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The Wake-up call for Muslims regarding Islamic estate planning

Despite clear evidence in the Holy Quran (Ch.4) and many books of Hadiths, many surveys have been conducted. Most found unfavorable results regarding Islamic estate planning and meeting shariah compliance duties. This indirectly indicates that most Muslims do not have Wills, Trusts, or other estate plans, so their estates will follow Islamic law. The urgency and necessity of Islamic estate planning should be considered based on five main factors; To provide protections to heirs and guardianship to minors, fulfillment of debts, legal obligations to meet compliance, gain total control of wealth before death, and achieve successful salvation. Everyone fears three things: Grave, Qiyamah (i.e., Day of judgment), and Hell. No one can deny that Paradise is where everyone aims to dwell for adherents of all faith. Someone who does not believe in religion, i.e., Atheists, still aspire to achieve peace after death, but the difference is they do not believe there is such a place of paradise. For Muslims, it's crisp and clear that estate planning and inheritance duties are mandatory duties without exceptions and directly tied to the way to paradise, which directly depends on the fulfillment of Inheritance and debt obligations.


PARADISE for those who obey as per Holy Quran 4:13 states, "These (entitlements) are the limits set by Allah. Whoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted into Gardens under which rivers flow, to stay there forever. That is the ultimate triumph!"


HELL for those who disobey as per Holy Quran 4:14 states, "But whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and exceeds their limits will be cast into Hell, to stay there forever. And they will suffer a humiliating punishment."


INHERITANCE knowledge will be taken away over time as outlined in Sunan Ibn Majah, Chapter 26, Hadith no: 2719 states that "The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi wasallam) said, O Abu Hurairah. Learn about Inheritance and teach it, for it is half of knowledge, but it will be forgotten. This is the first thing that will be taken away from my nation."


DEBTS must be paid to fulfill the obligations in Islam. Many Hadiths support that debts must be paid, which cannot be possible without estate planning.


There have not been many surveys available to date for Muslim countries. In the one conducted in Malaysia, According to Rockwills International Group, 63% of 521 respondents surveyed in 2018 indicated that they have not outlined a will or set up a trust fund for estate planning (Yun, 2018). Equally, Islamic estate planning behavior amongst Malaysian Muslims remains minimal (Alma’amun, 2010). Abdul Karim (2016) found that 85% of the domestic Muslim populace has not engaged in estate planning. The situation is precariously based on the updated figures released by ARB, indicating that properties worth RM70bn have not been retrieved by pertinent beneficiaries, with 95% of the assets being owned by Muslims (Harian Metro, 2020). In Malaysia, most Malaysian Muslims view estate planning as insignificant, so it is not widely practiced (Boon et al., 2011). Results from past studies demonstrated that Malaysian Muslims do not regard estate planning in a serious light (Abdul Karim, 2016). Some people’s planning is done verbally with the agreement of other relevant participants, but the lack of a formal written agreement may trigger domestic disputes and conflicts. Unfortunately, many Muslims support the notion that estate planning is unnecessary, as assets are subject to the faraid allocation such an assumption is perceptibly inaccurate because all properties of the deceased are mandatory to be filed in court for validation under the Probate and Administration Act 1959 (revised 1972). (Reference. Developing best practices of Islamic estate planning)


Few surveys or statistics are available for Muslims regarding estate planning. Other surveys available for the worldwide community are below.

  1. As the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the country, more people may find themselves in urgent need of an estate plan. But according to one recent survey, 68% of Americans do not have a will (Reference. 68% Americans do not have a Will).

  2. Gallup's latest polling finds that less than half of U.S. adults, 46%, have a will describing how they would like their money and estate to be handled after their death. The results have been similar in three other readings on this question since 1990. (Reference. How many Americans Have a Will?).

  3. More than half of Australian adults don’t have a will, even though it could mean their families are left out in the cold in the event of their death. That’s the alarming finding of a new survey conducted by comparison site finder.com.au, which revealed 52 percent of us — or 9.9 million Australians — have not prepared the vital legal document. (Reference. New research reveals 52 percent of adult Australians don’t have a will)


The compliance percentages could go much lower in underdeveloped countries. You can quickly assess the Muslim community or group, similar to what Wassiyyah assessed many times in the past, by asking the question, "Who has the estate plan?.” Most of the time, the outcome is not promising.


You should also make a note that there are many limitations when it comes to surveys; Most of the time, surveys consider only a fraction of the population and whether Will is created or not but do not account for the quality of the estate plan, meaning; “Is the created estate plan proper?” or “Would the estate plan meet intent?” or “Is the estate plan valid legally and Islamically?”, and so on. Therefore, the real compliance matrix may go much lower if we count all the factors.

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