Recitation for the Deceased

*Translated from al-Fiqh al-Islami wa Adillatuh by Dr. Wahbah Zuhayli  

Herein there are several issues for the Legal Scholars.

 

A. There is a consensus amongst the scholars regarding the benefit of the deceased from: dua, and istighfar (seeking forgiveness for them), such as: "Oh Allah! Forgive him. Oh Allah! Have mercy on him.", and charity, and the carrying out of physical and financial obligations which accept representation such as Hajj. This is according to what Allah says in the Quran, "And those that came before them say: Our Lord! Forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in belief." [59:10]. And what Allah says, "And seek forgiveness for your sins and for the believing men and women" [47:19]. The Prophet PBUH made dua for Abu Salamah when he died, and for the deceased whom he prayed upon in the hadith of 'Awf ibn Malik, and for all the deceased whom he prayed upon. The Prophet PBUH was asked, "Oh Messenger of Allah, my mother has passed away, will it benefit her if I give charity of her behalf?" Then the Prophet said, "Yes." {narrated by Abu Dawud}. In another hadith a woman came to the Prophet and said, "Oh Messenger of Allah, the obligation of hajj has found my father in old age, incapable of travel (incapable of remaining of the animal that he would ride), should I make hajj on his behalf?" He said, "If your father had a debt would you pay it?" She said, "Yes." He said, "The debt of Allah has more of a right to be paid." {narrated by Ahmad and al-Nasaai}. He also said to someone who asked him, "My mother has passed away and she was required to fast one month, should I fast it on her behalf?" He said, "Yes."

 

Ibn Qudamah said, "These are authentic hadiths, in them is evidence that the deceased benefits from the rest of actions of others whereby the closeness of Allah is sought. That is because fasting, and dua, and istighfar are physical worship and Allah delivers their benefit to the deceased, so similarly for other than them."

 

B. The Ulama differed regarding the reception of the reward for purely physical worship such as prayer and reading the Quran to someone other than the doer of these actions into two opinions:

1. The opinion of the Hanafis, and the Hanbalis, and the later scholars of the Shafiis, and the Malikis that holds that the deceased receives the recitation if it occurs in his presence or if he is supplicated for afterwards, even if he is not present because mercy and blessings descend in the place of recitation, and making supplication at the end of it is more hopeful for acceptance.

2. The opinion of the early Maliki scholars and the most well-known opinion of the early Shafii scholars which holds that the reward of purely physical worship is not received by other than the doer.

 

The Hanafis said: the preferred opinion for us is that it is not disliked for a group of people to sit and read Quran at someone's grave. They also said in the section on making Hajj on behalf of someone else: it is allowed for a person to make the reward of his actions for someone else whether it be prayer or fasting or charity or something else and that does not reduce anything from his reward.

 

The Hanbalis said: There is no problem in reading Quran at someone's grave because of the hadith that was previously stated, "Whoever enters the graveyard and reads Chapter Ya-Sin, it will bring ease to them (those in the graves) on that day, and they will get the reward for whoever is buried there." And the hadith, "Whoever visits the grave of his parents and reads Chapter Ya-Sin he will be forgiven of his sins." {both are weak hadiths and the first is weaker than the second according to Imam al-Suyūṭī}.

 

The Malikis said: Reading the Quran on the deceased after his death and at his grave is disliked because the early generations did not do it. But the later scholars are of the opinion that there is no problem with reading the Quran and making dhikr and making intention for the reward to go to the deceased, and he will receive the reward by the will of Allah.

 

The early Shafi scholars said: the well known opinion is that the deceased does not benefit from someone else's deeds such as made up  prayers, or other than them, or reading of the Quran.

The later Shafi scholars however have verified that the deceased receives the reward of Quran recitation such as the Fātiḥah and otherwise. If it is established that the Fatiha benefits the live person who was bitten by a poisonous animal, as is shown in the hadith, "And what made you know that it is a healing?", then the benefit of the deceased by it is more befitting.

 

Therefore the opinion of the later Shafis is the same as the other three schools in that the reward of reciting Quran reached the deceased. Al-Subki said: "It is understood from the hadith, by deduction, that some of the Quran if it is intended by it the reward and comforting of the deceased, it will benefit the deceased. That is because if it is established that the Fatiha benefitted the live, bitten person (with intention) as stated in the hadith: "and what made you know that it was a healing?" then the benefit of the deceased by it is even more befitting." Qāḍī Hasan even allowed renting recitation of the Quran for the deceased. Ibn Salah said: "One should say: 'Oh Allah! Deliver the reward of what we recited to such-and-such person.' Thereby making dua for them. There is no difference in this between the close and the distant. And they should have certainty of the benefit in their action, because if there is benefit in dua and it is allowed for other than the one who is supplicating, then for it to be allowed for what is for him is even more befitting, and this is not specific for recitation only but for all types of actions."

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