What is an Islamic Wassiyyah?

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Al-waṣiyyah is an integral part of the Islamic law of inheritance. Giving a stipulated fraction out of a Muslim’s Legal estate/Islamic Will willingly to non-heirs while alive is an applauded mechanism of wealth distribution and enthronement of peace and love in Islam to revive the prophetic practice of leaving behind a Sadaqah Jariyah, continuous charity.

The Wasiyyah, Sadaqah Jariyah, should be an essential feature of every Muslim’s will, no matter how small.
The Prophet (saw) told us that:
“When a person dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: Sadaqah Jariyah (a continuous charity), or knowledge from which benefit is gained, or a righteous child who prays for him” [Muslim].

Your Wasiyyah can make up one-third of everything you own. With this one-third amount, you can give away to non-heirs recipients how much of it you want to whomever you want.
Most notably, you cannot use part of the wassiyyah to supplement a fixed heir. In other words, the shares cannot be given to a spouse or daughter.

This is one of the reasons that one-third of discretionary distributions of estate assets are permitted. Giving charity is viewed favorably as it can reward the donor even after death. There is no ruling to give any specified amount to charity, but it is encouraged to give to a charity where it will be used perpetually. This could include your local Masjid, which can educate many segments of the community for many years to come rather than for one-time use.

Some Muslims choose not to have a Wasiyyah at all. Instead, they opt to keep all their money in their family. This is acceptable and may even be encouraged depending on your family’s condition. However, suppose the family members are in good financial status. In that case, it is an excellent opportunity to invest the one-third wassiyyah in building one’s legacy in their life and after their passing.
Allah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“It is certainly We Who resurrects the dead and writes what they send forth and what they leave behind; everything is listed by Us in a perfect Record.” Yâ-Sĩn 36


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