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Can you prove that seeking forgiveness [istighfar] and conveying reward of deeds is an established practice and not a bi’dah?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Please take the time to read and ponder on what I have written here-

6:164. – “no soul benefits except from its own works , and none bears the burden of another.”

53:39 – “every human being is credited only to what he / she (personally) done .”

Praying for the dead believer is actually imploring God to alter and amend his judgment ( more favourably) for that person – ie you are interceding for them. The Quran has numerous verses where you are told that no one can intercede for another

34:23 ” intercession with Him will be in vain, unless it coincides with His will .”

Since God forgives all sins of believers ( except idol worship) what exactly would we be praying for when we pray for a dead believer?? Do you not believe God when he says :

39:53 : “0 my servants who exceeded the limits never despair of gods mercy . For God forgives all sins. He is the forgiver , most merciful “

15:56 : “None despairs of his Lord’s mercy , except the strayers.”

Belief in the Quran and its teachings should make you accept without any doubt that only as a result of his mercy all believers will be pardoned not because others prayed for them but because of his infinite mercy!!

Also once a person dies his book / record is sealed and nothing can change it except by god’s mercy – reading copious Quran for the marhoom – are you trying to bribe ,influence , intercede with God ??

I would be very cautious as to what I ask people to do

16:25 : ” they will carry their burdens in full on the day of resurrection ,and also from the burdens of those whom they misguided without knowledge. “

The Quran implores you many times to use your reason – don’t follow blindly.

6:116 : “if you follow the majority of people on earth , they will divert you from the path of God. They only follow conjecture and they only guess.”

God blocks his guidance from those who defy their common sense / reason

10:100 ” no soul can believe accept by God’s leave and he brings disgrace on those who donot use their reason .”

In addition please read sura Yaseen ( which ironically we read over the dead!! )

36:69/70 : “…. This is a reminder and a clear Quran . To warn those who are alive , ..

The Quran is a guidance and a light for the LIVING – read it and listen carefully

7:204:”And if the Quran is being read, then listen to it and pay attention , that you may receive mercy .”

The dead in their graves cannot hear

35:22: ” nor equal are the living and dead, god causes whoever he wills to hear , and you cannot make those who are in their graves hear .”

As far as I am concerned this practice is a Bidat and above all a waste of time . Time is a precious commodity use it wisely and if you want to make it count do something to help another – that is the only way to redeem your sins. ( you cannot redeem the sins of others)

25:70/71: “As for those who repent, believe, and work righteousness , God will change their sins into credits, God is forgiving and merciful .Whoever repents and works righteousness , God redeems them by a complete redemption .”

2:177: ” righteousness is not to turn your faces towards the east and the west…. , it is the giving /helping. ( because of ones love of God ) to his relatives, orphans , the needy , the wayfarer …….

With the utmost respect


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

We’ve looked over your letter and now request you to carefully consider our response  with an open mind. If you are looking for the truth, as we believe you are, you will set aside preconceived notions and judge our response from an academic perspective in light of evidences provided from the Quran and the hadith.

1.) One of the main premises of your objection are the numerous Quranic verses you’ve quoted that supposedly (in your view) do not support seeking forgiveness for a deceased believer.

Consequently, you stated: [“Since God forgives all sins of believers (except idol worship) what exactly would we be praying for when we pray for a dead believer??”]

However, the Quran itself orders us to seek forgiveness for the believers that came before us:

“And those who came after them say: ‘Our Lord! Forgive us and our brethren who have preceded us in Faith, and put not in our hearts any hatred against those who have believed. Our Lord! You are indeed full of kindness, Most Merciful.’” [59:10]

The commentators of the Quran have reported statements of the most learned companions such as the Mother of Believers, Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) and Abdullah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father), that the believers have been ordered in this verse to seek forgiveness for the companions (may Allah be pleased with them). [i]

Since the companions have all passed away and we and all those Muslims who came after them have been ordered to seek forgiveness for them, then your statement would then make it sound that Allah forbid we have been ordered to do something by Allah that has no benefit in it? If seeking forgiveness did not benefit, then why did Allah order us to do it?

Secondly, who amongst us can have the audacity to say that his or her knowledge of the Quran surpasses that of Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her) or Abdullah ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father)?

We can also look at a number of rigorously authenticated ahadith which make it absolutely clear that a deceased believer benefits from the prayers and the rewards of good deeds that are conveyed to him.

2.) In an authentic hadith, Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said: “Verily, Allah shall elevate the grade of a righteous servant in Paradise, who will ask, ‘O Lord! How did I earn this?’ Allah will reply, ‘Through your son’s invoking Me to forgive you.’” [ii]

The above makes it clear that a person will have a higher rank because of forgiveness being sought for him.

After quoting the above hadith, Ibn Kathir (may Allah be pleased with him) mentions the greatness and vastness of Allah’s Mercy:

“After Allah mentioned His favor of elevating the offspring to the ranks of their parents, even though the deeds of the former did not qualify them, He affirmed His fairness in that, He does not punish anyone for the mistakes of others, (Every person is a pledge for that which he has earned.) Therefore, every person will be responsible for his actions. No sin committed by others shall ever be added to one’s load, even if committed by his or her parents or offspring. Allah the Exalted said, (Every person is a pledge for what he has earned, except those on the Right. In Gardens, they will ask one another about the criminals.)(74:38-41)”  [iii]

Regarding the last verse mentioned:

“Every person is a pledge for what he has earned, except those on the Right” (74:38-39)

Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) explains: “Meaning: every person will be tied to his evil deeds. But, for those on the right — the believers — the blessing of their good works will benefit their offspring and relatives, as well.”  [iv]

3.) Imam Bukhari (may Allah have mercy on him) relates in his Sahih on the authority of Aishah (may Allah be pleased with her), “A man said to the Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam), ‘My mother died suddenly and I thought that if she had lived she would have given alms. So, if I give alms now on her behalf, will she get the reward?’ The Prophet (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) replied, ‘Yes.’” [v]

The scholars of hadith have stated that this indicates that charity on behalf of the deceased is not only permissible, but is also beneficial to them. [vi]

4.) Imam Muslim (may Allah have mercy on him) relates in his Sahih on the authority of Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that Rasulullah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “When a man dies his acts come to an end but three, recurring charity, knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious child who prays for him (for the deceased).” [vii]

Here the benefits of dua reaching the deceased are clear as confirmed by the scholars of hadith. One should not be confused that here only the dua of the pious child is mentioned. The reason for restricting the dua to a pious child in the above-mentioned hadith is because the duas of the child are included amongst one’s own deeds. This is apparent from the hadith itself:  “his acts come to an end but three…”. Meaning that this parent is the reason [sabab] by Allah’s will of that child coming into this world and it is like an obligation on this child to seek forgiveness for his parent. [viii] [ix]

In contrast, the duas of others are not part of ones own deeds but they are also beneficial to the deceased as already stands proved from the Quranic verse and commentary mentioned at the beginning of this answer.

If you look back through the various proofs provided from Quranic verses, comments of the illustrious companions (may Allah be pleased with them), and authentic traditions of Rasululllah (salallahu alayhi wa sallam) from the most rigorously authenticated books of hadith: Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, you will realize that this no bi’dah and that seeking forgiveness for the deceased believers and conveying reward of good deeds is an established principle.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Sohail ibn Arif,
Student Darul Iftaa
Chicago, USA

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

ربنا اغفر لنا ولإخواننا الذين سبقونا بالإيمان فيه وجهان : أحدهما : أمروا أن يستغفروا لمن سبق هذه الأمة من [i]

 مؤمني أهل الكتاب . قالت عائشة رضي الله عنها : فأمروا أن يستغفروا لهم فسبوهم . الثاني : أمروا أن يستغفروا للسابقين الأولين من المهاجرين والأنصار . قال ابن عباس : أمر الله تعالى بالاستغفار لأصحاب محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وهو يعلم أنهم سيفتنون

تفسير القرطبي، ٢٠/ ٣٧٤

 [ii] حدثنا يزيد، حدثنا حماد بن سلمة، عن عاصم بن أبي النجود، عن أبي صالح، عن أبي هريرة قال: قال رسول الله

 صلى الله عليه وسلم: “إن الله ليرفع الدرجة للعبد الصالح في الجنة فيقول: يا رب، أنى لي هذه؟ فيقول: باستغفار ولدك لك” .

إسناده صحيح، ولم يخرجوه من هذا الوجه، ولكن له شاهد في صحيح مسلم، عن أبي هريرة، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: “إذا مات ابن آدم انقطع عمله إلا من ثلاث: صدقة جارية، أو علم ينتفع به، أو ولد صالح يدعو له

تفسير إبن كثير، ٧/ ٤٣٤ 

وقوله: {كل امرئ بما كسب رهين} لما أخبر عن مقام الفضل، وهو رفع درجة الذرية إلى منزلة الآباء من غير [iii]

 عمل يقتضي ذلك، أخبر عن مقام العدل، وهو أنه لا يؤاخذ أحدا بذنب أحد، بل {كل امرئ بما كسب رهين} أي: مرتهن بعمله، لا يحمل عليه ذنب غيره من الناس، سواء كان أبا أو ابنا، كما قال: {كل نفس بما كسبت رهينة إلا أصحاب اليمين في جنات يتساءلون عن المجرمين} المدثر: ٣٨ -٤١ .

المرجع السابق

 معناه: كل نفس مرتهنة بعملها السيئ إلا أصحاب اليمين، فإنه قد تعود (3) بركات أعمالهم الصالحة على [iv]


المرجع السابق، ٣/ ٣٨٤

 أَنَّ رجلًا قال للنبيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم : إِنَّ أمِّي افْتُلِتَتْ نفسُها ، وأظنُّها لو تكلمَتْ تَصدَّقَتْ ، فهل لها أجرٌ [v]

 إِنْ تَصدَّقَتْ عنها ؟ قال : نعم

 صحيح البخاري  الرقم: ١٣٨٨

 ويستفاد منه: أن الصدقة عن الميت تجوز، وأنه ينتفع بها [vi]

عمدة القاري، ٨/ ٢٢٢

إذا مات الإنسانُ انقطع عنه عملُه إلا من ثلاثةٍ : إلا من صدقةٍ جاريةٍ . أو علمٍ ينتفعُ به . أو ولدٍ صالحٍ [vii]

 يدعو له

 صحيح مسلم ا الرقم: ١٦٣١

وفيه أن الدعاء يصل ثوابه إلى الميت وكذلك الصدقة وهما مجمع عليهما [viii]

شرح النووي على مسلم، ١١/ ٨٥

وجعل الولد الصالح من جنس العمل؛ لأنه هو السبب في وجوده وسبب صلاحه بإرشاد إلى الهدى. وفائدة  [ix]

 التقييد بالولد مع أن غيره لو دعا لنفعه، تحريض للولد على الدعاء وأنه كالواجب عليه

مرقاة المفاتيح شرح مشكاة المصابيح ١/ ٣٠٦

This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.