Esaal-e-Sawaab in Islaam

Esaal-e-Sawaab is an offshoot Urdu transliteration for the Arabic 'iisaal al-thawaab to the dead.

 

Esaal-e-Swaab to the dead [ إيصال الثواب للميت ] basically refers to doing good deeds, whether in the form of reciting the Qur'aan, giving charity, making duaa, etc., and then asking Allaah to give its reward to a dead person. It is also referred to as 'ihdaa al-thawaab to the dead [ إهداء الثواب للميت ]

 

 

Consensus regarding what is permissible Esaal-e-Swaab

 

All of the scholars of Islaam agree that if one makes duaa' (supplication) for the dead or gives charity on their behave, it benefits the dead. There is no dispute regarding this point except from the side of the innovators. Ibn Al-Mubaraak said: There is no difference of opinion regarding charity [i.e. its benefiting the dead].

 

قال ابن كثير: "فأما الدعاء والصدقة، فذاك مجمع على وصولهما، ومنصوص من الشارع عليهما"

 

Ibn Kathiir said: As for supplication [duaa’] and charity, then the scholars agree that it reaches the dead and there are Nusoos in Islamic legislation for this.

 

The evidence that duaa' [supplication] benefits the dead has been drawn from the following Hadith in Sahih Muslim:

 

 

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) as saying

When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who makes duaa' [supplicates] for him (for the deceased).

 

 

The scholars also agree that one cannot gift another person faith [Imaan] or Tawheed [belief in oneness of Allaah].

 

 

Hanafi Madhab regarding Esaal-e-Sawaab

 

According to the Hanafi school of thought, as well as the Hanbali school of thought, one can gift the reward for any worship, which one does, to someone else. The worship can be praying, fasting, performing Hajj, or giving in charity.

[Kawaiti Encyclopedia of Fiqh Volume 57 Page 15 ]

 

According to the Hanafi school of thought Esaal-e-Sawaab of the recitation of the Qur'aan is permissible and benefits the dead.

 

 

Maaliki Madhab regarding Esaal-e-Sawaab

 

Imaam Maalik was of the opinion that Esaal-e-Sawaab of the recitation of the Qur'aan to the dead is not permissible. According to him, doing so does not benefit the dead and nor does it reach him.

 

A group of his Companions [i.e. those who belonged to his Madhab] were of the opinion that Esaal-e-Sawaab of the Qur'aan does benefit the dead and reaches him.

 

 

Shaafi Madhab regarding Esaal-e-Sawaab

 

There are two opinions regarding the Esaal-e-Sawaab among the Shaafi school of thought. The popular opinion, as Al-Nawawi has mentioned, is that it does not reach the dead and nor does it benefit him.

 

Imaam Al-Shaafi, like Imaam Maalik, was of the opinion that the dead cannot benefit from the deeds of the living.

 

Al-Nawawi said in Sharh of Sahih Muslim: That which is the popular opinion in our Madhab is that the reward of reciting the Qur'aan for the dead does not reach him. A group of our Companions said that it does reach the dead. Ahamd bin Hanbal was of the opinion that the reward does reach the dead.

 

However, the majority of the scholars of the Shaafi school are of the opinion that recitation of the Qur'aan does reach the dead and benefits him.

 

At this point it should be noted that some people erroneously quote from the book Al-Majmoo' of Imaam Al-Nawawi to justify their claim that Imaam Al-Nawawi was of the opinion that recitation of the Qur'aan can be gifted to the dead and that it benefits him. These people need to remember that Imaam Al-Nawawi never completed the book. The portion of the book which deals with the topic was written by Muhammad Najib Al-MuTi'i. 

 

It is true, however, that the later Shaafis have reinterpreted what Imaam Al-Nawawi said regarding the popular opinion of the Madhab being that the reward of Esaal-e-Sawaab does not reach the dead to mean that this is when the person who recites the Qur'aan does not have the intention that it reach the dead.

 

 

Hanbali Madhab regarding Esaal-e-Sawaab  

 

As for the Hanbali school of thought, there are three opinions among them regarding Esaal-e-Sawaab of the Qur'aan to the dead.

 

The first opinion in the school is that it is permissible and it reaches and benefits the dead. This is what has been popularly transmitted from Ahmad.

 

The second opinion is that it is not permissible to gift the reward of recitation of the Qur'aan to the dead, but if done it reaches and benefits him.

 

The third opinion is that the reward is for the person who recited the Qur'aan and it is hoped that the dead is shown mercy because of the recitation.

 

According to the last view, if a person was to recite the Qur'aan in the presence of the dead or if he gifted the reward of the recitation to the dead, the reward would be for the reciter, and the dead would be as if he had witnessed the recitation and it is hoped that he will be shown mercy as a result of the recitation.

 

Ibn Qudaama said: These Hadith are authentic. And in them is evidence of the dead benefiting from all of the deeds by means of which one nears Allaah because fasting, Hajj, duaa, and asking forgiveness are forms of worship related to the body the reward of which Allah made to reach the dead. Thus, similarly other forms of worship also benefit the dead. And because Muslims have gathered together in every time period and in every city and recited the Qur'aan and gifted its reward to their dead without being criticized.

[Al-Mughni Volume 2 Page 568]

 

 

Evidence for those who say Esaal-e-Sawaab of Qur'aan for dead is not permissible

 

Those who believe that the recitation of the Qur'aan does not benefit the dead use the following as evidence

 

And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad).

[Qur’aan 53:39]

 

That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.

[Qur’aan 2:135]

 

 

They have also used the following Hadith to substantiate their claim

 

Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) as saying:

When a man dies, his acts come to an end, but three, recurring charity, or knowledge (by which people) benefit, or a pious son, who makes duaa' [supplicates] for him (for the deceased).

 

This Hadith is evidence that only three things benefit the dead. Recitation of the Qur'aan is not one of them.

 

They have also used Qiyaas [analogical deduction] as evidence that Esaal-e-Sawaab of the Qur’aan is not permissible and does not reach or benefit. They say that one cannot pray on behalf of the other. Similarly, one cannot recite the Qur’aan and gift its reward to another because just like prayer, reciting the Qur’aan is a worship which is related to the body [i.e. it must be performed by a person with the use of his limbs].

 

They also state the affect of the recitation of the Qur'aan does not go beyond the person reciting it, and so neither does its reward.

 

The group also points out that when it comes to deeds by means of which one draws close to Allaah, one must find evidence from the Nusuus [texts of Islamic legislation] for their permissibility and not pass judgment based on conjecture. There is no explicit text for gathering, reciting the Qur'aan, and then gifting its reward to the dead.

 

Finally, they contest that we have no authentic reports showing that the Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) of the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) ever recited the Qur'aan and then gifted its reward to the dead. Had this been a good thing, they would surely have preceded us in doing it.

 

 

Evidence for those who say Esaal-e-Sawaab of Qur'aan is permissible for dead

 

Those who claim that Esaal-e-Sawaab of the Qur'aan for the dead is permissible and reaches and benefits him use the following as evidence:

 

Those (angels) who bear the Throne (of Allah) and those around it glorify the praises of their Lord, and believe in Him, and ask forgiveness for those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah) (saying): "Our Lord! You comprehend all things in mercy and knowledge, so forgive those who repent and follow Your Way, and save them from the torment of the blazing Fire!

[Qur’aan 40:7]

 

The duaa which the Angels make is for others. It is not from the deeds of the dead, but it benefits them. Such is the case with other forms of worship.

 

Similarly, there is the following Verse(s):

 

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.

[Qur’aan 59:10]

 

So know (O Muhammad) that La ilaha ill-Allah (none has the right to be worshipped but Allah), and ask forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women. And Allah knows well your moving about, and your place of rest (in your homes).

[Qur’aan 47:19]

 

 

In this Verse Allaah ordered His Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) to ask forgiveness for the believers. That shows that asking forgiveness benefits them and reaches them.

 

 

And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained.

[Qur’aan 52:21]

 

 

The above mentioned Verse shows that Allaah will join the believing sons and fathers. The Verse, they contest, is evidence that one can benefit from the deeds of another person, thus making Esaal-e-Sawaab of the Qur'aan permissible as it is the deed of another. 

 

They also use the following narration as evidence:

 

اقرءوا يس على موتاكم

Recite Yaa Siin upon your dead

 

[The authenticity of this narration is disputed as can be seen in the Doror Encyclopedia of Hadith]

 

The group which believes that Esaal-e-Sawaab of the Qur'aan for the dead benefits and reaches the dead have also drawn evidence from the following narration

 

 Narrated Abu Burda:

That his father said, "When `Umar was stabbed, Suhaib started crying: O my brother! `Umar said, 'Don't you know that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said: The deceased is tortured because of the weeping of the living'?"

[Sahih Al-Bukhaari Hadith No. 1290]

 

 

They say that if weeping of the living affects the dead, then Allaah is more generous than to allow the punishment of disobedience to reach the dead but veil from him good deeds.

 

They have also drawn evidence from the fact that people in every time period and city have gathered together for reciting the Qur'aan and gifting its reward to the dead without being criticized.

 

This, however, is not a very strong evidence because the dispute in this matter is well known and their are no authentic reports of the Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) which show that they gathered together, as we see today, to recite the Qur'aan and then gift its reward to the dead.

 

This group has also made Qiyaas based on Hajj and charity that since these two reach and benefit the dead, so does recitation of the Qur'aan. There is Ijmaa that Hajj and charity benefit the dead and their are Nusuus present such as the following:

 

'Abdullah b. 'Abbas reported that while al-Fadl b. Abbas had been riding behind Allah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) a women of the tribe of Khath'am came to him (to the Holy Proppet) asking for a religious verdict. Fadl looked at her and she looked at him. Allah's Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) turned the face of al-Fadl to the other side. She said:

Messenger of Allah, there is an obligation from Allah upon His servants in regard to Hajj. (But) my father is an aged man; he is incapable of riding safely. May I perform Hajj on his behalf? He said: Yes. It was during the Farewell Pilgrimage.

[Sahih Muslim Hadith No. 1334]

 

 

Ibn 'Abbas (Allah be pleased with both of them) reported:

A woman came to the Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) and said: My mother has died, and fasts of a month are due from her. Thereupon he said: Don't you see that if debt was due from her, would you not pay it? She said: Yes (I would pay on her behalf). Thereupon he said: The debt of Allah deserves its payment more than (the payment of anyone else).

[Sahih Muslim Hadith No. 1148]

 

 

These Hadith show that the dead benefits from the Hajj performed by the living on his/her behalf. And likewise charity given on his/her behalf by the living. A Qiyaas is drawn based on this for recitation of the Qur'aan. Based on the Qiyaas, the dead benefits from the recitation which is done for the dead by the living.

 

These are the Hadith which Ibn Qudaamah used for evidence for his position that all forms of worship which are related to the body benefit the dead and Allaah makes them reach the dead.

 

The group has also made Qiyaas based on duaa' [supplication]. All scholars agree that duaa benefits the dead and there are explicit texts in regard to this which have been mentioned earlier. Based on duaa a Qiyaas is drawn that recitation of the Qur'aan also benefits the dead.

 

Rebuttals of those who support Esaal-e-Sawaab

 

Those who hold that Esaal-e-Sawaab is permissible and benefits the dead answer the evidences of those who are against the practice as follows:

 

 

And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad).

[Qur’aan 53:39]

 

 

They provide several interpretations for this Verse. The quote Imaam Al-Qurtubi who says regarding this Verse

 

"ويحتمل أن يكون قوله: ﴿وَأَنْ لَيْسَ لِلْإِنْسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى﴾ خاص في السيئة، بدليل ما في صحيح مسلم عن أبي هريرة -رضي الله عنه- عن رسول الله -صلى الله عليه وسلم- قال: «قال الله عز وجل: إذا همَّ عبدي بحسنة، ولم يعملها كتبتها له حسنة، فإن عملها كتبتها عشر حسنات إلى سبعمائة ضعف، وإذا همَّ بسيئة ولم يعملها، لم أكتبها عليه، فإن عملها كتبتها سيئة واحدة»

 

 

It is possible that this saying of Allaah is specific to only bad deeds based on the evidence of the following Hadith in Sahih Muslim:

 

It is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) observed:

Allah, the Great and Glorious, said: Whenever my bondsman intends to do good, but does not do it, I write one good act for him, but if he puts it into practice I write from ten to seven hundred good deeds in favor of him. When he intends to commit an evil, but does not actually do it, do not record it. But if he does it, I write only one evil.

[Sahih Muslim Hadith No. 128]

 

 

ونقل عن ابن عباس قوله: إن قوله تعالى: ﴿وَأَنْ لَيْسَ لِلْإِنْسَانِ إِلَّا مَا سَعَى﴾ منسوخ بقوله تعالى: ﴿والذين آمَنُواْ واتبعتهم ذُرِّيَّتُهُم بِإِيمَانٍ﴾ [الطور: 21]

 

It has been related from Ibn Abbaas (may Allah be pleased with both of them) regarding this Verse that he said: It has been abrogated by the following Verse:

 

And those who believe and whose offspring follow them in Faith, to them shall We join their offspring, and We shall not decrease the reward of their deeds in anything. Every person is a pledge for that which he has earned.

[Qur’aan 52:21]

 

 

وقيل: هي خاصة بقوم موسى وإبراهيم؛ لأنه وقع حكاية عما في صحفهما عليهما الصلاة والسلام، بقوله تعالى: ﴿أَمْ لَمْ يُنَبَّأْ بِمَا فِي صُحُفِ مُوسَى وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ الَّذِي وَفَّى﴾ [النجم: 36،37]

 

A group of scholars have said that this Verse is specific to the nations of Moses and Abraham because it has occurred as an account for that which was in their Scriptures and is related with the previous Verses which read:

 

Or is he not informed with what is in the Pages (Scripture) of Musa (Moses),

And of Ibrahim (Abraham) who fulfilled (or conveyed) all that (what Allah ordered him to do or convey),

[Qur’aan 53:36-37]

 

 

قال عكرمة: هذا في حقهم خاصة بخلاف شرعنا؛ بدليل حديث الخثعمية

 

'ikramah said that this Verse is specific to them as opposed to our legislation.

 


وقيل: أريد بالإنسان في الآية: الكافر، وأما المؤمن فله ما سعى أخوه.(64)

 

Another group of scholars have said that the one referred to in the Verse is the Kaafir. As for the believer than he can benefit from that which his brother does.

 

 

 قال في كشاف القناع: "أو أنها مختصة بالكافر أي: ليس له من الخير إلا جزاء سعيه، يوفَّاه في الدنيا، وماله في الآخرة من نصيب


It is specific to the Kaafir and he does not get the reward of any good he does except for the good which he does himself. He gets the full reward for it in this world. And he has nothing in the next life.

 


وقيل: ليس للإنسان من طريق العدل إلا ما سعى هو، وله من طريق الفضل ما سعى غيره به له

 

Another group has said that what this Verse is saying is that a person does not get anything other than what he strives for based on Justice. But based on the blessing of Allaah he also benefits from that which someone else does on his behalf.

 


Muhammad al-Amin al-Shinqiti has said that there is no contradiction between the following two Verses:


And that man can have nothing but what he does (good or bad).

[Qur’aan 53:39]

 

and

 

And those who believed and whose descendants followed them in faith – We will join with them their descendants, and We will not deprive them of anything of their deeds. Every person, for what he earned, is retained.

[Qur’aan 52:21]

 

He says that the first Verse refers to what a person owns. He only owns that which he has done of good deeds. But there is a difference between owning a deed and benefiting from it. While a person only owns a good deed, he can benefit from the deeds of others which he does not own. The first Verse is only talking about owning good deeds. A person only owns what he does of good but the Verse is not evidence of negation of benefiting from the deeds of others.

 

The good deeds because of which the children will have their stations raised and be joined with their fathers are not deeds which they own. They are not deeds which they did. They are deeds which their fathers did and strove for. And based on them Allaah raised their children's rank. This is the blessing of Allaah.

 


كما إنهم أوَّلوا قوله تعالى: ﴿لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَلَكُم مَّا كَسَبْتُمْ﴾ [البقرة: 134](71). بأنها تدل بالمفهوم على أن المرء لا ينتفع بعمل غيره، ولكن منطوق الأحاديث التي استدلوا بها قد دلت على خلافه، وإذا تعارض المفهوم والمنطوق قُدِّم المنطوق

 

Additionally, while they have made Ta'weel of the Verse and this Ta'weel indicates, by means of what is understood from it [mafhoom], that a person does not benefit from the deeds of other, we have Hadith which have articulated [mantooq] which suggest otherwise. And when the mafhoom [that which is understood] comes to oppose that which is ariculated [mantooq] that then mantooq is given precedence.

 

 إن الحديث في غير موضع الخلاف، كما في الآيتين المتقدمتين؛ لأن الحديث يتكلم عن عمل الميت نفسه، ولم يتكلم عن عمل الغير، يُهدَى للإنسان.

كما أن هذا الحديث -وهو غير صريح في المراد- قد عارض ما هو صريح في المراد، وذلك ما تقدم في صيام المرأة وحجها وصدقتها عن أبيها أو أمها

 

As for the Hadith which mentions that the deeds of the son of Adam are cut of, then this refers to the deeds of the dead himself. It is those deeds which are cut off as he no longer is capable of doing any good. It does not refer to the good done by someone else who then gifts the reward to the dead.

 

Additionally, this Hadith about the deeds of the son of Adam being cut off is not explicit in what it means but if it is taken to mean that one cannot benefit from the deeds of others than it would come into opposition with the other Hadith which are explicit in intent and mention that a woman performed fasting, Hajj, and gave in charity on behalf of her father and mother.

 

Position of Ibn Taymiyyah on the matter


وقول شيخ الإسلام ابن تيمية في قراءة القرآن للميت :إن ثوابها يصل إليه

And the saying of Sheikh Al-'Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah in regards to recitation of the Qur'aan for the dead is that its reward reaches him.

 


فقال -رحمه الله- تعالى: "وأما الصيام، وصلاة التطوع، وقراءة القرآن فهذا فيه قولان للعلماء

He said: As for fasting, optional prayer, and reciting the Qur'aan, then in regards to this there are two opinions of the scholars.

 


الأول:- ينتفع به وهو مذهب أحمد وأبي حنيفة وغيرهما

First: He benefits from it. And this is the Madhab of Ahmad and Abu Hanifah.

 

 

الثاني: لا تصل إليه وهو المشهور في مذهب مالك

Second: It does not reach him and it is the popular opinion in the Madhab of Maalik.

 


ثم قال –رحمه الله- في فتوى له: وتنازعوا في وصول الأعمال البدنية: كالصوم والصلاة وقراءة القرآن، والصواب أن الجميع يصل إليه، أي يصل ثوابها إلى الميت

He said: They debated in regards to the reaching of the deeds of the body, such as fasting, prayer, and reciting of the Qur'aan and the correct opinion is that all of that reaches him [i.e. its reward reaches the dead].

 

Majmoo' Fataawa Volume 24 Page(s) 315-366

 

 

Conclusion regarding Esaal-e-Sawaab

 

The above discussion shows that there has been a difference of opinion regarding the matter of Esaal-e-Sawaab. Everyone has always agreed that making duaa' and giving charity on behalf of the dead benefits the dead and reaches him. However, they have disagreed regarding other acts of worship such as reciting the Qur'aan and gifting its reward to the dead.

 

Imaam Maalik and Imaam Al-Shaafi were of the opinion that it does not reach the dead and does not benefit him. However, later scholars from these Madhabs adopted the view that it does reach the dead and benefit him.

 

Those who contest this practice point out that we do not have a single authentic narration which shows that the Companions (may Allaah be pleased with them) indulged in this practice of gathering together to recite the Qur'aan and then gifting its reward to the dead.

 

Those who support the practice make Qiyaas based on reports which show that the dead benefits from acts of worship such as Hajj, fasting, duaa, and charity.

 

All in all, the matter is disputed and Allaah knows whether Esaal-e-Sawaab is permissible or not and if its reward reaches and benefits the dead or not.

 

Reference(s):

Gifting the reward of the recitation of the Qur'aan to the dead