Mohammedi on Sharia-Compliant Wills

Omar T. Mohammedi (Fordham U. School of Law) has posted Sharia-Compliant Wills: Principles, Recognition, and Enforcement. The abstract follows.

Remembrance of death and the afterlife is a cornerstone of the Islamic ethos. Planning for death by ensuring a distribution of one’s estate in accordance with Islamic Sharia law is obligatory upon all Muslims wishing to comply with their religious obligations. Thus, when it comes to inheritance, many Muslims living in the United States must make the necessary arrangements to ensure that their legacy will pass under the precepts of Sharia law while also maintaining compliance with state law. As Muslim populations across the United States continue to expand, practitioners in the field will face new, interesting dilemmas and challenges. Due to its complexity and differences with the established legal theories of intestacy laws in the United States, Islamic inheritance law proves to be an engaging and important subject.

In ensuring that Sharia-compliant wills that are also in line with state law, practitioners will likely face certain challenges. This article seeks to identify and address such challenges. There are three major areas where these challenges come to the forefront: basic conflicts between U.S. intestacy laws and Islamic inheritance laws; conflicts with the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; and potential public policy conflicts arising from the enforcement of certain interpretations of Sharia law.

First, this article will provide an overview of Islamic inheritance laws. It will then compare such laws with U.S. intestacy laws and subsequently discuss how the two might be synthesized and reconciled to satisfy both bodies of law. This article then presents recommendations on how the aforementioned conflicts may be addressed to comply with both Sharia and U.S. law while avoiding Establishment Clause issues. Finally, this article hopes to demonstrate the extent to which a Sharia-compliant may be enforceable in U.S. courts.

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