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Islamic Inheritance Law in the context of Muslim estate planning

What is Islamic law?

Islamic law is the spiritual law for Muslims. Islamic law is also called Sharia, Shariah, Saria, Sariya, Sariyah, or Syariyah. The majority of the Islamic law forms the devotional (i.e., faith, moral conduct, virtues, prayers, fasting, obligatory charity, and pilgrimage), but a little (i.e., less than 5%) comprises the legal commandments for marriage, divorce, Inheritance, etc. The Islamic law has four sources; the Holy Quran, Sunnah (i.e., the Book of Hadith comprises the saying of Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi wasallam), Ijma (i.e., a consensus of companions), and Qiyas (i.e., analogical deductions). The Primary source of Islamic law is the Holy Quran and Sunnah. The Ijma is considered the next source for Islamic law if no reference is found in the Holy Quran or Sunnah. The Qiyas is the last source of Islamic law when Ijma is impossible. As it stands, Islamic law is firmly established from all four sources. If any new interpretation is required, Muslims rely on Fatwa and Etihad (or Itihad).​

Why is the Islamic law of Inheritance important for Muslims?

Islamic Inheritance law is also called the Muslim succession law or Faraid, which Muslims must follow. (See Holy Quran 4.11-13, 176) and form the foundations for Muslim estate planning (i.e., Islamic Wills, Trusts, or Waqf). Islamic estate plans must comply with Sharia and legal laws. You should know the legal necessity and benefits of creating shariah-compliant Wasiya or Wasiyya as Muslims. There are differences between conventional Secular Wills compare to Muslim religious Wills. Wassiyyah takes it seriously when it comes to compliance. The law under the Islamic religion differs from secular law, with exceptions to some similarities. Wassiyyah works with experts to deliver the solution to comply with laws. There are also challenges for Islamic estate planning due to mass migrations, overseas assets, the complexity of legal laws, and the high cost of estate planning. You should know that there are notable similarities and differences between Islamic law and Legal or Secular laws.

Can I create Islamic Will against Faraid?

It is prohibited to create an estate plan that can bypass the Faraid, as Allah (Subhanahu Wa-ta-ala) states in the Holy Quran, Surah An-Nisa, verses 11 to 14, about expectations in following Faraid. Due to the unawareness of these mandatory obligations, many Muslims create estate plans based on their culture or secular tradition.

What is the main difference between secular laws and Faraidh?

The Faraidh is the divine law for Muslims regarding inheritance. Secular laws are legal laws that may differ from one country or jurisdiction (i.e., state, province, or territory) to another. Faraidh includes primary heirs such as Husband, Wife, Sons, Daughters, Father, and Mother. Secular laws, on the other hand, does not extend beyond Spouse and Children in priority. The methodology of estate distribution largely differs in both. Under Islamic inheritance law, first primary fixed sharers (i.e., faraidh) and residuary (i.e., al-asabat) inherit. If they do not survive, the Distant kindred relatives (i.e., Zav-il-arham) can receive an inheritance. In most countries, none is obliged to follow Secular law regarding inheritance share, as everyone has the right to create an estate plan based on their wishes, except in countries where forced heirship is in place. Also, regarding valid marriage, both laws differ. Islamic law considers the validity of marriage if it is done through "Nikah". Secular laws, on the other hand, allow the registered marriage considers to be valid. To comply with both, marriage must follow "Nikah" and registrations. Islamic law is comprehensively compared to secular or legal laws. Islamic law is the divine code of guidelines irrespective of geographical location in America, Australia, Europe, Africa, or Asia. Legal laws, on the other hand, may differ from one country to another.

What other things can fall under Islamic inheritance?

One of the biggest is religious debt (i.e., zakah, kaffarah, unperformed Hajj, prayer or fasting), and personal or commercial debt (i.e., Inheritance tax, estate tax, wealth tax, investment tax), including funeral or burial expenses, must be paid before the inheritance is distributed. The joint ownership is the one that may impact your inheritance as well. Joint ownership is great, but it needs work (i.e., estate planning) before you comply with Shariah. Unfortunately, many people die without proper estate plans, and joint ownership would result in the compliance meeting Shariah compliance.

Which properties do not fall under Faraid in general?

Specific properties with beneficiaries designated cannot be covered under Muslim Wills and/or Trust. For example, properties under Joint Tenancy, Joint accounts, Insurance policies, Pension plans, or other investments. You need to make special arrangements for such properties to comply with Sharia.

What is the big challenge regarding Islamic inheritance law?

First, if you live and/or have assets in one or more non-Muslim majority countries, compliance with Islamic succession law requires the best estate plan. Online free Islamic Wills templates do not address this. Another challenge is; not many people specialize in Islamic inheritance law. Not all scholars of the Islamic faith know the Islamic inheritance law in greater detail. Not all Attorneys or Estate planning experts know Islamic inheritance law unless they are specialized in Islamic estate planning. Wassiyyah ACADEMY provides the learning opportunity for everyone to learn Islamic inheritance law.

What is essential to know regarding Islamic inheritance?

Islamic Inheritance law is the foundation for Islamic Will. The primary source of Islamic Inheritance law is the Holy Quran, where Allah (Subahanahu Wa ta'ala) directs humanity to follow the laws of inheritance in the Holy Quran, chapter 4, Surah An-Nisa. It is a voluntary act but rewarding for Muslims to give away one-third or less of a Testamentary bequest. You can allow the bequest of up to one-third of your total estates (tarikah) part of your Will. However, inheritors (warith) can give away whatever they wish of their share of inheritance as a bequest or charity of their will. The endowment is not the same as Bequest, as the endowment is mainly used for donations to organizations in a lifetime. If you do not create shariah compliant Will, the distribution of estates will occur per the Country's intestacy law, not the Muslim succession law. Wassiyyah offers an exclusive Sharia scholar-approved Islamic inheritance law course to learn more about Sharia inheritance rules and Islamic inheritance calculations.

Why is it important to learn Islamic succession law?

Islamic law is strict and rigid, but beauty resides in justice and fairness to protect inheritors due to cultural issues. Islamic Inheritance law forms the foundational framework of Islamic Wills and Trust. One of the greater strengths of Wassiyyah is the knowledge we provide and share regarding the Islamic Law of inheritance. Wassiyyah serves as an Academy of Master class study in Islamic inheritance course, Islamic bioethics, and more. The courses are created under the advice, guidance, and consultations of knowledgeable and practically experienced Islamic scholars. Muslim inheritance course is intensive in content that includes but is not limited to Sources (Holy Quran, Sunnah, Ijma, Qiyas), fixed sharer (Ashab al-Furudh or Faraidh), residuary (Asabat), distant kindred (Dhawu al-Arham), blocking (or exclusion) rules, calculations using Radd and Awal (or Awwal), and Sunni Islamic jurisprudence opinions.

Is Islamic inheritance law forced heirship?

Inheritance under the Islamic religion is obligatory and strictly forced heirship system for Muslims, and that's why it is perceived to be rigid and harsh despite the fact that it provides solid protections to spouse, children, and parents. It allows only one-third or less to distribute under free Will to non-Islamic heirs, the needy, or charity. Adhering to Shariah regarding inheritance is one of the most critical obligations of Muslims.

What is the Islamic Inheritance certificate, and How can it be useful for estate planning purposes?

​This Islamic Inheritance Certificate is not a legal document but is an effective tool for Executors and Trustees. This document can be used with Islamic Wills or sometimes with Trust. Whether you create Islamic Wills or Trust with Wassiyyah or other services, this document can support Probate or other court processing by Executors and Trustees (personal family members or corporate trustee). Click HERE to learn more.

Where do I start if I want to learn more about Islamic Inheritance law?

You are encouraged to complete the Islamic inheritance law course by visiting HERE. Wassiyyah created this course after learning through Muslim scholars who have spent more than 35 years teaching Islamic inheritance. The course is available at the lowest and most affordable one-time cost of US$10 with lifetime access. We have converted our years of learning Islamic inheritance into websites, video series, pamphlets, and books. You can find more information HERE. The course is free for Premium and Ultimate members, with many benefits.

If you are confused or don't know where to start, please JOIN US​ to receive your free E-Book, "Beginners Guide to Muslims estate planning," specially designed for those who seriously want to make their estate plan completed most easily and quickly.

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