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Hajj and Umrah

What deeds can be done to benefit someone who has passed away?

All praises be to Allaah, Lord and Sustainer of the worlds, and may the peace and blessings of Allaah be upon our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and upon his family and companions.

Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa says:

And that for the man there is nothing except what he does (his deeds).

[An-Najm: 39]

The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

“When a person dies all his deeds are cut off except three; an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge, and a righteous child who prays for him” (the deceased)."

(Narrated by Muslim)

So a person has a share in all the good deeds of his children, even after his death, as his children are considered to be his earning, because the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:

"And his son is from his earning."

(Narrated by Abu-Dawood)

When a person dies, not only his children, but also other relatives and friends, often desire to somehow help the deceased.

This desire to benefit someone who has passed away usually emerges in two kinds of people:

1. Those that have some guilt because they were not just with the deceased when he/she was alive.

2. Those who, with all their sincerity and love, wish to benefit the deceased.

To fulfil their desire, people often take hold of anything they inherit from their forefathers or their community, or what any ignorant person tells them to do, without making sure that it is something permissible by shari'ah and therefore acceptable to Allaah Subhanahu-wa-Ta'alaa.

Such acts include reciting the Qur'aan at the grave, doing Mawlood on the third day, fortieth day and then annually, preparing food and doing “fathah” on it or doing “Khatam” of Qur'aan. These acts have never been reported, neither from the Prophet of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), nor from his companions. Therefore they are all innovations which have no basis in the Deen-al-Islaam.

It is reported from ‘Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:

“Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours [Islam] that is not part of it, will have it rejected.”

(Agreed upon)

Jaabir (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) used to say in his Friday khutbahs:

“The best of speech is the Book of Allah and the best of guidance is the guidance of Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). The most evil of things are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation (bid'ah) is a going-astray.”

(Reported by Muslim)

So it is important for Muslims to know the correct ways through which they can benefit those whom they love and who have died.

Following are the acts that have evidence from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) with regards to benefitting the deceased:

1. First of all, paying of any debts on his behalf: these are of two kinds:

a. Debt of people.
b. Debt of Allaah, such as any expiation or vows or left over obligatory act of worship

2. Correction of any mistakes or errors, whether by mistake or intentional, especially concerning the division of wealth done not in accordance with the Shari'ah.

3. Du'aa for the deceased. This is probably the most important thing that can benefit a person after his death: to pray for him, ask for forgiveness and mercy for him, and ask for Paradise and salvation from the Fire.

4. Sadaqah (charity) given on his behalf, because Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) reported that the mother of Sa'd ibn ‘Ubaadah (may Allaah be pleased with him and his father) died when he was away from her. He said:

"O Messenger of Allaah, my mother has died and I am away from her. Will it benefit her anything if I give in charity on her behalf?" He said, "Yes." He said, "Then I ask you to be my witness that I am giving my garden al-Mikhraaf (so called because it bore so many dates) in charity on her behalf."

(Reported by al-Bukhaari)

5. Devoting a share of a sacrifice for the deceased, because when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) offered a sacrifice, he said:

"In the name of Allaah, O Allaah, on behalf of Muhammad and the family of Muhammad "

(reported by Muslim, no. 1967)

– and the family of Muhammad included both the living and the dead.

6. Hajj and ‘Umrah on behalf of deceased, after the living person has first performed Hajj and ‘Umrah on his or her own behalf.

‘Abdullaah ibn Buraydah reported that his father (may Allaah be pleased with him) said:

"While I was sitting with the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him), a woman came to him and said: ‘I gave my mother a slave-woman in charity, and now my mother has died.' He said: ‘ You have got your reward, and your right of inheritance has brought your gift back to you. ' She said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, she still had one month to fast – can I fast it on her behalf?' He said, ‘ Fast it on her behalf .' She said, ‘She never went to Hajj – can I perform Hajj on her behalf?' He said, ‘ Perform Hajj on her behalf . '"

(Reported by Muslim, may Allaah have mercy on him, in his Saheeh, no. 1149)

This shows that it is also permissible to do acts of worship such as fasting on behalf of the deceased when these were due on him, because this is a debt due to Allaah.

And Allah the Most Knowledgeable knows what is best and most correct.

May Allaah help and guide us to do all that He is pleased with and his Peace and blessings be upon His last Prophet Muhammad.