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 $533,682, 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 vivas 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 inheritance tax).
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 their shares.
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:
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, like Al-Khidmat Foundation Pakistan, 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.
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!
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.
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 as Muslims.
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.
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.
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 existing Will.
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.
In case of any query, you can call helpline of Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan 0800 44 44 8.
Your Sadaqa Jariah could help many deserving people change their lives for good. And, in retune you continue getting the reward as long as the poor people continue benefits from your donation through good education, medical aid and livelihood programs.
We at Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan strongly believe in helping people earn a decent living and become financially independent and self-sufficient, instead of providing them perpetual assistance. Then they don’t have to be provided with charity for food, medicines, shelter, clothing etc.
This self-employment philosophy is derived from the following incident during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):
A man of the Ansar came to the Prophet (saw) and begged from him. The Prophet (saw) asked him if he has anything in his house? He replied: Yes, a piece of cloth, a part of which we wear and a part of which we spread (on the ground), and a wooden bowl from which we drink water. The Prophet (saw) asked him to bring those items to him and helped him sell for two dirhams. He (saw) asked the Ansari to buy food with one dirham, buy an axe with the second dirham and go and gather firewood and sell it. The man went away, and gathered firewood and sold it. When he had earned ten dirhams, he came to the prophet and told him that he had bought a garment with some of them and food with his earnings the others. (Abu Dawud, Hadith 1637)
This incident illustrates an important distinction between simply providing relief as opposed to making someone self-sufficient. Relief is generally a short term solution to a long term problem. Self-employment through economic and social change is a long-term solution, which is why Al-Khidmat Foundation Pakistan focuses on projects that promote self-employment.
All Regions of Pakistan where Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan implements its projects depend on agricultural economies. Over 60% of their populations consists of farmers.
Alkhidmat Foundation Pakistan helps farmers in economically depressed areas by providing one or more of the following items:
“That which you give as interest to increase the peoples’ wealth increases not with Allah; but that which you give in charity, seeking the goodwill of Allah, multiples manifold.” (Surah al-Rum, verse 39)
“And for their taking interest even though it was forbidden for them, and their wrongful appropriation of other peoples’ property. We have prepared a grievous punishment for those among them who reject faith.” (Surah al-Nisa’, verse 161)
“O believers, take not doubled and redoubled interest, and fear Allah that you may prosper. Fear the fire which has been prepared for those who reject faith, and obey Allah and the Prophet so that you may receive mercy.” (Surah Aal-Imran, verses 130-2)
The Prophet cursed the receiver and the payer of interest, the one who records it and the two witnesses to the transaction and said: They are all alike [in guilt].
From Abdallah ibn Hanzalah:
The Prophet, said: ‘A dirham of riba which a man receives knowingly is worse than committing adultery thirty-six times.’
From Abu Hurayrah:
The Prophet said: ‘Riba has seventy segments, the least serious being equivalent to a man committing adultery with his own mother.
Quote from the translation of the book ‘Riba and Bank Interest’ by Yusuf al-Qardawi, Institute of Policy Studies, Islamabad, Pakistan
‘To forego interest from the deposits in banks practicing usury, even out of Taqwa, is still not right; doing so is much more sinful than taking it because with it non-Muslims establish and run organizations for furtherance of their un-Islamic objectives.’
The Islamic Shari’a Council, London, UK, May 2002
‘Interest money, according to the most careful opinion, is good for any charitable purpose (including educational fees for poor students). Apart from building the mosques or printing the Qur’an’.