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Preparation of the Will

Sep 18, 2007
For the proportions set out by the Quraan to be appreciated one must put his financial matters straight. For example there was a person running a little business from which he was maintaining his whole family. He grew old and his eldest son came into the business at a young age. Gradually his brothers also came into the business. The sons worked hard and expanded the business greatly building up an empire. One brother, for example, became a doctor. All his expenses for studies came from the business. Another brother became a lawyer. All his expenses also came from the business. Though the sons who came into the business built the whole empire in respect and honour of the father, they left everything in his name. One of the sons suggested that everyone must be given his share or a proper salary be fixed for everyone. He is told : "It all belongs to you." Why do you want to take a salary? Just carry on taking your allowance. Everything is hushed up. The father keeps on signing all cheques, etc, allocates money to the brothers for building houses, to buy cars, to go for haj, etc. The sisters eventually get married and settle in wealthy homes. Everything is rosy. The father passes away. Since everything belonged to the father till the time of his death, the daughters get their full shares, as well as the doctor and lawyer,who have not contributed in the building of the empire but have already in fact collected so much on the occasions of their weddings and studies. The sons who built up the empire feel very hurt in that they are receiving a very raw deal. They never collected a salary. They only obtained their requirements from the business and a meagre allowance. They slogged for the business for years and years. The sister, the doctor and lawyer are getting their full share, like those who worked so hard, without working at all.

Respect and honour of the father is compulsory but hisaab kitaab (accounts of financial dealings) must be put right. This is the foundation for lasting love and support in the family. The above example illustrates what bitterness and hatred is created by not sorting out things Islamically. We still live with an "Indian" (or any other) mentality and feel that it is a norm of our social structure to live together and share everything – a "communist" type of life and regard it as unity and Islamic. If anyone wants to put things right or even just suggest it, he is regarded as trying to break up the home or unity. The father and the rest of the family become very suspicious of him, they will accuse his in-laws of "putting him up" to take his share so that their daughter can "live it up", etc.

Another example is where a husband and wife work together in a business. Firstly, it is totally wrong and against Islam to expose a woman in this manner. Secondly it is morally against the physical nature of a woman. She is meant to be a queen and enjoy the comforts and security of her home, no matter how humble they may be. She is meant to be a mother, a wife, a housewife – how can this be possible when she is away from her home and children? By exposing her physically and by exposing her feminine nature she loses all her feminity. Thirdly, and this is of relevance to our subject, she is used as a manageress in the business, a sales lady, a supervisor, she has to do the banking, driving, sometimes accounting. Together with all this she must maintain her home spotlessly, cook the best food and be on time with it, she must be the best mother and most responsive wife. Perhaps this is exaggerated a bit, perhaps not. Sometimes all this is expected of her and even more, sometimes less. What does she get for all this? Hardly peanuts! She dare be late with the food one time! Or the salt be less or the food burnt a bit, or the house or children are not clean to the satisfaction of the "boss", or they have been up to mischief and see the man coming down upon her, stopping at no limits abusing her verbally and even physically. This type of attitude gives Islam and Muslims a bad name.

If the husband had to employ people for all these jobs, how much should he have to pay? So why does he not compensate her for what she is doing. A person said there must be team work in building the business. I said then there must be team work in sharing the profits as well. All the profits are kept by the husband and she gets one-eight of it on his demise. She gets a raw deal – not by Islam, but by her unfair husband who used her for his material gain and never thought of paying her for her services. He worries of securing her when he is no more and feels that her one-eight share is too little, but he does not think of renumerating her for her services in his lifetime. After all it is her benevolence and kindness and norms of our society that she cooks for her husband, maintains his house and brings up his children. Are we or the enemies of Islam oppressing our women?

Ownership of household goods "personal belongings" etc, must be specified. A newly married couple usually receive presents of household items. These are then used "commonly" in the the home. Who received what and what belongs to whom is surely forgotten. Eventually in the case of death, the distribution of the estate becomes difficult because it is not known exactly what belongs to the deceased. Maulana Thanwi (RA) used to say that if I brought a teaspoon into the house, I would say clearly to whom it belongs. The household items a wife brings to the husband's home could perhaps be bought over by him at a resonable price and he could pay for it over a period of time. If she wishes she could give them to him of her own free will. This is suggested in order to keep track of what belongs to whom, because eventually it becomes practically impossible to ascertain what belongs to whom. Certain items may still belong specifically to the wife, like a sewing machine, knitting machine etc. which was given to her or she bought, or her husband gave it to her.

Another venture which we must correct, though not directly related to this subject is partnership business between brothers or the larger family. Generally one person controls and only he knows the financial matter of the partnership. There are no annual financial statements given to anyone. Nobody's share is given. If a brother has to leave the partnership or dies, he is not paid out. His family maybe maintained but they never know or receive their true share. If anyone asks for his share or an account of matters he is made to look like the evil one and is discarded in the name of religion! What a topsy turvy world! What a change of Islamic values and lifestyle!

These are just a few examples of things we must correct to appreciate and understand the share set out by the Quran for the heirs. Allah has already made our will. Let us now turn to the actual making of the will. But just before that let us understand that Allah is the sole inheritor of all things in the skies and on the earth because "All things belong solely to Allah". Thus when nothing belongs to us what will are we going to make? We are mere custodians and trustees of an amanat (trust) which Allah has put in our care for a little while. We cannot disown one son or daughter and give another more. Allah himself has fixed the shares of the immediate family and heirs. Before the shares of heirs was revealed by Allah, it was compulsory to make a will and stipulate each one's shares.

Aus bin Thaabit (RA) passed away leaving his wife, two daughters and a minor son. According to a previous Arab custom, two male nephews came and took all the possessions of their deceased uncle. The wife of Aus bin Thaabit (RA) said that since you are taking all the property, then at least marry these two girls so that I could be relieved of their maintenance. They refused. In her distress she came to Rasulullah salllahu alaihi wasallam) and complained. May we give our lives for Allah and the Quraan and His Rasul salllahu alaihi wasallam. Allah revealed the aayats in the Quraan defining every rightful heir's share. Consequently Rasulullah salllahu alaihi wasallam called for all the property and divided it between the wife and her children. The wife received one-eight and in the remainder, the son received double of what each daughter received i.e. the remaining was divided into four parts – the son received two parts and the daughters one part each.

Thus Allah has defined every rightful heir's share. So the will that we have to make is not to define the shares of the inheritors and who they will be, that is already done by Allah.

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