Article contributed by Najwa Hamid, Officer, Bar Council Syariah Law Committee; and photos by Jul Indra Tofan, Administrative Assistant, Bar Council
On 20 October 2017, the Bar Council Syariah Law Committee organised a seminar entitled “Differences between Islamic Wills and Non–Islamic Wills” at the Bar Council Raja Aziz Addruse Auditorium, Straits Trading Building. The speaker for the seminar was Hj Zainal Abidin Sh Zakaria, member of the committee.
The seminar, which carried three Continuing Professional Development (“CPD”) points, commenced after the Committee Chairperson, Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari, delivered the opening remarks.
Hj Zainal Abidin kick–started the seminar by listing down the importance of making a will:
(1) To minimise the chances of family disputes over property;
(2) To speed up the distribution process; and
(3) To reduce the costs of administering the estate.
He explained that a will is neither a contract nor an agreement between two or more persons. It becomes a legal document only after the demise of the testator (the maker of the will). It is a gratuitous gift of property by its owner to another contingent on the giver’s death, while in Islamic law, a will is known as a “wasiat” (derived from the root word “wasa”, which means "be conveyed"). In short, a will, whether according to civil or Islamic law, means a declaration in prescribed form, of the intention of the person making it, of the matters that he/she wishes to take effect on or after his/her death, until which time it is revocable.
Hj Zainal Abidin acknowledged that in both cases of non–Muslims and Muslims, the inheritance law strikes a balance between the testamentary power and the obligation to provide for one’s family, close relatives and dependants.
The seminar addressed the following topics:
(1) Introduction to Islamic and non–Islamic wills systems in Malaysia;
(2) Laws that govern these systems;
(3) Processes involved in both systems;
(4) The conflicts or overlaps of interest between both systems, and the solutions; and
(5) The differences between both systems.
The seminar was well attended — with a total of 122 participants consisting of Members of the Bar, pupils in chambers and law students — and well received by the participants.