District Court Protects Islamic Wills

In a recent decision of the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma, a temporary restraining order was granted preventing an amendment to the constitution of Oklahoma which would have prevented State courts from relying upon any international law and specifically Sharia (Islamic) law in their decisions.

The change to the constitution was challenged by an Islamic law graduate who argued that (amongst other things) the constitutional amendment would (if allowed to stand) invalidate or make unenforceable his Islamic will.

The proposed change to the constitution would not have invalidated Islamic wills per se, as there is no inherent conflict between the requirements of an Islamic will and U.S. (or Australian) law.

Very broadly speaking the main features of an Islamic Will are that at least two thirds of the testator’s estate must be disposed of in proportions set by the Quran. Where applicable, one sixth should pass to one’s father, one sixth to one’s mother, half or one quarter to one’s husband (depending upon whether you have children), one quarter or one eighth to one’s wife (depending upon whether you have children) and the remainder divided amongst one’s children, with boys to receive twice as much as girls.

The plaintiff argued that while the specific gifts in his will would remain valid, the directions in his Will that his burial be in accordance with Islamic law and that his wife contribute to charity in the manner specified by Islamic law would be invalidated or made unenforceable.

Please note that this article is for information purposes only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice. Readers should seek legal advice before acting in reliance upon any of the information contained herein.