What is an Islamic will?
A will is a legally-binding document that gives instructions on the way that your estate (the assets you leave behind) should be distributed. In a conventional, non-Islamic will, you simply leave what you want to whomever you want. That’s why you get stories like this or this with people leaving all their money to charity or even pets.
Islam tells us something different. It pre-determines who inherits our assets (read the early verses of Surah an-Nisa (chapter 4) for the verses on this). Although these calculations can get tricky for the average person to manually work out, the point is that there is a set way of slicing up the pie to which we have to adhere.
This Islamic will inheritance calculator will help to give you an understanding on how Islamic inheritance works (this is a great online tool but it can be prone to error so always get it manually checked by somebody qualified).
In a nutshell, the pre-set inheritance is the key difference in an Islamic will.
And in a non-Muslim country, you need to leave a will that sets all of that out in detail, because domestic laws will otherwise revert to the laws of intestacy, not the laws of Islam. As long you as you detail how you want your assets to be distributed, English law (and likely other domestic law) will not interfere with that.
Wills usually include sections on:
- Your funeral and burial wishes;
- Who will be in charge for administering your estate and sorting things out;
- Who should look after your children if you and your spouse die;
- Who gets specific gifts and what they are; and
- Any charitable donations you wish to make.
There are a few legal peculiarities to signing a will validly in the UK. Your signature should be witnessed by two individuals (who are not going to inherit anything from your will), any bequests (explained below) you make need to be carefully drafted or they can otherwise be invalid, and your will should expressly deal with any previous wills you might have written and are now wishing to change.