Esal e Sawab (Conveying Rewards)
|Allah – in the name of – the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.|
At the outset please know, that in Islam, death is not perceived as an end of life. It is just the end of the worldly existence as we witness it, and the beginning of a new existence, in which the soul experiences a new world called “Barzakh.” The soul may experience this new life with or without its original body, according to its own rank allotted to it by Allah the Almighty, the Supreme. There are too many proofs from the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth (Holy Prophet’s Traditions) regarding the above, and warrant an extensive article on the same. But that is not the question here.
The question that some people ask is that if a person is dead, can we increase its status or decrease its torment by conveying rewards of OUR deeds
It is the consensus of the Sahaba, the earlier Ulema, and the latter ones that the above is (a) Effective and that (b) it is certainly permissible, in fact meritorious, to do so.
If one wants to convey the reward of one’s recital of Holy Qur’an, charity, Nafil Salaat (Non Obligatory), fasts and good deeds, Hajj, Umrah etc., then one should convey it to the virtuous soul of our beloved Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), one’s relatives, and all the Muslim men and women. All of them will receive the same reward without any deduction; the one who has carried this out will also receive the same reward without any loss. It is also valid to convey the reward to the living persons. (Fatawa Shami).
Before we back up the above statements with several proofs from the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth, we should, as a matter of justice, look into the objections brought against the above belief.
Those who object to this act, cite the following verse from the Holy Qur’an:
They allege that the above verse clarifies that none of our deeds can benefit one who has passed away. Such a view is incorrect. Firstly, this Ayah exhorts people to remember that good deeds will bring good results and evil deeds, an evil result. So they must always persist is seeking good. And that that they must not simply depend on other people’s prayers. Secondly, most scholars are of the opinion that the message in this verse is abrogated by the verse: “And those who believe and whose families follow them in Faith, — to them We shall join their families: nor shall We deprive them of the fruit of anything of their works: yet each individual is in pledge for his deeds” (Toor 52:21).” This verse enters the children into Paradise because of the righteousness of the parents.
They also cite a famous Hadeeth from Muslim Shareef:
Please closely examine the above Hadeeth. The words say ” his acts” (except three) come to an end. What comes to an end, then, is the deceased person’s own actions. This does not mean that a dead person does not benefit from anything else. He cannot increase his own reward by any new act (even if he prays or does Zikr in the grave, as proven from various Hadeeth). But his reward can go on increasing because of the prayers of his son.
Also note that the actions and beliefs of none else than the beloved Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) are proof of their wrong opinion. And also against their narrow minded opinion are the actions and beliefs of none else than the great Sahaba (Allah be well pleased with them).
Having negated the objections, we bring forth for your perusal several proofs from the Holy Qur’an and Hadeeth supporting the act of conveying rewards to those who passed away before us.
A. PROOFS FROM HOLY QUR’AN
Note that the above verse is a very strong evidence of the practice of the Sahaba, which was so loved by Allah that it is part of the Holy Qur’an. Why would the Sahaba pray for the deceased people if their prayer was of no benefit And to top it all, Allah the Almighty has approved and praised their action!
The benefit of the above verse is obvious. The prayer of Prophet Syedna Ibrahim (peace be upon him), includes all believers – right from the beginning i.e. those before him, and till the end of this world i.e. even those who are not yet born. Al Hamdo Lillah! And this prayer is often made in the last part (Qaadah) of our Salaat.
This verse says that children will be admitted into Paradise because of the righteousness of the parents.
This verse is in fact a command from Allah for all believers to seek mercy for their parents. So what is your opinion Will not the command of Allah hold any benefit for the deceased parent It certainly does.
Also note that there are several other verses from the Holy Qur’an that teach us to pray, and the prayer includes all Muslim brothers & sisters (living, passed away or yet to be borne).
Readers are requested to reflect on the fact that the above verses are part of the Holy Qur’an – they are read perhaps millions of times every day all over the world, as part of regular recitation, and also as Qirat within Salaat, and also as prayer in the last part (Qaadah) of Salaat.
B. PROOFS FROM THE HADEETH
GENERAL PERMISSIONS (HADEETH # 1 – 4)
FUNERALS (HADEETH # 5 – 9)
When a Muslim dies, it is a duty on the community of Muslims to offer a special prayer for him during which they pray Allah to forgive him and admit him into heaven. The funeral prayer is Fard Kifayah for the living Muslim brothers i.e. if just one person offers it, the entire community is absolved of this duty. But see the importance attached to the more and more people joining the prayer. And the benefit reaching the deceased person is obvious.
VISITING GRAVEYARDS. (HADEETH # 10 – 11)
There are numerous Ahadeeth about supplications to be made when visiting the graveyard – the benefit of which to one’;s self and to the deceased, it quite evident.
Also note that there are several other Ahadeeth that teach us to pray, and the prayer includes all Muslim brothers & sisters (living, passed away or yet to be borne).
PERFORMING HAJJ (HADEETH # 12 – 13)
Ahadeeth in support of offering the pilgrimage on behalf of a deceased person or one who is unable to undertake the journey are numerous. Also note that performing Hajj includes Umrah, Tawaf of the Ka’ba, and also Salaat (after Tawaf) – all these are credited to the deceased.
GIVING OF CHARITY / SADAQAH (HADEETH # 14 – 18)
SETTLING OF DEBTS. (HADEETH # 19 – 20)
It is unanimously agreed by scholars that if a person dies without settling an outstanding debt, leaving no money to settle it, anyone (whether related to him or not) could pay it on his behalf, and the deceased would be absolved of the burden. The benefit from a living person to the deceased is very apparent. If the case is such and the deceased person may benefit by a financial payment, why should he not benefit by a gift made of the reward for a good action
FASTING (HADEETH # 21 – 24)
READING OF QUR’AN AND ZIKR (HADEETH # 25 – 30)
The underlined words “a copy of the Qur’an he might have left to an heir” are an ample proof that when the heir will read from it, the reward will be passed on to the deceased.!!!
It is desirable that after burial the people sit at graveside for the duration of slaughtering a camel and distributing its meat, and that during that time the sitters busy themselves with reciting Qur’an, supplicating for the deceased, exhortation, and the stories of the Holy Prophets etc. Imam Shafie said that it is better to recite the Holy Qur’an and all those present should also recite – and it is better if the entire Qur’an is recited. Also documented by Imam Nawawi in Riyadh-us-Saleheen.
It is the opinion of most scholars that when visiting the graveyard, a person should recite the following Surahs because of their individual excellence, and then convey the reward of recitation: Surah Fateha (one of the best prayers), Surah Yaseen (the heart of the Holy Qur’an), Surah Ikhlas (equal to one third of Holy Qur’an in reward) and Surah Mulk (intercedes for the reader till the reader is forgiven).
PLANTING OF TREES (HADEETH # 31)
Imam Nawawi said in commenting on the above in his Sharh Sahih Muslim (al-Mays ed. 3/4:206): “The scholars have declared desirable — mustahabb — the recitation of the Qur’an over the grave due to the above Hadeeth, because if relief from punishment is hoped for through the glorification of date-palm stalks, then the recitation of the Qur’an is more deserving yet, and Allah knows best.” This Hadeeth also constitutes a legal basis for the planting of trees at the site of graves.
Among the Companions Hazrat Abu Barza al-Aslami (Allah be well pleased with him) and Hazrat Burayda (Allah be well pleased with him) asked to be buried together with two fresh stalks. Imam Suyuti mentioned this in “Sharh al-sudur”.
PERFORMING SACRIFICE (HADEETH # 32 – 33)
The Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) slaughtered 100 sheep during his farewell Hajj and made intention for himself and all those (alive, deceased and to come) who bring faith on his Holy Prophethood. (Nasbur Raaya, Allama Zailee)
The evidence here is that the Holy Prophet sacrificed animals and donated its reward to his entire Ummah -; which includes both the living and the dead – i.e. all those who existed in his time and to all those who were to come after him, until the last day.
Whilst most Muslims do offer sacrifice for themselves, their relatives (alive and deceased) etc. they should also remember the above Hadeeth, and offer a sacrifice on behalf of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). May Allah grant us Tawfeeq – Aameen.
GATHERING FOR QUR’AN RECITATION & ZIKR (HADEETH # 34 – 36)
Reciting the Holy Qur’an carries great reward, is one of the best Sunnahs, and the number of Ahadeeth describing its merits are numerous. The intention here is to list only the merits of gathering to recite the Qur’an and supplicate – not to list the merits of reading the Holy Qur’an itself.
It is mentioned in Tafseer Rooh-ul-Bayan that when the recitation of the Qur’an is completed, 4000 angels say Aameen on the supplication after it, and they pray for the forgiveness of the reader(s).
Imam Nawawi mentions in “Al Azkaar” that the famous Sahabi Syedna Anas (Allah be well pleased with him) used to call people to his house to attend the supplication after the completion of Holy Qur’an’s recitation.
So what is the Islamic view of “Qur’an Khuwanee” ?Did the Holy Prophet or the Sahaba do it in the manner of having say 30 people each reciting one part of the Qur’;an And what if is held on particular days such as (3rd, 10th, 40th, Annually etc)?
From the above we have proved that gathering to read the Holy Qur’an (a very meritorious act) is of course permitted, and to convey the reward (several types of meritorious acts) is commendable. When the Hadeeth says it is commendable, we need not pursue as to whether there is any “historical” evidence as to when and where it was actually done.
Observe the Hadeeth mentioned under number 2 and 28 – it specifically mentions the deceased leaving behind a copy of the Holy Qur’an. It is very clear that when the heir will read from it, the reward will be passed on to the deceased.!!!
We have also cited the practice of the Sahaba who used to gather at the house of Syedna Anas, and that should suffice as proof.
As regards having 30 or so persons reading the Holy Qur’an separately, it would not have been possible at the time of the Holy Prophet or the Sahaba immediately after him since the Holy Qur’an was not compiled, nor was it printed. The first compilation was hand written, and then only a few manuscripts were copied for preservation. The number of companions who had memorized the entire Qur’an were just a few. Also most of the early companions knew the Qur’an only in small parts, and that too not in the order we have it printed today. It would have thus been very difficult for them to coordinate reciting the entire Holy Qur’an in one sitting. The practice followed now is a matter of convenience and in no way can be termed against Sunnah.
It is also a very convenient way for the poor Muslims (who cannot afford charity, Hajj or sacrifice etc) to convey reward to their near ones, by reciting alone, or by arranging such recitation in mosques, homes etc.
We do not find any proof within Islamic Sources that forbid the holding of the Qur’an Khwanee on the 3rd, 10th or 40th day. Nor is it compulsory to do it on these very days. After all, this is a Mustahab Act, not a compulsory act (which usually has a time limit). From the prayers for the dead mentioned in the Qur’an and Hadeeth, there is no time limit. The Holy Prophets, and the Sahaba prayed for all Muslims, no matter when they had died. The Holy Qur’an also commands us likewise for our parents. However, these are scheduled for the following reasons:
1. It is easier to remember. If not planned or programmed, it will never be held. Look, the Holy Qur’an commands us to offer prayer, but does not command us to put up notices within our mosques declaring the congregation timings, or to announce the Azaan on loud speakers – but we do that although Muslims are aware of the 5 daily prayers.
Please note a person may be saddened by the loss of someone near for his entire life – there is nothing forbidden in it – but he may not “mourn” the loss after 3 days (except in case of widows).
We must also remember that:
1. These are occasions of solemnity, and not ostentation or show.
May Allah keep us on the Straight Path – Aameen. Peace and abundant blessings be upon the Holy Prophet, his family, his companions and his entire Ummah. Aameen.
M. Aqib Farid Qadri