In this article, we will discuss the main rules which apply to the Muslim Will (Wasiat). A Will (Wasiat) is something that every Muslim is encouraged to leave behind.
In verse 103 of Surah Al-Maidah (Chapter 5 of the Holy Quran) we find one of a number of divine commandments on Wills. Translated (by Yusuf Ali) this states:
“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!”
Rules which originate from the practice and saying of the Prophet (pbuh) and Islamic scholarly opinion also govern Muslim Wills. For example, the Prophet (pbuh) declared that a Muslim must not give away more than a third of their assets in a Will.
Muslim Wills and Singapore Law
A Muslim is permitted to make a Will to dispose of their assets upon death, as set out in section 111 of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap.3) (AMLA). The Will must comply with the conditions of the school of Muslim law professed by the maker of the Will, and it will also be subject to the restrictions imposed by that Muslim law.
Principal Rules Applying to Muslim Wills
- A Muslim Will must have been signed in the presence of 2 male Muslim adult witnesses in order to be valid.
- A Muslim is prohibited from making a Will in favour of someone who is their beneficiary (Waris) under Faraid. Muslim Wills are only for non-beneficiaries (Ajnabi), for instance their adopted child.
- As set out above, a Muslim must not give away more than a third of their assets in a Will. Under Faraid, two thirds of their assets should be reserved for the Muslim’s beneficiaries.
- The person making the Will (otherwise known as the Testator) must be an adult of sound mind.
- Under Muslim law, the object of the gift in the Will must be lawful under that law. For instance, a gift intended to benefit humankind in general or strengthen family ties is very much encouraged. It follows, therefore, that a Muslim must not make a Will whose object is contrary to the teachings and values of Islam.
- Under Muslim law, there is no prohibition 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 above in point 5.
- According to section 111(2) of AMLA, Muslim Wills are subject to the provisions of the Wills Act (Cap. 352) apart from section 3, the Probate and Administration Act (Cap. 251) and the Insurance Act (Cap. 142).
Faraid and Muslim Wills
If a deceased Muslim gave away assets in a Will, they are not subject to Faraid. For such assets, the Faraid rules of distribution do not apply.