Can a person donate the reward of his actions to another person who has passed away? If so can you mention some proofs from Qur’ān and Sunnah?
الحمد لله و الصلاة و السلام على رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم
To pass on the reward (Isāl al-thawāb) of physical and financial worship to other Muslims is permissible, and the reward reaches the person whom it is passed to. This is a precept endorsed by the Qur’ān and Sunnah and the practise of the early generations. It is proven in the Qur’ān that the living can benefit the dead:
وَالَّذِينَ جَاءُوا مِنْ بَعْدِهِمْ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لَنَا وَلِإِخْوَانِنَا الَّذِينَ سَبَقُونَا بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَا تَجْعَلْ فِي قُلُوبِنَا غِلًّا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا رَبَّنَا إِنَّكَ رَءُوفٌ رَحِيمٌ
Trans: “And those who came after them submit, O our Lord! forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in the faith, and put not into our hearts any rancour towards those who believe. O our Lord! Undoubtedly, you are the Beneficent the Merciful.”
[Surah al-Hashr verse 10]
The Sunnah teaches us to benefit others in accordance with our ability. The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessing of Allāh be upon him) said:
قَالَ رَسُولِ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: «مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يَنْفَعَ أَخَاهُ فَلْيَفْعَلْ
Trans: “Whosoever from amongst you is able to benefit his brother then let him do so.”
The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself out of his compassion and mercy conveyed reward to his entire ummah:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ كَانَ «إِذَا أَرَادَ أَنْ يُضَحِّيَ، اشْتَرَى كَبْشَيْنِ عَظِيمَيْنِ، سَمِينَيْنِ، أَقْرَنَيْنِ، أَمْلَحَيْنِ مَوْجُوءَيْنِ، فَذَبَحَ أَحَدَهُمَا عَنْ أُمَّتِهِ، لِمَنْ شَهِدَ لِلَّهِ، بِالتَّوْحِيدِ، وَشَهِدَ لَهُ بِالْبَلَاغِ، وَذَبَحَ الْآخَرَ عَنْ مُحَمَّدٍ، وَعَنْ آلِ مُحَمَّدٍ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ»
On the authority of Sayyiduna Abu Hurayrah (may Allāh be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allāh (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) when he intended to slaughter purchased two large wholesome, fattened rams, mostly white in colour with some black, with beautiful horns and he slaughtered one on behalf of his ummah, for whosoever testified to the affirmation of the oneness of Allah and testified to the conveyance of the message by Sayyiduna RasūlAllāh (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and he slaughtered the other on his and his family’s behalf.
[Sunan ibn Majah, Bab Adāhī Rasūlillah]
The Sahabah understood the concept of conveying the reward of actions to others full well. It is related that Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (may Allāh be pleased with him) said:
مَنْ يَضْمَنُ لِي مِنْكُمْ أَنْ يُصَلِّيَ لِي فِي مَسْجِدِ الْعَشَّارِ رَكْعَتَيْنِ أَوْ أَرْبَعًا وَيَقُولُ: هَذِهِ لِأَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ؟
“Who will take it upon themselves that he will pray 2 or 4 units of prayer for me in the Masjid of Al-‘Asshār and will say this is for Abū Hurairah?”
[Mishkāt al Masābih, Bāb al-Malāhim]
Regarding the words of Sayyiduna Abu Hurairah (radiyAllahu anahu) al-Hāfidh Mulla ‘Alī al-Qārī (may Allāh shower him with mercy) says in his commentary Mirqāh al-Mafātīh:
لَهُ أَنْ يَجْعَلَ ثَوَابَ عَمَلِهِ لِغَيْرِهِ مِنَ الْأَمْوَاتِ وَالْأَحْيَاءِ، حَجًّا أَوْ صَلَاةً، أَوْ صَوْمًا أَوْ صَدَقَةً، أَوْ غَيْرَهَا كَتِلَاوَةِ الْقُرْآنِ وَالْأَذْكَارِ، فَإِذَا فَعَلَ شَيْئًا مِنْ هَذَا، وَجَعَلَ ثَوَابَهُ لِغَيْرِهِ جَازَ، وَيَصِلُ إِلَيْهِ عِنْدَ أَهْلِ السُّنَّةِ وَالْجَمَاعَةِ.
“A person can donate the reward of his actions to other than himself from the living and deceased, whether it is hajj or prayer or fasting or sadaqah or other than these such as recital of the Qur’ān and litanies. So if he performed anything from these and donated the reward of them to other than himself then it is permissible and the reward reaches that person according to Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jamā’ah.”
[Mirqāt al-Mafātih, vol 8 page 3423]
Two important points emerge from the narrations cited:
1. Completing physical worship with the intention of passing the reward (Isāl-e-thawāb) to someone else is permissible.
2. Passing on the reward (Isāl-e-thawāb) by words (i.e. saying, “O AlIāh! Give its reward to this certain individual.”) is an excellent practice.
The Jurists of Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jamā’ah have fully endorsed this understanding in their books, as al-Imām al-Haskafi al-Hanafī (may Allāh shower him with mercy) states in al-Durr al-Mukhtār:
الْأَصْلُ أَنَّ كُلَّ مَنْ أَتَى بِعِبَادَةٍ مَا،لَهُ جَعْلُ ثَوَابِهَا لغيره
“The principle is that whosoever performed any act of worship then he may donate its reward to other than himself.”
(قَوْلُهُ بِعِبَادَةٍ مَا) أَيْ سَوَاءٌ كَانَتْ صَلَاةً أَوْ صَوْمًا أَوْ صَدَقَةً أَوْ قِرَاءَةً أَوْ ذِكْرًا أَوْ طَوَافًا أَوْ حَجًّا أَوْ عُمْرَةً، أَوْ غَيْرَ ذَلِكَ
Al-Sayyid ibn ‘Abidīn al-Shāmī (may Allāh shower him with mercy) commenting on the words of al-Imām al-Haskafī (may Allāh shower him with mercy) says:
“(his statement: any act of worship) that is: regardless of whether that is prayer, fasting, sadaqah, recital of the Qur’an, litanies, tawaf, Hajj, ‘Umrah or other than that.”
[Al-Sayyid ibn ‘Abidīn al-Shāmī, “Radd al-Muhtār ala al-Durr al-Mukhtār” Vol 2 pg 596]
May Allah give us the ability in our lifetimes to benefit those who have travelled onwards from this worldly domain, ever hopeful that Allah blesses us with those who do the same for us once we too make that inevitable journey.
Answered by Mawlana Ibrar Shafi