make an Islamic Will?
fulfill an important religious duty
die without leaving a Will you are deemed to have died
‘intestate’ and so your wealth will be distributed in accordance
with the English rules on intestacy – which do not apply the
same criteria as those laid down by the Shari’a.
It gives you peace of mind
that your wishes are followed avoiding unnecessary family
disputes after you have passed away.
have children under the age of 18, and you and your spouse
should die, then the courts may take the decision as to who
looks after them. By appointing legal guardians in your Will you
can ensure that this doesn’t happen.
It makes financial sense
quick and simple process to make a Will and it’s relatively
tax efficient Will can save on the amount of Inheritance Tax
your family may have to pay after you die.
event of dying intestate, your family will have to apply to the
courts to administer your estate – a far more lengthy and costly
process than if you had written a Will.
It gives you the opportunity to help
those less fortunate
leaving a gift in your Will to a charitable cause – it helps not
only the beneficiaries, but can help you too – for sadaqa jariya
(ongoing charity) is an action that continues to be rewarded
How to make an Islamic Will
1. Value your assets
Before making a Will it is a good idea to make a list of everything
that you own. This is known as your ‘estate‘ and includes your home
and its contents, your car and your savings – less your debts, such
as unpaid dowry (mahr) and Zakah.
If the value of your assets is already or likely to be more than
£263,000, you will need to consider Inheritance Tax avoidance
strategies. Where potentially large estates are involved and
therefore inheritance tax liability could be considerable, steps
should be taken to avoid it. There are various ways of doing this,
including: making inter vivos gifts, preferably seven years before
death and making a bequest of up to a third of the estate to a
charity (gifts to charities registered in the UK do not attract
2. Do you need a solicitor?
It is possible to make your own Will, but because it is a legal
document, you are strongly recommended to seek professional advice,
especially if you wish to make several specific bequests or if your
financial and property affairs are complicated.
Remember: for your Will to be valid, the basic requirements
of UK domestic law must be satisfied:
be at least 18 years old;
be of sound mind;
must be in writing;
identify yourself as the author of the Will;
should state that it is your last Will – and that any previous
Wills and Codicils are revoked;
must be dated and signed by you in the presence of and attested
by two witnesses who are neither a spouse nor a beneficiary
under the Will.
3. Decide on your funeral and burial arrangements
You should specify in your Will that you would like your funeral and
burial rites to be carried out in accordance with the practices of
Islam. These include:
quick and simple process to make a Will and it’s relatively
inexpensive too!not having your dead body subjected to a routine
post mortem examination because the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, said, "Breaking a dead man’s bone
is like breaking it when he is alive." (Sunan of Imam Abu Dawud)
your body released for burial immediately after death;
where and how your body is to be buried;
|if you do
not wish for any of your organs to be used for medical research
or organ replacement operations, then say so.
You may wish to be buried abroad. You should remember that as well
as being costly, the dead body is usually eviscerated, emptied of
blood and filled with alcohol before being flown abroad. This may
persuade you to stipulate burial in a Muslim cemetery in the UK
4. Decide what to leave to whom
After the payment of any taxes, debts, and funeral and
administration expenses, up to a maximum of one third of your estate
can be left to whomever you wish – this may include friends and
family not entitled to inherit under Shari’a, as well as charities.
If, when it comes to the division of the estate, it transpires that
the bequests are more than a third, then either the executors have
to reduce the bequests proportionately, or those entitled to fixed
shares may (but do not have to) agree to accept a diminution in
You will need to specify that the remainder of the estate (which
will amount to a minimum of two thirds) is to be distributed
in fixed shares amongst your legal heirs in accordance with
whichever madhhab you follow.
Specific items or sums of money can be specified as part of any
particular relative’s share. If, when it comes to the division of
the estate, it transpires that the value of any specified item(s) is
more than the value of the share to which the relative is entitled
then either the executors have to reduce or even ignore what has
been specified, or the other relatives entitled to fixed shares may
(but do not have to) agree to accept a diminution in their shares.
It is quite common for a testator to simply state that he or she
wants all the estate to be divided amongst the surviving relatives
in accordance with the Shari‘a without specifying any particular
item for any particular relative.
As regards calculating the shares, the basic principles are these:
(i) The closest relatives (husband,
wife, son daughter, father, mother) will always inherit a share and
will always have precedence over and exclude more distant relatives.
(ii) In the absence of the closest
relatives, the more distant relatives (such as grandparents and
grandchildren, for example) will then be entitled to inherit fixed
This pecking order means that you may wish to make bequests out of
your one third to distant relatives who may not otherwise inherit
from you because they will be excluded by the closest relatives from
automatically receiving shares.
It is prudent to have what is called a residuary clause dealing with
what should happen to the estate if there are no surviving relatives
– in which case the estate can be left to one or more charities (and
if more than one, then in what proportions).
Under Shari‘a, your estate would go to the bayt al-mal to be spent
on social welfare, but until your community has a bayt al-mal, a
charity concerned with social welfare is the next best option.You
may also wish to have a clause in which you pass on a last message
to your loved ones.
5. Choose your executor(s) wisely
You will need to choose up to four people to carry out the wishes
expressed in your Will. Executors can also be beneficiaries in your
Will. If you are choosing friends or relatives, make sure they are
willing to accept what can be a lengthy and time consuming
responsibility. If you are choosing lawyers, remember that they will
probably expect to be paid for their services from your estate. The
more complicated your affairs, the more prudent it is to choose a
specialist lawyer. If you intend to die like the Prophet, may Allah
bless him and grant him peace, possessing nothing, then there will
be no need for a lawyer!
If your executors do not know how to calculate the Qur’anic shares,
they can either find an ‘alim who has this knowledge to assist them,
or they can use the software at
http://www.islamicsoftware.org/irth.html which does the
calculation for you. This software is also useful if you would like
to know, "Who would inherit what, if I were to die tomorrow?"
There is no combination of relatives for which it is not possible to
calculate their Qur’anic shares – so a properly drafted Islamic Will
should never fail for uncertainty.
6. Choose a guardian for children
If it is possible that you may have children under the age of 18
when you die, you should appoint a guardian to look after them in
the unlikely event of both you and your spouse dying while they are
still minors. This point is particularly significant for those who
have non-Muslim relatives and want their children to be brought up
There should also be a clause dealing with how any minors’ shares
should be held on trust and invested and expended for the children’s
maintenance, education or benefit. Most Muslims will want to
stipulate that any investment made should not involve usury, since
this was expressly forbidden by all of the Prophets, including
Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, blessings and peace be on them.
7. Choose your witnesses
Ideally, choose two trustworthy Muslim men to witness the signing of
your Will. If this is not possible, then two non-Muslim men may be
taken as witnesses. Women may also act as witnesses. Under Shari‘a,
two women may act as witnesses instead of one man. For the purposes
of English law one woman may act as a witness instead of one man.
Remember: anyone who will benefit
from your Will cannot be taken as a witness. If this does happen, he
or she will not be permitted to inherit from you.
8. Keep your Will safe
Once you have made your Will and it has been signed and witnessed,
store it in a safe place or with your solicitor or a trustworthy
relative or friend. Make sure that your executor(s) are informed
where the original Will is being kept and keep a photocopy for your
9. Keep your Will up-to-date
Review your Will on a regular basis, since changing circumstances –
especially your marital situation (marriage, divorce or re-marriage)
may affect its validity.
If there are significant changes of circumstance, it may become
necessary to make a new Will, but for minor changes you may just
require a Codicil – which makes an addition or alteration to your
So if you’ve already made a Will, but would like, for example, to
include a bequest to charity, the process is fairly straightforward
– and can be drawn up by a solicitor.
Remember: Do not try to alter your
Will by crossing out or adding words. If you do this, your Will may
be rendered invalid in the eyes of the law, so if you then die
without having made a new Will, it will be as if you had never made
a Will at all.
Islamic Relief and The Association of Muslim Lawyers UK
For further information and
A new website developed by Islamic Relief providing information on
all aspects of making an islamic Will.
Association of Muslim Lawyers, UK website that gives details of
training seminars for practitioners wishing to provide an Islamic
The Islamic Will
A practical guide to being prepared for
death and writing your Will according to the Shari'a of Islam and
Publisher Dar Al-Taqwa Ltd
Leaving a legacy
A brief guide to making an Islamic
Publisher Islamic Relief
every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this guide – it
is not meant to be a comprehensive source of information on Islamic
Will making. Accordingly, the authors cannot be held liable for any
loss or consequential damage caused by the omission of information
or any mistake contained in this guide.