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File Image: IOL

An Islamic Will in these difficult times

By Opinion Time of article published Oct 22, 2020

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Ensuring that you have a valid and accurate last Will and Testament is one of your most important responsibilities, especially now, at the height of one of the world's worst ever pandemics, where the experience of death is all too real.

In marking the annual Wills Week, set for 26 to 30 October, Al Baraka Bank in partnership with the

Association of Muslim Accountants and Lawyers is set to host a Webinar on Saturday 24 October, from 14h00 to 16h00 to provide people with insights to the preparation of a valid Shariah-compliant Will.

The bank's Head of Legal, Ms Rooksana Safaat, advised: "An Islamic Will is especially important to members of South Africa's Muslim community in order to ensure that assets are dealt with and distributed in accordance with Islamic laws of inheritance. The problem associated with passing away without having left a valid Will means that an individual's estate will automatically be distributed in accordance with the laws of the country, which distribution is contrary to Shariah. This indicates just how important it is to have a certified and compliant Islamic last Will and Testament."

National Wills Week is an annual initiative of the Legal Practice Council and aims to create awareness about the importance of having a Will, encouraging people to seek professional advice about preparing this crucial document and warning of the consequences of dying intestate.

National Wills Week provides the ideal opportunity for people to avail themselves of this service, especially in view of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the world and - of course - to which our society is not immune," Ms Safaat stressed.

Ms Safaat said: "The Webinar we are hosting aims to demonstrate the importance of securing a Shariah compliant Will in order to ensure that the Testator's wishes are followed in accordance with his or her religious obligations and to avoid his or her estate from being distributed in accordance with South African law. This would impact Muslim persons who die without a Will greatly, as their heirs, who should inherit, may not and those, who should not, may inherit."

She stressed that the bank - in line with its duty and obligation to the country's Muslim community - aims to actively support South Africa's National Wills week and through this initiative encourage those currently without Shariah-compliant Wills to execute their Shariah-compliant Will.

She said that while beating Covid-19 was a shared challenge, communities should not become complacent about the virus's ability to take lives, adding: "It’s the responsibility of all of us to have a valid Will in place, to provide both you and your heirs with financial peace-of-mind after your demise."

"As your partner bank, Al Baraka Bank is committed to doing everything possible to ensuring the health and safety of the communities we serve and - importantly - ensuring the financial well-being of those left behind, should the unthinkable happen," said Ms Safaat.

"To pass away intestate has consequences for Muslims, both in this world and the hereafter. Not only will you not be in control of who is appointed as your Executor, but more importantly, your assets will be distributed in accordance with South African law and the Intestate Succession Act, which is totally contrary to Shariah. In this regard, the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have said: It is the duty of a Muslim who has anything to bequest not to let two night pass without writing a Will about it (Bukhari)," added Ms Safaat.

"We would, accordingly, encourage members of the public, whether Al Baraka Bank clients or not, to participate in the Webinar to educate yourself with the appropriate information in order to make informed decisions about the financial welfare of loved ones," Ms Safaat said.


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