Dear Friday jemaah,
As a reminder to myself and to all of you, let us strive to strengthen our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. by obeying all of His commands and leaving behind what Allah has prohibited upon us. Let us bear in mind that there are always blessings and compassion in Allah’s every command.
The heart of a believer remains obedient to Allah s.w.t. even though there are some commandments of Allah that one’s desires (nafs) and wants are not able to accept. This is because our intellect and desires have to follow the rules and laws prescribed by Allah s.w.t. As a servant of Allah, we firmly believe that all of Allah’s commands and laws will eventually benefit us. Allah s.w.t. says in surah Qaf, verse 29:
Which means: “The word will not be changed with Me, and never will I be unjust to the servants.”
Among the laws set by Allah, which we have to understand the hikmah or wisdom behind it is the laws of inheritance or faraid, which involves the distribution of the wealth of a deceased. Some Muslims find it very hard to comprehend and accept the Islamic laws of inheritance. There are even those who question its relevance in today’s world, and whether it is just.
The wisdom and spirit, as well as the objective of Faraid, perhaps can be better understood through a hadith narrated by Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas r.a. Rasulullah s.a.w. said:
“It is better to leave your heirs wealthy than to make them beg from people with their hands. Whatever you spend on maintenance (nafkah) is sadaqa, even the morsel you put in your wife’s mouth.” [Hadith narrated by Imam Bukhari and Muslim]
This is one of the objectives and wisdom of the laws of faraid as set by Allah. It is a form of wealth planning guided within Syariah to ensure justice, and that the family members left behind can continue to live their lives as per normal; and to protect them from oppression after the death of their loved one.
Although in certain situations the male inheritors receive a bigger share of wealth than the female inheritors, we must remember and be aware that this is because of the responsibility that they have to bear. In other words, the rights are given along with the responsibility entrusted upon them to look after the women in their care.
A husband has to use that wealth to support his wife. A father has to support his children, a son has to support his parents, and a grandfather is responsible for his grandchildren. In fact, many often forget that a brother is responsible for his sister and an uncle is responsible for his orphaned nieces.
In comparison, the inheritance that is received by the women is entirely for them. Allah s.w.t. does not ask of them to support others.
At times, there are those who are reluctant to give the rights of the inheritors for various reasons. Allah reminds us in the Quran in surah An-Nisaa’ verse 10:
Which means: “Indeed, those who devour the property of orphans unjustly are only consuming into their bellies fire. And they will be burned in a Blaze.”
Even if we have received our share through faraid, we should be aware that besides the principle of justice that is upheld through faraid, Islam also impresses upon the values of rahmah and ihsan (compassion). Islam encourages us to care for the needs of those who are weaker. Allah says in surah An-Nisaa’ verse 8:
Which means: “But if at the time of division other relatives, or orphans or poor, are present, feed them out of the (property), and speak to them words of kindness and justice.”
Based on this verse, even though we have a share in the wealth according to faraid, but Allah s.w.t. asks us to give part of our share to those who would need it more than us. For example, it could be a male family member who is in financial difficulties; or a female family member who is poor or has lost her husband and has many children to support. Or even, our adopted siblings who may have lost a form of support and attention because of the death of our parents.
Sadly, there are inheritors who are selfish and do not care for other relatives and family members; to the point that some of their family members may end up on the streets, losing their homes and so on, because all the inheritors care for is to gain their share of the inheritance. This happens when the house or flat belonging to the deceased is sold immediately after death, thus forcing the occupants to move out without any preparation and on short notice.
There are also those who forget the kindness of relatives who have helped to care for their parents with compassion and generosity, even paying for the medical needs of their ailing parents until they have passed on.
Remember, for every single thing that we own, and for every single right that has been given to us, there are responsibilities to be fulfilled and objectives to be met. Even every single part of our body, will be questioned by Allah as to whether it has fulfilled the obligations required of it. Do we think that the wealth from inheritance would then be excused from these responsibilities? Can one seek one’s rights to inheritance, and then abandon the family of the deceased when in fact faraid is meant to ensure that the family of the deceased can continue to lead normal lives?
We should be aware that our wealth is indeed not ours. It belongs to Allah s.w.t. And just like how Allah has prescribed it shall be distributed upon our death, Allah has also set responsibilities that we must fulfil for the share that we have been given.
Thus, members of the family must understand that the share of inheritance that they receive will come with responsibilities and obligations, and they will then be questioned about it when we are all gathered in the field of Mahsyar. Inheritance may not be a result of our hardwork and effort, but it is the hardwork and effort of the deceased. Hence, while the inheritors easily acquire the wealth, it can also be taken away or lost easily if it does not get Allah’s barakah. We ask from Allah s.w.t. that any inheritance that we receive will become a source of barakah or blessing for our lives, and not the cause of difficulties or musibah (hardship) in this world and the hereafter. Amin Ya Rabbal ‘Alamin.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
25 April 2014 / 25 Jamadilakhir 2014