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Is it permissible to pay kaffara [expiation] on mother behalf from the money she left?

'A debt owed to Allah has more right to be fulfilled.' "

Source : Ali-Gomaa.com / 4 July 2013

Question:

My mother passed away without making up her missed fast days of Ramadan and this fact is known to all her children. Is it permissible to pay kaffara [expiation] on her behalf from the money she left?

Is surat al-Fatiha or any other sura recited for each deceased separately or is it possible to direct the reward of its recitation to all of them together?

Answer:

Breaking the fast due to an excuse that lasts until death

Scholars concur that a person is not to pay kaffara or make up the fast on behalf of a deceased who broke his fast due to an excuse that continued until his death since the deceased did not neglect to fast and is therefore not blameworthy. Like Hajj which is an obligatory act of worship that is waived from upon those who are unable to perform it, fasting in this case, is likewise an obligatory act that the deceased was unable to fulfill until his death and therefore, it is waived from upon him.

Scholarly opinions on a person whose excuse for breaking his fast ceases but neglects to make up his fast until his death

The opinion of the majority of Hanafi and Maliki scholars, the latter opinion of the Shafi'i and the preponderant opinion in the Hanbali school A person is not to make up the missed fast days on behalf of the deceased, but is to give out two handfuls for each missed fast day. The reason is because like prayers, a person cannot commission another to fast on his behalf during his lifetime, and the same holds true after death.

Scholars from among ahl al-Hadith (traditionalists) and some scholars from among the Salaf (the Successors) such as Tawus, al-Hasan al-Basri, al-Zahri, Qutadah, abu al-Thawr and Imam al-Shafi'i in his former opinion and the established opinion of the Shafi'i school of jurisprudence and abu al-Khattab, the Hanbali scholar, all maintain that it is permissible for a relative of the deceased to fast on his behalf. Shafi'i scholars added that this fulfills the obligation without having to pay kaffara and absolves the deceased of the obligation. Relatives of the deceased may choose either to fast or make kaffara on behalf of the deceased, although fasting is better.

Evidence

- 'A`isha, may Allah be pleased with her, narrated that the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, "Whoever dies with unfulfilled fast days, a relative is to fast on his behalf" [Bukhari and Muslim].

- Ibn 'Abbas, may Allah be pleased with them both, said, "A man came to the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] and said, 'O Messenger of Allah! My mother passed away and she has a month of unfulfilled fast days. Should I fast this month on her behalf?'

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, 'If your mother were indebted, would you settle the debt on her behalf?'

The man replied in the affirmative, whereupon the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allah be upon him] said, 'A debt owed to Allah has more right to be fulfilled.' "

The opinion of Imam Ahmed, al-Layth, Is-haq and abu 'Ubaid

A person cannot fast on behalf of a deceased except if the fast were in fulfillment of a vow. They based their opinion on the general implication of the hadith narrated by the Mother of the Believers, 'A`isha, may Allah be pleased with her, and the specific scenario expressed in the hadith narrated by ibn 'Abbas, the narration of which indicated that the fast was in fulfillment of a vow.

Al-Nawawi

Imam Nawawi wrote in Sharh Muslim: "This opinion i.e. the permissibility of making up the obligatory fast on behalf of a deceased—is the correct and chosen opinion in our school. It is likewise the opinion authenticated by the luminaries from among both ahl al-Hadith and ahl al-Ra`y (exponents of reasoning) which they based on the authentic and explicit hadiths [mentioned above]. The hadith that states: "Whoever dies and has some unfulfilled fast days, a kaffara is to be paid on his behalf" is not established as authentic. Even if it were, it would be possible to establish agreement between the two hadiths and act upon both since scholars who maintain that a person is to pay kaffara on behalf of a deceased deem it permissible to fast on his behalf and those who maintain that a person is to fast on behalf of a deceased deem it permissible to make kaffara on his behalf. A relative may choose either alternative; although it is not obligatory upon him to fast on behalf of the deceased, it is recommended."

Who is to fast on behalf of a deceased?

Any relative of the deceased may fast on his behalf; a non-relative may also fast but only with the permission a relative.

The Ruling

You may choose either to fast on behalf of your mother or feed a poor person for each of her unfulfilled missed fast days. According to Shafi'I scholars, the kaffara consists of one mudd of wheat, dates or any of the staple food of the country. A mudd is half a kilo approximately. You may calculate the number of fast days your mother missed and divide them among you and your siblings, each one is free to choose how to make them up. If you choose to feed the poor, there is no objection to giving out the value of the food in cash.

Reciting the Fatiha for the deceased

There is no objection to reciting surat al Fatiha for each deceased separately and donating its reward to him or reciting it a single time for a number of deceased and donating the reward to them. It is permissible to do both by the will of God.

God Almighty knows best

 

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