I hear my dad say that he follows the Hanafi maḏhab. What does that actually mean?
Maḏāhib (maḏhab singular) are Sharīʿa doctrinal schools. In the 7th century, Muslim juristic knowledge started as study circles (halaqas) in which a pious Muslim scholar – surrounded by people – would debate religious issues and teach interested students. Without an ecclesiastical hierarchy, there was no institutional monopoly over divine truth or divine intent by any scholar. This environment fostered and actually encouraged different interpretations of the law. The knowledge and production of legal doctrine began in these circles that gave birth to the Maḏāhib (Sharīʿa doctrinal schools).
This legal pluralism provided flexibility and the ability by design to accommodate different societies and regions. It is believed that dozens or even hundreds of different scholars established their own doctrinal schools or schools of law with students and followers. By the 11th or 12th century, these schools went through a process of consolidation and/or extinction due to objective political, social, economic, and intellectual factors which led to only four surviving schools in Sunni law: Ḥanafī, Shāfi’ī, Mālikī, and Ḥanbalī.
In most intellectual centers around Muslim lands, these doctrinal schools thrived. It was not unusual that you would have a Ḥanafī scholar teaching while another Shāfi’ī scholar is teaching another halaqa at the same mosque. The Ottoman Empire adopted the Ḥanafī school as the Empire’s doctrinal school. For this reason, it became well-entrenched in Muslim lands. But that did not eliminate the other schools from thriving and taking root all over the Muslim world.
The Arab Persian Gulf countries follow the Ḥanbalī School of Law; North Africa, such as Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria, follow the Mālikī School of Law; Sunni Muslims in Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan as well as Central Asia tend to follow the Ḥanafī School of Law. Palestine, East Africa, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia predominantly follow the Shāfi’ī School of Law.
The schools do have differences with respect to Uṣūl al-Fiqh and different fiqh rulings on numerous matters. In the area of inheritance, with the exception of whether a paternal grandfather would block siblings, and the differences in the inheritance distribution in the special cases, the Islamic inheritance rules according to the Ḥanbalī, Ḥanafī, Mālikī, and Shāfi’ī maḏāhib (schools) are by and large the same.
Where the survivors are siblings and a paternal grandfather, the siblings and the paternal grandfather will share together according to the Ḥanbalī, Mālikī, and Shāfi’ī schools. Unlike the Ḥanbalī, Mālikī, and Shāfi’ī schools, in the Ḥanafī school, the paternal grandfather would block siblings from inheritance. Similarly, the Ḥanafī, Ḥanbalī, Mālikī, and Shāf’ī schools differ with respect to inheritance distribution in certain rare special cases.
I am an American Muslim. Does the Sharī‘a require me to have a will?
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyzVXkddFsg[/embed] Many Muslim scholars living in the United States suggest that American Muslims are obligated to have an Islamic will, because without one, the estate will be divided according to non-Islamic laws. If you leave a surviving spouse and you did not leave a will, your parents, for example, would not inherit, under many state intestacy laws. According to Sharī‘a, a will that leaves a bequest is either obligatory, recommended, disliked, or prohibited, depending on the circumstances. The obligatory bequest is one you must make. An example of this is when you owe someone a debt, but no one knows about this debt except you and the creditor. In this case, you must include the debt in your will. Another example is if you are wealthy and have poor relatives that are not eligible Sharī‘a heirs; you are obligated to leave them something. The recommended bequest is one you should strongly consider. For example, if your Islamic heirs and relatives are wealthy and not in need, leaving part of your estate for charity is recommended. The disliked bequest is not recommended. For example, if your estate is not large, your Islamic heirs and relatives are poor, and you leave part of your small estate to non-Islamic heirs, the scholars concluded such a bequest is disliked, because it will create hardship for your family. The prohibited bequest is not allowed under Sharī‘a. For example, it is prohibited to leave more than 1/3 of your estate to non-Islamic heirs or to give an Islamic heir more than his or her share as stated in the Qur’an. This is based on the famous Hadith of the Prophet that says “there shall be no bequest to an Islamic heir.” Unlike the Sunni opinion, the Ja‘fari (Shia) school permits a bequest to an Islamic heir as long as it does not exceed 1/3 of the estate. To summarize, if you want your estate to be distributed according to the Sharī‘a, you must have an Islamic will. Use our ISLAMIC WILL software to prepare your own customized Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state.Read More
What does the Qur’an say about wills? Does the Sunna mention wills?
[embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyzVXkddFsg[/embed] Yes, the Qur’an and the Sunna both cover wills. In the Qur’an, Allah directed Muslims to make a will: “It has been ordained upon you, when death is near one of you, leaving wealth behind, to make a will in favor of parents and close relatives, impartially. This is incumbent upon the pious” (2:180). Allah also says: “When death draws near one of you... it is time to make a bequest” (5:106). God also explained that you must deduct any bequests and debts from your gross estate before distribution to Islamic heirs (Qur’an 4:11). The Sunna has many traditions about wills. The collections of Hadith, including Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, report that the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) said: “It is not permissible for any Muslim who has something to will to stay for two nights without having his Last Will and Testament written and kept ready with him.” Check our other frequently asked questions below for more information about specific Sharī‘a inheritance rules and answers to numerous real-life Sharī‘a inheritance questions. You can also use our software to check how your estate will be distributed to your heirs or customize your own Islamic estate plan that is legally valid for your state.Read More