Deeds for deceased persons
Fatwa No: 84938

Question

My father is not living. Can I fast for him so he gets reward from Allah? He, al-Hamdulillah, was very punctual regarding his prayers and fasts. I just want to know if I can fast on my own for him and not as compensation for some of his missing fasts.Is it ok to do Umrah or Hajj for a dead person? Can we say Nafil for people who have died so that they get reward for that? Can we pray Nafil as a form of Sadaqa for a dead parent?

Answer

Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the World; and may His blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.

Abu Dawood relates in al-Sunan (a book of Hadith) from Abu Usaid Malik Ibn Rabi'a al-Sa'idi who said: "Once we were sitting in the company of Allah's Messenger (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam), there came upon us a man from Banu (children) Salamah and he said: 'O Allah's Messenger! Is there any form of duty on me towards my parents after they died?' The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Yes, (It is your duty) to pray to Allah on their behalf, to seek Allah's Pardon for them, to fulfill their commitments, to treat their blood relatives kindly and to be generous with their friends" .
Also, it is reported in Sahih Muslim that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "When a person dies all his good deeds cease except for three: a continuous act of charity, beneficial knowledge, and a righteous son who prays for him" .
The above-stated Hadith and their like constitute a clear evidence that a deceased person get benefit from some good deeds of the living people such as Du'a and Sadaqa.
Other Hadith state that the deceased person get benefit from Umrah and Hajj done on his behalf as explained in our Fatwa: 82090 and82612.
As for performing optional prayer and fasting on behalf of the dead, it is legal - according to some group of scholars - to do some good deeds and then to ask Allah to grant their reward to some dead person. This is the opinion of al-Hanabilah. It is recorded in al-Iqnaa book: 'Every good deed done by a Muslim with the intention of granting its reward, wholly or partially, to a dead or living Muslim, is permissible and beneficial' .
In the same vein, it is legal for one to observe the obligatory fast on behalf of a dead person for the Hadith of Ibn 'Abbas (Radiya Allahu Anhu), who said: "A man came to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) and said: 'My mother has died without making up for a missed month of fasting. Can I fast on her behalf?' The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Would you pay her debt if she owed someone?" The man said: 'Yes'. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "Allah is more deserving of payment in settlement of His debt" [Reported by Imams al-Bukhari and Muslim ].
As for obligatory prayers, according to al-Qurtubi , there is consensus that no one perform prayers on behalf of someone else.
Here, we state it is better and safer - concerning what one can do on behalf of a dead - to adhere to actions that are proven in the Sunnah and agreed upon by scholars, so that one can avoid difference among scholars.
Allah knows best.

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