Bequest of Muslim to non-Muslim relatives and charities
Fatwa No: 357013

  • Fatwa Date:31-12-2017 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 13, 1439
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Question

Assalaamu alaykum. Please calculate the inheritance according to the following information:
- Does the deceased have male relatives who are entitled to inherit: (A husband)
- Additional information: An American Muslim married woman who lives in the USA wants to write a will. It is her wish to leave part of her heritage to her non-Muslims relatives and to charity organizations in the US.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

If a woman dies leaving behind a husband and no other heir, her husband gets half of the estate as a fixed share. Allah, the Exalted, says (what means): {And for you is half of what your wives leave if they have no child...} [Quran 4:12]

If she wishes to write a will before her death, she is entitled to make a bequest regarding the other half of the estate for whomever she wishes since she has no heirs other than the husband. Az-Zarkashi  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, "If the heir who is entitled to a fixed share is not entitled to an additional share in case of Radd (i.e. when the estate is not fully consumed by the shares of the heirs whose shares have been fixed in the Quran and there are no other eligible heirs), such as the husband or wife, it is allowable to make a bequest of the remainder of the estate, beyond the fixed share of this heir according to the default opinion of our School." [Sharh Az-Zarkashi ‘ala Mukhtasar Al-Khiraqi]

There is also no harm in making a bequest in favor of her non-Muslim relatives; a bequest made in favor of a non-Muslim is valid in the Shariah. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

"Allah, the Exalted, says (what means): {...except that you may do to your close associates a kindness (through bequest)...} [Quran 33:6] Muhammad ibn Al-Hanafiyyah, ‘Ataa’ and Qataadah said that the verse refers to the bequest of a Muslim to a Jew or a Christian. Sa‘eed said, 'Sufyaan reported from Ayyoob from ‘Ikrimah that Safiyyah bint Huyayy sold her chamber to Mu‘aawiyah for 100,000. She had a Jewish brother, so she invited him to Islam so that he would inherit from her, but he refused. So she made a bequest to him of a third of the 100,000. Since it is valid to give him a gift, it is also valid to make a bequest to him, just like that done in favor of a Muslim." [Al-Mughni]

Likewise, it is permissible for her to make a bequest in favor of charities. However, it is prohibited to make a bequest in favor of charities that engage in unlawful activities such as building churches or promoting Christianity or similar activities channeled into such sinful purposes. The Encyclopedia of Fiqh reads, "It is impermissible to donate money to finance sinful activities. For example, a bequest made in favor of a church or to provide weapons to belligerent non-Muslims or leaving a bequest to build a church or fire temple or to renovate or maintain such places..."

Allah knows best.

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