Saturday, 3 November 2007

Isaali Thawaab vs. Tahlil/Fatihah


In principle, it is permissible to send Isaali Thawaab (cosigning reward) for the alive as well as the dead. Almighty Allah has favoured us through the acceptance of Isaali Thawaab. The action is Mustahab (recommended in Deen) and is Sunnah.

Generally, we know that a person should be rewarded only for his own deeds and actions. However, as human beings, Allah has put in us the feelings for one another. We feel for our deceased parents, family and friends. Thus, Allah has permitted us to do good deeds and pass the reward to them.

Furthermore, the deceased must have done something good to the living person for him/her to be remembered. When the living person does a good deed and passes the reward to the deceased, the deceased is indirectly drawing from his own actions.

There are innumerable number of Ahadith expounding the virtues of reciting the Qur'an and making Du'a. There are also many Ahadith on Isaali Thawaab. Surely, the deceased eagerly await for rewards from his beloved wife, parents and friends by them performing the various deeds and the cosigning the reward to them.

On numerous occasions, Nabi Muhammad SAW advised the Sahabah RA to give charity on behalf of the deceased.


One specific incident is of Abu Talha RA - when the Ayat:

"You cannot attain virtue until your spend what is beloved to you." (Surah An-Nisaa: Ayat 4)

- was revealed - Abu Talha gave his most valuable well and garden, the "Bir Haa" - as charity on behalf of his deceased mother.


Another Hadith comes to us as the following, as narrated from Ibn Majah:

Aas ibn Waai (a Kaafir) passed away and bequeathed that after his death, a hundred slaves should be freed on his behalf. One of his sons, Hisham, freed fifty slaves on his father's behalf. The other son, Amr - intended to free the other fifty slaves.

He (Amr) asked Rasulullah (SAW).

Rasulullah (SAW) replied:

"If only your father was a Muslim, then the reward of freeing slaves, giving charity and performing Hajj on his behalf would have reached him."

From the above, we can see and be thankful to Allah that Islam is a wonderful religion which grants its followers the ability to benefit one's loved one who have passed away.


Another narration comes from Sa'd RA who said:

"Umm Sa'd (mother of Sa'd) passed away. What should I do?"

Rasulullah SAW said:

"Dig a well (in order to provide water)."

Sa'd RA dug a well and said:

"This (the water of the well) is for the reward of Umm Sa'd." (Mishkaat: Chapter of Sadaqah)


Anas bin Malik RA eports that Rasulullah SAW said:

"Whomsoever reads Yaseen at anybody's grave, Allah will decrease their punishment."

This proves that reading the Qur'an and conveying the rewards to the deceased, benefits the deceased. (Umdatul Qaari, Ahsanul Fataawa, Volume 4, Page 206)


There are basically two forms of Isaali Thawaab:

a) The conveying of the reward of charitable deeds

b) The conveying of the reward of physical deeds that do not entail wealth, e.g. Solat, Fasting, Dhikr, recitation of the Holy Qur'an, Tawaf of the Ka'abah, etc.

The first form is unanimously acceptable by the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah.

The second form is correct according to the Hanafi and Hanbali Madhab and several Shafi'i and Maliki Ulama as well.

As for the reward of Du'a - which has been separated from the above - there is also unanimity of the scholars in its reward reaching and benefiting the deceased. This fact may be referred to in Kitab-ul-Azkaar of Imam Nawawi RA.

Infact, there are grand Ulama who has prepared rebutals against those who object the cosigning of Amals to others.

Hafiz Ibn Qayyim RA states (mafhum):

"If one accepts the charitable form of Isaali Thawaab and refutes the physical form, it would be said to him: "What is the proof to show that the recitation of the Holy Qur'an does not reach the deceased?" "

Al-Qurtubi RA states in Al-Tazkirah, Page 71:

"Just as the reward of charitable deeds benefit the deceased - (then)similarly - the recitation of the Holy Qur'an, Du'a and Istighfaar also do the same - because all of these are regarded as Sadaqah (charity) in Shari'ah."

Al-Qurtubi RA thereafter mentioned two narrations recorded in Sahih Muslim which prove that even Solat and Zikr of Allah (i.e. Tasbih, Takbir and Tahlil) were all classified as Sadaqah by Rasulullah SAW. Hence, there remains no dispute in whether the reward of Qur'anic recital benefits and deceased or not.

Besides the above, let us now, mention further proofs that substantiate both forms of Isaali Thawaab:


Rasulullah (SAW) slaughtered 100 sheep during his (SAW) farewell Hajj and made intention for himself (SAW) and all those (alive, deceased and to come) who bring faith on his Prophethood. (Sahih Bukhari & Nasbur Raaya, Allamah Zailee RA)


Imam Bukhari RA has reported on the authority of Abdullah ibn Abbas RA that Sa'ad ibn Ubaadah RA was away when his mother passed away.

When he returned, he asked Rasulullah:

"Will it be of any benefit if I give charity on her behalf?"

Rasulullah (SAW) replied in the affirmative. (Sahih Bukhari: Hadith 2762)

With regards to the above, the grand scholar - Hafiz Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani RA states in his monumental commentary of Sahih Bukhari entitled - Fathul Baari:

"This Hadith proves the permissibility of charity on behalf of the deceased and that the reward will reach him." (Fathul Baari: Volume.5: Page 477: Hadith 2761)


Abdullah ibn Abbas RA reports a man once asked Rasulullah SAW:

"O Prophet of Allah! My father has passed away and he did not perform Hajj, can I perform Hajj on his behalf?"

Rasulullah (SAW) enquired of him:

"If your father had any debt, would you have paid it?"

The man replied:


Upon this, Rasulullah (SAW) said:

"In that case, the Deen of Allah has more right." (Sunan Nasa'i: Hadith 26331)


A separate incident of a similar nature has been recorded by Imam Bukhari in his Sahih: Hadith 6698.

Hafiz Ibn Qayyim RA - the famous student of Hafiz Ibn Taymiyyah RA, after quoting the above Ahadith, states:

"These quotations all concur with the fact that when the living carry out any deed on behalf of the deceased, the reward will reach him (benefit him)." (Kitab-ar-Ruh: Page 161)


Al-Lajlaaj RA, a companion of Rasulullah SAW, had bequested his son - that after he leaves this world, he should recite the beginning and end of Surah Al-Baqarah at the head side of his grave. Al-Lajlaaj RA then mentioned that he heard this from Rasulullah SAW. (Al-Mu'jam-ul-Kabir of Imam Tabrani RA: Hafiz Haythami RA has regarded the narrators of this tradition as reliable in Majma-uz-Zawaa'id, Volume 3, Page 44)


Such has also been recorded to be the practice of the companion - Abdullah ibn Umar RA. (Sunan Al-Kubra of Imam Bayhaqi RA: Volume 4, Page 56)

This narration has been classified as Hasan (sound) by Imam Nawawi RA and Hafiz Ibn Hajar RA. (Al-Azkar, Page 212, Hadith 493; and Al-Futuhaat Al-Rabbaniyyah, Volume 3, Page 194)

Hafiz Ibn Hajar RA has mentioned in a reply to a query of whether the reward of recitation of the Qur'an reaches the deceased, that:

"It is Mustahab (meritorious) for one to do this form of (Isaali Thawaab) abundantly."

(Tawdehul Bayaan Li Wusuli Thawaabil Qur'aan of Shaykh Abdullah Siddiq Al-Ghumari: Page 2)

Besides these there are numerous other narrations of this nature. It thus becomes abundantly clear through the abovementioned Ahadith that Isaali Thawaab is totally permissible in all its forms and is in fact a very virtuous deed.

This is the view of the overwhelming majority of the classical scholars - the Muhadditheen and the Fuqahaa of Islam.

Further reference can be made to:

- Kitab-ar-Ruh of Ibn Qayyim RA, Page 153;
- Fathul-Baari of Ibn Hajar RA, Volume 5, Page 477, Hadith 2761;
- Sharhus-Sudur of Allamah Suyuti RA, Page 402-403;
- Dar Ibn Kathir;- Al-Hidayah, Volume 1, Page 296-297;
- Fathul Qadeer, Volume 3, Page 65-66; and
- Shaami, Volume 2, Page 243


So to recap, Isaali Thawaab is an action whereby one gives the reward of his action to someone else. A person can read Nawafil Solat, make Nawafil Fast or give out money for the sake of Allah with the intention of another person gaining the reward. There are many optional acts a person can do which can be the medium of another person gaining reward.

However, it should be noted that when a person wants to send Isaali Thawaab, he must not put himself /herself in difficulty; e.g. one wants to give charity but does not have the money resulting in borrowing, etc.

Family members, friends and acquaintances of the deceased can perform as much Tilawat of the Qur'an, Sadaqah, Zikr, and perform Du'a for Maghfirah for the deceased. With such actions, Allah SWT may accept them as means for the deceased to be forgiven.

Thus, passing the reward to the deceased can be done in any form according to the capacity of the person passing on the reward; and it should be borne in mind that whichever action is performed with more sacrifice, then the reward is also multiplied.

In addition, for those who are able, one should be aware that the most virtuous deed any person can do is - the Hajj.

The Prophet Muhammad SAW said:

"Whosoever perform Hajj and guards himself from sin and shameful acts, he returns back (cleansed) as the day he was given birth to." (Sahih Bukhari & Sahih Muslim)


If after understanding the above, one still doubts the validity of the physical form of Isaali Thawaab, then the following method can in no circumstance be refuted:

That is that after one carries out a physical form of worship (e.g. Solat, Fasting, Tilawat of the Qur'an etc.) - then he/she should make a Du'a to Almighty Allah that Allah, firstly, accepts this noble deed and he/she should thereafter ask Allah to grant the reward to so and so person. In this way, if Allah accepts the Du'a, the reward will automatically be conveyed to that specific person alive or deceased.

The above method has been prescribed by great Ulama like Imam Nawawi RA and Hafiz Ibn Hajar RA so as to remove all differences of opinion. We have already mentioned that there is no doubt in the deceased benefiting from the Du'a of the living.

In a narration of Sahih Muslim, Rasulullah (SAW) has mentioned that one of the three things that will benefit the deceased is the Du'a of his pious children. (Sahih Muslim: Page 4199)


People may say:

"Yeah - I've read a lot of Qur'an - which goes to others? Wouldn't that be a waste of time."

In explaining this - let us clarify that InshaAllah the reciter, or the person performing the deed or any other good deed will also obtain the reward. The concept is similar to a father who makes his children Huffaz. The father will get the reward of all his children InshaAllah, but the children will also obtain the reward for their toils and effort, without deminishing any at the least. Allah is Most Bountiful. Distribution of reward here is not like cutting a cake into smaller pieces. Allah can give, if Allah wants. We just have to follow the prescribed from Rasulullah SAW. Intensify our efforts to perform the virtuous, the encouraged, and to not be reluctant to perform the permissibles.

The next question goes - if we get the full Thawaab of our deeds can we still get the bonus for passing on the reward as well? The Ulama have answered this question by explaining that - the person performing the deeds will get the full rewards, and by the Mercy of Allah SWT, He may award the cosigner with another separate reward for the charitable act of kindness.

Some people are concerned that if they ask Allah SWT to give Thawaab of their good deeds to several people then this Thawaab will be divided and hence reduced. This is incorrect. Fact is - Allah SWT with all His Bounty will give each person full reward, including the cosigner himself/herself.

The final question goes - since the performer will always get full Thawaab, and others may benefit fully as well, then shouldn't we make it a habit to pass on the reward of every single good deed we perform? The simple answer to this is - Yes! This would be ideal - and we should try and pass on the reward of each deed we perform. Infact, we ought to make intention to pass it on to the souls of all deceased Muslims as well.


All Muslims must know and understand that Tahlils/Fatihahs, and other similar ceremonies is not proven from Hadith. These are customs and rituals practiced in the South Asian Subcontinent, as well as the Malay Peninsular and the Indo-Malay Archipelago.

Contextually Tahlil/Fatihahs refers to the recitation of a few Ayats of the Qur'an followed by a Du'a for the deceased.

To have the belief that it is a part / injunction of Deen for people to gather at the house of the deceased to recite Qur'an for a specific number of days is incorrect and an act of Bid'ah.

Rasulullah SAW condemned Bid'ah and stated the person who practices on Bid'ah is astray and deviation.


All Muslims must understand that there is no specific prayer to be performed during the mourning period after burial, and later.

If a person would like to indulge in any form of Du'a or worship, then he/she must be informed and aware that such actions are not compulsory.


During the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, many deaths occurred. It was the Prophet SAW's noble habit to comfort the bereaved families and widows. Many Sahabah RA enquired from the Prophet SAW about Isaali Thawaab. Having said that, it still cannot be proven on any one occasion that the Prophet SAW himself practised or ordered the customary practise of Tahlil/Fatihahs. Had such practices been of any significance, the Prophet SAW surely would have at least practised it or ordered its practise at least once in his (SAW) lifetime.

Any human being knows that the loss of a loved one is very traumatic experience. The Prophet Muhammad SAW himself cried at the loss of his (SAW) own children.


Muslims must understand that - to emphasise and carry out a particular practise not proven in Shari'ah, for example, Tahlil/Fatihah leads to distortion of Deen. Many people would regard the practise as necessary and an integral part of Deen as is the case among many unwary people today. Any practise which leads to a possible distortion of Deen is prohibited and a major sin. Obviously, such a practise leading to sin invokes the anger of Allah. How can such a practise benefit the deceased?


Most Muslims around the world in this day and age are totally unaware of the purpose of the Solat-ul-Janazah i.e. Funeral Prayer performed for the deceased. What is intended in Tahlils/Fatihahs is infact the objective of Solat-ul-Janazah i.e. to make Du'a for the deceased.

There are four Takbirs in Solat-ul-Janazah. After the first Takbir, After the third Takbir, a du'a of forgiveness is made for the deceased. This is the way of du'a established by Shari'ah for a deceased. Rasulullah SAW and the Sahabah RA made du'a for the deceased in this way. We must understand that there is no other way that is more blessed and beneficial to the deceased than the Sunnah way of Rasulullah SAW.

When a person passes away, it is an act of worship and great reward to attend his/her Solat-ul-Janazah. The moral obligation to attend to his/her funeral and console his/her family, will be according to our relationship with the deceased.


When our beloved leaves this World, we should take great opportunity to contribute whatever we can, which may be beneficial for the deceased in the Hereafter.

It is established from the Hadith that after burial, we should make Du'a for the deceased's steadfastness in the grave i.e. so that he/she can well answer the question forwarded by the Angels - Munkar and Naakir. Thus we should make Du'a to Allah so that Allah gives our beloved steadfastness and ease in the grave. We can also make whatever Du'a we want for the deceased.


In Shari'ah the period of mourning is only three days. It is not permissible to mourn for more than three days. One may console and express condolences to the bereaved family. The practice of mourning the death by reciting the Qur'an as a custom on Thursdays, on the 3rd day, 40th day etc. has no basis in the Shari'ah.

Rasulullah SAW said:

"None should mourn the death of a person but for three days." (Sahih Bukhari)

It is clear from the above-mentioned Hadith that it is not permissible to mourn the death of a person after three days. The only exception is a widow. It is permissible for her to mourn the death of her husband until her Iddat (waiting period after death) - which is four months and ten days if she is not pregnant. If she is, her Iddat is till the birth of the child.


The Tahlil/Fatihah culture proclaims necessity of ritual recital of the Qur'an and Du'a after certain periods. This usually vary from country to country, state to state and culture to culture; but usually it manifests in the form of repetitions on the 3rd Day, 7th Day, 10th Day, 40th Day, 100th Day after the death of the deceased, and then annually, year after year.

One of the main reasons for selecting certain days is because of the deviant belief that the Ruh of the deceased visits the house after 3 days, 40 days, and so on.

This also includes the specification of visiting graves on specific days. One must understand that visiting graves (for male Muslims) is a meritorious act, and the act of Isaali Thawaab too is a meritorious act; but to define, fix and make it an injunction to perform certain acts on certain days after someone's death, and to believe that it is meritorious is Bid'ah, and a sin.

Some people contend and say that it is a small matter. The fact is - the Ulama of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama'ah inclusive of the four grand Imams of Fiqh have all elaborated on the issue, and thus this proves that such actions is no small matter. All Muslims must know how about to go around performing Deeds and good actions for themselves as well as for other Muslims.

Almighty Allah Ta'ala states in the Noble Qur'an:

"O Ye who Believe! Obey Allah and His Rasul."

Let us realign our minds and recap that the life of the Prophet Muhammad SAW is indeed the best example for us to follow. During the time of the Prophet Muhammad SAW, many of his family members, his wives, daughters, uncles and his illustrious companions left the world whilst engaged in the most noble work and effort of uplifting the religion of Islam. Despite the Prophet SAW's deep love for them, never did he (SAW) - on any single occasion - commemorate the innovative custom of 7 days, 40 days, 100 days, etc. The Hadith is clear, in that, the immediate family should mourn for three days only.


Typical Tahlil/Fatihah ceremonies include many prohibited acts in Shari'ah e.g. the intermingling of sexes, the lack of provision of Hijab facility for women, vain talk, excessive / unnecessary / extravagant expenditure on food and many more. Thus, when such functions possess such qualities, they become prohibited in Islam.

It is incorrect and Bid'ah to believe that for the cosigning of reward to parents - if their children recite the Kalimah 100,000 times - then the Maghfirah (forgiveness) of the deceased is inevitable. Fact is, there is no Wazifah or Kalimah that guarantees the Maghfirah of the deceased. It is all in Allah's decision whether to forgive or not.


Thera are people who cover up the mirrors in their houses after a member of the family has passed away. Common sense relates this to the fact that such people are signifying that they are in the period of mourning. Let them be for 40 days or less, or more - all Muslims must understand that such practices is a corrupt innovation and must be shunned.

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