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What Can We Do After the Death of a Family Member Who Did Not Pray for Several Years?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Seekersguidance.org

Answered by Shaykh Abdul-Rahim Reasat

Question: Assalamu alaykum

My mum passed away.

1) How much should we pay to fulfil 40 years of missed prayers for my mum?

2) In the absence of an official Will do the fidya payments for her missed prayers have to be taken from her assets or can any family member pay for the missed prayers from their own pockets?

3) Can you provide an estimate of the number of prayers an average woman with a normal menstrual cycle would be obliged to perform over a span of 40 years?

4) Although mum did used to give zakah I’m unsure if she did so throughout her entire adult life. I would like to know if anyone is to give voluntary charity on her behalf then can we give it to zakat-eligible recipients with the intention that it will pay off any outstanding zakah owed by her?

Answer: Bismillah

‘alaykum wa rahamatullah wa barakatuh

I pray you are well.

I apologise for us not having been able to answer your question yet. This is a simple matter that can easily be resolved.

The fidya payment is the monetary equivalent of roughly 1.5 kg’s of flour. There is some difference over how much this should be in cash, but many masajid set it as roughly £2.50. This is a nice round and safe figure. The fidya payment for the missed prayers and fasts can be taken from the 1/3rd of what she left behind, and it can be from your own money too.

The process you mentioned in your original question is the simplest approach. All you have to do is find someone who is poor, which for our purposes here is someone who is eligible to receive zakat, and to come to an agreement with him.

You should simply tell him that you are going to give him some money as charity for the purpose of compensating for your mother’s missed prayers. The amount you give will cover some of her missed prayers. He will be the owner of that amount, but you would like him to gift it back to you strait after he takes it for you to be able to give it to him again.

It is important that you give the money to him, and for him to give it back to you saying it is a gift, and for you to take it. Once this is done, some of the prayers are covered. You should now give it to him again with the intention of the fidya, and he should gift it back to you. Keep repeating this until the number is complete (it might take a while), and the final time you give it to him let him keep it.

This might seem strange, but see it as a way of using a means Allah has placed in the Shariʾa for Him to compensate for our deficiencies with His generosity. It is a means of asking His pardon and forgiveness because we know He loves to forgive and pardon. It is also worth telling the person you give the money to about the process, why it is being done, and that he will be rewarded by Allah for his participation.

As for the amount you give, that is up to you. The larger the amount, the quicker it will be to complete the process. So, if you give £500, this will cover 200 prayers. There are 1,825 prayers for a male in a year. For a lady with the minimum menstrual cycle, which is three days, there are 36 days a year when she would not be praying (and consequently having a larger number of missed prayers – which would come to 84). It’s not really worth the effort of calculating how many days she will have missed seeing as it is just a few extra transactions that will cover it. Also, seeing as it is charity on her behalf it is better to give too much than too little.

So, with £500 it would take ten exchanges to cover a year’s worth of prayers. 400 exchanges would cover your estimate of forty years. You could increase the amount to reduce the number, or calculate the excess left in the exchanges to bring the number down.

As for her zakat, it would be reasonable to assume that she did pay it, unless you know otherwise. If it was for jewellery, then Imam al-Shafiʿi has the position that it does not have to be given for jewellery, and we hope that this can be a way out for her on the Day of Judgement. Should you wish, you can intend to pay any zakat she owed every time you give charity. This will benefit you both. In fact it is best to intend that the reward of charity goes to all the believers.

I hope that helps. We ask Allah to cover compensate for our deficiencies and those of all the believers with His infinite generosity. Amin.

[Shaykh] Abdul-Rahim Reasat

This answer was collected from Seekersguidance.org. It’s an online learning platform overseen by Sheikh Faraz Rabbani. All courses are free. They also have in-person classes in Canada.

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