Writing Wasiyah – A Forgotton Sunnah

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By Zaki Imtiaz

Bismillah, walhamdulillah was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Rasulillah!

I begin with the name of Allah, all praise is due to Him alone, and I send peace and blessings upon the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (Salallahu alaihi wa sallam)

I have seen several families fighting over the issues of Virasat (inheritance) and Wasiyah (will) after the death of important people from among them. Wouldn’t it be great if people would follow the commandments of Allah in such affairs? There would be no fights if the wealth of the deceased was distributed according to the law of inheritance laid out in Islam. If the deceased left a will explaining each aspect in detail, there would be no dispute over family issues. There would be so much ease in fulfilling the missed obligations, promises and other commitments of the deceased by his surviving family.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across the following Hadith.  I was already aware of it but it had never struck me so strongly.

” ‏ “‏ مَا حَقُّ امْرِئٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَبِيتُ لَيْلَتَيْنِ وَلَهُ مَا يُوصِي فِيهِ إِلاَّ وَوَصِيَّتُهُ مَكْتُوبَةٌ عِنْدَهُ

“It is not right for a Muslim man to spend two nights, having what he would will, without having his will written with him.”

[Tirmidhi]

I thought to myself, “Do I know when I’m going to leave my loved ones and carry on with my journey towards Allah?” Of course, I didn’t know! No one does. So, I decided to start writing my will, no matter how few my possessions may be. Surely, Allah will question me about the smallest of matters; and if my responsibilities and peoples’ rights were not discharged properly, it would be a great matter in the sight of Allah.

I grabbed a book [1] on this topic and found three areas in which every one of us needs to define our will. I have tried to explain them very briefly here:

1. The Rights of Allah:

وَلَقَدْ وَصَّيْنَا الَّذِينَ أُوتُوا الْكِتَابَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ أَنِ اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ

“We have recommended to the people of the Scripture before you, and to you (O Muslims) that you (all) fear Allah.”

[Surah an-Nisaa: 131]

Man is born on Fitrah (a pure nature) and the recognition of good and bad is inherently present in him.  But society, parents and whispers of the devils from Jinns and men distort his Fitrah to make him commit sins.  If you have an idea about certain of your sins that can be expiated by following Islamic injunctions, then the details of these must be a part of your will.  If you have any obligatory fasts pending completion, if you have not offered Hajj, if you have violated any promises with Allah, all such things comes into the category of the rights of Allah.  If there are any other responsibilities given to you by Allah that you have been negligent about, (like being responsible for your family’s provisions, religion etc.) include them as in your will as well.

The Prophet (Sallalahu alaihi wasallam) is reported to have said,

‏ أَلاَ كُلُّكُمْ رَاعٍ، وَكُلُّكُمْ مَسْئُولٌ عَنْ رَعِيَّتِهِ

“Surely! Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges…”

[Sahih al-Bukhari]

Make sure that you start remembering such matters and write them down one by one.  You may consult scholars if you don’t know the expiation of specific sins; after all they have from the inheritance of the Prophets: knowledge!  One should also advise the heirs to follow the rules of Shari’ah and all the Sunnahs associated with the final rites in Islam, while forbidding them to do anything prohibited by Shari’ah.  One should particularly explain the matters which one fears that the heirs may overlook.

It should be noted that there are some obligatory acts (e.g. prayer) which cannot be performed as a compensation by the heirs on behalf of the deceased.  However, the family should do whatever is prescribed in the Sunnah like giving charity on behalf of the deceased or making du’a to Allah to forgive his sins.

2. The Rights of the Creation:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَن تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَىٰ أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ ۚ

“Verily! Allah commands that you should render back the trusts to those, to whom they are due; and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice. ”

[Surah an-Nisaa: 58]

These rights include money that you owe to someone, or that someone owes to you.  It also includes all those promises and vows that you have not fulfilled yet, any remnants of inheritance that you were to distribute, any testimony that you have to make for/against someone in order to benefit the Muslim Ummah.

Any debts that are due on the deceased, as well as any Zakah that he/she has to pay must be deducted before the inheritance wealth or property can be distributed. Further clarification of specific cases should be sought from the scholars.

3. The Rights of the Deceased:

One should write about anything that benefits one after their death, like advising the family to stay firm on the true religion of Islam.  One may leave guidelines for the executor of the will as to how it should be executed.  The executor of the will should be a God-fearing and knowledgeable person.

You may also make two Muslims witnesses to your will to ensure that no tampering takes place.  You can get a simple printout, that can be read and signed by the witnesses.  After your departure, these witnesses are charged with reproducing this will and ensuring its execution.  An exemplary will is presented below.  You may edit it in order to fulfill this obligation in a manner that best suits you.

I sincerely hope that once you’ve read this article, you will prioritize the matter of composing a draft for your will, insha Allah!

SAMPLE WILL:

I do indeed make this testament that upon my death, the following be observed:

1. Some righteous people should visit me to remind me of my Lord’s blessings upon me; to encourage me to have a good opinion about Him; and that they should exhort me to recite the Shahadah (Testimony of faith) in a gentle manner, saying to me “0 so and so, say, ‘There is no god but Allah.“’

2. They should pray much for my good, and they should not utter anything except what is good and right. When my soul leaves my body, they should close my eyes and tie my lower jaw in place.

3. My clothes should be taken off and I should be wrapped in clothes other than the ones I died in (if possible).

4. Preparation for the burial of the body must be expedited, unless this is prevented by some legitimate or compelling reason.

5. Loud wailing, slapping the face, tearing clothes, and any supplications like those used in Jahiliyah (pre-Islamic ignorance) which incite mourning or cause loss of patience should be avoided.

6. All my debts must be paid and trusts in my care be restored to their owners as explained in my attached financial testament.

7. I should be wrapped in three white cloths, unsewn and inexpensive.

8. Women should be forbidden to accompany the funeral procession (as commanded by the Prophet Salallahu alaihi wasallam)

9. Silence be observed at the time of burial; there should be complete calmness, and people should ponder over death and over the greatness of Allah, the Exalted, the Supreme.

10. My funeral should be expedited and as many people as possible should participate in my funeral prayer; the one who is most knowledgeable about Allah and most learned among those present, should lead the prayer.

11. I should be buried in a grave and the person placing me in the grave should say “Bismillahi wa ‘ala sunnati rasulillah (In the name of Allah and in accordance with the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah). There should not be any gravestone carrying my name because the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) has forbidden this.

12. People should sit by my grave and make du’a for me for a while so that their company should render me at ease before I am questioned.

13. The Qur’an should not be recited for me on the day of my death or on any other day. No special place should be appointed for people to come and offer their condolences on my death, because this is also a sort of mourning for the dead. The correct procedure is that my relatives should carry on their usual pursuits and people may offer their condolences to them when they meet them or whenever they visit them.

14. My death should not be announced from pulpits or in newspapers etc., because the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) has forbidden such announcements, except if there is no one available to undertake the preparations for my funeral and burial.

15. I should be buried in the place where I die, and my body should not be transferred to any other country, in accordance with the advice of the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam), and in the hope of gaining the reward therefore, for making things easy for the people, and increasing the heritage of my lawful heirs.

16. My household should not prepare food for the people on the occasion of my death. They should rather occupy themselves in the obedience of Allah and in enjoining patience to each other.

17. Anyone who is present at the distribution of my estate should be treated with respect and spoken to in kindly and gentle terms.

18. I have appointed (name of the executor) to look into and execute the whole of this testament. It is his responsibility to seek help from the leader of the righteous people who follow the Sunnah (Ahl as Sunnah) in the place of my death. In short, I admonish everyone with the admonition that the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) gave us.  If there is anything in my will that is against the teachings of the Shari’ah, then the law of Shari’ah will take precedence over my will.  I declare myself innocent of all that the Prophet (Salallahu alaihi wasallam) renounced.

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[1] Write your Islamic Will – Published by Dar ul Tawheed

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The writer is a Software Engineer and can be contacted at zakiimtiaz1@gmail.com and fb.com/page.z.imtiaz

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8 thoughts on “Writing Wasiyah – A Forgotton Sunnah

Add yours

  1. MashaaAllah. May Allah reward you for pointing out a very important issue that must be taken care of immediately. However, in USA, is it mandatory to get the help of a law firm to prepare the will? JZKKK.

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  2. Aoawrwb sister.
    Please note that in Islam, there is no requirement that will is to be verified by some law firm. The mandotory critiria in the eyes of islam is that you write a will, make someone witness over the will [1] i.e. that person knows your will and will solely be responsible to make it public (among your relatives atleast) after you leave towards the other part of your journey.

    Islam, at no cost, allows any external law, whether be Pakistan or USA, to distribute the wealth and other affairs according to their own man made laws. So technically, in my eyes, you don’t need a lawyer to make up a will. In case you have any technical question, you may ask and I can consult it with some scholar and get back to you. insha’Allah.

    Jazakillahu khair.

    ____________________________________
    [1]: As per my understanding it can be either two men, or one man two women, or four women. As in Islam the witness of two women is considered as one. Allah knows best.

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  3. No no zaki, it can one 2 men, 1 man and 2 women But it cant be 4 women without any man.. Please check it again… Case of witnesses varies.. This is only in financial transaction and crime scenes..

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