Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Benefitting the Deceased


The republishing of this translation
 
Graveyard in Damascus

Imam An-Nawawī on Benefitting the Deceased
Translated by Mahdi Lock


30_The Chapter on How the Statements of Others Benefit the Deceased[1]

The ʿulamāʾ have made consensus that supplicating (duʿāʾ) for the deceased benefits them and the reward for it reaches them. Their proof is His, the Exalted’s, statement: “And those who came into the faith after them say: ‘Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who went before us in faith.’” [Al-Ḥashr 59:10] and other well-known āyāt that bear the same meaning, as well as well-known aḥādīth such as his, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, statement: “O Allah, forgive the people of Baqīʿ Al-Gharqad”[2] as well as his, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, statement: “O Allah, forgive our living and our dead.”[3]

The ʿulamāʾ have differed over whether the reward for reciting the Qurʾān reaches [the deceased]. The dominant (mashhūr) position of the Shāfiʿī madhhab, as well as a group of other scholars, is that is does not reach, while Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal and a group of scholars, as well as a group of scholars from the Shāfiʿī madhhab, hold the position that it does reach. The one reciting can say once he has finished: ‘O Allah, give the reward of what I have read to so-and-so’,[4] and Allah knows best.[5] It is recommended to praise the deceased and mention their merits and good qualities.

426_In the two Ṣaḥīḥ collections of Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, we have related on the authority of Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, who said: ‘They passed by a janāza and the people were saying good things about the person, and then The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “It is necessary (wajabat).” Then they passed by another janāza and the people were saying evil things about the person. Again, he said: “It is necessary.” Then, ʿUmar bin Al-Khaṭṭāb, may Allah be pleased with him, said: ‘What is necessary?’ He said: “You said good things about this person, so Paradise is necessary for him, and you said evil things about this other person, so the Fire is necessary for him. You are Allah’s witnesses on earth.”

426_In the Ṣaḥīḥ of Al-Bukhārī, we have related on the authority of Abū Al-Aswad, who said: ‘I arrived in Madīna and sat with ʿUmar bin Al-Khaṭṭāb, may Allah be pleased with him, when a janāza passed by. The people were saying good things about the person, so ʿUmar said: “It is necessary.” Then another janāza passed by and, again, good things were said about the person, so ʿUmar said: “It is necessary.” Then a third janāza passed by and evil things were said about the person, so ʿUmar said: “It is necessary.”’ Abu Al-Aswad said: ‘I said: “What is necessary, O Commander of the Believers?” He said: “I have said as The Prophet, may Allah’s prayers and peace be upon him, said: “If four people testify to the goodness of any Muslim, Allah will enter him into Paradise.” We said: “And three?” He said: “And three.” We said: “And two?” He said: “And two.” Then we didn’t ask about one.”’ The aḥādīth that are similar to what we have mentioned are many, and Allah knows best.



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 madhhab 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.’[7]

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).[8]

Ibn Taymiyah[9] 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[10]: ‘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.


[1] Translated from Al-Adkhār min Kalām Sayyid Al-Abrār by Al-Imām, Al-Ḥāfiẓ, Sheikh ul-Islām Muḥyī Ad-Dīn Abī Zakariyā Yaḥyā bin Sharaf An-Nawawī Ad-Dimashqī Ash-Shāfiʿī (Damascus: Al-Maktaba Al-ʿAṣriya, 2000/1421) p.138
[2] Translator’s note (tn): This ḥadīth is found in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim and is on the following page of Al-Adhkār, i.e. p.139.
[3] (tn): Sunan Abī Dāwūd, Sunan At-Tirmidhī, Sunan An-Nisāʾī, Sunan Al-Bayhaqi as well as Al-Mustadrak of Al-Ḥākim. Imam At-Tirmidhī classed it as ḥasan ṣaḥīḥ while Imam Al-Ḥakim said: ‘This ḥadīth is ṣaḥīḥ according to the conditions of Al-Bukhārī and Muslim.’ Please see p.131-132 of Al-Adhkār for further details.
[4] (tn): Ar. Allahumm awṣil thawāba ma qaraʾtuhu ilā [enter name here].
[5] (tn): For further details on this point, please read Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuḥaylī’s fatwa below.
[6] Translated from Fatāwā Muʿāṣira by Sheikh Wahba Az-Zuhaylī, p. 273-274 (Damascus: Dar Al-Fikr, 2003)
[7] Narrated by Al-Bukhārī in Al-Adab as well as Muslim, Abū Dāwūd, At-Tirmidhī and An-Nisāʾī from Abū Hurayra. 
[8] (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.
[9] (tn): i.e. Taqī ud-Dīn Ahmad ibn Taymiyah.
[10] (tn): This is Imām An-Nawawī’s 27-volume fiqh book, which is the ultimate reference work for the Shafiʿī school.
 

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