Date :Friday, November 16th, 2018 | Time : 11:08 |ID: 77932 | Print

Writing a Will: Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:180-182) By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Commentary of the Quran (Chapter 2:180-182)

By: Mohammad Sobhanie

Writing a Will

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ

كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ ۖ حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ ﴿١٨٠﴾ فَمَن بَدَّلَهُ بَعْدَ مَا سَمِعَهُ فَإِنَّمَا إِثْمُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ ﴿١٨١﴾فَمَنْ خَافَ مِن مُّوصٍ جَنَفًا أَوْ إِثْمًا فَأَصْلَحَ بَيْنَهُمْ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ ﴿١٨٢


2:180 It is ordained for you, when death approaches any of you and he is leaving behind much wealth, to make bequests in favor of your parents and [other] near of kin in accordance with what is fair: this is binding on all who are righteous.

2:181 And if any one alters the terms after hearing it, its sin shall indeed lie on those who alter it. Verily, God is all-hearing, all-knowing.

2:182 If, however, one has reason to fear that the testator has committed a mistake or a [deliberate] wrong, and thereupon brings about a settlement between the heirs, he will incur no sin [thereby].  Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.

Commentary: The verse 2:180 advises believers to make a fair and reasonable bequest in favor of their parents and near relatives by will. This is consistent with one of the repeating themes in the Quran which commands believers to be kind towards parents and relatives.

One could change their will at any time during their lifetime. After death however, the verse 2:181-182 prohibits alteration of the will unless it has errors based on Islamic inheritance laws. A detailed translation of the aforementioned verses is as follows:

It is prescribed for you [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ)], that when death approaches anyone of you [(إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ)] and he leaves wealth and property behind [(إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا)], that he makes a just and fair bequest in favor of his parents and near relatives [(الْوَصِيَّةُ لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ)]. This is an obligation and duty upon the righteous [(حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ)].

The sentence [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ)] “it is prescribed to you” in the verse connotes that bequests to parents and near relatives is an obligatory duty upon the righteous [(حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُتَّقِينَ)]. It is pertinent to note that the word “a duty” is qualified by the word “the righteous”; this may imply a highly recommended obligation. If it was a general obligation, it would be more appropriate to say ‘an obligation for believers [(حَقًّا عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ)’]. The latter interpretation is consistent with Islamic inheritance laws.

The sentence [(إِذَا حَضَرَ أَحَدَكُمُ الْمَوْتُ)] literally means “when death approaches [any] one of you”, and it symbolize the last opportunity that one could make changes to their will. Islamic traditions stress that we should always have a prepared will as death could occur unpredictably. For instance, a narration from the Prophet (SAWA) states [TafseereNamoona, vol. 1, p.619]:

ما یَنْبَغِی لاِمْرِئ مُسْلِم أَنْ یَبِیتَ لَیْلَةً إِلاّ وَ وَصِیَّتُهُ تَحْتَ رَأْسِهِ

It is not right that a Muslim sleeps at night without having his will under his pillow.

In the phrase [(إِن تَرَكَ خَيْرًا)] literally means if he leaves something good behind after his death. And “something good” denotes lawfully earned wealth and properties. The word [(بِالْمَعْرُوفِ)] denotes suitable and reasonable.

Those who hear the will of a dying person in his death bed are not allowed to alter it according to verse 2:178. Whoever alters the terms of the will [(فَمَن بَدَّلَهُ بَعْدَ مَا سَمِعَهُ)], the sin of the alteration lies only on those who have altered it [(فَإِنَّمَا إِثْمُهُ عَلَى الَّذِينَ يُبَدِّلُونَهُ)]. Indeed, Allah is All-Hearing and Knowing [(إِنَّ اللَّـهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ)].

However, if one realizes that the testator had either made a mistake or deliberate error based on Islamic laws of inheritance [(فَمَنْ خَافَ مِن مُّوصٍ جَنَفًا أَوْ إِثْمًا)], there is no sin on him to amend the will and thereupon brings about a new settlement between the heirs [(فَأَصْلَحَ بَيْنَهُمْ فَلَا إِثْمَ عَلَيْهِ)]. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful [(إِنَّ اللَّـهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ)].

The word [(جَنَفً)] is inclination from truth to false and refers to deviations that are unknowingly forged (error) and [(إِثْمًا)] refers to the deliberate disobedience of Allah (SWT).

Fairness in Will: Narration from the Prophet (SAWA) and his Ahlul-Bayt (AS) emphasize fairness amongst family and relatives in disposing one’s wealth by will.

One of the men of the Ansar tribe died and left behind minor children. He spent his wealth in the way of Allah once he faced death. Consequently, he left nothing for his minor children. The Prophet (SAWA) become aware of this incident and asked his companions what they did with his body. They replied that they buried him.

The Prophet (SAWA) said: “If I had already been informed, I would not allow him to be buried in the Muslim cemetery because he abandoned his minor children to be beggars!” [TafseereNamoona, vol. 1, p.620]:


Word by Word Translation:

كُتِبَ (prescribed) عَلَيْكُمْ (for you) إِذَا (when) حَضَرَ (approach) أَحَدَكُمُ (any of you) الْمَوْتُ (the death) إِن (if) تَرَكَ (he leaves) خَيْرًا (good) الْوَصِيَّةُ (making the will) لِلْوَالِدَيْنِ (for the parents) وَالْأَقْرَبِينَ (and the near relatives) بِالْمَعْرُوفِ (with due fairness-just and reasonable) ۖ حَقًّا (a duty) عَلَى  (on) الْمُتَّقِينَ (the righteous one) ﴿١٨٠﴾ فَمَن  (then whoever) بَدَّلَهُ  (changes it) بَعْدَ  (after) مَا  (what) سَمِعَهُ  (he has heard ir) فَإِنَّمَا  (so only) إِثْمُهُ  (its sin) عَلَى  (would be on) الَّذِينَ  (those who) يُبَدِّلُونَهُ (alter it) ۚ إِنَّ  (Indeed) اللَّـهَ  (Allah) سَمِيعٌ  (is All-Hearing) عَلِيمٌ  (All-knowing) ﴿١٨١﴾فَمَنْ  (But whoever) خَافَ  (fears) مِن  (from) مُّوصٍ  (the testator) جَنَفًا  (any error) أَوْ  (or)  إِثْمًا  (sin) فَأَصْلَحَ  (then reconciles) بَيْنَهُمْ  (between them) فَلَا  (then there is no) إِثْمَ  (sin) عَلَيْهِ (on him) ۚ إِنَّ  (Indeed) اللَّـهَ  (Allah) غَفُورٌ  (is Oft-Forgiving) رَّحِيمٌ (All-Merciful)  ﴿١٨٢

Appendix-1: Verses which obligatory duties are ordained with sentence of [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمْ)]:

Al-Baqara 2:183 [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ), fasting is prescribed to you], Al-Baqara 2:178 [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِصَاصُ فِي الْقَتْلَى), Al-Qisas (the Law of Retribution) is prescribed for you in case of murder], Al-Baqara 2:216 [(كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْقِتَالُ), Fighting in the divine causes has been enjoined upon you].


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