This article discusses the principal rules which apply to the Muslim Will (Wasiat).
Every Muslim is encouraged to leave behind a Will (Wasiat).
Verse 103 of Surah Al-Maidah (Chapter 5 of the Holy Quran) is one of several divine commandments on Wills, the (Yusuf Ali’s) translation of which reads:
“O ye who believe! when death approaches any of you (take) witnesses among yourselves when making bequests two just men of your own (brotherhood) or others from outside if ye are journeying through the earth and the chance of death befalls you (thus). If ye doubt (their truth) detain them both after prayer and let them both swear by God: “We wish not in this for any worldly gain even though the (beneficiary) be our near relation: we shall hide not the evidence before God: if we do then behold! the sin be upon us!”
Muslim Wills are also governed by rules which originate from the sayings and practices of the Prophet (pbuh) and the majority opinion of Islamic scholars. For example, it was the Prophet (pbuh) who declared that a Muslim cannot give away more than a third (1/3) of his/her assets in a Will.
Singapore Law On Muslim Wills
Section of 111 of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3) (AMLA) permits a Muslim to make a Will to dispose of his/her assets upon death. However, the Will must comply with the conditions of and is subject to the restrictions imposed by, the school of Muslim law professed by him/her.
Some Principal Rules Which Apply To Muslim Wills
- In order to be valid, a Muslim Will must have been signed before 2 male Muslim adult witnesses.
- A Muslim cannot make a Will in favour of someone who is his/her beneficiary (Waris) under Faraid. Muslim Wills are for non-beneficiaries (Ajnabi) only, for example, his/her adopted child.
- As stated above, a Muslim cannot give away more than a third (1/3) of his/her assets in a Will. Two-thirds (2/3) of his/her assets must be reserved for his/her beneficiaries under Faraid.
- The Testator (the person making the Will) must be an adult of sound mind.
- The object of the gift in the Will must be lawful under Muslim law. For example, a gift which is intended to benefit mankind generally or to strengthen family ties is highly encouraged. It follows that a Muslim is prohibited from making a Will whose object is inconsistent with or runs counter to the values and teachings of Islam.
- There is no prohibition under Muslim law against a Muslim making a Will in favour of a non- Muslim, subject of course, to the rule on the object of the gift cited at 5 above.
- Section 111(2) of AMLA states that Muslim Wills are subject to the provisions of the Wills Act (Cap. 352) except for Section 3 thereof, the Probate and Administration Act (Cap. 251) and the Insurance Act (Cap. 142).
Faraid And Muslim Wills
The assets of a deceased Muslim which have been given away in a Will are not subject to Faraid. The Faraid rules of distribution do not apply to such assets.