or something as simple such as gossiping.

22809255903_67e3137f79_b 5. Sense of urgency—that death could come at you any moment.

6. Use the “Death Test”—by asking yourself before any given action, “Is this what I want to die doing?” and during the action, “Is this the best use of my time?”

7. Having a living will—keeping track of your material and spiritual rights over God and others.

8. Keep a clean slate—through regular repentance.

9. Die beloved—with love and thankfulness, faith and trust, and certitude, pleased to meet your Lord.
And lastly, very practically:

10. Ask for a good ending.

Personal Reflection

Granted, death is a heavy subject, and will be so until the time comes when death is no more. However, the seminar had left me feeling hopeful rather than hopeless.

But the words of the ignorant and inexperienced cannot explain clarity. The only way to explain my feelings are contained in the final chapter of the miraculous poem Al-Burda:

“My Lord! Let not my hope on You be overthrown, nor let my credit with You be void of worth. Deal kindly with Your slave in both worlds, for when terrors call to him, his patience is weak.” (trans. Abdul Hakim Murad)

What little is contained in this world, cannot explain everything. What transpired in this world, cannot be the end of the matter. Therefore, death is a passage, not obliviation.

It took me a seminar to realize that.


Loans Entailing More Reward than Charity and the Validity of an Estate’s Executor Being a Beneficiary in the Will

Answered by Shaykh Faraz A. Khan

Question: I have questions about 2 statements made by an imam, which I suspect to be incorrect.

First, he said there is an authentic hadith wherein the prophet said that to give a loan is 17 times more rewardable than to give charity of the same amount.

Secondly, on the matter of inheritance, he said it is acceptable for the property to be divided up by one of the beneficiaries. i.e., the executor of the will can be someone who stands to receive goods from the deceased. I feel this is unethical because it leaves the tempting opportunity to interpret the will favorably to oneself. I feel the correct way is for the executor to be a state-appointed official with no personal interest.

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

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

(1) There is a hadith that states, “On the night I was taken in journey [to Jerusalem], I saw inscribed on the door of Paradise, ‘Charity is multiplied ten-fold, while giving a loan eighteen-fold.’ I said, ‘O Jibril, how come a loan is more meritorious than charity?’ He replied, ‘Because the beggar asks [for charity] despite having wealth, while the one seeking a loan does not do so unless out of real need.'” [Ibn Maja; Bayhaqi, Shu`ab al-Iman; Tabarani, Mu`jam Awsat]

However, the chain of transmission (isnad) of this hadith is weak, due to a weak narrator (although Ibn Hibban and others considered that narrator reliable). [Haythami, Majma` al-Zawa’id]

With respect to its meaning, the hadith itself gives the basis of a loan being better than charity, namely, that one seeking a loan is in real need. However, many scholars deemed charity as better since nothing is given back to the donor. There is also a hadith that supports this opinion, namely, “If one loans two dirhams, it is akin to donating sadaqa of one dirham.” [Ibn Hibban]

Imam Munawi reconciles these different hadiths by saying, “In reality, it depends on the individuals, their circumstances and the times.” That is, every situation is unique, so the merit of each case would have to be examined individually: sometimes charity is better, other times giving out a loan is more meritorious. [Fayd al-Qadir]

(2) The executor of a will may be one of its beneficiaries. There is nothing wrong with that according to Sharia. Usually, the entire family is involved in the process, so it is not that easy to favor oneself in the process of estate division. One could actually make the opposite argument — that appointing a family member as executor is probably more likely to lead to fair division as compared to appointing someone outside the family.

In any case, what the jurists mention is that the executor should be upright, trustworthy, and able to carry out the will. [Haskafi, Durr al-Mukhtar; Zada, Majma` al-Anhur; Maydani, Lubab]

Lastly, in the United States (in some states at least), it is not uncommon for a good portion of the estate to be used up in exorbitant fees and the like when estate division is left to attorneys, even if state-appointed. So it is important for one to specify the executor in one’s will.

And Allah knows best.

If a Family Trust is Set Up, Is a Will Necessary?

Answered by Sidi Faraz A. Khan

Question: My parents are considering establishing a family trust for their assets. I’ve been told that if one disposes of their assets to a family trust then there is no need for a will. Is this correct? Do the benefactors of the trust need to be the rightful inheritors? Also, what permission (if any) is required by each person that would inherit from my parents to agree to the establishment the trust?

Answer: Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullah,

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

A family trust is basically a legal document that allows for the management of a person’s assets, including after death. It is generally set up for asset protection or to minimize estate taxes.

If a Muslim establishes a family trust, he or she would have to create the trust in such a way that it conforms exactly to Shari’a inheritance law. This is very important because if one has a family trust as well as an Islamic will, the trust would supersede the will.

The benefactors of the trust do need to be the rightful inheritors. As long as each rightful inheritor receives his or her appropriate share, their permission is not necessary to establish the family trust. It is, nevertheless, advisable to have all rightful inheritors informed of such a decision, as well as to seek their approval. Estate division is a very sensitive issue, and it entails rights granted to family members by Allah Most High Himself.

Our Beloved Messenger [peace and blessings be upon him] said, “Give the inheritance shares [as delineated in the Qur’an] to those who are entitled to receive them.” [Bukhari]

One should seek help from a qualified Islamic scholar for details on Shari’a inheritance law, as well as from an appropriate lawyer to find out how to create the family trust in accordance with Shari’a law.

And Allah alone gives success.

Faraz A. Khan

Checked & Approved by Faraz Rabbani