The Rich Man & His Will

By Sheikh Waleed Basyouni

My friend shared this amazing story with me, & I want you to reflect upon it specially in these days where many have lost their lives unexpectedly.

Riyadh is not only the capital of Saudi Arabia but a city of more than ten million residents, one of them passed away & left behind him a great wealth but no one to inherit.

A judge in Riyadh’s court was asked to look at this interesting inheritance case.

The judge searched for any relatives for the wealthy businessman & he could not find any contact, & finally after almost a year they were able to identify three distant cousins who lived in another city. Sure enough the court contacted the three cousins & ordered them to attend the court without informing them the reason behind the request.

They arrive at the judge’s office & it was obvious that they were simple country men. They were wondering why they were summoned there but the judge quickly assured them that there was no reason for worry.

Did they know so & so (the deceased wealthy businessman)? They said he was a distant relative, they knew nothing about him, & the last time they saw him was when they were young decades ago, & since their own father passed away, they never heard about him.

Judge asked them if he has any children or if he was ever in a marriage that is not registered in the country or abroad or anything like that? They said we do not know, ask him?

The judge said he is dead, you do not know?

They said “no, may Allah have mercy on him. What we know is that he lived by himself & never married, nor did he have any family members other than our father.”

This answer comforted the judge & confirmed his conclusion that they are the only inheritors.

Finally, the judge took 3 envelopes out from his drawer & handed it to them while saying that the man’s inheritance was in the court’s bank account for almost a year now looking for the inheritors & you are the ones!

They looked at each other wondering what these envelopes can deliver? Each one of them got 15 million Riyals, almost 4 million dollars! They were in state of shock,

One of them fainted, the other one was crying & the third one was speechless & frizzed for a while when the judge confirmed the amount & stated that it is their money now, & they should be grateful & thankful to Allah & to pray for the man who worked hard to make this money.

After a few minutes they calmed down & the judge asked if they would agree to put together funds to build a masjid on behalf of their relative since he did not leave behind him children or wrote a well for Sadaqah (giving charity) , the judge suggested a project he knows of & it will cost them fractions of what he gave them.

The first one quickly replied, good idea but I have so many kids & debts. I will see what I can do later.

The second person said while he is looking down at the ground “ your honor I would love too, but I have big family as well & my kids are about to get married , Allah knows I needed money these days so badly but I will make sure I will give sadaqah on his behalf when I go back & remember him in my prayer.

As for the third one he said something the judge said “It was like a wakeup call for me”

The third person said: “Your honor if he did not care to benefit himself why would I care! My family deserve this more than anyone else.”

The judge said long after they left:
“ …if he did not care to benefit himself..”,
After this he made sure to write in his will that part of his wealth go to charity of his choice.

Many of my friends are judges & they share many of their stories but this one is quite different than any other story I heard. It shows the nature of men & the stunning truth about reality. I

➡️ My Reflections on this Story:

1️⃣ “ If he did not care to benefit himself ”
It is important to think about what will happen to you after you die & your deeds are stopped. And if there are children or relatives who will remember you after your death, please understand they will remember you for a month or a year for sure but not the next generation.

Always ask yourself “ How can I ensure good deeds to continue after my death? ” A few hundred dollars can make a well for a community who needs water. With a small amount every month you can sponsor an orphan, or invest money in supporting a school, or building a masjid. I need to put this as a part of my retirement plan & in my will as well so my reward can continue after my death.

2️⃣ Our lives can change from the outside in no time, but the important point here is, are we going to change from the inside. It is a pity if your income grew & you didn’t.
I wonder if these three men were financially well off, would they respond differently?! My guess is no. Giving is never about how much you have but is based on how much you care.

That is why I advise you to get in the habit of giving now when you are young and do not have much income, because if you think you will when you get rich or when you get older, you are wishful and most likely it will not happen because if you live upon something most likely you will die upon it as well.

And among them are those who made a covenant with Allah, [saying], “If He should give us from His bounty, we will surely spend in charity, and we will surely be among the righteous.” But when he gave them from His bounty, they were stingy with it and turned away while they refused.
{Surah At Tawbah 9: Verses 75-76}

3️⃣ Write your will, you do not know when your time will come, and how fast things can change. If you have debts, bank accounts information, charity to give , Islamic obligations such as Fasting or Fidyyah (penalty to be payed), Hajj to be done on your behalf, someone you need to ask for their forgiveness, an advice for your family to reflect upon after you die, or who should handle your funeral make sure all of these are there.

The Muslim scholars agreed it is highly recommended to have your will written due to the hadeeth related by Ibn Omar (radiallaahu anhu) who said the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“It is not permissible for any Muslim person who has anything to bequeath, that he should spend even two nights without having already written his Last Will.”
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

4️⃣ I appreciate the fact the judge suggested for them to create a waqf (endowment) for the deceased , & if they did, it would have been a waqf for them as well. I know of another judge who suggested to someone to leave a Sadaqh Jariyah (continued charity ) & he did, & soon after he died & left behind an endowment that supported hundreds of students of knowledge & sponsored tens of poor families, all it took was a suggestion.

5️⃣ So I say to every one reading my story leave something behind you that will continue generating reward for you after death.

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (radiallaahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,
‘When a person dies, his deeds come to an end except for three: Sadaqah Jariyah:(a continuous charity), or knowledge from which benefit is gained, or a righteous child who prays for him ’.
[Muslim]

And it was narrated by Abu Hurairah (Radiallahu Anhu) who said, ‘the Prophet (Sallallaahu alayhi wasallam) said,
“Indeed, the rewards of his actions aan good deeds that will reach a believer after his death are:
knowledge which he taught and spread;
a righteous child whom he leaves behind;
a copy of the Qur’an that he leaves as a legacy;
or a masjid that he built; or a house that he built for wayfarers;
a canal that he dug;
or charity that he gave from his wealth in his good health and life. [These deeds] will reach him after his death”’.
[Ibn Majah]

6️⃣ The concept of Sadaqah Jariyah is an amazing idea, it shows the love for goodness & the interest of spreading good in society even long after the person’s death. Sadaqah Jariyah means a continuous, flowing & ongoing charity. It is one of the most rewarding acts we can do in our lives as the benefits of giving this type of charity can be reaped in this lifetime & long after we have passed.

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