The Almighty Allah says in the 11th verse of Surah Nisa:
“After (the payment of) a bequest he may have bequeathed or a debt; your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.”1
According to Quran and traditions, the matter of inheritance is very important for Muslims. According to the report of Ibn Umar2, the Holy Prophet (S) stated that the most difficult time on a Muslim is that only two nights are left for his death and he has not prepared his will.
One more tradition on the same topic is found in Sahih Muslim3 related by Ibn Shahab that Imam Noodi says that majority believe that making a will is recommended and not obligatory. And Dawood and many others have stated that it is obligatory, when the deceased is responsible for some right or he is having an entrusted thing of any person. According to Imam Shafei, the will must be written as a precautionary measure.
It is mentioned in Ashatul Maat4 that according to Jabir the Holy Prophet (S) stated that if a person has prepared his will before dying, he has passed away like a martyr and in the way of righteousness. From Mizan-al-Sharani5 we come to know that if a person is religious, making a will is obligatory on him, otherwise, it is desirable.
From Tarikh Abul Fida6, it is clear that at the time of going to the cave, the Holy Prophet (S) asked His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) to return the entrusted things to the people that were with him and sleep on his bed. In Jame Sagir of Suyuti it is mentioned that the Holy Prophet (S) said: “Ali (a.s.) is from me and I am from Ali (a.s.) and whatever is obligatory to be fulfilled, cannot be fulfilled by anyone, except me and Ali (a.s.).” And he also said: “Ali (a.s.) will fulfill my religion.”
In the same book, it is mentioned that the Holy Prophet (S) said: “Every Prophet had a successor and my successor is Ali (a.s.).” It is surprising that despite verses and traditions about making wills, the Prophet himself didn’t leave any will. There is no doubt that the Prophet wanted to leave a written testament, but Umar said: “We have the Quran with us,” and did not allow the will to be written.
Ahlul Sunnat may offer lame excuses, but the fact is that Umar knew that the Holy Prophet (S) was going to appoint His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) as his successor, as Umar himself confessed after the Caliphate was formed: “The Prophet (S) wanted to appoint Ali as his successor, but we prevented him.”
No doubt, the Holy Prophet (S) wanted to write his will for the sake of religion. If His Eminence, Ali (a.s.) had become his successor, Islam and Muslims would have been safe from all evils, whose seeds were sown by Umar in the Islamic world. Indeed, the testament of Imamate was one of the best things and it was such an exalted thing that since it could not be realized in the world, Islam had to face thousands of troubles. So much so, that Islam has not remained the religion of Allah, it has become the religion of selfish people.
“Surely we belong to Allah and to Him we shall return”