Saturday, 5 March 2011

Reciting the Qurʾān for the Deceased

Question: Does the reward of the Fātiḥa and reciting other parts of the Qurʾān reach the deceased after they have died or after have they have been buried in their graves or any other place?

Answer: [Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuḥaylī:] There are two conflicting opinions on this matter that have been mentioned by As-Sanʿānī in his book Bushra Al-Kaʾīb bi Liqāʾ al-Ḥabīb.

The first opinion, which is the dominant [mashūr] opinion of the madhabs of Mālik and Ash-Shāfiʿī, is that it does not reach.

The second opinion, which is the madhab of Imam Aḥmad and the majority of the salaf and the four madhabs, including the later Mālikīs and Shāfiʿīs, is that the reward does reach. Imām Abū Ḥanīfa said: ‘The deceased receives everything from ṣadaqa and whatever else.’ He also said: ‘Read “Āyat al-Kursī” three times and “Qul huwa Allahu aḥad” and say: “O Allah, indeed the bounty [faḍl] is for the people of the graves.”’

As-Sanʿānī mentioned the proofs for the second opinion, who say that the deceased benefit from what the living do for them, from the Book, the Sunnah, the Consensus [ijmāʾ] and the principles of the Revealed Law.

As for the Book, it is His, the Exalted’s, statement: “Those who come after them say: ‘Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith.” [Al-Ḥashr 59:10] Allah praised them because they sought forgiveness for the believers who came before them, and this proves that the deceased benefit from the living seeking forgiveness. The deceased benefitting from supplication [duʾā] is also proved by the Consensus of the Ummah regarding supplicating for them in the janāza prayer.

The aḥādīth have confirmed that he, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, supplicated in the janāza prayer for whoever sent prayers on him, and he said: ‘O Allah, forgive him, have mercy on him, excuse him and pardon him.’[1]

Consensus has been made stating that it is permissible for a debt to be discharged on behalf of a deceased person by anyone, close or far, and that if the deceased owes a debt to a living person, that person can waive it and no longer make any claim to it, just as he would with a living person.  Consensus has also been made stating that the reward of fasting (voluntary or obligatory) reaching the deceased being confirmed in the Sunnah is proof that the reward of all other actions reaches them. The texts have confirmed that the reward reaches the deceased for three kinds of worship, physical (i.e. fasting), financial (giving charity on behalf of the dead) and both the physical and financial together (through performing the Hajj on behalf of a deceased person or someone who is chronically ill and unable to move).[2]

Ibn Taymiyah[3] said: ‘Indeed the deceased benefit from the recitation of Qurʾān, as they benefit from financial worship such as charity (ṣadaqa) and other things.’ Likewise, An-Nawawī said in Al-Majmūʿ[4]: ‘The reward for reciting the Qurʾān reaches the deceased.’

In conclusion, the relied-upon (muʿtamad) position of the four madhabs is that the reward for reciting the Qurʾān reaches the deceased if the living dedicate it to them.

[Translated from Fatāwā Muʿāṣira by Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuhaylī, p. 273-274 (Dar Al-Fikr, Damascus, 2003)]

[1] Narrated by Al-Bukhārī in Al-Adab as well as Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, At-Tirmidhī and An-Nisāʾī from Abū Hurayra. 
[2] Translator’s note (tn): The Imam is mentioning this statement because this is what everyone is agreed upon. This issue also includes other actions, such as reciting the Qur’an and so forth, as there are famous positions from Shāfiʿī Imams stating that such things do not reach the dead and are not to be done. It is this position that Salafiyyah adopts as if there were no other position , when in fact there is a difference of opinion.
[3] tn: i.e. Taqī ud-Dīn Ahmad ibn Taymiyah.
[4] tn: This is Imām An-Nawawī’s 27-volume fiqh book, which is the ultimate reference work for the Shafiʿī school.


Miskeen said...

I was told that the opinion of Imam Shafi denying that it would reach the dead was with regards to when the intention in specific was not made. And that there are reports of Imam Shafi recommending reading the Quran at the grave. This was explained by Imam Nawawi (I think in sharh muadhab). So im confused as to how it was mentioned as the mashur opinion of the shafi madhab.

I have also come across this from Ibn Hubayra :

وَاتَّفَقُوا على أَن الاسْتِغْفَار للْمَيت يصل ثَوَابه إِلَيْهِ، وَإِن ثَوَاب الصَّدَقَة وَالْعِتْق وَالْحج إِذا جعل للْمَيت وصل ثَوَابه إِلَيْهِ.ثمَّ اخْتلفُوا فِي الصَّلَاة وَقِرَاءَة الْقُرْآن وَالصِّيَام وإهداء الثَّوَاب للْمَيت.فَقَالَ أَحْمد: يصل إِلَيْهِ ثَوَاب ذَلِك، وَيحصل لَهُ نَفعه.وَقَالَ بعض أَصْحَاب الشَّافِعِي: يصل.بل قَالَ السُّبْكِيّ من أَصْحَابه الَّذِي دلّ عَلَيْهِ الْخَبَر بالاستنباط، أَن بعض الْقُرْآن إِذا قصد نفع الْمَيِّت نَفعه.وَقَالَ أَبُو حنيفَة وَمَالك: ثَوَابه لفَاعِله.

Mahdi Lock said...

Assalaam alaykum,

Sheikh Wahbah az-Zuhayli is actually quoting Imam an-Nawawi from Al-Adhkhar:

What Imam an-Nawawi means by mashhur is the more dominant or well-known position of Imam ash-Shafi'i, which is not the same as mu'tamad, which is the final, relied-upon position of the school. It has be kept in mind that the four imams are followed, first and foremost, in their usul, and not their furu'.

There is also a difference between reading Qur'an at a grave and thereby bringing ease to the one residing therein and reading Qur'an wherever one is and donating the reward to someone deceased.

For further details, please get a copy of Sharh as-Sudur bi Sharh Ahwal al-Mawta wa al-Qubur by Imam Jalal ad-Deen as-Suyuti, as he has a chapter in there entitled 'On reciting the Qur'an for the deceased or over graves' (Jeddah: Dar al-Minhaj,1432/2011]), p.546 to 552. Imam as-Suyuti mentions that Imam ash-Shafi'i held the position that the reward for reciting the Qur'an did not reach the deceased but when asked about reciting over graves he said, 'لا بأس به' i.e. there's no harm in it.

Maybe this chapter could be translated in the near future, and with Allah is every success.