The most apparent difference between an Islamic will and a conventional will is the approach to allocating inheritance. In a conventional will a testator can allocate their wealth in whatever way pleases them.
For Muslims, we are bound by regulations set out in the Sharia which includes inheritance rights- this was a departure from the customs of jahiliyah. Such rights were so important that they were reaffirmed in the Prophet’s farewell sermon.
An Islamic will reflects our priorities and values such as ensuring our debts are settled (why it’s important to include a record of your private debts in case you die before settling them). Besides that, an often overlooked aspect of making a will is the purifying of one’s intention.
In Islam, we are taught that our wealth is nor ours but is entrusted to us during our lifetime by Allah. After we pass, that wealth is no longer our responsibility and should be handled in line with Islamic guidelines. In doing so, we end our relationship with that wealth in a demonstration of our submission to Allah.
This is why, regardless of the health of a relationship, we can request people forgo their inheritance but cannot write their right out of the will. Perhaps there is a lesson in this regarding how highly we should regard our ties of kinship as they are immutable.
So our aim in creating our will should be to please Allah and do our best to fulfil our responsibilities (our ability to bequeath up to 1/3 of our estate to non-inheritors and charitable activities can enable us to do this effectively).
This article is part of our Islamic Wills FAQ series.