Is arranging of Quran Khatams on behalf of the deceased permissible?

Question

Salaams Mufti,

I would like to know if a person can recite Quran and ask Allah to convey the reward for the deceased. Bros from our Jamaat organising a katam of Quran to be done for a brother who has passed away and have been doing it for some years now. I saw a youtube video which says to stick to what is authentic: making dua for the deceased, asking for his forgiveness and giving charity on the deceased behalf.

Answer

In principle, all aspects pertaining to beliefs and acts worship must be proven from the Shariah in order for it to be valid. If it is not established, it is rejected and void of rewards regardless of the sincere intentions of the doers. The Prophet ﷺ said: “He who innovates something in this matter of ours (i.e. beliefs and practices) that is not of it, will have it rejected.” In another narration; “Whoever does an act which is not in agreement with our matter (i.e. beliefs and practices), will have it rejected.”[1] The Prophet ﷺ used to mention in his sermons; “The best discourse is the Book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, and the worst matter is that of innovation and every innovation is misleading.[2] In another narration the Prophet ﷺ said; and every misguidance is in the fire of Jahannam[3].

When a person dies, we do not know what happens to him or what acts will benefit him, except for what is established from the Quran and sound Ahadith of the Prophet ﷺ. Our beliefs and actions must be in conformity with our sacred texts. We cannot adhere to beliefs regarding the deceased that are not proven in the Shariah. Similarly, we cannot assume that a certain act benefits the deceased unless it is proven from the Shari’ah. This is a fundamental part of our belief system.

The belief of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah is that is not allowed for anyone to mention with firm belief Yaqeen (certainty and conviction) that a specific individual will enter Jannah unless it is proven on the sacred text (e.g. The Prophets and Sahaaba etc). Therefore, if a Muslim person dies, we cannot say that such person is definitely in Jannah. We say; he’s in Jannah In Sha Allah, May Allah grant him Jannah. The reason being, we don’t know the heart of a person. We however, judge what is apparent and Allah knows best. If he dies a Muslim in the sight of Allah, he will enter Jannah. That knowledge lies only with Allah Ta’ala.

For this reason, the Prophet ﷺ reprimanded our mother Aisha (ra) when she said; “a bird from the birds of Jannah” upon learning the news of the death of an Ansaari child”, meaning that this child is definitely from the inhabitants of Jannah. The Prophet ﷺ said to her “you should not have mentioned that”, meaning, don’t say with full conviction that this child is from the inhabitants of Jannah, as that specific knowledge is only with Allah.

Imam At-Tahawi (r.a) in his famous treatise mentions;

We hope that Allah will pardon the good-doers among the believers and admit them into Paradise by His mercy. We cannot guarantee it for them and we cannot testify that they will be in Paradise. We seek forgiveness for the sinful, we fear for them, yet we do not despair over them.[4]

The reason for mentioning the above is to emphasis that all aspects pertaining to beliefs, affairs of the unseen and acts of worship are all restricted to the sacred text i.e. it must be proven therein.

Actions of the Living that Benefit the Dead

There are many acts that are established and proven from the Shari’ah whereby the living can benefit the deceased. Some of these acts are as follows;

  • Dua and Supplication to Allah Ta’ala for the deceased.
  • Charity on behalf of the deceased
  • The good actions of individuals resulting from the knowledge disseminated by the deceased in his life time.
  • The continuous benefit people derive due to the endowments of the deceased in his life time.
  • Repaying the debts of the deceased
  • Fulfilling his outstanding religious monetary obligations (fidya, unpaid Zakah etc.)
  • Fulfilling outstanding vows of the deceased.
  • Offering Qurbani (Udhiya) on behalf of the deceased
  • Performing Hajj of behalf of the deceased
  • Building (or assisting in building or contributing to) a Masjid, Madrasa, Hospital, orphanage, digging a well, planting a tree or any act or establishment that aids and benefits people.
  • Isaal al- Thawaab; Performing any voluntary good deed, thereafter gifting its rewards to the deceased e.g. Recitation of Quran etc.

As for your specific question, “The life of the Prophet, ﷺ, is indeed the best example for us to follow. During the time of the Prophet ﷺ many of his family members, his wives, daughters, uncles and his illustrious companions (ra) left the world whilst engaged in the most noble work and effort of uplifting the religion of Islam. Despite the Prophet’s deep love for them, he did not (on any single occasion) commemorate the innovative custom of inviting people on different intervals to recite the Quran for Isaal al Thawaab.

While we do believe in Isaal al Thawaab, however, the act of inviting people for Quran Khatam and Dhikr, etc. has taken much prominence and people regard it as compulsory. In principle, if any permissible act is regarded as compulsory in Shari’ah, it becomes Bid’ah as that is distortion of Deen.

Concerned and beloved ones should recite Quran or perform any act of virtue, i.e. give charity, etc. with sincerity and gift it to the deceased. That is closer to the Sunnah and more beneficial to the deceased than performing an act of Bid’ah which is of no benefit to the deceased, thus, defeating the actual purpose” [5]

In conclusion, if our intentions are that the deceased be benefited, we should know that the only way this can be achieved is by adhering to those practices that are in conformity with the shariah.

And Allah Knows Best

Mufti Kaleem Muhammad

Darul Iftaa, Jaamia Madinatul Uloom


[1] عن أم المؤمنين عائشة رضي الله عنها قالت : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : من أحدث في أمرنا هذا ما ليس منه فهو رد  رواه البخاري ومسلم ، وفي رواية لمسلم  من عمل عملاً ليس عليه أمرنا فهو رد

[2] عن جابر بن عبدالله أنَّ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يقول في خطبته: أمَّا بعد فإنَّ خيرَ الحديث كتابُ الله، وخيرَ الهدي هديُ محمد، وشرَّ الأُمور محدثاتها، وكلَّ بدعة ضلالة رواه مسلم

[3] عن جابر بن عبد الله رضي الله عنه ، وفيه أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم كان يقول في خطبته : ( إن أصدق الحديث كتاب الله ، وأحسن الهدي هدي محمد ، وشر الأمور محدثاتها ، وكل محدثة بدعة ، وكل بدعة ضلالة ، وكل ضلالة في النار ) أخرجه بهذا اللفظ النسائي في سننه

[4]  وَنَرْجُو لِلْمُحْسِنِينَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَنْ يَعْفُوَ عَنْهُمْ وَيُدْخِلَهُمُ الْجَنَّةَ بِرَحْمَتِهِ وَلَا نَأْمَنُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا نَشْهَدُ لَهُمْ بِالْجَنَّةِ وَنَسْتَغْفِرُ لِمُسِيئِيهِمْ وَنَخَافُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا نُقَنِّطُهُمْ  هـ العقيدة الطحارية

[5] excerpt from Mufti Ibrahim Desai Sahib