The Wassiyah (Islamic Will) together with Estate planning for Muslims are not widely practiced. The common remarks made are:-
“The Quran already specifies my asset distribution through Fara’id.”
“No need to write a Will. There is Fara’id.”
Muslims are encouraged to make an Islamic Will.
“It is prescribed, when death approaches any of you, if he leave any goods, that he make a bequest to parents and next-of-kin, according to reasonable usage; this is due from those who fear Allah. If anyone changes the bequest after hearing it, the guilt shall be on those who make the change, for Allah hears and knows (all things). But if anyone fears partially or wrongdoing on the part of the testator, and make peace between (parties concerned), there is no wrong in him; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving. Most Merciful.”
The first remark is true that upon application the Syariah Court will issue the Inheritance Certificate known as “Sijil Warisan” upon the death of a Muslim in Singapore. The Fara’id distribution of shares is reflected on the Inheritance Certificate for the distribution of the Deceased’s assets.
Fara’id is set out in the Al-Quran in the fourth chapter of An-Nisa (Women) verses 7, 11 & 12. and in the Hadith of Sahih Muslim in the 11th book, Kitab Al-Fara’id.
Application of Fara’id and other Syariah Laws
Mr. Ahmad, a Muslim convert was divorced from a previous marriage 2 years ago with a 10 year old son. He converted a year ago and remarried shortly thereafter. From this marriage, he has a daughter whilst responsibly providing for his son from the previous marriage. Mr. Ahmad hopes to send his son to the university in the future. He wishes to provide for his son in the event of his death.
The distribution upon his death of his estate is distributed under Fara’id:
The assets of Mr Ahmad upon his death shall be divided into 8 shares as follows:
1. Wife will get 1/8
2. Daughter will get 4/8
3. Baitulmal will get 3/8
*Baitulmal is the institution that acts as a trustee for the Muslims. It looks after assets from which members of the Muslim public could benefit.
Mr. Ahmad’s non-Muslim son will not be able to inherit as his beneficiary unless an Islamic Will is made to provide up to 1/3 his assets. As a Muslim convert, his whole family prior to his conversion is excluded as legal beneficiaries under the Syariah Law. This is specifically mentioned in Kitab Al-Fara’id.
Book 011, Number 3928(first verse):
Usama b. Zaid reported Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A Muslim is not entitled to inherit from a non-Muslim, and a non-Muslim is not entitled to inherit from a Muslim.
3/8 of Mr. Ahmad’s estate ordinarily will go to Baitulmal.
In Singapore the Shafie School of Jurisprudence allows a non-Muslim to receive up to 1/3 of a Muslim’s estate upon death as part of the Wassiyah (Muslim Will).
It is prudent for every Muslim family to make an Islamic Will upon planning their Estate/Legacy.
Some of the other vehicles for distribution of a Muslim’s wealth in Singapore are:-
Hibah – A gift during one’s lifetime.
Harta Sepencarian (Matrimonial Asset Share) – By customary law it is a claim on the deceased estate by the spouse for up to 50% of deceased total assets.
Islamic Trust – Personal and/or business assets can be held in Islamic Trust to benefit specific beneficiaries
Wassiyah (Islamic Will) -The appointment of the Executor to the Estate assist to avoid disputes amongst family members and expedite the smooth Probate process.
With this knowledge available, it will only be an issue of looking for the right Estate Planner with the appropriate expertise in this area of work to help a Muslim plan his estate.
Reza Kamarudin has been in the financial advisory business since 2007. He is passionate about Estate Planning because of the value it brings to the family unit and how Estate Planning upholds the love and dignity of a family.