Question: Mufti, Assalamu Alaikum,
Is it permissible to be part of a ’40 days prayers’ after someone has passed away?
Answer: Wa Alaikum As Salaam,
According to the scholars, the customary ’40 days prayers’ that is done after someone has passed away is a repulsive innovation (Bid’ahQabeeha) and therefore, not permissible. Hence, it will not be permissible to be a part of this.
In order to understand why such acts are considered as innovations that are repulsive and abominable, one must look at the guidelines given in the Shariah with respect to these practices. The Shariah has outlined that when someone passes away it is permissible to do acts of charity on his behalf and to make dua and Istighfar for him. Similarly, doing Qurbani and Hajj are all permissible and commendable deeds that can be done on behalf of the deceased. It is also permissible to recite the Quran and supplicate to Allah to send the blessings to the deceased (which is referred to as Isale Thawab). However, for this, the Shariah has not made specific days, months or dates, and has not fixed specific timings for such acts of Isale Thawab. The Shariah has not given any significance to any fixed timing like that of 40 days or 3 days or yearly, and has not given any teaching regarding the observance of any of these practices. Therefore, it will not be permissible for any Muslim to fix a specific time or amount of days, and then consider this specification to be necessary and required in the Shariah. The scholars have stated that to make such specification of a ‘3 days’, ’40 days’ or ‘yearly’ and to practice such observances is ‘Bid’ah’, and a repulsive innovation (Bid’ah Qabeeha).
In a similar manner, the great Hanafi scholar and jurists have stated that it is a repulsive innovation (Bid’ah Qabeeha) and reprehensible to host functions on any of these days like 3 days; 7 days; 10 days; 40 days, and to share food on these occasions. In the famous compendium of Fatawa of the Hanafi Mazhab, Al Fatawa Bazaziya, it is written, ‘ And it is Makrooh for the bereaved to cook food and entertain others, because this has been prescribed in time of happiness and not sadness. And this is an evil Bid’ah (FatawaBazaziyah vol. 4 pg. 81 – Rasheediya; FathulQadeer vol. 2 pg. 142; Mustafa Albabi Halbi Misr).
With respect to the origin of such practices like that of ‘3 days;, ’10 days’, ’40 days’, ‘yearly’ etc. which are observed by some Muslims as traditional practices, scholars have written that these are practices that have been adopted from non Muslims.
Many scholars have written that the specification of days and dates in having functions for the deceased, and serving food on those specific days after the demise of a person, actually originated from the practices of the non Muslims.
In this regard, the great Hanafi jurist and author of Imdadul Fatawa wrote, ‘3 days, 10 days, 40 days etc. are all innovations and have originated from the Hindus. It is essential that Muslims refrain from such practices since the Prophet (s.a.w) has said, ‘Whoever likens himself to another group, he shall be from amongst them.’ Also, sharing food and entertaining on such occasions are innovations.’ (ImdadulFatawa Vol. 5 pg. 260,261).
As mentioned before, the ’40 prayers’ is considered as an innovation in Islam and it will not be permissible to be a part of this.
And Allah Knows Best.
Mufti Waseem Khan.