My mom passed away without telling anyone the number of prayers or fasting that she neglected while she was alive. How do I replace (qada’) her worships?
Bismillah. Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the prophet Muhammad PBUH, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Death is a certainty in life. Thus, Islam taught us three main things that we need to take care of when any of our relatives passed away:
- Manage their funeral
- Settle any debts they have, may it be with Allah such as fast, hajj, nazar and others. Or, debts with people such as money, or responsibility of the departed.
- Complete their will by taking one third of their wealth.
- Divide the inheritance
By that, according to the above, we will detail the second obligation that is mentioned to answer the question asked.
This problem first needs the understanding of several things:
First, prayer is a type of worship that is sanctioned for each individual and cannot be done by someone else. The same goes to the people that has passed away, the prayer neglected cannot be replaced. This is the opinion of the majority of Islamic scholars. Refer Hasyiah Rad al-Mukhtar (2/79), I’anah al-Thalibin (1/33)
Allah SWT states:
“And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives. And that his effort is going to be seen - then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense.”
Surah al-Najm (39-41)
Imam al-Qurtubi in commenting on this verse said, on the side of ta’wil of the verse, the verse is muhkam, someone cannot perform worships for someone else and they hold the opinion that someone cannot perform prayer for someone else. See al-Jami’ li Ahkam Al-Quran (17/114)
Second, fast that is neglected by the person that has passed away falls into two categories as stated in Mughni al-Muhtaj (1/438) and Bidayah al-Mujtahid (1/290):
- A situation where the person that has passed away didn’t manage to replace his fast, whether because he didn’t have the time, ill, he was travelling, or something obstructs him from fasting then there’s no responsibility for his heirs to replace his fast.
- If the person that has passed away neglects his fast and didn’t replace it when he was still alive, then in this case the fuqaha’ of mazhab Syafie divides it into two: i) It is permitted for his heirs to replace his fast according to a hadith by Aishah R.anha, the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ مَاتَ وَعَلَيْهِ صِيَامٌ صَامَ عَنْهُ وَلِيُّهُ
Allah's Messenger PBUH said, "Whoever died, and he ought to have fasted (the missed days of Ramadan) then his guardians must fast on his behalf."
Sahih Bukhari (1952) Sahih Muslim (1147)
However, it is not obligatory for his heirs to fast on his behalf. See al-Majmu’ (6/ 418).
- ii) If the heirs do not fast on his behalf then the missed fasting days must be replaced using the wealth left by him and the compensation is based on the days of fast that needs to be replaced. The compensation is one mudd of food in place of each day neglected. This is obligatory according to a narration by Ibn Abbas:
جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ إِنَّ أُمِّي مَاتَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا صَوْمُ شَهْرٍ أَفَأَقْضِيهِ عَنْهَا فَقَالَ " لَوْ كَانَ عَلَى أُمِّكَ دَيْنٌ أَكُنْتَ قَاضِيَهُ عَنْهَا " . قَالَ نَعَمْ . قَالَ " فَدَيْنُ اللَّهِ أَحَقُّ أَنْ يُقْضَى "
A man came to the Messenger of Allah PBUH and said: “Messenger of Allah, my mother has died and there is due from her a fast of vow; should I fast on her behalf?” Thereupon he said: “You see that if your mother had died in debt, would it not have been paid on her behalf?” He said: “Yes”. He (the Holy Prophet) said: “The debt to Allah is a greater debt to settle.”
Sahih Muslim (1148)
Third, the manner of counting the days that need to be replaced when the person that passed away didn’t tell the number of days he didn’t fast.
- If he is someone that never neglects his fast, then you don’t have to assume that there are any days that needs to be replaced. This is according to Islamic legal maxim:
الأَصْلُ بَرَاءَةُ الذِّمَّةِ
“Origin (of something) is free from accountability”
- If he is someone that always fast in Ramadhan, but when he is ill he could not fast, then the number of days is counted from the day he fell ill until he dies if he dies in Ramadhan
- If he is someone that has never fast in his life, then the number of days is counted from when he reached puberty until his death.
A few conclusions can be drawn from the above statements:
- When there’s a death, quickly settle the three things stated above.
- Performing of prayer cannot be replaced (qada’) by someone else, may it be for the dead or a person that is still alive.
- There’s no need to assume that the person that has passed away has left any fasting days to be replaced if when he’s alive he’s always fasting, and he didn’t leave a will saying otherwise.
- It is permitted to fast on behalf of the dead by his heir, however if not replaced, it is obligatory to take from the inheritance left by the dead to pay the fidyah.
May Allah SWT gives us understanding in fulfilling all of His commandments. Amin.