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ایصال ثواب – فوت شدہ انسانوں کو اپنی عبادت کا ثواب ارسال کرنا
Let us see what the Qur’an states about transferring sawab (reward) to the dead against any good deed done by the living:
“This is a people that have passed away; they shall have what they earned and you shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did.” [02:134 & 141]
“Whoever does good, it is for his own soul, and whoever does evil, it is against it; and your Lord is not in the least unjust to the servants.” [41:46]
The Qur’an clearly states that each and every human being will be judged and compensated (tormented or rewarded) for his own deeds performed during his life. So each individual will reap the harvest of what he had sown in this world.
To judge if a particular action constitutes an innovation in religion (or Biddah) we must look towards authentic Hadith and find proof there. In this regard, not a single Hadith can be found which mentions Quran-Khawani (recitation of the Qur’an) and Esaal-e-Sawab (transfer of the reward). As a Muslim, we must have belief in the fact that the Qur’an is nothing more than a guiding book and only those people who are alive can find guidance for themselves, and therefore, salvation in the life after death. Recitation of the Qur’an for a dead person cannot make any difference in his balance sheet of sins and good deeds.
This particular issue is directly related to basic Islamic beliefs, one of which is the absoluteness of the death of a person and the fact that the soul cannot leave Barzakh, neither can we alleviate the punishment of a soul in Barzakh. As Islam was perfected 14 centuries ago, we cannot accommodate the practice of Esaal-e-Sawab as a part of true Islamic practices. The deeds that can benefit a person after his death are outlined in the following Sahih Ahadith:
Anas Bin Malik reports: Allah’s Apostle said, “When carried to his grave, a dead person is followed by three, two of which return (after his burial) and one remains with him: his relative, his property, and his deeds follow him; relatives and his property go back while his deeds remain with him.” [Sahih Bukhari – Volume 8, Book 76. Hadith 521]
Abu Huraira (RA) reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW) as saying: When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him (for the deceased). [Sahih Muslim – Book 13, Hadith 4005]
Abu Huraira reported Allah’s Messenger (SAW)) as saying: He who called (people) to righteousness, there would be reward (assured) for him like the rewards of those who adhered to it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who called (people) to error, he shall have to carry (the burden) of its sin, like those who committed it, without their sins being diminished in any respect. [Sahih Muslim – Book 34, Hadith 6470]
It is obvious from the above-mentioned sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) that a dead person can only benefit from the following:
- His/her deeds that he performed during his lifetime
- Sadaqa-e-Jaaria (continuing charity)
- If he disseminated the truth to people around him and therefore helped them to lead a better life in this world and in the Hereafter.
- If the deceased person’s children prays for forgiveness, provided the deceased did not die on Shirk.
It is crystal clear that the best one can do is to pray for forgiveness of a parent, or to complete a charitable project that the deceased had intended to do but had been unable to accomplish in his lifetime. In this regard, the concept of Sadaqa-e-Jaaria should be elaborated, since the explanations given by our clergymen are either inadequate or totally incorrect.
CONTINUING CHARITY (SADAQA-E-JAARIA)
There are two types of Sadaqa-e-Jaaria proven through the Qur’an and Sahih Hadith:
- Good deeds done by the deceased during his life that will continually benefit other people. For instance, if he or she had built a mosque, planted a tree or dug a well.
- Sawab of Sadaqa-e-Jaaria is also given to the dead against the intention of a good deed, which he or she planned during his or her life but death took him and his children then completed the project. (This is called Mannat or ‘vow made to Allah.’ It is important to clarify this concept.
The concept of the second type of Sadaqa-e-Jaaria cannot be extended to reciting the Qur’an for the dead, or saying Nawafil prayers for the deceased, or fasting with the intention of invoking Allah and requesting Him to transferthe Sawab (reward) to the dead. It is the sole prerogative of Allah to give reward or to punish a person for his or her deeds and no one else, human or angel, has the authority to amend the records that contain the details of a person’s acts in this world (the amaal-nama). The only exception in this case shall be granted to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) – or other pious Muslims – on the Day of Judgement when he will be able to request Allah (perform Shifa’at) for the salvation of Momineen. We find in other authentic ahadith, like Sahih Bukhari, Book 76, Hadith 584, that those Muslims who commit Biddah (innovate new religious practices) will not be able to seek the Shifa’at of the Prophet on the Day of Judgement.
What needs to be understood is that all the deeds mentioned in [Sahih Muslim – Book 13, Hadith 4005] are added to the book-of-deeds after the death of a human and Esaal-e-Sawab through recitation of Qur’an is mentioned nowhere.
The concept of Esaal-e-Sawab is promoted by sects and their molvis who get paid for reciting the Qur’an or for arranging the services of different Madrasa children for this purpose. Another short-cut adopted by many so-called Muslims these days is to arrange for periodic monthly payments (called Wazeefah) to a Madrasa. Any number of recitations of the Quran can be bought against this apparent act of charity. Whether the Quran was actually recited that many times by the Madrasa students is a matter never looked into. Another outcome of these Esaal-e-Sawab recitations is the emergence of the “Bismillah” Qur’an, in which the Bismillah is recitedrepeatedly. This is evidence of the inherent tendency of Biddah to proliferate and reach any extreme, all in the name of Sawab (reward).
MANNAT (Vow/Promise made to Allah)
We find in Sahih hadith that if a person makes a vow to Allah, e.g. voluntarily fasting for a month, and then dies before fulfilling this vow, it is seen as a debt towards Allah and the deceased’s children should fulfill it. However, often the concept of mannat or vow is mixed up with Esaal e Sawab and the following riwayat of Sahih Bukhari is quoted in support of Esaal e Saawab:
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: The mother of Sad bin ‘Ubada died in his absence. He said, “O Allah’s Apostle! My mother died in my absence; will it be of any benefit for her if I give Sadaqa on her behalf?” The Prophet said, “Yes,” Sad said, “I make you a witness that I gave my garden called Al Makhraf in charity on her behalf.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book 51, Hadith 19)
However, when we analyse the above hadith in the light of other Sahih Ahadith, such as the two copied below, we learn that the mother of Sad bin ‘Ubada (RA) also had an unfinished vow/mannat thus Muhammad(SAW) ordered him to give charity on her behalf.
Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas: Sad bin Ubada consulted Allah’s Apostle saying, “My mother died and she had an unfulfilled vow.” The Prophet said, “Fulfill it on her behalf.” [Sahih Bukhari, Book 51, Hadith 23]
Narrated Sa’id bin ‘Ubada Al-Ansari: that he consulted the Prophet about a vow that had been made by his mother who died without fulfilling it. The Prophet gave his verdict that he should fulfill it on her behalf. The verdict became Sunna (i.e. the Prophet’s tradition). [Sahih Bukhari, Book 78, Hadith 689]
(Please also see Sahih Bukhari 29:77, 31:174 and 92:418 on the issue of making a vow to Allah).
What must be understood here is that Esaal e Sawab is voluntary charity or good deeds performed on behalf of the dead which is completely different from mannat/vow and so we cannot generalise this concept and perform voluntary good deeds on behalf of the dead and transfer the sawab to the dead’s account.
SOYEM (3rd day after death), CHALEESWAN (40th day after death), BARSI (Death Anniversary)
It is a common practice in many Muslim communities, especially in Pakistan and India, to gather together the family on the 3rd, 10th and 40th day after the death or the death anniversary of a family relative. Copies of the Qur’an are handed to the attendees and they are asked to recite as much as they can, with the intention of transferring the reward of the recitation to the dead. This is followed by a family feast, the lavishness of which depends on the financial circumstances of the family. Sometimes, due to the demands made by society, people even borrow money to arrange for the feast. There is no precedence of this in the teachings or actions of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his noble Sahaba (RA), who were the best Momineen. In fact, the verses and ahadith quoted above tell us that Allah has not given us the right to make any amendments to the sum total of rewards/sins collected by a person in his lifetime. Thus, Soyem and Chaleeswan are innovated practices (Biddah) and Muslims must refrain from these.
There is also the issue of eating the food cooked on the day. Since the food is cooked with the niyyah (intention) of the reward going to the dead, the food becomes associated to the dead person. According to the Qu’ran 2:173, 5:3, 6:145 and 16:115, any slaughtered animal or food on which any name other than Allah’s has been taken, or which is associated to anyone other than Allah, is forbidden for consumption. Therefore, Muslims must boycott such events and also refrain from eating the food cooked on the day.
He hath forbidden you only carrion, and blood, and swineflesh, and that which hath been immolated to (the name of) any other than Allah. But he who is driven by necessity, neither craving nor transgressing, it is no sin for him. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. [Translation by Pickthal, Al-Baqara 2:173]
He has forbidden you only the Maitah (dead animals), and blood, and the flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, on which Allah’s Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering). But if one is forced by necessity without wilful disobedience nor transgressing due limits, then there is no sin on him. Truly, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. [Translated by Mohsin Khan, Al-Baqara 2:173]
The best we can do for the deceased, if they die in the state of Emaan, is to pray for their forgiveness. This is done through participating in their funeral prayer and by sending duas to Allah for the dead person’s maghfirat (salvation). We cannot do any more than this and we shouldn’t do any more than this. All other rituals, which have become an integral part of the ‘commemoration of the dead’ ceremony, are innovated practices.
Assalam o alaikum