9014: Good deeds on behalf of others


Is it permissible to perform Tawaaf around the Sacred House (the Ka’bah) for a week, and give the reward for that to a living or a dead person? What are the deeds for which the reward may be given to another person according to Islam?

Praise be to Allaah. 

It is not prescribed in Islam to give the rewards for any action to a living person, but with regard to the dead it is permissible within the guidelines set out in the reports (of the Sunnah). We shall look at this matter in detail below, in sha Allaah.

 1.     Giving the reward of one’s actions to the living. The basic principle concerning acts of worship is that this should not be done, unless there is evidence (daleel) from the sharee’ah which allows doing so. There is nothing in the books of Sunnah or biographies (of the Salaf) to indicate that any one of the early generations (Salaf) of this ummah did any good deed and then gave the reward for that to any of the Muslims, or the Prophet or the Sahaabah.

 Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about giving the reward for reading Qur’aan and naafil prayers to one’s mother who could neither read nor write. He said:

 There is no evidence (daleel) in sharee’ah to indicate that one can give (the reward for) prayers and reading Qur’aan to another person, whether he is alive or dead.

 Acts of worship are an area in which there is no room for ijtihaad, and we should not do anything except that for which there is shar’i evidence. 

But it is prescribed for you to make du’aa’ for her and to give in charity on her behalf, and to do Hajj and ‘Umrah on her behalf, if she is old and cannot do Hajj and ‘Umrah.

 Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn Baaz, 9/321.

 2.     With regard to giving the reward for good deeds to the dead: Islam permits doing this in the case of some deeds, so we should limit ourselves to that – it is not right to make an analogy between these and other deeds, because the basic principle concerning acts of worship is not to do anything unless there is evidence (daleel).

 Among the deeds whose rewards we are allowed to give to the dead, or by means of which the dead can benefit from the actions of the living, are the following:

 (i) Du’aa’

 Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

 “And those who came after them say: “Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith…” [al-Hashr 59:10]

 It was reported that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) told us of the death of the Negus, the king of Ethiopia, on the day that he died, and said, ‘Pray for forgiveness for your brother.’”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1236; Muslim, 951)

 It was narrated that ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan said: “When the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) finished burying someone who had died, he would stand over him and say, ‘Pray for forgiveness for your brother, and ask that he may be made steadfast, for even now he is being questioned.’”

(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 3221. An-Nawawi classed the isnaad of this hadeeth as jayyid in al-Majmoo’, 5/292).

 Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

 “The fact that the dead benefit from du’aa’s is indicated by the consensus of the ummah on offering du’aa’ for him during the janaazah (funeral) prayer, hence we know that du’aa’ benefits the deceased… This is supported by many ahaadeeth and is in fact is the whole point of praying for the deceased. The same applies to making du’aa’ for him after the burial, and making du’aa’ for them when visiting their graves.”

 (al-Rooh, 118, 119)

 (ii)    Making up fasts that were obligatory upon the deceased because of vows, as expiation (kafaarah) and so on

 It was reported from ‘Aa’ishah (may Allaah be pleased with her) that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever dies and had any fasts outstanding, his heir should observe those fasts on his behalf.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1851; Muslim, 1147) 

It was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that a woman came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘My mother has died and she one month’s fasting outstanding.’ He said, ‘Do you not think that if she was in debt, you would pay it off for her?’ She said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘The debt owed to Allaah is more deserving of being paid off.’”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1817; Muslim, 1148)

 There is some scholarly difference of opinion on this matter. Some scholars say that no fasts should be observed on behalf of the dead apart from fasts related to vows, but the correct view is that all kinds of fasts should be observed on behalf of the dead.

 Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar said:

 The Salaf had differences of opinion concerning this matter:

Fasting on behalf of the dead was permitted by the scholars of hadeeth. Al-Shaafa'i former view was that it was allowed depending on whether or not the hadeeth was saheeh, as was transmitted by al-Bayhaqi in al-Ma’rifah. This is also the view of Abu Thawr and a group of the Shaafa'i muhaddatheen. Al-Bayhaqi said in al-Khilaafiyaat:

“This is a proven matter. I do not know of any difference of opinion among the scholars of hadeeth concerning its soundness, so we must act in accordance with this.” Then he quoted al-Shaafa'i, with an isnaad going back to him: “Concerning everything that I have said, if something different is reported from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and is saheeh, then follow the hadeeth and do not follow me.”

 Al-Shaafa'i’s later view, and that of Maalik and Abu Haneefah was that fasts should not be observed on behalf of the dead.

 Al-Layth, Ahmad, Ishaaq and Abu ‘Ubayd said: no fasts should be observed on behalf of him (the deceased), apart from fasts related to vows, because the general meaning of the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah should be interpreted within the specific framework of the hadeeth narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas.

 However, there is no contradiction between these two ahaadeeth that would necessitate reconciliation. The hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas is an independent matter in which he asked about something which happened specifically to him, whereas the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah is a statement of the general principle. In the hadeeth of Ibn ‘Abbaas, this general principle is referred to at the end of the hadeeth, where it says, ‘The debt owed to Allaah is more deserving of being paid off.’

(Fath al-Baari, 4/193, 194)

The Hanafis quote weak (da’eef) ahaadeeth as evidence to say that it is not permitted to fast on behalf of the  dead. Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar refuted this in the source referred to above.

 Some of them quote as evidence the hadeeth: “When the son of Adam dies, his deeds come to an end apart from three: sadaqah jaariyah (ongoing charity); beneficial knowledge; or a righteous son who will make du’aa’ for him.” (Saheeh Muslim, 1631). Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim  refuted those who quote this hadeeth as evidence, and said:

“When you use this hadeeth ‘When the son of Adam dies, his deeds come to an end’, you are misquoting it. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not say, ‘He no longer benefits at all’; what he said is that deeds of the individual come to an end. As far as the deeds of others are concerned, the (reward) is for the one who does them, and if he gives that to him, the reward of the one who did that reaches him, not the reward of his own deeds. What comes to an end is one thing, and what reaches him is something else. The same applies to another hadeeth, which is: ‘What reaches the deceased is his own hasanaat and deeds” – which does not rule out the fact that other things, the good deeds and hasanaat of others, may also reach him.”

(al-Rooh, p. 129)

 (iii)  Paying off debts

 It was reported that Salamah ibn al-Akwa’ (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:

“We were sitting with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when a funeral bier was brought to him and they said, ‘Pray over him.’ He said, ‘Does he have any debts?’ They said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Has he left anything behind?’ They said, ‘No.’ So he prayed over him. Then another funeral bier was brought to him, and they said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, pray for him.’ He said, ‘Does he have any debts?’ They said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Has he left anything behind?’ They said, ‘Three dinars.’ So he prayed over him. Then a third funeral bier was brought, and they said, ‘Pray for him.’ He said, ‘Has he left anything behind?’ They said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Does he have any debts?’ They said, ‘Three dinars.’ He said, ‘Pray for your companion.’ Abu Qutaadah said, ‘Pray for him, O Messenger of Allaah, and I will take care of his debt.’ So he prayed over him.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2169)

 (iv)  Fulfilling vows to do acts of worship

 It was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that a woman from Juhaynah came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said: “My mother vowed to go for Hajj, but she did not go for Hajj before she died. Should I do Hajj on her behalf?” He said, “Yes, do Hajj on her behalf. Do you not think that if your mother was in debt you would pay it off for her? Pay off the debt that is owed to Allaah, for Allaah is more deserving that what is owed to Him should be paid off.”

(Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1754)

 (v)    Performing Hajj on his behalf

 It was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbaas that the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) heard a man saying “Labbayka ‘an Shubrumah (At your service, O Allaah, on behalf of Shubrumah).” The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Who is Shubrumah?” He said, “A relative of mine.” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said, “Have you ever done Hajj before?” He said, “No.” he said, “Do this Hajj for yourself, then do Hajj on behalf of Shubrumah.”

(Narrated by Abu Dawood, 1811; Ibn Maajah, 2903 – this version was narrated by him. The hadeeth was classed as saheeh by Shaykh al-Albaani in Irwaa’ al-Ghaleel, 4/171).

 (vi)   Righteous deeds done by the children of the deceased

 Shaykh al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“Whatever righteous deeds the righteous son does, his parents will have a reward like his, without it detracting from his reward in the slightest, because their child is part of their striving and earning. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad)’ [al-Najm 53:39]. The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘The best that a man can benefit from is that which he earns, and his son is also part of his earnings.’ (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 2/108; al-Nasaa’i, 2/211. Narrated and classed as hasan by al-Tirmidhi, 2/287. There is a corroborating report in the hadeeth of ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Amr, which was narrated by Abu Dawood, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad (2/179, 204, 214) with a hasan isnaad).”

(Ahkaam al-Janaa’iz, p. 216, 217)

 With regard to giving charity and reading Qur’aan: the correct view is that nothing from these actions reaches the deceased, because there is no evidence (daleel) to that effect. The basic principle is that this should not be done. Some scholars mentioned that there was consensus (ijmaa’) to the effect that the reward for charity on behalf of the deceased reaches him, but the correct view is that there is in fact a difference of opinion among the scholars concerning this matter.

 (a)   Imaam Ibn Katheer said:

 “‘And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad)’ [al-Najm 53:39 – interpretation of the meaning]. This means, just as he cannot bear the burden (of sin) of another person, so too the reward for the things he has done can only go to himself. From this aayah al-Shaafa'i (may Allaah have mercy on him) and those who followed him understood that the reward for reading Qur’aan cannot be given to the dead, because it is not something that they have done and earned. Hence the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) did not recommend or encourage his ummah to do this, and did not command or hint to them to do this. Nothing to this effect has been transmitted from any of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them). If it was a good thing, they would have done it before us. Acts of worship are restricted to things that are indicated in the texts (Qur’aan and Sunnah), and there is no room for analogy (qiyaas) or personal opinions.”

(Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/259)

 (b)  Al-Shawkaani said:

 “The ahaadeeth on this topic indicate that charity given by a son reaches his parents after they die without their making a will to that effect, and the reward for that reaches them. These ahaadeeth should be taken as excluding the child from the general meaning of the aayah (interpretation of the meaning): ‘And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad)’ [al-Najm 53:39]. But these ahaadeeth speak only of the charity of the son reaching the parents. It was reported that a man’s son is part of what he does (or his earnings), so there is no need to suggest that the ahaadeeth are stating an exception from the general meaning of the aayah. As far as anybody apart from a man's son is concerned, what is apparent from the general meanings of the Qur’aan is that his reward does not reach the deceased, so we should accept this and not pursue the matter any further, unless we find evidence (daleel) to the contrary.”

(Nayl al-Awtaar, 4/142)

(c)  Shaykh al-Islam [Ibn Taymiyah] (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

It was not the custom of the Salaf, when they observed voluntary prayers or fasts, or did a voluntary Hajj, or read Qur’aan, to give the reward for that to the deceased Muslims. So we should not deviate from the path of the Salaf, for it is better and more perfect.

(al-Ikhtiyaaraat al-‘Ilmiyyah, p. 54).

Shaykh al-Islam (may Allaah have mercy on him) had a different opinion to those quoted above. Ibn al-Qayyim agreed with him, and Shaykh Muhammad Rasheed Ridaa refuted their view in Tafseer al-Manaar (8/254-270).

From the Fatwas of the Standing Committee:

Fatwa #2232 – Question #3:

Q#3: Does the reward for reading Qur’aan and other acts of worship reach the deceased, whether they are done by the son of the deceased or by others?

As far as we know, there is no report from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) to indicate that he read Qur’aan and gave the reward for that to the dead, whether they were his relatives or others. If the reward could reach them, he would have been keen to do that and would have taught it to his ummah so that they could help the dead thereby, for he (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was filled with compassion and mercy towards his ummah. His successors, the Khulafaa’ al-Raashideen, and the rest of his companions, followed his guidance (may Allaah be pleased with them all), and we do not know of any of them giving the reward for reading Qur’aan to someone else. The best of all goodness resides in following the guidance of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and of the Khulafaa’ al-Raashideen and the rest of the Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them), and evil resides in following bid’ah and innovated matters. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) warned us about that when he said, “Beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is a bid’ah (innovation), and every bid’ah is a going astray” and, “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours (i.e., Islam) that is not a part of it, will have it rejected.” So on this basis, it is not permissible to read Qur’aan for the dead or to give the reward for this reading to them. Doing that is bid’ah.

With regard to other kinds of acts of worship, wherever there is saheeh evidence to indicate that the reward for them reaches the deceased, then we should accept this, such as giving charity on their behalf, making du’aa’ for them and doing Hajj on their behalf. Anything for which there is no evidence (daleel) is not prescribed until evidence is established for it.

On this basis, according to the more sound of the two scholarly opinions, it is not permissible to read Qur’aan for the dead, and the reward for this reading does not reach them. On the contrary, this is bid’ah.

 And Allaah is the Source of strength. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions, and grant them peace.

 Standing Committee for Academic Research and Issuing Fatwaas.

  I say: we have spoken above about giving charity. The ahaadeeth quoted not include all people, they refer only to the children of the deceased.

 With regard to the Tawaaf referred to in the question, it is not prescribed to do a voluntary Tawaaf and give the reward to the dead, because no evidence (daleel) to that effect has been narrated. But if it is Tawaaf of ‘Umrah or Hajj, then it is included in those ahaadeeth and is permitted.

 Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked:

 Sometimes I do Tawaaf for one of my relatives or parents or grandparents who have died. What is the ruling on that? Also, what is the ruling on completing the Qur’aan for them? May Allaah reward you with good.

 He replied:

 It is better not to do that, because there is no evidence (daleel) to that effect… With regard to praying (salaah) on their behalf, doing Tawaaf on their behalf and reading Qur’aan for them, it is better not to do that, because there is no evidence (daleel) to that effect.

 Some scholars have permitted that, by analogy with charity and du’aa’, but to be on the safe side, it is better not to do that. And Allaah is the source of strength.

 Fataawa Ibn Baaz, 8/344, 345).

 And Allaah knows best.

Fataawa Ibn Baaz, 8/344, 345
Create Comments